The Nations in Isaiah 40-55 – A response to Gordon Wenham’s The Nations in the Psalms

Author: Tim Davy, Lecturer in Biblical Studies and Director of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission, Redcliffe College.


Since I was in my early teens I’ve been aware of the close connection between the book of Psalms and mission. When I was about 14 my Dad went on a short-term trip with our church to visit some congregations in Ghana. His returning flight into Heathrow was flight number 117 and, knowing there were 150 psalms and being that kind of a kid, I wondered what Psalm 117 had to say:
1 Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.
2 For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD. (NIV)
So I had always known that the nations feature in the Psalms, but over the years became increasingly aware of the tensions and complexities concerning the theme.
I would like to thank Gordon for such a stimulating, constructive and clear assessment of the role of the nations in the Psalms. I am sure, like me, many gathered here are grateful for the way you have unravelled what can seem like a very complex set of relationships between God, Israel and the nations.
In particular we are grateful for the journey on which you have taken us through the book of Psalms, modelling so well how we might approach a theme in the psalter canonically.
In my presentation on the Centre for the Study of Bible and Mission I outlined our passion for understanding both mission in the Bible (of which these relationships between God, Israel and the nations are a part), and the Bible in mission.
Having been treated to such a helpful exploration of The Nations in the Psalms, I would now like to ask the question, ‘What is the role of the Psalms in the Nations?’.

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