Having seen the order of the Historical Books, we now come to the poetical books, forming a third division of the Bible. This consists of the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, and these books are written in Hebrew poetry in which God intends to teach some lessons.
We begin with the first of these five books, the book of Job. This book speaks of God’s dealings with a true believer, and God’s discipline on any form of pride in the believer himself. The book of Job has to be first, showing the discipline of a true believer, then restoration. While there is no mention of the author of Job, it may have been Moses, as he was with God for forty years in Exodus 3, before he returned to the children of Israel in Egypt.
The time span of events occurring in the book of Job reaches about 200 years, but the events happened around 2000 BC. A human mind not inspired by God would have put this book after Genesis, but this is not the case. It is said that Job lived around the same time as Abraham, perhaps before God called Abraham. The book of Job does not mention Israel, God’s Law or God’s chosen people. Job lived 140 years after his suffering experience and restoration (Job 42:16), therefore his lifespan must have been close to 200 years. Perhaps the events happened around the time between Genesis 11 and 12, just before God called Abraham.
Just like in the books of the Law and in the historical books, the Lord Jesus is seen also in the poetical books, starting with the book of Job. We see that Job turns to and seeks for Another. We read in Job 9:33, “There is not an umpire between us, who should lay his hand upon us both.” Again, we read in Job 16:21, “Oh that there were arbitration for a man with God, as a son of man for his friend!” We have in these two particular verses shadows of Christ and His work as an Advocate (1 John 2:1-2) and a Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), who lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). Then in Chapter 19:25, Job acknowledges a Redeemer, “And as for me, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and the Last, he shall stand upon the earth.” Christ is also the believer’s Redeemer.
In Elihu, we have one who intercedes for Job in his sufferings, bringing a picture of Christ. Now in Job 33:24 Elihu speaks of a ransom, “Then he will be gracious unto him, and say, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.” We then have Christ as the Ransom. We read in Mark 10:45, “For also the Son of man did not come to be ministered to, but to minister, and give his life a ransom for many.” The apostle Paul supported this statement in 1 Timothy 2:5-6, “For God is one, and the mediator of God and men one, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, the testimony to be rendered in its own times.” Therefore, in the book of Job, the Lord Jesus Christ is the believer’s Life, Redeemer, Mediator and Advocate.
The second of the poetical books is the book of Psalms. This book of 150 psalms is a collection of praises to God. It could also be called ‘the book of Praises.’
The time span of the book of Psalms covers about 1000 years, from about 1410 BC (Moses) to about 430 BC (return from Babylon under Ezra and Nehemiah). The book of Psalms is divided into five books, each book corresponding with the five books of the Law.
We first have the book of Job, speaking of God’s discipline and His love toward the true believer. In the book of Psalms, once God restores the believer, he is able to praise and worship Him. That is why the book of Psalms follows. It also shows the experience of a godly man in communion with God, and the psalms are so full of Christ. Space would permit us to have a look at the key psalms portraying Christ.
Psalm 1 presents the godly and righteous man as Christ Himself. Then in Psalm 2 we have before us Christ as the righteous King who will rule in Zion and in righteousness. In Psalm 8 we see Christ as the One who will be exalted in the millennial kingdom and all things will be put under His feet (Hebrews 2:8). Then we come to Psalm 16, which presents the perfect life of Christ on earth, corresponding with the meal or grain offering of Leviticus 2. Psalm 21 speaks of Christ as the risen One and His glorification. Then Psalm 22 speaks of Christ’s sufferings on the cross from the hand of God, corresponding with the sin offering of Leviticus 4. The psalm that follows is the famous Psalm 23, presenting Christ as the risen Shepherd caring for His sheep, while Psalm 24 presents Christ as the King of glory. Then Psalm 40 speaks to us of Christ who came to do the will of God (John 17:1-5; Hebrews 10:7), corresponding with the burnt offering of Leviticus 1. We then come to Psalm 45, presenting Christ as the Great King. The psalm particularly touches on Christ’s humanity, deity, holy life, death, resurrection, exaltation, and coming in judgment. Psalm 68 speaks of Christ the conqueror, scattering His enemies. Then we have Psalm 69, another picture of Christ’s sufferings on the cross. While Psalm 22 presents Christ suffering from the hand of God, Psalm 69 presents Christ suffering from the hands of men who hated and rejected Him. This psalm corresponds with the trespass offering of Leviticus 5:14-6:7. Psalm 72 presents the blessings of Christ’s kingdom reign.
