Learn The Bible : The Poetical Books

Learn the Bible in 24 Hours

Hour Eight: The Poetical Books

Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs

Job: The Mystery of Suffering

• Oldest book of the Bible, from about 2000 B.C. or earlier. Jobab, son

of Joktan? (Gen 10:29).

• A literary masterpiece: highly developed poetry; “The greatest

masterpiece of the human mind” (Victor Hugo).

A Dramatic Poem Framed in an Epic Story

• The Prologue (Job 1, 2)

– Satan’s Challenge.

• The Dialogues (Job 3 – 37)

– Eliphaz, the Temanite.

– Bildad, the Shuhite.

– Zophar, the Naamathite.

– Elihu, the Buzite.

• The Divine Response (Job 37 – 42)

– Science Quiz.

– Epilogue.

The Prologue

• Job – his piety in prosperity/Satan – his lie and malignity.

• Job – his piety in adversity/Satan – his further malignity.

• Job – his piety in extremity/The Dialogues…

Job was “the greatest of all men of the east,” with 7,000 sheep, 3,000

camels, 500 oxen, 500 she-asses, etc. But we have information that Job

didn’t! The conversation between God and Satan… Satan = “the god

of this age”… he is real; and, he is malevolent, but…

Insights

• Satan is accountable to God.

• Satan’s dark mind is an open book to God.

• Satan is behind the evils that curse the earth.

• Satan is neither omnipresent nor omniscient.

• Satan can do nothing without Divine permission.

• God’s eyes are ever on His own .

Most important verse in Job:

42:10 And the Lordrestored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

The Dialogues

Eliphaz: Based on his own observation and experience

= “Job suffers because he has sinned.”

Bildad: Rests on tradition

= “Job is a hypocrite.”

Zophar: Rests on assumptions of orthodox dogma

= “Job is a wicked man.”

Elihu: An intercessor rather than a judge.

The Divine Response

• The Voice from the whirlwind gives a science quiz, regarding: The

Earth; The Heavens; Living Beings; Dinosaurs:

– Behemoth (Land).

– Leviathan (Sea).

• Epilogue:

– God’s rebuke of the three “comforters.”

– Restoration “in double.”

Satan has more dangerous tools: in the guise of piety, in the name of

religious orthodoxy, false comfort and untrue impressions of God.

Inspiration? “Ye [Eliphaz, Bildad, Zohar] have not spoken of Me the

thing that was right.” [vs. 3rd Commandment: Ambassadorship!]

“Double?”: 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, 1,000 sheasses,

but children listed (7 sons, 3 daughters) are equal to the originals;

thus, the first ones were not lost (in the eternal sense)!!

Scientific Insights

• At least 15 facts of science are suggested that were not discovered

until recent centuries.

• Planet uniquely designed for life: TheAbsence of scientific errors…

Hydrological cycle:

– Evaporation, circulation, precipitation (Job 28:24-27).

– How do clouds stay aloft?

– Air, wind, have weight.

– Water weighs more than air; how supported?

• Space/Time/Mass universe:

– “He stretcheth out the north over empty space, and hangeth the

earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7).

– The “morning stars singing” at the foundation of the earth? (Job

38:7).

Dinosaurs?

• Land-based behemoth (Job 40).

• Sea-based leviathan (Job 41)

– New Zealand, 1977; 900 ft down; 32 ft long, 4,000 lbs.

Astronomical Insights

• “Where is the way where light dwelleth?”

– Light is dynamic; darkness is static (Job 38:19).

• “Canst thou bind the influences of the Pleiades, or loose the bands

of Orion?” (These are the only visible eye constellations in direct

gravitational bondage; Job 38:31.)

Mazzeroth (Zodiac) are signs of God’s plan of redemption (Job

38:12).

Psalms: Israel’s Hymnal

• Poetry laced with strong theology.

• Hebrew, Tehillim: “Praises” (55 addressed to “the chief musician.”)

• Greek: psalmoi, “a poem to be sung to a stringed instrument”;

psaltar, for harp or stringed instrument.

The Nature of Poetry

History instructs; law teaches; prophecy announces, rebukes, chastens;

morality persuades…Psalms is the medicine and succor for the

comfort and encouragement of all. They are written to the individual—

all of us, individually.

Musical odes: poems to be set to music. Lyrics: poems intended for lyre

or harp.

• Phonetic Design

– Rhyme; the parallelism of sound.

– Rhythm; the parallelism of time.

• Conceptual Design

– The parallelism of ideas.

• Comparative; to illuminate

• Contrastive; antithetic

• Completive; synthetic

Selah = a pause to connect ideas.

