A Modern Psalm I: The Lord is Sovereign

The 150 psalms in the Bible are God-breathed poems. Unlike much of English or American poetry, Hebrew poetry does not employ rhyming schemes. Instead a hallmark of Hebrew poetry, the Psalms included, is the use of parallelism. That is the idea of one line will be compared or contrasted with another line.

This technique helps us interpret the Psalms. If the reader is not clear about one line, perhaps another line will provide clarity.

In studying a psalm, it may be helpful to think in terms of lines. That is the first line is designated as line A. The parallel line that compares or contrasts with that line would also be designated as line A. Other lines are treated the same way with B, C, D, etc.

At times, the line scheme of a four line psalm will be A-A-B-B. An interesting twist is when the scheme is A-B-B-A (not the rock group from Sweden). If placed on paper with the first two lines are on one side and the last two lines are on another, you can draw a line from A to A and from B to B. This will form an X on the paper. This X style is called a chiastic poem.

This Modern Psalm I is not an attempt to supplant the book of Psalms. Nor is there a claim of God-breathed inspiration.

It is simply my attempt at writing a poem in the style of Hebrew poetry. This first one uses the chiastic style of lines A-B-B-A. It is intended to provide instruction. So the first and main line is that The Lord is Sovereign. The fourth line is a comparative line that defines what it means that the Lord is sovereign. We often use that word without really grasping it’s meaning. When we declare his sovereignty, we are saying that he does whatever he pleases. He does not answer to us or to anybody. He is the absolute ruler.

The B lines instruct us on how we respond to a God who is sovereign. We bless his holy name. We sing praises to him.

I hope this makes sense and is helpful. Should you get the urge to compose your own Hebrew psalm or poem, I hope you will send it to me (frank.c.gantz@gmail.com). If you submit one, you give me the right to put it on the blog (you will get credit, of course). I may or may not. Let’s see what you got.