Journey to Joy: The Psalms of Ascent by Josh Moody
In this challenging new book called Journey to Joy, author Josh Moody takes the reader on a journey through the Psalms of Ascent (120-134) to the heart of God. At the beginning, Moody sees a great need for reflection on these Psalms because ‘I believe there is a crying need for people who believe the Bible to feel it’ (13). As he goes onto write, the Psalms ‘pull no punches,’ they have a way of pointing to all facets of our experience, both the pain, suffering, and jubilations of life. Josh wants to guide his readers through these Psalms as a pilgrim is starting his long journey to seek the heart of God. Centering around the three great festivals of Israel and designed to get the truth of God and its powerful effect on our hearts, Josh provides a healthy context in which we might travel with him on the journey.
In chapter 3 called Help, Josh dives right into Psalm 121. Focusing on vv.3-5, he writes, “Just trust God,” “someone can say, like a plaster applied to a hemorrhage. So the psalm does far more than offer simplistic piety. First, it says that this God is the maker of everything….No, he’s the rock-solid creator of heaven and earth, all of reality. That is who he is” (33). Not only this but God will preserve and protect his people, he will look after them. Josh helpfully reminds us that when we look up from the hills and trust God with all of life, we are confronted with the reality the one who redeems the lost is also the one who sustains the whole world, even our own little world that we live in. This truth is a bit overwhelming because we walk around with anxiety and fear about future possible situations without fully resting in the truth of God’s Word.
Lastly, Josh mentions the fact that God will keep us from all evil, not that God keeps us from all kinds of suffering. Will God work through the contingencies of life even if they are painful? Yes, but “He is a shade protecting you from the heat of the work of the noonday sun and the anxiety and fears of the moonlit night” (37).
The chapter entitled Beating the Daily Grind was one of my favorite. Writing about children, Josh writes, “But here is distinctly male motivation for the man who wants the wife but is not sure about the children: great inheritance, great pay, and really good at winning battles” (94). Children as heritage, reward, and weapons is evident in Psalm 127. This thinking however is not the normal train of thought for parents, even fathers. Rather, we want to children as a blessing but also a strain on our lives. The Psalmist and Josh helps us see that they reward we have is our children, that no monetary amount would be match the reward we have in having children. Part of the outcome of this idea of children being an inheritance, reward, and weapon is that when our children are older they will be a hedge of protection for us. Shipping mom off to the nursing home without seeing her during the year is not a sufficient answer to serving our parents, but finding creative ways to love them and protect them from all kinds of harm will help. I can only think of the way our fast paced world might feel to someone who grew up 60-70 years ago. This psalm is a reminder that God’s perspective on children is much more of a blessing and reward than we might think.
I really enjoyed this book!! It helped me dive back into the Psalms and see myself on a journey to the heart of God. The applications were direct and focused on a sound biblical theology. May you be encouraged as I was by reading this book.
Thanks to Crossway for the copy of this book in exchange for review.