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The following is from Explore the Book in BibleSoft:
These five so-called "poetical books" are not the only poetry in the Old Testament Scriptures. There are stretches of unexcellable poetry in the writings of the prophets, . . . This, however, does not affect the fact that these five; Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon are distinctively the poetical group.
We ought clearly to understand, also, that the term "poetical" refers only to their form. It must not be thought to imply that they are simply the product of human imagination. There is glorious poetry here; but there is nothing of the merely fanciful or unreal. These books portray real human experience, and grapple, with profound problems, and express big realities. Especially do they concern themselves with the experiences of the godly, in the varying vicissitudes of this changeful life which is ours under the sun. Moreover, experiences which are here dealt with were permitted to come to men in order that they might be as guides for the godly ever afterward. These experiences are here recorded and interpreted for us by the Spirit of inspiration through "holy men of old" who spoke and wrote "as they were moved" by Him. Thus, in these poetical books we have a most precious treasury of spiritual truth. . . .
We ought to say a word here about the nature of Hebrew poetry, as it is different from our own in certain marked ways. Much of our modern poetry is couched in rhyme or parallelism of sound. 'Besides this, there is rhythm, or parallelism of time, In rhyme we get the pleasure of Phonetic agreement. In rhythm we get the pleasure of metric agreement. There are many who would say that rhyme is not necessary to poetry. Some of our greatest English poetry is written in so-called "blank verse," or rhythm without rhyme. Certainly, rhyme and rhythm do not in themselves constitute real poetry, which, at heart, consists in the quadruple genius of insight, imagination, analogy, and expression; yet they are bound up with it in a subtle intimacy; and although rhyme is considered to be quite unnecessary by many, felicity of rhythm seems to be one of the generally accepted canons by which English poetry is judged.
Now in Hebrew poetry there is neither the sound parallelism of rhyme nor the time parallelism of rhythm, but there is parallelism of ideas. This parallelism of ideas is in three kinds - completive, contrastive, and constructive.
By COMPLETIVE parallels we mean those in which the second member of the parallel concurs with the first, and develops it to an intended further point. Take the following example:
The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree;
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. . . . (Ps. 91:12.)
Take now an example of CONTRASTIVE parallel. The Book of Proverbs abounds in these.
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;
But he that trusteth in Jehovah, mercy shall encompass him. . . .(Ps. 32:10.)
Take now the following example of CONSTRUCTIVE parallelism, in which successive parallels are built up together into structural form until they unitedly express one complete idea.
In Thy strength, O Jehovah, the king shall rejoice,
And in Thy salvation how greatly shall he exult!
The desire of his heart Thou hast granted him;
And the request of his lips Thou hast not denied. . . . (Ps. 21:1,2.)
We must speak just one further word about this Hebrew poetry of parallel ideas. Its peculiar genius makes it wonderfully suitable for translation into any language. Nothing is harder than to translate other kinds of poetry from one language into another; but this Hebrew poetry can be reproduced in any language without any necessary diminution of its beauty or force. When we try to translate rhyme or rhythm from one language into another we are up against almost insuperable obstacles. If, for instance, I am to translate two rhymed lines of eight syllables each from English into Greek, the one line ending with the word "God," and the other line ending with the word "trod," I find that the Greek word for God is Theos, which is a word of two syllables, unlike our English word "God"; and the Greek word for "trod" is periepatesen, a word of no less than six syllables, instead of one, and thus hopelessly different from our English word "trod"; so that at once' with these two words, my rhyme and my rhythm are both alike ruined.
There are no such difficulties in the translating of Hebrew poetic parallel. The five-fold group of the poetical writings which we now come to in our study of the Holy Scriptures were meant to be a book of prayer and praise and precept for all men, the Book of the Psalms in particular being, as it were, a Prayer Book for all generations; and in gracious wisdom, therefore, the Spirit of inspiration so ordered it that the kind of poetry which should clothe these prayers and praises should be a universal poetry. We may well thank God for this wise prevision and rich provision; and, further, we may discern in it yet one more indication of the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures.
