Poetical Books

(Arthur T. Pierson, D.D.)

Job is the book of Testing. The patriarch is subjected to five trials—loss of property, of children, of health, of wifely sympathy, and, last, of reputation. Finally, he has a vision of God, is humbled and restored.


The Psalms form a manual of devotion, where every heart experience of sorrow and joy is mirrored. The first three or four poems index the contents of the whole book. Whatever reveals personal need, or its supply in God, here finds expression, and there is a movement, as in an oratorio, from minor strains to more hopeful outbursts ending in a Hallelujah Chorus. There are five divisions, each marked by a double doxology or Amen, at the close.


Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are books of Wisdom: the former full of precepts for practical life, compiled from many sources; the latter, giving the author’s experiences of the vanity of all things “under the sun,” and his grand conclusion that the completeness of man—the symmetry of character—is found only in the fear of God and the keeping of His Commandments.


Canticles or Solomon’s Song has long been an enigma. The best solution is that which construes it as a drama, in which Solomon is represented as seeking to draw to his court and harem a maiden, already affianced to a poor shepherd to whom she finally returns, turning her back on all other attractions. She is therefore a type of the church, or the believer, allured by the world, but finally cleaving to Christ as the only satisfying portion.