OT Volume 4 by D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
Like its predecessors, the fourth volume of Old Testament Readings & Devotionals offers Bible students a reasoned course of study. This book explores portions of 1 & 2 Samuel, first Chronicles, and Psalms, providing a survey that links devotionals to Biblical readings that cover 1025 BC – 1010 BC.
As C.M.H. Koenig moves through this Bible study, students receive the opportunity to savor and re-examine the scriptures and their underlying meaning and messages.
This is accomplished not just by profiled passages themselves, but through the added value of excerpts from the devotionals by Robert Hawker (1753–1827), Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), and Octavius Winslow (1808-1878). The Psalms utilized are interspersed throughout the Old Testament volumes.
It's easy to differentiate the key verses (from the Christian Standard Bible) from these associated writings—they appear in italics. It's also easy to link these to a daily pursuit, as each quote and piece appears in a daily format to encourage succinct, thought-provoking reading.
One example is that presented on Day 38, with a reading from Psalm 54: “God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might! God, hear my prayer; listen to the words from my mouth. For strangers rise up against me, and violent men intend to kill me. They do not let God guide them. Selah. God is my helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my life.”Psalm 54:1-4.
This pairs with an inspection by Winslow from his Evening Thoughts work: "Where was David now? "In the wilderness of Ziph, in a wood." With not a follower or companion, this favorite of the nation was a homeless wanderer, hunted like a partridge upon the mountain by the bloodthirsty king. But oh, the deep teaching of which he would now be the subject! The nothingness of earthly glory – the emptiness of human applause – the poverty of the creature – the treachery of his own heart – in a word, the vapid nature and utter insufficiency of all earthly good, would be among the many holy and costly lessons he would now learn. Nor this alone. Driven from man, he would now be more exclusively and entirely shut in with God. In his happy experience, that wilderness would be as a peopled world, and that wood as a blooming paradise."
These linked passages offer newfound opportunities for reflection, interpretation, and debate.
Koenig does readers a great service in making these pairings relevant to contemporary times and philosophical and spiritual reflection alike, creating bonds and methods of inquiry that support belief and Biblical relevance alike.
Another note to this collection is that its links are easy to digest in length; yet designed for a contemplation that lends to day-long consideration. An example of this is Day 63's reading of Psalm 73: "It is good for me to draw near to God."Psalm 73:28 (AKJV). This seemingly clear one-liner assumes new meaning when paired with Winslow's Morning Thoughts: "Reader, are you a professing child of God? Content not yourself to live thus; it is a poor, lifeless existence, unworthy of your profession, unworthy of Him whose name you do bear, and unworthy of the glorious destiny towards which you are looking. Thus, may a believer test the character of his love. He in whose heart divine affection deepens, increases, and expands, finds God an object of increasing delight and desire..."
More than a study of Biblical passages alone, Old Testament Readings & Devotionals offers key connections between Biblical words and modern living. As its predecessors do, this fourth volume allows readers the opportunity to slow down and take a reasoned look at the underlying meaning and impact of the Old Testament.
Students can use this volume for either self-study or/and (ideally) discussion. Its powerful associations offer much food for thought, making Old Testament Readings & Devotionals Volume 4 an ideal choice for all kinds of Christian collections and readers.
**The book review is scheduled to be published in the December 2021 issues of: Midwest Book Review Donovan's Bookshelf
OT Volume 3 by D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
Old Testament Readings & Devotionals, Volume 3 adds a new study to C.M.H. Koenig's series; this covering Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and a portion of First Samuel during the period between 1406 BC – 1025 BC. This third book in an 11-volume series takes the time and energy to pair analysis with a daily devotional designed to encourage a chronological, in-depth study of the Bible.
Each daily read is marked with a Biblical passage, accompanying devotional with food for thought, and footnoted references that connect Biblical concepts: “The eternal God is thy refuge.” Deuteronomy 33:27 (AKJV)
The word refuge may be translated “mansion,” or “abiding-place,” which gives the thought that God is our abode, our home. There is a fullness and sweetness in the metaphor, for dear to our hearts is our home, although it be the humblest cottage, or the scantiest garret; and dearer far is our blessed God, in whom we live, and move, and have our being. It is at home that we feel safe: we shut the world out and dwell in quiet security. So, when we are with our God, we “fear no evil.”
This opportunity to take Biblical study in digestible pieces and apply its teachings to life experiences and spiritual and philosophical enlightenment lends to a self- or group-study program like few others.
The Bible readings are paired with insights from several scholarly sources, from late 1700s Anglican priest and author Robert Hawker's Poor Man's Old Testament Commentary to the reflections of 1834 English Particular Baptist preacher and author Charles H. Spurgeon, and 1800s pastor and author Octavius Winslow.
The citations highlight striking features in Biblical figures and messages, present interpretations that will lend not just to individual reflection but group study and debate, and allow for daily connections to Biblical messages that analyze the heart of passages in a succinct, chronological approach. While Old Testament Readings & Devotionals, Volume 3 will appeal to scholarly and religious students, it's also quite accessible to everyday Christians who want to delve deeper into Biblical meaning and God's word in a manner different than most devotionals offer.
