Did you know the Bible contains poetry and books full of wisdom? The latter may be easy to guess, but many do not realize that poetry is one of the literary styles found inside the Scriptures. Let’s talk about those books.
What is the Old Testament?
Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!
The author of Job is unknown. Job is the key figure of the book of Job. While the book is classified with the poetics and appears toward the middle of the Bible, it is actually recognized as the earliest book written! Job is classified as poetry because most of the book is written in parallel lines, characteristic of poetry. The well-known story follows Job, the wealthy man from Uz. After a conversation between Satan and God, Job experienced extreme misfortune. Job cried out to God and continued to trust him, and God blessed Job by restoring his riches, his family, and his health.
The Psalms is categorized into five collections: book 1 (Psalms 1–41); book 2 (Psalms 42–72); book 3 (Psalms 73–89); book 4 (Psalms 90–106); and book 5 (Psalms 107–150). Although David is popularly associated with the Psalms, he was not the only writer. Other writers included Solomon, Asaph, the sons of Korah, and even Moses (Psalm 90). Still other writers remained anonymous. We generally read Psalms today, but many of them were set to music when they were originally written. The book of Psalms span a period of over one thousand years and covers a range of emotions and situations: lament, praise, and thanksgiving, to name a few. Songs of ascent were generally sung on pilgrimages when the Israelites would travel to Jerusalem for one of the three annual feasts.
Proverbs and Ecclesiastes
Proverbs is a collection of short sayings that serve as principles for wise living. Multiple authors are thought to have penned the book, including Solomon, Agur, and Lemuel. Wisdom is the driving theme throughout Proverbs, and the authors advised their readers to apply the principles of these proverbs to their diverse life experiences. Although the author of Ecclesiastes refers only to himself as “The Preacher,” scholars often identify Solomon as the author. Solomon reflected on the vanity of choosing one’s own life interests above pursuit of God. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon questioned the ultimate meaning of life. Throughout his ponderings, Solomon arrived at the conclusion that God’s presence and interaction make life significant.
Song of Songs
In its original form, Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) stood as one long poem that celebrated married love. In the poem, Solomon (widely accepted as the author) and his betrothed anticipated their wedding night, when they could physically express their affection for one another (Song of Songs 1–3). Once they were married, they were able to be together (Song of Songs 3–4). In the final section of the book, the bride finds comfort in her husband’s continued love for her. “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me” (Song of Songs 7:10).
Watch Week Three:
Old Testament: History and Wisdom
What do you hope the books in the poetry genre will teach you about God and his attributes? What you think they will show you about yourself?
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