I signed up to review  The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms from Zondervan, who provided me with a copy at no cost to me. The book released last year, and seeks to be a counterpart to a reader’s Bible when reading and studying the Psalms.

The book is in two main sections. Firstly is the introductory material, which offers insight into the structure, purpose and practical use of the Psalms in their original historical, cultural and geographical contexts. After this follows a page-per-Psalm companion piece. Each page features information on genre, purpose, content, some reflective thoughts and questions, and a graphic to help highlight the tone and meaning of the Psalm.

The book is colorful, and quite nicely formatted. The question I have is how essential this companion is to the average reader. In reading through I found myself consistently reminded of a high school textbook. That is no bad thing if the student is young, but to be honest most of the information contained is either evident to a careful reader of the original text or is already contained in a good study bible and so I could not help but feel that “essential” was too strong an adjective for this basic volume.

If you are looking for a resource to aid in studying the Psalms with your children, this may be just the ticket, but otherwise it may disappoint.