Book review: Whiter than snow

whiterThanSnow-cover3This book is an absolute gem!

It is a book of 52 short meditations on ‘sin and mercy‘ from Psalm 51 by Paul David Tripp. Sounds like a depressing read? Maybe. But far from being ‘depressing’, this book is full of great doctrine, doxology, duty, desperation and delight.

Philip Ryken likens the style of the book to jazz music, and that is an excellent understanding of the book. For while Tripp basically covers every verse, word and thought in Psalm 51, he does not do it in verse order. Indeed, like a jazz musician he  plays and expands on the theme in a seeming ad hoc manner. But as every musician knows, although jazz may sound like a random improvisation, it is actually an extremely skilled and amazing form of music. Indeed, only those who truly understand musical theory and have music in their souls can truly play jazz. In the same way, only a man who knows the theory of doctrine deeply, and has grace and mercy in his heart, would be able to write such a book. Tripp is such a man.

The devotions are in a a number of different styles, which makes for a refreshing read. Most are devotions on a sentence, some are deep explorations of a specific word, quite a few are beautiful and honest poems.

Highlights of the book for me were:

  • His definition and exploration of sin in the early devotions. I found these clear, real, and compassionately explained. Indeed, although there is much talk of sin, it is always in the context of mercy. Therefore the book does not lead you to despair, but a doxological response of delight and duty.
  • Meditation 21 looks at the hyssop branch and shows how it looks back to the Exodus. Indeed, mediation 36 shows that the Psalm is all about Jesus. This book shows how the Psalm is all about Jesus and His cross.
  • Meditation 23 explains how every Christian can teach others. Tripp explains how our ministry should come out of our experience of grace. He says, ‘what qualifies us to teach in the personal ministry context of daily life is the grace that we have received in our moments of need.’
  • Finally, Tripp mirrors the desperation that I feel in my Christian walk as I daily face the battle with sin and temptation. I found the poems completely moving and uplifting. Yet he never leaves my in despair as he points me Upwards.

In a nut shell, this book is honest about sin, and points us to the mercy and grace that is found in Christ alone.

I cannot recommend this book too highly.

Buy it.

Enjoy it.

Here is the excellent and moving promotional video for the book, that begins with Paul reading his poem from mediation number 20:

You can buy it here.

A BIG thank you to Gethin Jones for pointing me to this book!


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