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Leap Over a Wall : Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  652 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Leap Over a Wall is Eugene H. Peterson’s vibrant, insightful, and heartfelt exploration of one of the Bible’s most controversial figures: King David. Peterson beautifully elucidates the Old Testament’s rich depictions of David's failures and victories, recapturing their excitement and immediacy to reveal David himself as a crucially human example of how we relate to God. A ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1997)
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Dottie Parish
Leap Over A Wall is a unique and fascinating study on the life of David. Throughout the book - from David and Goliath to David and Bathsheba to the death of Absalom- we learn of the humanity of David. He began as a shepherd boy, was “a man after God’s own heart,” a fugitive, a poetic writer of seventy-three Psalms, a mighty warrior, a king and a murderer. Peterson, the translator of the Message Bible, writes beautifully, even eloquently, of the many dimensions of David’s life, fleshing them out ...more
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read 100% of the book Leap Over a Wall by Eugene Peterson. Eugene Peterson is best known for his work in translating the complete Bible into a contemporary message called The Message. The book was a reflection on the life of David, specifically in the texts of 1st and 2nd Samuel in the Bible. Each chapter of the book was named a specific topic, followed by a subtitle describing a specific story of David. For example, the first chapter was named “Stories – David and Jesus”. The second chapte ...more
Andrew Murch
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my final reads of the year, and I think perhaps the best. The insight Peterson brings into the David story is remarkable. It felt like each chapter was a beautifully crafted narrative sermon on the different scenes in David's life. Highly devotional, challenging, and ripe. He breaks down David's life scene by scene, and as a reader you travel from the fields of sheep in 1 Samuel 16 to the great king's deathbed in 1 Kings 2. On the way you get acquainted with (outside of Jesus) the ...more
Demetrius Rogers
Peterson does it again. This guy is one of my favorite authors. His style can be a bit slow, but highly rewarding. It's like following a leisurely driver. The impatient reader can get a little antsy, but if you hang in there this guy can lead ya to some of the greatest sights. I'll go 10 pages and nothing pops. Just gentle and relatively uneventful (yet beautiful) prose. And then Peterson takes a turn, and, all of a sudden, you're traveling down one of the most breathtaking roads you've ever see ...more
Jon Anderson
This is Peterson's take on the life of David. All that you expect from Peterson - beautiful writing, thoughtful meditations, deep application. The main thrust here is that spirituality does not diminish our humanity but actually enlivens it. That to be fully human is to be fully centered on God. Peterson does believe in a sanctified use of the imagination, so some of his speculations which fill the gaps in the biblical narrative may seem farfetched. However, more often than not, they bring out t ...more
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith, 2016
I love Eugene Peterson's books and I love to hear him speak. He's gentle and pastoral and REFRESHING. This book was SO GOOD... but I had to get about halfway through it before I started to get a good feel for the way it all hangs together. The last few chapters alone are worth the price of the book. I finished it, but I'm going back over several chapters because I want to remember these things. My copy is now marked up and heavily dog-eared. That's the sign of a great book! If the Bible is feeli ...more
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book for normal people facing life, working and living without reality tv coverage of their every decision. David was a man who killed people for a living, but he wrote great psalms and walked with God. Peterson translates David's life into an encouraging litany for everyday people, complete with ups and downs. Peterson also clarifies why the absence of lament from American society has led to increased depression and addiction. Quite an interesting read for a psych nurse. Thank y ...more
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this over a number of mornings and always looked forward to it.

A few chapters stood out to me as particularly insightful and interesting but I don’t have the book to hand so can’t remember which ones. I think the one on the wilderness and beauty were particularly good.

Real life Christianity brought to life through great retelling of classic stories. All about David, who lived out his calling in a subversively God-focussed way.

Good job Eugene
Sharla Fritz
Mar 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gives an in-depth look at the life of David. How encouraging to know that God uses unlikely people, people who have failed. That we can return to God and not be disqualified from God's kingdom. ...more
Richard Piet
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
Recalling the magic of listening to the narratives from his story telling mother, Peterson gives us permission to tell our story and weave our life-tale into the chronicle of God’s work. The David story is the basis for connecting the Most High God to our human and earthy lives in this book of identification and encouragement. The David story provides us with a context to understand our own lives, our humanity and how God shapes us. The license of Peterson’s mother in embellishing and bringing t ...more
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
We used this book, based on the life of David, to structure our discussions for the college ministry I worked with this spring. Each week we focused on a section of David's story and were often able to use Peterson's book to get ideas and identify the main thrust of the passage.
It was a quick read, once I sat down and decided to finish it, and Peterson has some great insights about some of the lesser-known parts of David's story. He does a great job of connecting it with the larger story of the
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's been a while since I've read a "Christian" book, but this was fantastic. Definitely the best book on David I've ever read. "Earthy Spirituality" is the perfect subtitle for it. Peterson shows how David is made fully human by both his spiritual walk with God and his failings. Although, on the note of failings, the one area I wished he'd have addressed more was in David's decision to take multiple wives. It was, of course, just a part of the culture then--especially expected of a king; but I ...more
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bible
I love books that help illuminate scripture and make me see it in a new way. Peterson has done that by following the life of David through 1st and 2nd Samuel.

