If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried your fair share of niche study Bibles. Whether it be The Teenage Study Bible or The Life Application Study Bible or The Archaeological Study Bible with topic specific articles, they can be a great resource in your study of God’s Word while navigating a specific area of interest. So being a young father of two, there’s a question that forever lingers in the back of my mind: What does it really mean to be a man after God’s own heart? This raises more than just the question of personhood, but the question of manhood, and specifically growing in becoming more of a man that loves what God loves and so lives as God calls me — as a man — to live.
Recently, I was able to get my hands on the new ESV Men’s Devotional Bible. I’ve always been drawn to the ESV’s “word for word” philosophy in translation from the original languages while maintaining a readable and beautiful literary structure, and at first, I was pleasantly surprised by the simple and subtle layout. For example, there isn’t a cheesy dad throwing a kid up in the air on the cover that instantly makes you feel guilty that you aren’t throwing kids in the air, which to be fair, isn’t how most study bibles look. Even so, I was skeptical thinking: Don’t tell me I have to throw the pigskin with my neighbors. Don’t tell me I need to get married (even though I am). Don’t tell me to move to the suburbs. Don’t tell me to stay in the city. Just give me Scripture’s understanding of manhood.
So with my skepticism, I started using it. I’ve been using it for about a month now. I have come to see that they mean it when they say in the introduction: “Our goal is to strengthen and transform the hearts of men through the power of the Spirit-inspired Word of God.” I also appreciate how “the devotionals included in the ESV Men’s Study Devotional Bible are not arranged topically or thematically, but rather are tethered closely to the text on which each is based.” The main goal is still guiding men to be thoughtful exegetes of the text first, and it is by that pathway we grow into mature men of faith.
Then to top it off, there are 365 devotionals, new book introductions that are short and sharp, a helpful dictionary of terms, and 14 new articles in the back full of encouraging gospel-centered wisdom on work (which is written by our very own Senior Pastor, Tom Nelson), identity, leadership, calling, doubt, and more. This isn’t a Bible that just helps men in the minority of their devotional lives, but also helps in their majority of their work lives. So if you’re a guy following Jesus and you want to grow in your walk with Jesus, the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible might be a good investment to work through this next year. I know I will keep using it.
One more thing: If you wanted a better review of this study bible and to see a sample devotional, I found Tim Challie’s to be helpful! I know you wish I would have said that earlier. Sorry about that, but really I’m not. Check it out here.