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Scribewriter

The Poetic Beauty of the Psalms (Antithetical Parallelism)

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From Psalm 34

 

9  O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

10  The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

11  Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

 

 

Key Idea:  Antithetical Parallelism

 

In another discussion I described how in Hebrew poetry, meaning was rhymed in couplets rather than word sound. 

(See link)

 

Another important poetic concept is Antithetical Parallelism where couplets ideas are joined with its antithesis (its opposite.)  

This allows the poet to describe a concept and offer clarity by helping the reader understand the opposite nature of the idea.

 

For example, Consider verse 10 from psalm 34:  The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

 

Often couplets of this nature are separated by the word "BUT"  Two Ideas are present: (idea 1) Young lions do lack and suffer hunger BUT ...antithesis here... (Idea 2) They that seek the LORD shall not want...

 

Proverbs 8:35–36 (ESV)

 

35  For whoever finds me finds life

and obtains favor from the Lord,

36  but he who fails to find me injures himself;

all who that me love death.”

 

Here we see the contrast between finding God and they who Fail to find God.  *Observe the word "BUT" again in verse 36.  

 

I marvel in the words of our LORD and how he inspired the language to carry such meaning.  I am learning to fall in love with the psalms and proverbs for the way they carry ideas and access truth about the human condition and the nature of our position beneath God.  

 

Challenge:  Can you find a couplet verse that contains an idea and its opposite? 

(pro-tip...look for anything that describes the difference between a wiseman and a fool.)

 

Humbly,

 

SW

 

Edited by Scribewriter
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Wow...I love these messages, Scribewriter!! Besides the amazing depth at which you explore the beautiful writing style of these two books, Psalms happens to be one of my favorite books in the Bible anyway! :D

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There are numerous ones in Proverbs, like Prov. 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Thank you, SW. :)

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7 minutes ago, lynnmosher said:

There are numerous ones in Proverbs

 

Oh yes,  Proverbs is designed around the Antithetical approach.  There are also several in Ecclesiastes.  Much of the wisdom writing requires an explanation of what something is NOT rather than explanation of what IS.

 

Prov. 15:1 is beautiful example.  I love how the advise for a soft word is demonstrated against the unfortunate reality about harshness and anger.  

 

Humbly,

 

SW

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8 hours ago, Erin Cook said:

Psalms happens to be one of my favorite books in the Bible anyway! :D

 

It happens to be mine also.  I love the poetry, the depth of worship and authenticity in earnestness--a genuine desire to connect with God.  Psalms explores relationship as well as the lonelinesss that we can feel when our troubles take us out of the presence of our God.  Very powerful indeed.

 

 

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Oh, my, yes; my favorite is Psalm 103; I love it because it explores the very epitome of God's nature of how He deals with us as His children.

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Biblical poetry transcends language. Antithetical statements abound in the wisdom literature. Jesus used the "rule of three" quite often (...Ask...Seek...Knock...). 

 

In English or French ( the two languages in which I have reasonable fluency) Biblical poetry carries through. I assume it does so in other languages. I'm even counting on it for the ideographic written language for my WIP.

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38 minutes ago, EClayRowe said:

Jesus used the "rule of three" quite often

 

I'm beginning to see this more often as I read.  Thank you for pointing this out! Still learning...still falling in love with the Word!

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