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Archive for the ‘biblical poetry’ Category

depression-quote-about-life-11

On August 11, 2014, Robin Williams was found hanging in his bedroom by his personal assistant in Tiburon, in Northern California.  He was pronounced dead by those who arrived at the scene.  Williams is considered a comedian icon who is praised as the king of comedy who knew how to make people laugh.  But a huge turn of events changed his life.  The king of comedy who tried to keep everyone happy later became a victim to the fiery darts of this nemesis: depression.  It’s a sharp blade that slowly cuts through the soul of a man.  If the man has no shield to protect him, this sharp blade will move deeper into the human soul in order to take captive the mind of man.  Please pray for the family during this difficult time.  May the Gospel of Christ makes its way to the family so they can taste the power of the Living Water.

Depression is has played a prominent role in many of my counseling sessions.  I have seen the bad and ugly side of it.  The only hope I believe is the Great Physician who prescribes the right medicine to those who are willing to schedule an appointment of Him.  If you are in the Valley of Vision, come to the Lord because He will comfort you.  No one can comfort and bring hope to the soul like the Great Physician.  He knows the human heart and human nature.

The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

A relevant prayer concerning this heavy melancholy is vividly described in this prayer from one of the puritan prayers from the The VALLEY OF VISION: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotionals.  This prayer touches the core of the spiritually depressed man and women.

THE VALLEY OF VISION

LORD, HIGH and HOLY, MEEK and LOWLY,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
     where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
     hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
     that the way down is the way up,
     that to be low is to be high,
     that the broken heart is the healed heart,
     that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
     that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
     that to have nothing is to possess all,
     that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
     that to give is to receive,
     that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
     and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
          thy life in my death,
          thy joy in my sorrow,
          thy grace in my sin,
          thy riches in my poverty
          thy glory in my valley.

Ancient prayers concerning this problem is also documented in the Bible.  See Psalm 119:25-32.  Real emotions from a man’s soul that is an melancholy state is here documented for us too see.  I remember preaching a message from this passage and it was comforting to me.  Please watch how the psalmist responds:

Daleth.

25 My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
26 I have told of my ways, and You have answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.
27 Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
So I will meditate on Your wonders.
28 My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
29 Remove the false way from me,
And graciously grant me Your law.
30 I have chosen the faithful way;
I have placed Your ordinances before me.
31 I cling to Your testimonies;
O Lord, do not put me to shame!
32 I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.” 

The psalmist understood that the only help, the life vest for His soul as it is drowning in the sea of melancholy, is the transcendent Word of God.

Here are some other helpful sermons from the once bonafide and renown doctor who later became a preacher because he wanted to operate on the inner man: Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  He produced many sermons from his series on Spiritual Depression that I encourage you to listen if you or someone you know is experiencing depression.  The Doctor deals with this problem boldly, truthfully, and lovingly.  I have listened to more than four of his messages from this series and they have been phenomenal expositions.  May it help you as it has been of great value and help to me.

Spiritual Depression

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GO TO PART VII

I. Identifying praise poetry

a. Introductory note:There can be many more various sub-genre of Psalms (Messianic, Royal Psalms, Creation Psalms, etc), but for the purpose of this course in dealing with the broader genre of Scripture, some of the sub-genre can be seen as a type of praise poetry.

i. Some of the praise hymns include declarative praise (thanksgiving) and descriptive praise.[1]

ii. Some of the forms of Psalms can also be divided into further sub-genre groups.

iii. Of course, there might be Psalms in the Psalter that does not fit in neatly into the categories given.

b. Definition: “Praise is primarily a reciting of the attributes of God and of acts of God, and then praising God for both.”[2]

c. Two broad types of Praise and their elements

i. Declarative Praise

1. Definition: “These psalms are called songs of thanksgiving or declarative psalms, because the psalmist was praising God by publicly declaring his mighty deeds.”[3]

2. “Such psalms expressed joy to the Lord because something had gone well, because circumstances were good, and/or because people had reason to render thanks to God for his faithfulness, protection, and benefit.”[4]

