The Power of Poetry

Biblical poetry is more than fancy words of rhyme!  The poetic words of Scripture lead us in worship but instruct us in theology.  Consider the influence of Shakespeare on the literary world.  For those of us within the church, we know about the powerful influence of poetry as we sing beautiful hymns of praise each week.  From the words of Charles Wesley to Issac Watts, we sing many songs of worship that are both beautiful pieces of poetry and instructional worshipful songs that exalt Jesus Christ our Lord!  Some of the most beautiful songs we sing are full of rich theology.  William Cowper once wrote, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.” Allow those words to sink in!  What rich theology.  He wrote another song that is extremely popular.  The words are as follows:There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day;And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away;And there have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.Notice how the poem is structured in such a way that it reveals a message.  The poem not only rhymes, but it serves as a teaching method as well.  In a similar way, the Psalms we find in our Bible do the same thing.  Originally written for instruction and praise, they were later collected and used for worship.  As we read the Psalms in our Bible, we are confronted with powerful words of beauty and worship.  However, as we read them we also encounter pain, discouragement, fear, persecution, and the stark realities of life.  John Piper once remarked, “So it has been all through redemptive history. The more the people of God have suffered—the more they have been forced to live on the brink of eternity where things are real and all sham and shallowness is blown away—the deeper and more beautiful has been the music and hymnody of the church.”Throughout the Psalms that are contained in our Bible, we are confronted with many wonderful biblical doctrines.  It would be foolish to read the Psalms without gleaning the truths they contain.  Below are just a few examples of the truths found in the Psalms.I.              The Doctrine of God’s Sovereignty

  1. Psalm 93:1 – God is the ruling and reigning King.
  2. Psalm 96:10 – The LORD (God) reigns!
  3. Psalm 99 – God is Holy.
  4. Psalm 104 – God created all things!
  5. Psalm 107:23-28 – God is in control of all nature!
  6. Psalm 115, 135 – God rules and does as He pleases.
II.            The Doctrine of Man
  1. Psalm 2 – The heathen rages and the people imagine a vain thing.
  2. Psalm 5 – There is no truth in the mouth of the wicked.
  3. Psalm 7:14 – The wicked man is pregnant with mischief.
  4. Psalm 14 – The fool says there is no God.  There is none good!  All have turned away from God.
  5. Psalm 51:4-5 – From conception, man is a sinner!
  6. Psalm 130 – Nobody is without guilt from transgression against God.
III.         The Doctrine of Election
  1. Psalm 4:3 – The LORD has set apart the godly as a special people.
  2. Psalm 33:12 – Israel is described as the chosen nation.
  3. Psalm 65:4 – The chosen of God are brought near to Him.
  4. Psalm 105:6 – All of Abraham’s offspring are God’s chosen ones.
  5. Psalm 106:4-5 – Another reference to the chosen ones of God.
IV.         The Doctrine of RedemptionThere is a constant theme of redemption in the Psalms. For instance, in Psalm 16:10, we see these words, “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”  It is later that these words are attributed to the resurrection of Christ!V.            The Doctrine of Scripture
  1. Psalm 1 – The Psalmist points to the Law of the Lord.
  2. Psalm 119 – A treasure of truth that exalts the Word of God.
  3. Psalm 119:89 – The Word is settled in Heaven – forever.
Words of Anger:Psalm 55:15 – Let death seize upon them, [and] let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness [is] in their dwellings, [and] among them.Psalm 109:9 – Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.Psalm 137:9 – Happy [shall he be], that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.Words of Beauty:Psalm 23 – One of the most beautiful Psalms!Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.Psalm 30:5 – For his anger [endureth but] a moment; in his favour [is] life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy [cometh] in the morning.Words of Worship:Psalm 30:4 – Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.Psalm 33:2 – Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery [and] an instrument of ten strings.Psalm 150 – Singing and playing of multiple instruments as worship unto the LORD!Therefore, the words of the Psalms in our Bible are not just short poems without any relevance to our personal lives today!  They are rich in theology and often born out of tragedy and trial.  We need to read the Old Testament in such a way that we not only respect the inspiration of God’s Word, but in such a way that we sense the sufficiency of Holy Scripture for our personal lives.  God’s Word is true and relevant!  It is in the Psalms that we see great theology, but it is also in the Psalms that we see Jesus Christ our Lord!Read the Psalms – learn from the Psalms – worship from the Psalms!Pastor Josh Buice

Seeing the Big Picture Through Your Tears

This morning I received an e-mail from my close friend and fellow pastor Chip Thornton. Pastor Chip has an unusual ability to create poetry in an expository format built from the exegesis of the passage that he has studied to preach. I thought I would share it with you and I pray that you are blessed by it.

Seeing the Big Picture Through Your Tears

James writes to those who were being persecuted (and martyred) for their faith in Christ, and he opens his letter to them with a strange imperative: “Count it all joy, brethren, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2). It seems that while we often view trials from our perspective, James wanted his readers to see them from God’s perspective. Only then could they see the big picture through their tears:

Tri-als make an inconvenient guest,And rarely are they summoned by request.Though they may rearrange your life for years,Accept them. There’s a purpose through your tears (James 1:2-4).

You may not understand why they won’t leave,And in your mind and to your heart they cleave.Though they depart, they never disappear,So ask the Lord for wisdom through your tears (James 1:5-8).

I know trials don’t respect a person’s wealth,Nor do they care your age or sex or health.Though fear and worry seem to be its peers,Re-focus your perspective through your tears (James 1:9-11).

For though trials can cut sharper than a knife,Let’s look beyond them to the crown of life.The great prize awaits those who persevere,So fight, yes, fight, dear Christian, through your tears (James 1:12)!

You may one day see trials as your friend,That came from God to draw you close to Him.The gospel sheds some light to make things clear,It shows you God’s perspective through your tears.

See, God did not spare His Son from life’s grief,Though in the garden Christ wept for relief.Yet Christ accepted, asked, then persevered,He saw God’s greater purpose through His tears.

So listen to James in this sacred text,No matter what may in your life come next.Accept, then ask, re-focus . . . persevere,And see God’s bigger picture through your tears.

–Chipley McQueen Thornton

NOTE: Title taken from a sermon on Habakkuk preached by Freddie Haynes of Friendship West Baptist Church (Dallas, TX).