Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Book Write-Up: The Pleasure of His Company

Dutch Sheets.  The Pleasure of His Company: A Journey to Intimate Friendship with God.  Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2014.  See here for Bethany House’s page about the book.

The Pleasure of His Company is about the pleasure that can come from spending time with God.  Dutch Sheets tells stories about his own life, examines Scripture, and offers suggestions about how believers can spend time with God.

There were many things that I liked about this book.  Sheets is vulnerable and sometimes humorous in telling his own story, and he depicts God as a God of love, even though he later says that spending time with God will take time and effort (which he says will be worthwhile).  Sheets also shares that God made him an introvert, and he talks about how God uses that for his glory; that resonated with me, as one who enjoys solitude.

My favorite parts of the book were some of Sheets’ applications of the Old Testament.  He talked about Obed-Edom, who temporarily housed the Ark of the Covenant, and who was so addicted to God that, according to the Chronicler, he moved to Jerusalem to be near the Ark after it was transported there.  (There is actually debate about whether those are the same Obed-Edom, but I appreciate Sheets’ point, nevertheless.)  Malachi 3:16 says that those who feared God spoke often with one another, and God heard it, and I have heard preachers use this verse to guilt people into joining Christian small groups.  Sheets, however, offered a refreshing interpretation that I had not considered before: that, after years of putting up with Israel’s faithlessness, God was happy to hear people saying positive things about him!

My only criticism of the book concerns how Sheets does his Hebrew and Greek word studies.  He sometimes seems to jump to conclusions on the basis of a word’s etymology, or how a word appears to be used in a particular passage.  Etymology is not necessarily helpful in telling us what a word means or how it is used, and, just because a word is used to refer to something in one context, that does not mean that it carries those implications in another context.  What is important in looking at words is the context in which they are used.  Scholar D.A. Carson discusses such issues in his excellent book, Exegetical Fallacies.

Still, even though I did not always agree with Sheets’ methods of arriving at his homiletical conclusions, I did agree with his homiletical conclusions: that one can be strengthened by spending time in God’s presence, giving God one’s undivided attention, and learning about what is on God’s heart.

The publisher sent me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

  1. Reb Nachman thought people should spend all day talking with God as a freind. I was not sure how to understand this i light of other statements about the importance of learning Torah. Rav Shick said to make a balance between learning and prayer.

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