The Faithfulness of God: Devotional Studies in 1 Chronicles
By Cyril J. Barber
Santa Ana, CA
: Promise Publishing
Reviewed by Dr. James Rosscup
14.1 (Spring 2003) : 106-107
Without denying that a person can mingle exegesis, exposition, and devotional truths integral to the spiritual import of God’s Word, one can classify commentaries broadly into three categories: exegetical, expositional, and devotional. The present, prolific author of more than 30 books (e.g., Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, The Minister’s Library) here crafts exposition within a devotional spotlight. As in many of his works, he evidences an ability to gather life-shaping expositional aspects of passages and focus their lessons with crystal clarity and vividly engaging readability.
In this case what Barber has produced is a simplified revision of a detailed manuscript originally intended for a series on Judges through 2 Chronicles. He uses 17 chapters of 15-20 pages each to explain selected sections with provocative spiritual lessons. With lead-on or later illustrations, he surveys passages that furnish key guidelines to enrich readers devotionally.
The author sees Ezra as the probable writer, before 400 B. C., who used various available sources such as Nehemiah’s library. Barber cites different views along with well-known scholars against and for his perspective (iv-viii). A two-anda- half-page outline precedes the chapters. He does not attempt a verse by verse analysis, but picks out main episodes to furnish suggestive spiritual principles. In the long genealogy section (1 Chronicles 1–9), Barber keys on lessons in Jabez’s prayer (4:9-10) and their impact for today (4:2-14). Some ideas are good, but others seem subjective and debatable—e.g., Jabez was possibly the youngest in his family, and his father was perhaps slain by raiding Amalekites. Later, Barber has provocative comments on Saul’s decision to assure his own death before enemies could humiliate him (19–21). Three chapters on David’s mighty men (51-99) have stimulating lessons. Other discussions include The Marks of Friendship (11:15-19), The Power Within (11:20-21), Success Without Compromise or Regret (11:22-25), The Loyalty of a Friend (11:26-27), God-Given Success (18:1–20:8), and God’s Wrath and Mercy (21:1–22:1).
The main value lies in the simple, attractive lessons for personal life. Lay people, students, pastors, and speakers seeking priming ideas will receive worthwhile input from flowing emphases along with well-crafted illustrations and sometimes arresting quotes. A similar work on 2 Chronicles by Barber from the same publisher arrived just before press time for this issue of TMSJ.