Selah

It is commonly assumed that this refers to musical instructions; however:

Selah is to connect subject matter, not music.

– It connects the end of one strophe with the beginning of the next;

it is the connecting of the two subjects together.

– Sometimes synthetic; sometimes antithetic.

– Concerned with truth, not tunes.

If derived from salah, “to pause,” it is not the instruments of music which

are to pause while voices continue to sing, but it is our hearts which are

to pause and to note the connection of precious truths.

If derived from salal, “to lift up,” then it is not the instruments which are

to lift up their sound in louder degree, but our hearts which are to be lifted

up to consider more solemnly the two truths which are thus connected.

Sources of the Psalms

73 David

12 Asaph, Head of David’s choir

12 Sons of Korah

1 Heman, the Ezrahite

1 Ethan, the Ezrahite

1 Moses

50 Anonymous

150

A “Pentateuch”

Genesis About Man 1 – 41

Exodus Deliverance 42 – 72

Leviticus Sanctuary 73 – 89

Numbers Unrest; Wandering 90 – 106

Deuteronomy Word of the Lord 107 -150

Inscriptions

34 Without inscriptions.

52 Simple Inscriptions: “A psalm of David”; “A psalm of

Asaph,” etc.

14 Historical Inscriptions: “A Psalm of David when he fled

from Absalom, his son” etc.

4 Inscription denoting purpose: “For the sabbath day” etc.

15 “Songs of Degrees”: [“Steps” on the Temple? …clues

from Hezekiah…]

31 Special inscriptions: Musical instructions, etc.

150

Special Terms

Aiieleth-Shahar The hind of the morning; dawn.

Alamot The maidens’ choir.

Al-Tashchith Destroy not.

Gittith Winepresses (Autumn).

Jeduthun Praise-giver (1 of 3 directors of worship).

Jonath-Elem-Rechokim Dove of distant woods (of David in flight).

Mahalath The Great Dancing.

Maschi Instruction; understanding.

Michtam Engraven; (emphasized; permanent).

Muth-labbeyn Death of the Champion.

Negionoth Stringed Instruments.

Nehiloth Inheritances.

Sheminith 8th group or division.

Shiggaion A crying aloud (grief or joy).

Shoshannim Lilies (Springtime).

Habakkuk’s Psalm

• The Superscription Hab 3:1

– “A Prayer of Habakkuk the Prophet, upon Shigionoth”

• The Psalm itself Hab 3:2-19

• The Subscription Hab 3:19

– “To the Chief Musician upon Neginoth

Hezekiah’s Psalm

• The Superscription Isaiah 38:9

– “The writing of Hezekiah, king of Judah, when he had been sick

and was recovered of his sickness.”

• The Psalm itself Isaiah 38:10-20

• The Subscription Isaiah 38:20

– “Therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments, all

the days of our life, in the house of YHWH.”

“The Songs of [the] Degrees” Psalms 120-134

• Traditions: “Ascents?” “Steps?”

• Hezekiah:

– Godliest of Judah’s kings (2 Kings 18:5, 6);

– Wrote many psalms and proverbs;

– Restored Temple worship (2 Chronicles 29);

– The addition of 15 years to his life as confirmed by Ahaz’s

sundial (2 Kings 20:8-11).

The definite article is in the Hebrew: “the” degrees. Which? The great

sundial of Ahaz in Jerusalem. Confirmation of 15 years added to

Hezekiah’s life (2 Kings 20:8-11). There were 15 degrees; there are 15

“songs of degrees” arranged by Hezekiah in 5 groups of 3 each: [trust,

trouble, triumph.] Two by Hezekiah, and one by either David or Solomon.

The Messianic Psalms

• The Book of Psalms is quoted in the NT more than any other book

in OT (even more than Isaiah). Christ’s birth, betrayal, agony, death,

resurrection, ascension, coming again in glory, and His worldwide

reign—all pictured in inspired vividness.

• Constitute irrefutable testimony to the Divine inspiration of the

Scriptures.

• Psalm 2, 8, 16, 22, 23, 24, 40, 41, 45, 68, 69, 87, 89, 102, 110, 118, et al.

Messianic Details

Psalm 2, 8, 16, 22, 23, 24, 40, 41, 45, 68, 69, 87, 89, 102, 110, 118, et al.

• His Person

– Son of God 2:7; 45:6,7; 102:25,27

– Son of Man 8:4-6; etc.

– Son of David 139:3,4,27,29

• His Offices

– Prophet 22:22, 25; 40:9,10

– Priest 110:4

– King 2; 24; 72; etc.