Those who find the Bible rich in lessons and meaning, but who need guideposts to fully absorb them, will find Old Testament Readings & Devotionals, Volume 3 and its series the perfect place to embark upon a well-organized study.
*The book review is published in the August 2021 issues of:
OT Volume 2 by D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
C.M.H. Koenig's second volume in Old Testament Readings & Devotionals covers the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers as they reveal God’s spiritual plan for his people (redemption, sanctification, and perseverance), and continues the Biblical study introduced in the first book.
It should be forewarned that this is no light synthesis. It's the second book of a projected 14-volume series, and blends an in-depth study of each book of the Bible with devotionals supporting the read.
The readings are deceptively short. Each consists of, generally, one chapter from the Bible, while the associated devotionals provide excerpts from Robert Hawker (1753–1827), Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), or Octavius Winslow’s (1808-1878) works. C.M.H. Koenig chose to quote the CSB version in the introductions in cases where the wording wasn’t critical to keeping it in the old Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV). There are many versions/translations to choose from.
Readers who follow this study with Bible in hand will find the introductory Biblical passage in italics. This helps locate the key message of the chosen section and juxtapose it with the study quote from one of the above scholars, such as Robert Hawker's comment on Exodus 2:24: "This is a precious scripture. My soul, put a note upon it. No sigh, no groan, no tear of God’s people can pass unobserved. He putteth the tears of his people in his bottle. Surely then he can never overlook what gives vent to those tears, the sorrows of the soul."
Readers can read along in whatever Bible version/translation of their choice. Free online versions/translations are available at Bible Gateway or YouVersion.
Readings are provided materials for daily contemplation. This allows for a special brand of study that adds depth by spacing out the readings and devotionals for in-depth contemplation.
The works gathered in this collection are especially hard-hitting passages. This is yet another example for Day 56, from Leviticus 20: "… I am the LORD your God who set you apart from the peoples.” Leviticus 20:24 Let the Reader remark with me, in the perusal of these verses, the grounds on which the Lord enjoins sanctity of life and manners, and the very strong motives in which it is founded, namely, that the Lord is the God of his people in a covenant way, and that they are his people. So that being thus distinguished as the peculiar objects of his love, reason as well as revelation seems to demand that they should be the peculiar followers of his holy law. See what Moses elsewhere saith of this, Deuteronomy 33:29. (Hawker, Poor Man's Old Testament Commentary: Genesis-Numbers, 512)
This careful juxtaposition of Biblical source material and the reflection expanding its meaning offers essential material suitable for self-study and Bible study groups alike.
C.M.H. Koenig has done the hard work of pulling out selected passages and pairing them with the thought-provoking insights of these seasoned scholars. All the Bible study student needs to do now is reflect upon and apply these meanings to their own understanding of the Bible's intentions and the progression of their own lives.
Bible students of all ages who look for daily devotionals linked to explicit Biblical passages will find this approach revealing and accessible. There is no better way to savor the Scriptures and their underlying meaning than through a well-organized study plan such as this.
*The book review is published in the December 2020 issues of:
OT Volume 1 by D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
Old Testament Readings & Devotionals, Volume 1 offers succinct daily devotional readings designed to encourage reflections about God's purpose, Biblical passages, Christian Old Testament readings, and the link between these words and daily life.
The passages are gathered from the early works of several major Christian devotional thinkers: authors Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), an English Particular Baptist preacher; Robert Hawker (1753-1827), an Anglican priest; and Octavius Winslow (1808-1878), a pastor. The meat of their impact lies not only in their perspectives, but in compiler Koenig's attention to arranging their insights in a manner that lends to independent or group study of Biblical concepts using a systematic, chronological structure.
This approach walks readers through Scriptures in a logical manner that lends to clear discussions and understanding of the concepts in Genesis and Job, the focus of this first in a projected fourteen-volume Biblical study program.
C.M.H. Koenig grew up as a missionary kid, with daily devotions lead by her parents. This places her in a unique position to gather devotions to lead others, from the first discussion of Genesis to the end of Job. The reflections from leaders of faith are wonderfully written, thought-provoking, and especially recommended for study purposes. This passage stems from the first devotion on Genesis: "No sooner is there a good thing in the world, than a division is necessary. Light and darkness have no communion; God has divided them, let us not confound them. Sons of light must not have fellowship with deeds, doctrines, or deceits of darkness. Children of the day must be sober, honest, and bold in their Lord's work, leaving the works of darkness to those who shall dwell in it forever."
In providing hard-hitting food for thought in digestible daily passages that lend to discussion and comprehension, Koenig provides Christian readers with a powerful program that advocates taking the time to thoroughly consider major Biblical passages, events, and meaning.
Those engaged in Bible study will find Old Testament Readings & Devotionals, Volume 1 an essential key to understanding the Bible in new ways that lead to better comprehension and a richer ability to absorb the true meanings of God and the Bible's stories.
Very highly recommended reading for self-study or Christian group pursuit alike, Old Testament Readings & Devotionals, Volume 1 requires only time for careful pursuit and reflection and a Christian audience interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the Bible's connections to human and spiritual affairs and aspirations.
*The book review is published in the August 2020 issues of: