Reading through the Bible – especially from Genesis to Malachi – can be challenging for those who do not find reading an enjoyable pastime. It can, in actuality, be quite difficult for the most avid of readers too. The redundancy of family histories and the repetition of laws and codes in the Old Testament are not usually considered exhilaratingly ‘edge of the seat’ moments that make one beg for me. Instead, they often feel like yawn inducing tidbits of drudgery that one must force himself to muddle through.
Tucked away inside of this self-revealing mountain of information known as God’s word is a beautiful and eloquent section of work called the poetry books. The poetry books – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon – contain some of the most heart felt dialogue in all the Bible – dialogue between friends, dialogue between enemies, and dialogue between man and God. Rushing through the Old Testament, or avoiding it all together, can cause one to miss out on the beauty of humanity and the splendor of God contained within the books of poetry.
When reading the Bible, the question arises in the reader’s mind, “Who wrote this? Whose heart are we listening to at this moment?” When direct quotes are given, it is easy to ascertain authorship and know who is saying or feeling what at any given moment; however, when no direct quote is made, knowing the author can be nearly impossible. So is the case with most of the work encapsulated in the books of poetry. We do know that some of the work was penned by David, some by Solomon, some by Moses, and some by others who we know by name or title, but there is a great portion of the work that we can not know with any degree of certainty who authored it. The important thing to remember is that we do know every single word in the scriptures was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit whose purpose was to reveal the heart of God.
Reading through some of the poetic books, one would question whether poetry really is the main style of writing or not. Modern day poetry, known for its rhyme and rhythm, causes a person with an ear for poetry to question whether the books known as biblical poetry are really poetry at all. There does not seem to be any rhyme in the poems and finding a definite rhythm can also be difficult to do. The repetitive nature of the poetry with the repetition of certain phrases can cause the modern day poet to scoff as the supposed poetic nature of the work; however, one must always remember that what is common to our cultural understanding of style is not necessarily on par with the style used by the Hebrew writers who originally authored the text.
No matter the style or repetition, one thing remains true: these poetic books are ingeniously written and contain some of the most beautiful words ever penned. From heart felt passion towards an incredible God to fear and wrestlings of pain and turmoil, the poetry books contain much wisdom from which we can glean. How to view the sovereignty of God, how to handle ourselves in crisis, how to love with unbridled passion, how to avoid the temptations of life, and how to escape frivolous living – it is all there. God’s design and recipe for fulfillment and contentment is outlined in the poetic genius of Psalms, Song of Solomon, Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes.
If you have not yet read these brilliant pieces of art, I encourage you to do so. You will find beauty written on every line and your appetite will be whet to know even more of this incredible sovereign God we serve. You will find wisdom and she will lead you into paths teeming with life. You will come to understand that life often seems unfair but it is governed by a loving God who really is working all things out for your betterment if you will trust Him. Dig in to the poetic genius of the scriptures and discover a whole new way of thinking.