This article was first published on our church website
Yes that did say Poetry
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies” (Verse 12b-13)
I want you to think for a few moments about a word that not many of us use that often – poetry. For some, poetry is a collection of complex words that to ‘the man [or woman] on the street’ makes little sense. For others, poetry is ok for birthday cards and special occasions but has very little relevance in the real world. Amongst Christians, things can get even worse! Some Christians get scared of poetry because they think it somehow undermines truthfulness or what literally happened. However, here in this dramatic, nation-defining chapter, when God would provide the children of Israel with a decisive ‘look-world’-God-is-with-this-people’ moment, it was recorded in poetry! Yes that’s right, poetry! Not a news article, or even a personal journal entry, but poetry. Why is that?
Poetry not only communicates information, but it also grabs at the heart and moves our emotion! Poetry, like a song, leads us to that place of engaging our imagination to grasp realities about God and his intervention, in ways that pure ‘facts’ wouldn’t. Poetry provides a landscape where we can take the ‘pure facts’ and turn them into spoken and sung praise to the God who made those facts happen. I want to suggest to you that poetry is a necessary, maybe even essential tool to enable us to ‘love [worship] the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”.
So, let me finish by encouraging you to revisit the ‘Psalms of Ascent’ that we’ve been posting three times a week and immerse yourself in these poems of praise to our great God. And as you do that, let your mind, imagination, emotions, and all of who you are, be led to worship your great King! Poetry is for worship!
You can find the Psalms here: https://www.wearekingsgate.org/news/
Approach, my soul, the mercy seat,
Where Jesus answers prayer;
There humbly fall before his feet,
For none can perish there.
Thy promise is my only plea;
With this I venture nigh;
Thou callest burdened souls to thee,
And such, O Lord am I.
Bowed down beneath a load of sin,
By Satan sorely pressed,
By war without and fears within,
I come to thee for rest.
Be thou my shield and hiding place,
That, sheltered near thy side,
I may my fierce accuser face,
And tell him thou hast died.
O wondrous love! To bleed and die,
To bear the cross and shame,
That guilty sinners, such as I,
Might plead thy gracious name.
Poor tempest-tossed soul, be still;
My promised grace receive;
I’ll work in thee both power and will;
Thou shalt in me believe.
John Newton 1779