(End of quote from Explore the Book)
The Psalms or Psalter was both a prayer book and hymnal for the Jewish nation. It was also a manual for the nature of the spiritual life in private as well as public worship. The writers of the Psalms were poets, song writers, and some even wrote prophetically. We should remember that the promises of God to the nation of Israel were mostly of an earthly nature, whereas the promises to the Church are mostly of a spiritual or heavenly nature. Nevertheless and generally speaking, the man who will trust and obey the Lord will have a much better life here on earth than those in the same area who live wickedly.
We may ask our self, if all Scripture is inspired of God why are some of the things recorded in them not true? Psalm 73 is a good example to consider. The writer of this psalm is assumed to be Asaph, and he says in verses 3-12 that the foolish, arrogant and wicked are prosperous, without pains and trouble, and always prosper and are at ease in the world; while he, attempting to live uprightly, is continually smitten and suffers reproach.
Even Asaph must have known at the time of his complaining that what he had said concerning the wicked is not necessarily and always true. He was speaking out of the anguish of his heart and expressing his feelings and displeasure with his circumstances, and these were to him very true indeed. So what is recorded is a true expression of his feelings, but not a true expression of reality. It is marvelous testimony to the faithfulness of God that we have recorded in verse 17, who we are to turn to in such times of great need. When Asaph went into the presence of God, God revealed to him the reality that he had previously lacked.
Other people have spoken things, which have been recorded in the Bible, that are also not true. David said, "I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul" (1 Sam. 27:1), but he didn’t; he died at a ripe old age in his own bed.
As an example, it would be well to remember that Ecclesiastes was written by a man (Solomon) once exalted and walking with God, who later turned away from God because of earthly influences. He wrote, in Ecclesiastes, a true account of what he was experiencing because of his unfaithful relationship to God. Those who remain faithful to God will not experience the same vanity and hopelessness that Solomon did, but what he has written should caution us to reflect upon the following words of Jesus, "But many [who are now] first will be last [then], and many [who are now] last will be first [then]" (Mark 10:30).
If we expect to live the good life that God has designed for us, we must remain in Christ by trusting and obeying Him; Colossians 3:1-6 and 1 Thessalonians 5:14-24 contain excellent instructions on how this is to be accomplished.
What then are some of the things that we should consider when we attempt to gain a correct understanding of Scripture? From the above quotes, we realize the need to first identify the writing style; is it history, Law, prophecy, poetry, song, praise, prayer, or some other type? If we can recognize the proper style we will be less likely to take it out of this setting and misinterpret it. We also need to recognize that most individuals are naturally inclined toward a personal preference such as: mystical or spiritual, Biblical and historical, or scholastic. The mystical or spiritual might be considered as the far left - those who are looking for and desiring to experience something that they can feel and relate to. The Biblical and historical are usually the middle of the road Christians who expect to find God’s Word ministered by the Holy Spirit sufficient. The scholars and the theologians can be considered as the far right believers endeavoring to examine and explain every minute detail, not only of Scripture but all of life. All three of these categories have a proper place and usefulness in Christian living, but if taken to extremes they can become harmful.
It is good to be able to recognize these differences, but we should always be ready to let the Holy Spirit make the application of the Scripture He inspired in the way that He knows we have need of it! "Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him (as Lord), and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil. It shall be health to your nerves and sinews, and morrow and moistening to your bones" (Prov. 3:5-8).
In the footnotes of the Amplified Bible it declares concerning the ninety-first Psalm, "The rich promises of this whole chapter are dependent upon one’s meeting exactly the conditions of these first two verses (see Exod. 15:26)." It is no wonder that the translators of this version of the Bible felt it necessary to inject this note, because this chapter promises protection from every hazard, even of stubbing one’s toe, for the one who dwells in this secret place. How then should a reader understand and apply this Psalm which could be entitled, The Security And Productiveness Of The Righteous?
PSALM 91:1-16.... He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. [Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.
9Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place, There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent. For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service]. They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.
14Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never]. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.
The covenant God made with the Israelites through Moses was geared towards earthly affairs such as the ninety-first Psalm portends (Gen. 15:18-21; Isa. 24:1-23), and eventually will be fulfilled during Christ’s millennial reign (Rev. 20:4-6). Whereas, the covenant made with the Church is mainly of a spiritual nature. "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which [ratifies the agreement and] is being poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt. 26:28). Even the kingdom is spiritual instead of physical, "Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He replied to them by saying, The kingdom of God does not come with signs to be observed or with visible display, nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you]" (Luke 17:20-21). "Jesus answered, My kingdom (kingship, royal power) belongs not to this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My followers would have been fighting to keep Me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, My kingdom is not from here (this world); [it has no such origin or source]" (John 18:36).
Therefore, we do well to rely upon the promises found in the ninety-first Psalm, for the physical, only in a general way, but completely rely upon them in a spiritual way. Another words, God can and may provide for what we consider our physical needs, but we have no guarantee that they will always be supplied, whereas, we can rely completely on God supplying all our spiritual needs. "For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue)" (2 Peter 1:3).
The following Psalm is especially precious, promising both physical and spiritual blessing of continued usefulness and productiveness to those who live uprightly before the Lord.
PSALM 92:12-15.... The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible]. Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment]. [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
And remember, Perfect Righteousness Is Ours Only by Dwelling In Christ. If you want to pursue this thought a little further read the article with the same title on this website.
The following passages of Scripture point out some of a multitude of spiritual blessing and benefits which should be preferred in comparison to mere earthly benefits.
EPHESIANS 3:1-12.... FOR THIS reason [because I preached that you are thus built up together], I, Paul, [am] the prisoner of Jesus the Christ for the sake and on behalf of you Gentiles – assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace (His unmerited favor) that was entrusted to me [to dispense to you] for your benefit, [and] that the mystery (secret) was made known to me and I was allowed to comprehend it by direct revelation, as I already briefly wrote you. When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ.
5[This mystery] was never disclosed to human beings in past generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles (consecrated messengers) and prophets by the [Holy] Spirit. [It is this:] that the Gentiles are now to be fellow heirs [with the Jews], members of the same body and joint partakers [sharing] in the same divine promise in Christ through [their acceptance of] the glad tidings (the Gospel). Of this [Gospel] I was made a minister according to the gift of God's free grace (undeserved favor) which was bestowed on me by the exercise (the working in all its effectiveness) of His power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints (God's consecrated people), this grace (favor, privilege) was granted and graciously entrusted: to proclaim to the Gentiles the unending (boundless, fathomless, incalculable, and exhaustless) riches of Christ [wealth which no human being could have searched out], also to enlighten all men and make plain to them what is the plan [regarding the Gentiles and providing for the salvation of all men] of the mystery kept hidden through the ages and concealed until now in [the mind of] God Who created all things by Christ Jesus.
10[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere. This is in accordance with the terms of the eternal and timeless purpose which He has realized and carried into effect in [the person of] Christ Jesus our Lord, in Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear).
HEBREWS 11:24-27.... [Aroused] by faith Moses, when he had grown to maturity and become great, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, because he preferred to share the oppression [suffer the hardships] and bear the shame of the people of God rather than to have the fleeting enjoyment of a sinful life. He considered the contempt and abuse and shame [borne for] the Christ (the Messiah Who was to come) to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt, for he looked forward and away to the reward (recompense). [motivated] by faith he left Egypt behind him, being unawed and undismayed by the wrath of the king; for he never flinched but held staunchly to his purpose and endured steadfastly as one who gazed on Him Who is invisible. [Ex. 2:15.]
Moses has left us the perfect example to follow, when once we have caught a glimpse of the far superior value and benefits of God’s spiritual kingdom we should never look back, but determine in our hearts to remain faithful to Christ no matter what we may have to suffer while here on earth in our present bodies.