Messianic Profile in Psalms

• To speak in parables 78:2

• Will calm the storm 89:10

• To be despised 2:6; 69:19-22

• To be rejected 118:22

• To be mocked 22:7-8; 89:51-52

• To be whipped 129:3

• To be derided 69:8, 20

• Impaled on a cross 22:1-2, 14-17

– Thirsty 22:16

– Given wine mixed with gall 69:20-22

– Lots cast for his garments 22:18-19

– Not a bone to be broken 34:21

• To rise from the dead 16:10

• To Ascend to heaven 68:19

• At the right hand of God 110:1; 80:17

• Is the High Priest 110:4

• Will judge the nations 89:3-5

• Reign to be eternal 89:35-37

• Is the Son of God 2:7

• Is the Son of David 110:1; (Mt 22:42-45)

• People to sing Hosanna to him 118:25-26

• Blessed forever 45:1-4, 8, 18

• Will come in glory in last days 102:16-23

The Coming Kingdom

• The Coming of the Kingdom Psalm 46

– thru Tribulation

• The Range of the Kingdom Psalm 47

– “all the earth”

• The Center of the Kingdom Psalm 48

– “Zion”

The Shepherd Psalms

• The Suffering Savior Psalm 22

– The Good Shepherd John 10

• The Living Shepherd Psalm 23

– The Great Shepherd Hebrews 13

• The Exalted Sovereign Psalm 24

– The Chief Shepherd 1 Peter 5:4

Psalm 22: The Suffering Savior

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? All they that see me laugh

me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, “He trusted

on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he

delighted in him.”

Psalm 22:1, 7-8; cf. Mt 27:43, 46

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is

like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like

a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me

into the dust of death.

Psalm 22:14, 15

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed

me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look

and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon

my vesture.

Psalms 22:16-18; cf. Mt 27:35

Psalm 23

• The Lord is my shepherd

• I shall not want.

– I shall lack nothing.

• He maketh me to like down in green pastures.

– I shall not lack provision.

• He Leadeth me beside the still waters.

– I shall not lack peace.

• He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness.

– I shall not lack guidance.

• Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear

no evil.

– I shall not lack courage of the dark hour.

• Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

– I shall not lack true comfort.

• Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.

– I shall not lack protection, preservation, honor.

• Thou anointest my head with oil.

– I shall never lack joy.

• My cup runneth over.

– I shall never lack fullness of blessing.

• Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

– I shall not lack Divine favor during my earthly life.

• And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

– I shall not lack a heavenly home when my earthly tour is over.

Seven Compound Titles

YHWH-jireh The Lord will provide Gen 22

YHWH-rapha The Lord that healeth Ex 15

YHWH-shalom The Lord our peace Jud 6

YHWH-tsidkenu The Lord our righteousness Jer 23

YHWH-shammah The Lord ever-present Ezek 48

YHWH-nissi The Lord our banner Ex 17

YHWH-raah The Lord our shepherd Ps 23

Psalm 23

• The Lord is my shepherd YHWH-raah

• I shall not want

– I shall lack nothing YHWH-jireh

• He maketh me to like down in green pastures

– I shall not lack provision YHWH-jireh

• He Leadeth me beside the still waters

– I shall not lack peace YHWH-shalom

• He restoreth my soul

– I shall not lack restoration YHWH-rapha

• He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness

– I shall not lack guidance YHWH-tskidkenu

• Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear

no evil

• Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me

– I shall not lack courage YHWH-shammah

• Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies

– I shall not lack protection, preservation, honor

YHWH-nissi

Psalm 2

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings

of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against

the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their bands

asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

Psalm 2:1-3

The Holy Spirit speaking of the kings of the earth…

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in

derision. Then shall He speak unto them in his wrath,

and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy

hill of Zion.

Psalm 2:4-6

Verses 1-5: Holy Spirit?

Verse 6: Father

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, “Thou art my Son;

this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen

for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces

like a potter’s vessel.

Psalm 2:7-9

Verses 7-9: Son; quoting the Father…

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest

he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a

little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Psalm 2:10-12

Holy Spirit to the kings of the earth…

Other Psalm Groups

• Hallelujah Psalms 106, 111, 112, 113, 135, 146-150

• Penitential Psalms 6, 32,38, 39, 51,102,143

• Imprecatory Psalms 35, 57, 59, 69, 83, 109, 137, et al.

• Acrostic Psalms 9, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, 145

Psalm 119

22 sections (for each Hebrew letter); each section has 16 lines in 8

couplets, each couplet beginning with same letter of the Hebrew

alphabet.