3. Elements[5]

a. Proclamation to Praise God

b. Summary statement

c. The Report

d. The Praise

4. Sub-genres of Declarative Praise:

a. Individual thanksgiving

Examples: Psalms 18, 30, 32, 34, 40, 66, 92, 116, 118, 138.[6]

b. Community thanksgiving

Examples: Psalms 65, 67, 75, 107, 124, 136.[7]

ii. Descriptive Praise

1. Definition: These are Psalms “praising God primarily by describing his character, with a focus on the attributes of God—who he is and what he is like—these psalms are frequently called hymns of praise or descriptive psalms.”[8]

2. “These psalms, without particular reference to previous miseries or to recent joyful accomplishments, center on the praise of God for who he is, for his greatness and his beneficence toward the whole earth, as well as his own people.”[9]

3. Elements[10]

a. Call to praise

b. Cause for praise

c. Call to praise again

4. Sub-genres of Descriptive Praise:

a. Creation Psalms

Examples: Psalms 8, 19:1-6, 104, 148[11]

b. Enthronement Psalm

i. These “speak of a future coming of the LORD to his people or to the earth, or that speak of a future rule of the LORD over Israel or over the whole earth”[12]

ii. Examples: Psalms 47, 93, 95-99[13]

II. Principles in interpreting praise poetry

a. All the principles in Session Six apply here as well.

b. Identify whether the Psalm is a Descriptive or Declarative Psalm.

i. Is the Psalm about God’s attribute?  If so, what does it say?

ii. Is the Psalm about what God has done? If so, what does it say?

iii. Note:Why knowing the genre is half the battle in interpretation

1. Attempting to identify the sub-genre means looking for important elements within the text.

2. By identifying the elements, the elements show what the text mean.

c. If possible, see if the Psalm fit into the appropriate sub-genre within the Descriptive or Declarative Psalm.

i. Similar to the note given above, testing to see if the Psalm has a sub-genre will be fruitful in helping the reader to interpret the Psalm more fully.

d. If the Praise is declarative, try to identify the historical context.[14]

i. Not always easy, especially in the Psalms.

ii. These answer the question more richly of what God has done that is worthy of praise.

e. Concentrate on what the text teach about who God is.

i. It is always important to be theo-centric in our interpretation.

ii. Praise is not so much of what God has done, but who Yahweh is.

iii. Within those Psalm, often there is not much details given of exactly what Yahweh has done; rather, there is more detail of who Yahweh is.[15]

f. The why is the what of praise

i. The Psalms sometimes gives the reason for the writing of the Psalm.

ii. This reason is also the content, or the what, that is being praised about God.


[1] Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus, 46.

[2] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 218.

[3] Ibid, 222.

[4] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 194.

[5] Modified from Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus, 46.

[6] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 195.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 219.

[9] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 195.

[10] Modified from Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 221.

[11] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 221; and Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 195

[12] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 220.

[13] Ibid, 219.

[14] Kenneth L. Barker, “Praise” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 227.

[15] Idea as taught by Professor Keith Essex, of The Master’s Seminary.

 

GO TO PART IX

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GO TO PART VI

I. Identifying Lament

a. Definition: It is a poetic cry towards God

b. It comprises the largest group of Psalms, with over sixty laments.[1]

c. It is a Psalm of disorientation.[2]

d. It is mainly distinguished by the content and mood rather than the structure.[3]

e. It is recognized “by expressions of grief, sorrow, fear, anger, contempt, shame, guilt and other dark emotions.”[4]

f. Examples of Laments include Psalms 3-7, 9-10, 12-14, 17, 22, 25-28, 31, 35, 38-43, 52-57, 59, 61, 63-64.

g. It has the following element

i. Invocation, which is the crying out to God in the vocative.[5]

ii. Plea, which is the request and it usually uses an imperative verb in the Hebrew.[6]

iii. Complaint, which reveals the motive of the lament.[7]

iv. Confession of trust in God.[8]

II. Principles in interpreting Lament

a. All the principles in Session Six applies here as well.

b. Identify if it is a communal or individual lament.[9]

c. Try to identify the historical context.[10]

i. Not always easy, especially in the Psalms.

ii. Sometimes you do get some background information such as in the book of Lamentation.

d. Looking for the reason of why the lament was expressed.

i. Key words in English would be “because”, “for”, etc.

ii. Key word in the Hebrew is the word ki.[11]

e. Ask the question, what does this Psalm teach us about God?

i. Laments are not depressing poems, there is a hope expressed in God!

ii. The goal is to find what it is about God that is the basis of the lamenter’s hope.


