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Reading the Bible - Episode 5

Reading the Bible   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Series Introduction

Hello, welcome to Reading the Bible. My name is Collin, I’m a pastor at Redeemer Anglican Church in Dacula, Georgia, and in this season of shelter-in-place, I want to help you and your family learn to love reading the Bible in your homes. I think many of us don’t really know how to approach reading the Bible. It’s a strange book written thousands of years ago, and though we’re told again and again that we should be reading it, whenever we try, we don’t feel like we get anything out of it. If that’s you, you’re not alone, and I want to help. Because while this is a strange book written thousands of years ago, I’ve come to believe it to be the most transformative work of literature the world has ever known; and I want help you discover that as well.

Episode Introduction: The important of reading poetry in the Bible.

Nearly a third of the Bible is poetry.

The majority of God’s speech in the Bible is poetry.

Poetry is difficult to read with understanding.

The purpose of poetry

The purpose of poetry is not primarily to communicate information.

“Rip it out” scene in Dead Poet’s Society

The purpose of poetry is primarily to ignite your imagination by inviting you to ponder something slowly and from many angles.

Job 40-41: Behemoth and Leviathan

Tools for reading poetry

Poetry is known for its rhyming and cadence, but biblical poetry is structured differently.

Hebrew poetry makes extensive use of couplets: two lines, intentionally set beside each other.

The first line makes the basic statement, and the second develops that idea in some way.

Common developments would be:
1. The second line completes the idea of the first: Exodus 15:1
English Standard Version Chapter 15

“I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;

the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.

2. The second line intensifies the idea of the first: Psalm 88:11-12
English Standard Version Psalm 88

11  Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,

or your faithfulness in Abaddon?

12  Are your wonders known in the darkness,

or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

3. The second line compares or contrasts the idea of the first: Psalm 103:13
English Standard Version Psalm 103

13  As a father shows compassion to his children,

so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

Many more types of structure that are used to help the reader make connections as they read, thus opening even more layers of meaning.

Inclusio (Psalm 8)

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Chiasm (Luke 1:71-74)

English Standard Version Chapter 1

71  that we should be saved from our enemies

and from the hand of all who hate us;

72  to show the mercy promised to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant,

73  the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us

74  that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,

might serve him without fear,

Refrains (Psalm 136)

His steadfast love endures forever.

Merismus (Psalm 95:4-5)

English Standard Version Psalm 95

4  In his hand are the depths of the earth;

the heights of the mountains are his also.

5  The sea is his, for he made it,

and his hands formed the dry land.

The structure forces the reader to slow down, to ponder the lines and images carefully, to look at it from many different angles.

Metaphoric language and imagery ignite our imagination as we read.

The language of poetry seeks an emotional response.

Consider Exodus 14 and Exodus 15.

English Standard Version Chapter 14

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23

English Standard Version Chapter 15

At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;

the floods stood up in a heap;

the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.

Remember that the biblical authors lived in a very different culture than ours, and their imagery reflects that.

The chaotic waters - Psalm 69

English Standard Version Psalm 69

1  Save me, O God!

For the waters have come up to my neck.

2  I sink in deep mire,

where there is no foothold;

I have come into deep waters,

and the flood sweeps over me.

English Standard Version Psalm 69

4  More in number than the hairs of my head

are those who hate me without cause;

mighty are those who would destroy me,

those who attack me with lies.

Psalm 89 - “You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them. “

Wrap up:

Review the purpose of poetry:

Reading poetry involves imaginatively pondering the images that the author is painting.

Discovering the connections they are making by the way they structure their poem and the words they use.

Poets in the Bible are trying to evoke from you an emotional response that will shape how you live.

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