Did you know that in all of David's life - from his boyhood to his death - the Bible never records any miracles? That's what makes his life so interesting for us - how do we interact with God as normal human beings? What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be "spiritual"? God gave us the story of David to answer some of these qu
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've studied and read this book completely for school and it was such an engaging and marvelous read. The chapters helped to jumpstart wonderful conversations and provided thought-provoking ideas to consider. I enjoyed this book immensely and have included a few of the concepts and reflection in an upcoming publication. ...more
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book (non-fiction) by a Christian Man along with The Secret Chord (fiction) by a Jewish Woman. Both about the Life of David
Apr 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021, faith
"Wonderful things happen in sanctuaries. On the run we stop at a holy place and find that there's more to life than our circumstances and feelings indicate at that moment. We perceive God in and around and beneath us. New life surges up within us. We discover a piece of our lives we had thought long gone restored to us, remember an early call of God, a place of prayer, a piece of evidence that GOd saves. And now, there it is again: "There is none like that; give it to me." We leave restored, rev ...more
Jesus was often called the Son of David as well as the Son of God. I never really understood the former (except for the lineage aspect) until I read this marvellous exploration of David's life. Peterson, in his wonderfully inclusive manner, reveals to us David's humanity, his strengths, weaknesses and everything in between. In so doing he draws us into the David story but also draws Jesus, the man, into it as well. Jesus was fully human and fully God, a mystery that we'll never fully understand ...more
J. Alfred
Peterson is good at lots of things, and getting you imaginatively involved in the David story, and showing how the David story affects you in your lived experience, is one of those things that he can do very well.
For instance, many of us have heard (usefully and correctly in terms of Biblical Theology, I think) that when we read about David we should picture him as a stand in for Christ and picture ourselves as somebody unimportant in the background cheering timidly while the Hero Gets the Job
Angelise Schrader
David is an imperfect and yet authentic example of what it means to pursue the heart of God. I so appreciated how Eugene Peterson looked at different stories of one of the most thoroughly covered lives in scripture and broke down a bigger window into the life of a man who made prayer and praise his mainstay. How did the barren plains of Paran shape David? How do we look at beauty, sin, theology, and death via a God focused lens? There is so much to be gleaned here and Peterson does it with poeti ...more
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-faith
Pastor and author Eugene Peterson offers a series of reflections on the life of David, structured around narrative episodes found in 1 and 2 Samuel. His thesis is that David's life was characterized by an earthy spirituality: David was a real person with very human (often even less than moral) problems but who was also grounded in his faith in and praise to God. Each chapter comprises a sort of written sermon - spiritual observations and applications based on that piece of the David story. I wis ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of David is so captivating because he is a model for us and a metaphor for human life: at times passionately grateful to God and spiritually alive, at other times hunted and desperately seeking God. Peterson does a good job bringing David to life and showing us how we can use his life as a model for our own lives and can learn lessons from his life to enrich our own lives. My only complaint is the use of The Message version because I think some of the beauty gets lost in that version. ...more
Katie Bowman
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Currently I’m reading through the Bible in chronological order so this book was perfect to accompany me when I got to the life of David. Just as I’m sad to move on in the Word, so I am sad to put down this gem of a book. Peterson does a beautiful job taking chronological topics and themes from David’s life like suffering, grief, wilderness, and growth and applying them to our everyday life. His beautiful prose makes David seem less royal and heroic and more human. If you decide to read this book ...more
William Dillon
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even with the continual shroud of cynicism surrounding the author, this book has convinced me that Peterson is a genuine, Godly man. While some may think he stretches boundaries when it comes to creating his own Bible translation and selecting correct positions on moral issues, he is nothing short of fantastic in this one - I highly recommend anyone to read this work. I have yet to read a book by him that I don't love ...more
Kirk Weikart
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A step-by-step analysis of the life of David. Each chapter details a story from David's life, and hones in on the major characteristic of David illumionated by that story. Presented in chronological order, it presents an exposition of the ups and downs of David's life. It also documents what David learns; and forgets. A must read for anyone wanted a better understanding of David. And themself. ...more
Megan Click
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: evangelical christians that are ok with honest portrayals of biblical men and women
This was an intriguing look into King David's life and how it portrayed a constant relationship with God. Unlike many books about the man, this book doesn't sugarcoat his misdeeds, but instead shows how even David's serious sins reaped both dire consequences and life-changing lessons. I recommend this to anyone looking for a gritty devotional read. ...more
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book several times now, and each time it keeps getting better. Peterson has such an easygoing writing style in this book, that it's a pleasure to read. He brings in some memories from his childhood, and mixes them in with deep insights into the many stories in the Bible of David and his adventures by adding colour and life to them. I find useable quotes in nearly every chapter. ...more
Joseph Hamrick
Peterson was a fantastic writer, and this book has some fascinating highs, but also some points where I was left scratching my head in frustration at how he could come up with a strange interpretation of the text of Scripture as that. But overall, it was enjoyable. And again, he could write like nobody's business. ...more
Daniel Harding
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A helpful portrayal of David’s life. Gone is the fluff of those who prefer only his righteousness as well as the stones cast by those who delight in his weaknesses. Realizing that David moved from sphere to sphere there is not as much glorification in the person as their is in the God he serves.
AmyLu Riley
Among much other content, this book contained a fascinating look at one particular aspect of David's life, which I mention here in my recommendation of the book: ...more
Rob Selwitz
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First book I’ve read in a while (IPhone addiction to blame!)
Enjoyed reading about David’s life, with key Peterson comments at times.

“We can’t be naïve about the wilderness, it’s a dangerous place. But we must never avoid the wilderness - it is a beautiful place.”
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Eugene H. Peterson was a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. For many years he was James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also served as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. He had written over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language ...more

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“The prayer of David traditionally assigned to this story is Psalm 57. While there are lines in that psalm that convey David's fugitive state at the time, its overwhelming impression is of energetic and ebullient praise of God. This means that while Saul was the occasion for David's being in the wilderness, Saul neither defined nor dominated the wilderness. The wilderness was full of God, not Saul.” 0 likes
“David's isn't an ideal life but an actual life.” 0 likes
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