The Book of Proverbs

• Prudence through Precept.

– Proverbs is to our practical life what Psalms is to our devotional

life.

Pro, for; verba, words: terse maxim.

• A proverb does not argue; it assumes.

• Solomon wrote 3,000 (1 Kings 4:32).

• Arranged during the reign of Hezekiah.

Organization of Proverbs

1) Extolling of Wisdom 1-9

– 15 Sonnets (rather than Proverbs): Sonnets are short poems,

devoted to one particular theme, and molded into a special form.

English: 14 lines; Italian pattern: octave + sextet, expressing two

phases of same thought.

– 2 monologues.

2) Maxims Enjoining Prudence 10-24

– 375 aphorisms in couplets; 16 epigrams.

3) More Maxims on Prudence 25-31

– 7 epigrams; 55 couplets; 13 sayings of Agur; Oracle of Lemuel’s

mother; and Acrostic on the Virtuous Woman.

Structural Method

• Contrastive Proverb (Antithesis)

– Compact presentation of a striking contrast.

• Completive Proverb

– Second line agrees, carries, amplifies, the 1st.

• Comparative Proverb

– Figures of comparison.

Colorful Imagery

• Contrastive: “A fair woman without discretion is like a jewel of gold

in a swine’s snout.”

• Completive: “As cold water to a thirsty soul is like good news from

a far country.”

• Comparative: “The tongue of a nagging woman is a continual

dripping in a very rainy day.”

Grim humor…twinge of masculine sympathy…delightful anticipation…

Pictures and Analogies

• The sluggard who is like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes

of his employer.

• The offended brother who is harder to win than a strong city.

• The coming of poverty like “an armed man” to the slothful.

• Wise reproof to an earring of gold on an obedient ear

• Riches flying away on wings like those of an eagle

Mrs. “Far-Above-Rubies” (Proverbs 31:10-31)

• She is a Good Woman

– She works diligently 13, 15, 19

– She contrives prudently 16, 22, 24

– She behaves uprightly 25

• She is a Good Wife

– She seeks husband’s good 12

– She keeps his confidence 11

– She aids his prosperity 23, 24

• She is a Good Mother

– She clothes family wisely 21

– She feeds household well 15, 27

– She shops sensibly 14, 18

• She is a Good Neighbor

– She helps the poor 20

– She uplifts the needy 20

– She speaks graciously 26

Ecclesiastes

• Hebrew: Koheleth, the Preacher.

• Solomon’s sermon on the natural man’s quest for the chief good.

• A cumulative treatise of component parts.

• Concludes: “All is Vanity.”

• Bravely honest rather than pessimistic.

• Sees beyond life’s ironies and wearing repetitions to Divine control

and future restitutions.

Solomon’s authorship significant: “Old and foolish king” followed by

“poor and wise youth” = scheming usurper, Jeroboam?

Woman = seductress more bitter than death; Solomon had not found one

true woman in a 1000… In contrast to Proverbs: Not scattered precepts:

a cumulative argument toward an end.

This book has been widely misunderstood: penetrates human condition,

looking beyond death…. The cause and cure for pessimism.

The Book of Ecclesiastes

• The Quest by Personal Experiment 1 – 2

– Search for wisdom and pleasure.

• The Quest by General Observation 3 – 5

– Ills and enigmas of human society.

• The Quest by Practical Morality 6 – 8

– Material things cannot satisfy the soul.

• The Quest Reviewed and Concluded 9 – 12

– Vanity of Vanities: All is vanity.

Solomon quotes three causes of pessimism:

1st: Viewing life selfishly rather than socially.

2nd: Viewing life apart from God rather than controlled by Him.

3rd: Viewing life as bounded by the grave rather than having

destiny beyond.

Ten Vanities

• Human Wisdom: Wise and Foolish alike have one end—death.

• Human Labor: Worker no better than shirker in the end.

• Human Purpose: Man proposes, but God disposes.

• Human Rivalry: Success brings more envy than joy.

• Human Avarice: “Much” feeds lust for the elusive “more.”

• Human Fame: Brief, uncertain, and soon forgotten.

• Human Insatiety: Money does not satisfy; only feeds others.

• Human Coveting: Gain cannot be enjoyed despite desire.

• Human Frivolity: Only camouflages inevitable sad end.

• Human Awards: Good and bad often get wrong desserts.

The Final Significance

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his

commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every

work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether

it be evil.

