A Book Review from Books At a Glance
By Kristin Stiles
Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! Marty Machowski’s book, WonderFull, is an amazing treatment of the book of Psalms for children. He has found a way to make all 150 Psalms meaningful and understandable to an age group that we usually don’t spend much time addressing these writings to. Your children might know Psalm 23 and be familiar with several verses from the Psalms, but how much time have you or their Sunday School teachers spent studying the profound truths that are encapsulated in these ancient songs?
Machowski tells the story of a young boy, Oliver, and his cancer-stricken grandfather as a framework to present the Psalms. As the young boy explores the scripture with his grandfather, he must face the reality of his current sinful position and realize his need for a Savior. Meanwhile, he also is confronted with losing a well-beloved grandparent and must deal with all the emotions that accompany that. The Psalms speak to all of this as they present the need for repentance, the offer of forgiveness, the refuge of God, the hope of eternal life. Oliver is a sympathetic character who will be relatable to most children.
How Machowski handles the Psalms themselves is truly impressive. Most of the Psalms are presented individually. There is a brief explanation of the meaning and background of the passage. Machowski uses analogies to real life that will easily resonant with experiences that children have. He adds simple questions for discussion and reflection and offers ideas for journal entries. On several occasions, he groups together Psalms that have similar themes or that are meant to be read together. With these, he does still separate each Psalm to make a specific point about each one. Parents are encouraged to take their time going through this book with their children. There is much of value to be mined that would be missed with a quick reading through. I greatly appreciate the effort that Machowski has taken in presenting gospel truths throughout, presenting Jesus, connecting the Psalms to the New Testament, and providing the context in which the Psalm was set. This was a massive undertaking and completed with great skill.
Machowski recommends using this book as a devotional and suggests reading a Psalm each night before bed. As a homeschooling mom, this book stands out to me as being the perfect resource for a year-long Bible study with the children that you homeschool. There is plenty of substance to read and discuss, plus the suggestions for journal entries are really impressive. This book would supply enough material for an entire year. In addition to doing one day for each of the 150 Psalms, you would add extra days for working your way through Psalm 119. I love the suggestion Machowski has for each section of this Psalm: “Circle any part where he confesses his sins. Draw a square around any words that describe God and what he has done for him. Then underline all the phrases that list the blessings of God’s Word.” What a great activity this would be and how instructive!
At the end of this book, there are twenty-five of the Psalms that Machowski digs deeper into. Each of these Psalms has a key idea and a question to answer. Here, the older student could work through connecting various Psalms with each other and with New Testament passages. S/he will also learn more about the penitent and imprecatory prayers. And learn those words, too! There is a hint of hermeneutics as the student will be directed in how to read different Psalms and what to look for within the superscripts and the historical inspiration for the writing.
So, I’ll say it again. Brilliant! I am very impressed with everything about this book and would highly recommend it.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.
Buy the books
WONDERFULL: ANCIENT PSALMS EVER NEW, by Marty Machowski