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Biblical Poetry and Why It Matters

Britannica online defines poetry “as literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound, and rhythm.” Protestant Pastor and author, John piper, defines poetry in his own words, in the 2016 article via “God Filled Your Bible with Poems” like this, “I define poetry as an effort to share a moving experience by using language that is chosen and structured differently from ordinary prose. I believe both definitions are helpful to quickly understand what poetry is and the beauty of this literary form of expression. For the Christian, poetry serves as a massive component of Holy Scripture. That alone means it is important to consider and worthy of our attention. The stats are really overwhelming; in short whole books of the bible are written in some type of Poetic form, perhaps, most famously the book of Job or the Song of Solomon. I do not think it is farfetched to assert, poetry has been ordained by God. Poetry allows for God to say so much with so few words.

Perhaps, the case could be made that the reason God’s word can continuously be mined more and more for pure spiritual gold and precious gems full of grace is because it is incredibly poetic (Job 23:12). Literary giants like Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe are acknowledged and celebrated internationally annually for their literary genius. In my personal experience, it takes the same amount of brainpower to read and unpack Charles Dickens as it does Jonathan Edwards, the great theologian. Writing is a gift from God. Reading is a gift from God. My biggest trepidation as I examine the temperament of so many Christians is the lack of enthusiasm, basic knowledge, and elementary understanding of the divine means in which God has delivered (and continues to deliver) his Holy inerrant and infallible word (Proverbs 2:6).

I am not naïve as to think that millions of Christians should master poetry for the sake of art or culture and history or even pursue becoming a poet. The Christian however is called to have joy in the greatest poet to ever exist: the triune God himself. We should become passionate poetry readers. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit lavishly provided the word of God to His church (the bride of Christ). The contents of His Holy Word are the epitome of literary perfection…it is flawless, exemplary, complete, pure, holy, wise, living & active (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It penetrates the human soul and carries us forward as believers and children of God as we await heaven, glory, and perfect fellowship with God. The word of God should dwell in us richly and facilitate a worshipful heart filled with wisdom, praise, and songs of gratitude (Colossians 3:16).

Poetry matters because God is beautiful and He is happy. Poetry matters because God created it and all of its many facets. Beloved, the ability to hear God express Himself is one of the greatest treasures you and I have today. Christ and His gospel, the good news for sinners that God saves is found in the very same bible. The message of hope and cure for sin saturates its pages. Now, I would concede that yes, academically, human poets throughout the centuries have written prepossessing bodies of work that have lasted generations. Some of those works even becoming mandatory reading at every level of education because of their sophistication and complexities but in comparison to God’s word it simply does not measure up: not even close.

The poetry of God is eternal, nourishing, lifesaving, and life-preserving (Matthew 4:4, Isaiah 40:8). God’s poetry heals the soul, and it fixes things…it transforms the heart, it reforms nations, and crushes lies. God's poetry is truth. His word is truth (John 17:17). Secular works are nothing more than a muddled and dim reflection of what is ultimately everlasting and pure found only in the poetry of God. In fact, it is the secular poets and their work that reminds us so clearly by the cries of their hearts in poetry that they need a savior. God’s poetry should provoke evangelism in the heart of the Christian. It is the all-consuming beauty and sufficiency of poetry found in God’s word that in part causes us to boldly proclaim the truth of God, our sin, and our desperate need for redemption. This is why God’s poetry should matter so much to us: it is a matter of life and death. Filled Your Bible with Poems | Desiring God

Nemerov, H. (2020, November 5). Poetry. Encyclopedia Britannica.


Daniel Barea serves as a lay preacher / teacher at New Life Vicenza, and has contributed dozens of sermons, Sunday school lessons, articles and commentaries throughout the years via multiple online forums and multiple churches. He is a graduate of Wayland Baptist University, a confessing reformed Baptist, father of five and husband to Mrs. Esther Caroline Barea.

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