Commentary on the Psalms, by George Horne. Audubon, New Jersey: Old Paths Publications, 1997. Pp.xxvii-659. $32.95. (Hard cover) [Reviewed by Herman Hanko.]
First of all, the reader might be interested in a few facts concerning the book. George Horne was lord bishop of Norwich, an ordained clergyman in the Anglican Church of England. He lived from 1730 – 1792, a period of time when the Anglican Church was still blessed with many staunch Calvinistic preachers. The book reflects the Calvinism of the Church of England.
Secondly, Ernie Springer, the owner of Old Paths Publication, has given the reading public a large number of extremely worthwhile and important reprints. This is another of them. The reader would do well to watch for any list that comes his way of new publications put out by this publisher.
Thirdly, the book is attractive, easy to read, and has a helpful “Foreword” written by Rev. John Greer, minister of the Free Presbyterian Church of Malvern, PA. Rev. Greer emphasizes correctly thatRev. Horne looked at the Psalms for a Christological viewpoint; i.e., that the Psalms speak of Christ throughout.
We turn to the commentary itself. If one takes the time to read the Preface which was written by the author of the book, one discovers that indeed it is the author’s intent to point us to Christ in all His work as Christ is found in these wonderful songs of Israel. Rev. Horne speaks of the need for a spiritual interpretation of the Psalms, by which he means that we must find Christ in the Psalms; but we will find Christ in the Psalms in the lives of the saints in the OT who were inspired to write the Psalms. Thus we will find Christ in the lives of the saints of all ages. The point is that the Psalms, written by inspired saints in the Old Testament, are almost spiritual autobiographies. But because they are inspired by Christ, they are the stories of Christ within these saints — in the same way Christ is within all His people. This characteristic of the Psalms is true even though they are written in the language of Old Testament realities.
Horne includes in his preface a quote from Bishop Hooker, one of the English reformers, to demonstrate his point.
What is there necessary for man to know which the Psalms are not able to teach? They are to beginners an easy and familiar introduction, a mighty augmentation of all virtue and knowledge in such as are entered before, a strong confirmation to the most perfect among others. Heroical magnanimity, exquisite justice, grave moderation, exact wisdom, repentance unfeigned, unwearied patience, the mysteries of God, the sufferings of Christ, the terrors of wrath, the comforts of grace, the works of Providence over this world, and the promised joys of that world which is to come; all good necessarily to be either known, or done, or had, this one celestial fountain yieldeth. Let there be any grief or disease incident unto the soul of man, any wound or sickness named, for which there is not, in this treasure house, a present comfortable remedy at all times ready to be found.
Horne also has this in his favor: he consciously puts himself in the tradition of the church of the past and its expositors. We need not fear that we are led by clever minds into novelties of no value; the material is solid and edifying, the confession of the church in many ages.
Although the author does not include an explanation of the headings of the Psalms (it is his contention that no one can be sure of the meaning of many of them), the historical references in the Psalms to the life of Israel, David, and Israel’s poets are not ignored.
The Psalms are intended to be studied and the commentary read as a part of one’s devotions. They are, therefore, divided into material to be used over a period of thirty days in morning prayer and evening prayer. The commentary, being of a meditative type, is ideally suited to this use.