Hebrew poetry is a major theme in the Old Testament. Although much of the prophets and wisdom books are poetic, these also fall into different categories. There are other books that are poetic that fall into different categories, these are the books that we are calling the Hebrew Poetry books. These books are the Psalms and Lamentations. We have taken a pause in the direct storyline of the Bible to take a look at the wisdom literature and prophets of ancient Israel. We will continue to pause in the direct storyline of the Bible to look at the poetry of the Hebrew Scriptures to determine how these fit into the Bible and their purpose for the overall narrative of the Bible. The first one we will look at is the Psalms.
The Psalms are an interesting collection of songs, poetry, and prayers with common themes running through them. They are not all written by the same author which adds to the variety of the poetry. There are some common themes that run through the Psalms. Many reflect on the praise of Yahweh and the lament of people. However, many themes like the law of God, Messiah, faith, and hope all run through this amazing collection. These poems are made to have the readers reflect on these different themes. In exile, these were highly helpful to help them meditate and have hope for a bright future. They are made to help the people reflect on their present trouble as the kingdom of Israel has fallen and hope for a future Messianic kingdom that will save them. Although the Psalms do not directly forward the storyline of the narrative, this book has a specific purpose in letting the people reflect on their failures and have a hope for a future in the coming Messiah.
The next book is Lamentations. It is a book that is not often talked or preached about but it is just as important. It is written by an unknown author as a lament over Jerusalem being taken. There are five different poems that each have a different theme. The main theme is that although God will judge evil in the world, He is faithful and shows mercy to His people. So this is a set of poems about the fall of Jerusalem and how upset the people are. The ending, however, is that God’s judgement on the people will actually allow hope to start to grow in the people. And if we’ve been following along in the Scripture, we know that the hope is the Messianic hope. Lamentations shows us that even through pain and suffering, there can still be hope if we remain faithful to God. This, like the Psalms, points us to the Messiah.