Song of Songs

Here is a book with only 117 verses, 470 Hebrew words (47 of which

appear only in this book), yet it is among the least studied and most

emotionally controversial. It is perhaps the most difficult and mysterious

book in the entire Bible. A cursory glance at the Song’s history of

interpretation reveals a diversity of opinion unequaled in the study of

any other biblical work. (Over 500 commentaries in the first 1700 years.)

The Song has been interpreted as: a) an allegory, b) an extended type,

c) a drama involving either two or three main characters, d) a collection

of Syrian wedding songs (a view held by E. Renan, J. Wetzstein, Umberto

Cassuto, and others) in which the groom played the role of a king and

the bride played the role of a queen, e) a collection of pagan fertility cult

liturgies (held by Theophile Meek), and f) an anthology of disconnected

songs extolling human love (held by Robert Gordis).

Jewish tradition (the Mishnah, the Talmud, and the Targum) viewed the

book as an allegorical picture of the love of God for Israel.

Church leaders, including Hyppolytus, Origen, Jerome, Athanasius,

Augustine, and Bernard of Clairvaux, have viewed the book as an

allegory of Christ’s love for His bride, the church. It was the favorite book

of D.L. Moody, C. H. Spurgeon, and St. John of the Cross. John Gill, a

Puritan preacher, developed 122 sermons from it; Bernard of Clairvaux,

a French mystic, brought forth 86 teachings from Chapter 1 alone.

This book is inspired; it was part of the Scriptures when Jesus Christ was

here on the earth. He put His imprimatur on the entire volume when He

said, “The Scripture cannot be broken.” (Jn 10:35). 2 Tim 3:16: “All

scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for

reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”

Key: Psalm 45, A Song of Loves (a royal marriage hymn or the Heavenly

Bridegroom?).

The Story Behind the Opera

• Solomon is the hero of the piece; Shulamit is the Cinderella of the

piece.

Shulamit is simply the feminine of Solomon: “Mr. & Mrs. Solomon.”

In the mountain district of Ephraim, King Solomon had a vineyard (8:11),

and he let it out to an Ephraimite family as keepers. The husband and

father were apparently passed away, but there was a mother and at least

two sons and two daughters. The older daughter, called the Shulamit,

is the “Cinderella” of the piece. Her brothers did not appreciate her and

foisted hard tasks upon her, denying her the privileges that a growing

girl might have expected in a Jewish home. “My mother’s sons were

angry with me.” (Half-brothers?) “Mine own vineyard I have not kept.”

No opportunity to look after herself. Sunburned but naturally comely.

• Handsome stranger promises to return

– Family skeptical during extended absence

One day she encounters a handsome stranger-shepherd, who views her

as without blemish. Friendship ripens to affection, and finally, love. He

promises to return and make her his bride. Her brothers, skeptical, regard

her as deceived by this stranger. He is gone a long time. She would dream

of him in the darkness; she trusted him.

• The King has sent for you… It’s the handsome shepherd!

• “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.”

One day a glorious cavalcade arrives, and the attendants announce,

“The King has sent for you.” In obedience, she responds. When she

looks into the face of the King, behold the King was the shepherd who

had won her heart: “I am by beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.”

Is She Abishag?

Abishag was a beautiful young woman who spent her youth working in

the fields and vineyards who was selected to lie beside the elderly King

David and serve his needs during his dying years. She came from an area

called Shunam, presumably in the Galilee. (Attempts to locate the

historical site have proven fruitless.) The text is clear that her virginity

was not taken away by the elderly King David (1 Kgs 1:4). Her ministry

to him was completely a matter of physical care, not sexual pleasure.

Solomon, part of the household at that time, became deeply attached to

her. When his brother Adonijah tried to get his mother’s approval for

taking Abishag to wife (since he lost the kingdom to Solomon) Solomon

was enraged and had Benaiah his executioner kill Adonijah (1 Kgs 2:21-

25). Abishag was not a lady of the courts—she was a country girl. She

worked in the fields under the hot sun and was not used to expensive

clothes and the exotics of the nobility. A natural beauty (like my Nan!)

It has woven itself into our dearest dreams; so that Love, Friendship,

Sympathy, Devotion, Memory, Hope, put on the beautiful garments of its

treasured speech. No man is poor or desolate who has this treasure for

his own. When the landscape darkens, and the trembling pilgrim comes to

the Valley of the Shadow, he is not afraid to enter; He takes the rod and

staff of Scripture in his hand; he says to friend and comrade, ‘Goodbye;

We Shall Meet Again’; and, confronted by that support, he goes toward the

lonely pass as one who walks through darkness into light.

Henry Van Dyke

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