I’m not really a poet, but I am very interested in presenting truth in memorable ways. I’ve appreciated revisiting biblical poetry in the Bible interpretation class I’m currently taking. This skill is helpful when studying the psalms as well as wisdom literature. Understanding the full art of Hebrew poetry is difficult for English translations, but my fascination for it grows when I realize that these are very well thought out words, phrases and structures. I’m challenged to look deeper into the poetry to discover the fuller meaning. When the poetry is skimmed, there is a certain level of appreciation, however, when the poetry is tasted and explored, the appreciation shoots through the roof! So as I look at the poetry of the psalms, I will be increasingly aware specifically of the various forms of parallelism including synonymous, synthetic and antithetical. Parallelism is essentially how the lines work together. I will also continue to expand my use of word pictures that the proverbs excel at and remember the principle from the book I’m reading called “How to Read the Bible for All its Worth” by Fee and Stuart (p.238): “Proverbs are worded to be memorable, not to be theoretically accurate.”
Looking at the types of Psalms in chapter 11 (p.212-222) of this book, I’m reminded of something I learned a long time ago. The Psalms are examples of prayer to believers. They give us words to flesh out all kinds of prayers to God. The Psalms are meant to show us that it’s okay to express ALL our emotions to God and to express them creatively and thoughtfully. Whether we are angry, elated, depressed, hopeful, desperate or anxious, God wants us to approach him. I think in this process, we can watch God work around us and in us. As Fee and Stuart recommend, “The psalms, therefore, are of great benefit to the believer who looks to the Bible for help in expressing joys and sorrows, successes and failures, hopes and regrets” (p.205).
Poetry is an emotional form of literature. So in this life of faith we are free to experience the whole range of emotions as we express our trust and hope in God. As we embrace this fully, we can also communicate more fully. As we teach and minister we can use poetry and colourful language. In doing this we can engage the heart and mind and awaken people to the artistic and emotional God of the Bible and not the stale, cold and indifferent God that so many have blindly accepted.