Then we see in Psalm 89 Christ as the true Son of David, then Psalm 91 speaks of abiding in Christ. When Christ was on earth, Satan quoted Psalm 91:11-12, though he did not quote it correctly. Psalm 92 presents the path of Christ and gives the Messianic promises. Again, Satan misquoted one of the promises to Christ when tempting Him. From Psalm 95 to 100 we have a picture of Christ reigning in the millennium and His glorious kingdom. We come to Psalm 102, another psalm giving the feelings and sufferings of Christ when He was on earth. In particular, Psalm 102:25-26 is a quote, God’s promise, where we find in Hebrews 1:10-12 a similar passage, “And, Thou in the beginning, Lord, hast founded the earth, and works of thy hands are the heavens. They shall perish, but thou continuest still; and they all shall grow old as a garment, and as a covering shalt thou roll them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the Same, and thy years shall not fail.” Again, Psalm 110 presents Christ and is quoted in Hebrews 1 and 5. For a reference, see Psalm 110:1 and Hebrews 1:13; also Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 5:6.
We now come to the book of Proverbs. The last three books, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon, were all written by Solomon himself, but at different stages of his life, as we will see. Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs sometime in his earlier life, perhaps during the middle stages before his spiritual life started to decline. Proverbs tells us that wisdom is divine, that it is only from God. Wisdom also guides the true believer in his walk on earth.
The time span of the book of Proverbs reaches from about 950 BC to about 935 BC, just before Solomon’s life started to decline, while he was still walking with the Lord.
The clearest picture of Christ in the book of Proverbs is found in chapter 8, the source of wisdom. It is divine (8:22-31), the source of biological and spiritual life (8:35-36), it is righteous and moral (8:8-9), and it is available to all who will receive it (8:1-6, 32-35). This divine wisdom became incarnate in Christ. We read in Colossians 2:3, “in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.” Again, we read in 1 Corinthians 1:30, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who has been made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and holiness, and redemption.” The Lord Jesus testified of Solomon’s wisdom when He was on earth in Matthew 12, and He further said that a “greater than Solomon is here,” speaking of course of Himself.
We now take up the book of Ecclesiastes. This book was written to show us what life is like without God. Though Solomon had all the wisdom of the world, he experienced life without the guidance of God. He summed it up as “vanity and pursuit of the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). The book of Proverbs was written before this book to show us that God gives wisdom to the believer in his walk on earth. However, Ecclesiastes was written next to show us that if the believer does not use this divine wisdom, he or she would conclude as Solomon did in chapter 1:14.
The book of Ecclesiastes was written later in Solomon’s life, perhaps around 935 BC, a few years before his death and before the nation of Israel was divided, as we saw in the First book of Kings. This was perhaps a sign of Solomon’s repentance, though we don’t have a record of this in 1 Kings, but it is clear in this book before us. Ecclesiastes tells us of our need of Christ. He is as the poor wise man of chapter 9:15-16 who delivered the besieged city by His wisdom. However, His wisdom was despised and rejected, as we see in the Gospels. Then Christ is the Creator in chapter 12:1, “And remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, of which thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them,” where the corresponding verse in the New Testament is in Colossians 1:16, “because by him were created all things, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or principalities, or authorities: all things have been created by him and for him.”
The last of the poetical books is the Song of Solomon. While the book of Proverbs presents wisdom from God in a believer’s spiritual life, and Ecclesiastes shows what it is like if the believer does not use the wisdom from God, the Song of Solomon shows us the restoration of a believer and his or her communion with Christ after repentance from Ecclesiastes.
The Song of Solomon was written very early in Solomon’s life, about 965 BC, about six years after he became king of Israel. This book tells us of the joy and communion we have with Christ, and the relationship between Christ (the Bridegroom) and the Church (the true believers, the bride) – 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-25; Revelation 19:7-9, 21:9). Christ in this book is the “chiefest among ten thousand” and the “all together lovely” One (Song 5:10, 16).
In concluding, we see that the believer first needs to be disciplined of any form of pride or sins committed (Job), then his or her restoration and praises to God (Psalms). Divine wisdom is also introduced and given to the believer who asks, as guidance in his or her walk on earth (Proverbs), but when the believer does not use the wisdom and looks for satisfaction or wisdom from the world, he or she will be disappointed and come to repentance (Ecclesiastes). After this comes the joy of communion with Christ and the realisation that Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church (believer) is the bride (Song of Solomon).
One thought on “The Poetical Books”
Good deal. Thank you Philip!