Chapter 5

Things to Keep in Mind When Reading Poetry

It pays to know how to read the poetry of the Old Testament since about one-third of it is written in poetry. So in this brief study we took a good look at how poetry works in the Old Testament in order to learn how to maximize our understanding of its message.

Remember, poetry says a lot using a few words. That means when we read scriptural poetry, we need to slow down and reflect on the compact message. We need to think about how parallel lines relate to each other. We need to meditate on the images that the poet presents before us. We need to be aware that the poets not only want to inform our intellects, but also to arouse our emotions, stimulate our imaginations, and appeal to our will.

In particular, we’ve focused on the poetic books of the Old Testament where the poets expressed their innermost passions. The book of Psalms, we’ve noted, are poems of worship that rejoice, thank, weep, express confidence, and more. Since the psalms are a mirror of the soul, there will always be a psalm that helps us express what we are feeling to God. We’ve seen how, through poetry, the book of Lamentations eloquently expresses bitter grief at the suffering of God’s people in the aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem, along with a glimmer of hope that God might restore his relationship with them. And the Song of Songs expressed the deep desire for intimacy that the man and the woman feel for each other.

As we read these books, we learn more about God, ourselves, and ultimately our relationship to Christ. Read these books more deeply, and you will find yourself growing in your relationship to God.