[1] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 194.

[2] Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus, 45.

[3] Tremper Longman III., “Lament” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 198.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid, 200.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus, 45.

[9] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 194.

[10] Tremper Longman III., “Lament” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 208.

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GO TO PART V

I. Definition of Hebrew poetry

a. It is a more picturesque way of saying things.[1]

b. Sometimes it is best understood in contrast to its opposite: Prose.

i. Prose is not always easy to define either

ii. Prose is saying things with as little as possible.[2]

c. Hebrew poetry can also be defined as having certain elements.

II. Elements to identify Hebrew Poetry

a. Hints of the musical

i. Are there any rhythms of sound in the text?

ii. Is there any reference to music?

1. Does the text explicitly mention words of music?

a. Note: In the Psalms, the lines before the first verse in the English Bible are part of the Canon of Scripture and must be read!

b. Does it have Hebrew words for poetry?

See for instance, what is stated before Psalm 16:1

c. Does the text mention it being a song?

See for instance, what is stated before Psalm 18:1.

d. Does the text mention a choir?

See for instance, what is stated before Psalm 19:1.

e. Does the text mention any musical instrument?

See for instance, the mention of flute before Psalm 5:1.

b. Parallelism

i. Are there any rhythms of thought?[3]

ii. Parallelism is “where two statements are juxtaposed”[4]

iii. Parallelism is the most basic and common characteristic of Hebrew poetry.

III. General Principles in interpreting Hebrew Poetry

a. The vocabulary in poetry is intentionally metaphorical.[5]

i. This is because Hebrew Poetry is by definition picturesque.

ii. Thus there is a need to recognize the intent of the poetry behind the imagery.

b. If the text is within a Psalm, treat the text in light of the entire Psalm.

i. A Psalm is one literary unit.[6]

ii.Each line is purposeful in connection to the whole.

c. Looking for hints by identifying parallelism

i. Since Hebrew poetry uses the literary device of Parallelism, this helps us in interpreting Hebrew Poetry

ii. How does the lines relate to one another? What are the emphasis interpreters should note?

1. Synonymous

a. This means that the second line reiterate the line before it.[7]

b. This symmetry exists in the Hebrew language and also conceptually in thought.

c. The reiteration is for emphasis of the same thought.

d. Examples of this can be seen in Psalm 19:1 and Psalm 18:5.

2. Specifying[8]

a. While the first line is more general, the second is more particular.

b. Example of this can be seen in Psalm 5:12.

3. Complementary[9]

a. This is when the second line is offering a related thought in the vein of the first line

b. It completes the thought

c. Example of this can be seen in Psalm 8:6 and Psalm 4:5

4. Explanatory[10]

a. This is where the second line gives an account for the preceding line

b. This is a great interpretative insight, as the second line is an exposition of the first line.

c. Examples of this can be seen in Psalm 4:8

5. Consequential[11]

a. This is where the second line is making progress either logically or temporally from the preceding line.

b. Examples of this can be seen in Psalm 2:5 and Psalm 4:3.

6. Comparative[12]

a. The second line is comparing the thought in the preceding line to something.

b. Examples of this can be found in Psalm 4:7 and 5:9b.

7. Antithetical[13]

a. The second line is contrastive to the previous line.

b. Exasmples of this can be seen in Proverbs 10:1, Proverbs 12:15.

d. Identify the proper genre of the text, and interpret it accordingly.

The genre of poetry will be discussed in the next several sessions.


[1] This is in the words of Keith Essex, Associate Professor of Bible Exposition in The Master’s Seminary.

[2] This is in the words of Keith Essex, Associate Professor of Bible Exposition in The Master’s Seminary.

[3] Keith Essex, Bible Exposition 502 Syllabus.

[4] Robert Chisholm Jr., Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 142.

[5] Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 190.

[6] Ibid, 192.

[7] Robert Chisholm Jr., From Exegesis to Exposition, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 142.

[8] Ibid, 143.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid, 144.

[12] Ibid.

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