Poetry is an interesting form of literature to me because of how extensively the writers of scripture used poetry to express God’s instructions, thoughts, and proclamations. I take no claim to being well read in poetry, quite the opposite, but if it was important to the writers of the Old and New Testament, and ultimately to God, as an inspired form of literature, then it isn’t one believers should totally ignore.
Poetry as a Form of Worship
If you had mentioned poetry to me 10 years ago I may have gone screaming for ESPN, but when examined in the heart of the hundreds of poems in scripture, the literary form as a whole begins to take new light. This is probably one of the greatest lost forms of literature in the 21st century church (by lost I mean non-existent). It is hard for poetry to compete with our modern day worship styles, but it is certainly a form of worship, no matter how seldom it is practiced today.
A great modern day example of this appreciation for poetry is still seen in several pastors, but most recently a post from Desiring God‘s website, A Pastor and His Poetry, reminded me of the importance poetry has in God’s creation. Pastor John Piper has written many poems over the last 25 years, many inspired by contemplation and meditation over a particular scripture passage, and about a year ago I did the same thing as part of my ongoing studies.
Through a few hours of meditation (worship) over John 21, “The Spirit Phaneroō in Tiberias” became the tangible result of that worship.
The Spirit Phaneroō in Tiberias
The spirit penetrates the air
But futility still reigns supreme
It occupies the mind all of the day
Oblivious, save self, to the way.
Caught nothing but the sea
Chained by routine, still blind
Yielding yet unknowing
I follow, though I know not why.
These shackles I long to throw away
The breath I leap after
It becomes food for my brain
For the here, and ever after.
Love, love, love thee, the spirit perceives
Freed from the bondage of sin, just receive
No, no, no, I do not love thee I now know
Please help me to believe and I will go.
How is this man to live, how is this man to die
Wonder penetrates the air with grief
It matters not, you follow me, you’ll see
Perfection now attainable, but only if you focus on me.