Treasuring the Psalms: How to Read the Songs that Shape the Soul of the Church, By Ian J. Vaillancourt

Treasuring the Psalms

How to Read the Songs that Shape the Soul of the Church

by Ian J. Vaillancourt

Treasuring the Psalms
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: August 15, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0510
  • ISBN: 9781514005101

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The book of Psalms is a treasure. These one hundred and fifty inspired poems have shaped the worship, prayers, and theology of God's people for thousands of years. While many of its riches are readily apparent, a deeper look into the nature and purposes of the book reveals further layers of meaning with abundant implications for the Christian life.

In Treasuring the Psalms, Ian J. Vaillancourt orients readers to the Psalms and lays out a pattern for deeper study and application. From the composition of individual psalms through the shaping of the entire book, he argues, the Holy Spirit guided the creation of a work that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. In particular, Vaillancourt shows how the Psalms point to Christ and provide practical insights for the church community and individual Christians.

Through these canonical, Christological, and practical emphases, readers will gain new viewpoints into the flow, context, and message of the Psalms, as well as gospel-centered applications for a living faith.

"What if the Psalter's 150 psalms were arranged in a strategic order to tell an epic story? What if these psalms speak of Jesus? What if they also guide us in our worship of God? In Treasuring the Psalms, Ian Vaillancourt offers the church an accessible, theologically rich introduction to reading Psalms as an epic story centered around a Torah-observant king. Many will treasure the Psalms more as a result of this book."

Andrew T. Abernethy, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and author of Savoring Scripture

"This compelling book encourages readers to treasure the Psalms as history, as part of the whole Word of God, as a link to Christ, and as valuable for our very souls. By weaving together personal stories with solid academic study, Vaillancourt inspires as he enlightens with this accessible book. He creates a meaningful reading experience of the Psalms for students, pastors, and interested people alike."

Beth Stovell, professor of Old Testament at Ambrose University

"Ian Vaillancourt has written a delightful guide to the Psalms. Judiciously anchored in the latest scholarship, enthusiastically christological, and written with a pastoral heart, this warmly recommended book will indeed enable readers to treasure the Psalms and to sing afresh the glories of the Messiah."

L. Michael Morales, professor of biblical studies at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

"Psalms is one of the most beloved books in the Bible, yet many are unsure how the psalms can be applied to the Christian life in a legitimate and faithful way. In this accessible, focused, and winsomely written book, Vaillancourt's theological conviction and expertise shine. The first part, on the structure and shape of Psalms, is particularly compelling since it explains a complex topic so clearly and demonstrates its relevance for interpretation."

Eric Tully, associate professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"Unfortunately, for much of the Christian church today, the book of Psalms is like a 'treasure hidden in a field.' The author of this volume has, however, performed an invaluable service in taking his readers on a 'treasure hunt' to rediscover this buried trove. With academic skill, literary flair, and yet wonderful clarity, Vaillancourt proves himself to be a reliable guide. My advice: sell all you have, buy the book, and join the author as he shows you how to read, pray, and treasure the book of Psalms in all its canonical and christological fullness."

Jerry Shepherd, emeritus professor of Old Testament, Taylor Seminary

"Treasuring the Psalms provides an excellent entry point for students of the book of Psalms. Vaillancourt introduces helpful ways to approach the book of Psalms as well as providing rich insights that aid in understanding the Psalms. Vaillancourt's work will aid anyone who desires a deeper understanding of this 'little Bible.'"

Michael Snearly, scholar in residence at Grace Church of Marin in San Anselmo, California

"Ian Vaillancourt's Treasuring the Psalms not only provides a clear and comprehensive introduction to recent Psalms scholarship, it uses the best of that scholarship to show that the Psalter looks forward to the climax of Israel's history—a climax fulfilled in the story of Jesus Christ. Christian readers will resonate strongly with Vaillancourt's rich christological readings of the Psalms, while the applications he draws from them will encourage increasing praise and thankfulness to God."

Douglas J. Green, senior lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew exegesis at Queensland Theological College

Read an Excerpt



Introduction: Getting Oriented to the Book of Psalms
Part 1. The Story: Reading the Psalms Canonically
1. From Individual Psalms to the Book of Psalms
2. Superscriptions: What is in a Psalm Title?
3. The Shape of the Book, Part I: Psalms 1–2 as Gateway
4. The Shape of the Book, Part II: The Broad Narrative of Books 1–5
5. The Shape of the Book, Part III: The Portrait of the King
Part 2. The Savior: Reading the Psalms Christologically
6. The Psalms and Christ, Part I
7. The Psalms and Christ, Part II
8. The Psalms and the New Testament
9. The Psalms and the Christian
Part 3. The Soul: Reading the Psalms Personally and Corporately
10. Direct Application of Desperation Psalms: Lament
11. Direct Application of Deliverance Psalms: Thanksgiving
12. Direct Application of Exaltation Psalms: Praise
Conclusion: The Treasure Hunt Has Just Begun

Appendices: Digging Deeper (Available as a Free PDF Download on the IVP Web Site)
Appendix A. Digging Deeper: The Canonical Approach to the Book of Psalms Through 2,000 Years of Church History
Appendix B. Digging Deeper: Psalm Superscriptions Through the Centuries
Appendix C. Digging Deeper: Questions Remain About the Psalm Superscriptions
Appendix D. Digging Deeper: A Thematic Approach to the Individual Psalms
Appendix E. Digging Deeper: Bruce Waltke on the Imprecatory Psalms
Appendix F. Digging Deeper: The Language of Praise
Bibliography for Appendices


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Ian J. Vaillancourt (PhD, University of St. Michael's College) is associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Heritage Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Ontario. He is the author of The Dawning of Redemption: The Story of the Pentateuch and the Hope of the Gospel and The Multifaceted Saviour of Psalms 110 and 118: A Canonical Exegesis (winner of the 2020 R. B. Y. Scott Award).