Poetic Books of the Bible – A Five-Book Transition
The five Poetic Books of the Bible are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. These books do not continue with the history of the Hebrew people, however, they are considered to be a transition from the History Books (1 Samuel through Esther), to the Prophetic books of the Major Prophets (Isaiah through Daniel).
This section explores questions of suffering, love, wisdom, and the nature of the God of Israel. It examines inquiries of life, daily practical living, and relationships with others. Thus, they are also sometimes labeled the writings of “wisdom” especially found in Job, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs. The remaining books are a collection of songs (psalms), love stories, and worship prayers.
Poetic Books of the Bible – A Summary of the Books
A brief summary of each of the Poetic Books includes:
Job’s trials of extreme suffering emphasize God’s great omnipotence. This book is named for a righteous and faithful man who was challenged to remain faithful through the loss of everything in his life—his children, home, and friends. However, in the end and by remaining steadfast, God rewards Job by not only replacing all he lost but multiplying it as well. Job was blessed when his flocks increased to the thousands; he was granted seven more sons and three of the most beautiful daughters in the land. Job lived to see his grandchildren to the fourth generation. “He died old and full of years.”
The Book of Psalms is a collection of petitions, prayers, songs, and beautiful poetry. King David is recognized to be the psalmist for much of this book, but is placed with the writings of some of his contemporaries. In addition, some of the earliest psalms were written by Moses many centuries before David. Here we see prayerful songs and poetry describing almost every facet of man’s relation to God in times of trials and the returning words of a loving God.
Proverbs was written mostly by Solomon, but is again a collection which passes on words of knowledge and experiences God has for us today. Though short and concise, most proverbs offer sound advice that covers a wide range of topics. They include messages on chastity, controlling our tongues, drinking too much wine, the love of money, having true wisdom, and many more. Proverbs 15:33 states “The fear [respect] of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”
Ecclesiastes, meaning assembly [of the church] deals with vanity and shows that fullness of life is found only in God. It is a book that is often misunderstood and even more often ignored. That is regrettable since this book addresses the often asked questions on the “meaning of life.” Ecclesiastes is sometimes thought of as being negative or cynical, but in fact it illustrates that faith and patience are keys to enjoying the victorious life God has for us.
Song of Solomon’s unique theme is one of beautiful love. The compilation of songs is of marriage, purity, and morality. This book is a symbolic parallel to our relationship (as pure and righteous people—the Bride of Christ) with our groom, Messiah the Christ. Written as a love poem, it describes the intensity between two people in love and affirms the sexual pleasures found uniquely within marriage. Songs of Solomon’s imagery demonstrates flawlessly God’s love for Israel and Christ’s love for His believers. This book takes us from falling in love, to uniting in love, to struggling in love, and to finally, maturing in love.
Poetic Books of the Bible – At the Core
Whether it is through God’s grace with Job, or the allegory found in the Song of Solomon, love is God’s core message in these Poetic Books. To discover God’s nature is to understand love and realize His purpose for us. It is His love that restored Job’s life, answers the call of praise and prayer in Psalms, and instructs with words of wisdom in Proverbs. God uses Solomon’s disillusion of life to show us that everything apart from God is vanity and empty except the loving relationship we have with God. And of course the Song of Solomon is the moving illustration of God’s love for us and that husband and wife honor Him when they love each other.
We can apply these messages in this century as much as they could be applied in the Old Testament. Regardless of the tragedies we might suffer, the Lord can restore and multiply anything we may have lost. He hears our petitions and praise today, just as He heard those in the book of Psalms (1 John 5:14-15) and He is always there to guide and instruct us as He did in Proverbs (John 14:16, 26).
Finally, there is no greater love from the Father than the gift of salvation through Christ. It is only through Him our sins are forgiven and we become His Bride. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).