Summary: This message is a part of a series that surveys the entire Bible. It is based upon the study guide from an older Chuck Swindoll series. This message surveys Job-Song of Solomon.
Last week the journey was quite bumpy as we studied the decline and fall of the Nation of Israel. Perhaps the saddest part of our study was found in the fact that Israel seemed to believe that since they were God’s chosen people nothing bad would happen to them. However, their disobedience and pride led to a great fall. This week we are going to travel on a smooth stretch of road, which will allow us to take in all the sights and sounds. This segment of our journey will explore the five books of poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. So let’s prepare ourselves for this great experience on God’s Route 66.
I. When looking at Hebrew poetry there are several things to keep in mind.
A. Each of these poetic books has its own historical setting.
1. Job took place during the time of the patriarchs. Job himself is a patriarch who watches over a large family and acts as a personal priest who sacrifices for them.
2. Many scholars believe that Job lived during the same period of time as Abraham.
3. Job without a doubt is the oldest book of the Bible being written well before Moses wrote Genesis.
4. The Book of Psalms is one of the most important books in the Old Testament. It was at the center of the worship and study in ancient Israel. Since the Book of Psalms is all poetry, it spoke to the heart and emotions of those who shared in its message in both song and meditation.
5. The historical and cultural background of the Psalms begins with King David and does not end until the postexilic period, over 500 years of development. Almost half of the Psalms are attributed to David (73), but other authors are mentioned and many psalms remain anonymous.
6. The named contributors to Proverbs are Solomon, Agur, and Lemuel. Of the 912 proverbs collected in this book, Solomon is credited with 512 (56%), Agur with 33 (4%), and Lemuel 8 (1%).
7. Most scholars credit the first section of Proverbs (1:1-9:18) to Solomon which would bring his contribution to 84%.
8. Solomon is credited with writing the book of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon which would place the time of their writing some time during the period of the United Kingdom.
B. We must understand that Hebrew poetry does not rhyme.
1. Hebrew writers use a poetic structure known as parallelism.
2. The structure does make it easier to translate the Hebrew into English. It would be difficult to translate rhyming Hebrew words into English and retain the elegance of the poetry.
3. There are several types of parallelism that are used by the Hebrew authors.
a. Synonymous parallelism is repeating an idea one line after the other.
b. Antithetical parallelism is used when there is a need to contrast thoughts.
c. Synthetic parallelism is used to develop a thought over several lines that amplified or explained the first.
C. Poetry is written to be enjoyed not dissected or analyzed.
1. We will never see the beauty of Biblical poetry if we examine it through a microscope looking to find detailed doctrines.
2. The authors did not intend for the poetry to teach deep theological lessons but to stir our hearts and lift our souls.
3. When we try to force the lyrics of the Biblical poet to reveal deep theological truths, we run a great risk missing the central meaning of the poem or proverb.
II. A survey of the lives of three inspired poets.
A. Job: The man whose name is synonymous with suffering.
1. The Book of Job, like several other Old Testament books, takes its title from the name of the principal character around which the narrative revolves.
2. Job is a monotheist who believes in a personal God who is sovereign and can give and take life and possessions. Job is an “Adam-like” figure who has only one wife. But what is important for the entire story of Job to have a meaningful message is the fact that he is “blameless and upright,” one who “feared God and shunned evil.
3. Job loses everything including his health, all because Satan (the adversary) has challenged Yahweh God as to Job’s motivation for his faithfulness.
4. Job is remarkable despite losing everything including his health, he remains faithful to God.
5. Listen to this statement about Job from verse 10 of chapter 2, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
6. The lessons about suffering can be summarized in three answers to the problem of pain presented in the book.
a. The bitter answer of Job. Suffering in many cases is unwarranted, unjust and cruel.