Tag Archives: Wisdom Literature

Classification of Psalms 13, 112, 117, 119 According to their Themes

Psalm 13 is a psalm of lament because I recognize the following elements:

1.      Invocation

2.      Plea to God for help

3.      Complaints

4.      Confession of sin or an assertion of innocence

5.      Curse of enemies (imprecation)

6.      Confidence in God’s response

7.      Hymn or blessing

Psalm 112 is a wisdom psalm that falls under the category of acrostics wisdom psalms in which verses or lines begin with succeeding letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It contains the characteristic of wisdom, such as the doctrine of the two ways, the contrast between righteous and wicked, right speech, use of wealth, and fitting into the social structure (440, Lasor).

Psalm 119 is a wisdom psalm too. Number of verses in this psalm uses the language and style of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament: Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes. There is use of the literary technique used in proverbs beginning with “blessed is/are…” It also has an obvious intent of teaching how to live a good and holy life. Overall, Psalm 119 is perhaps the best-known example, devoting 176 verses to extolling God’s law.

Psalm 117 is a definite hymn because this psalm begins with a call to worship, continues by expanding on the reasons why God should be praised concludes with further call to praise.


“Fear of the LORD” and Its Role in the Hebrew Wisdom Literature

The Hebrew wisdom literature is about the art of success, and Proverbs is a guidebook for successful living (Lasor, 460). The Old Testament also emphasizes the laws of love (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5). God’s people were required to submit to God with total obedience. This they called “the fear of the Lord”. Thus the fear of the Lord in the Hebrew wisdom literature does not mean a servile attitude of submission but one conjoined with hope, love, gratitude and commitment to do God’s will in all circumstances. We see the use of the phrase “fear of the Lord” throughout the book of Proverbs to contrast the wise and the foolish:

Ways of those who Fear the LORD Ways of the foolish
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge Fools despise wisdom and instruction. 
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil Pride and arrogance and the evil way, And the perverted mouth, I hate.
Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.

As mentioned above, the Hebrew wisdom is the art of success. In the book of Proverbs we see the teaching that a life that is lived in fear of the Lord is a successful life. Those who are wise fear the Lord, and those who are foolish do not and live a despiteful life. Yet again, we have to note that the Hebrews also emphasized the laws of love. They feared the Lord not in dreadful manner but in filial reverence. To fear the Lord was to be in awe of God, honor him, and give him what he deserves because God is good and just.


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Ecclesiastes: Implication of its Message for My Value Structure and Ethical Framework

Prasha Maharjan

The theme of the book of Ecclesiastes can be found summarized in the key verse “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13). As transient is the life of a man, so are the things and success that he accomplishes. Only that glorifies God and meant for eternal purposes remain which is attained by fearing the Lord and keeping his commandments.

The implications of the theme are paramount to my values structure and ethical framework. An ethical framework or value structure that undermines the commandments of the Lord is eventually futile and ephemeral. As a Christian, the Spirit in me testifies the truths of the Bible. Thus, the choices I make in my life affect eternity.

There are choices that I am faced with every moment. Values and ethics differ from culture to culture. In the culture I grew up in, I am expected to honor my parents and live with them as long as they find a man they think is right for me. As an educated and independent individual, I could have done things that would benefit me but hurt my family. I could refuse to marry the man they have chosen and choose to leave the house and start my own life. However, the Bible says that I am to honor my parents. Does choosing to be independent and dishonoring my parents bring glory to God? These are choices that I have to align with my culture and biblical values.

Secondly, the influence of peers is humongous in an individual’s life. We tend to incline toward the norms that our peers set for us to fit in and be accepted. In this case, I have to examine the ethical framework that I am leaning on. My values that derive from the Bible should come into play rather than the standard that my peers set for me. The acceptance among friends is but short-lived. Glory of the Lord is superior though it may cost their friendships in this life. My ethical framework is based on the standard that God has built for me not my peers.

The pop-culture has become another influential factor in an individual’s life. A pop star has become an idol for a majority of the young generation. If a star attests to a certain ideology or values, many are influenced to follow him/her blindly without using their own judgment. If he advocates issues of adultery and abortion, his follower is quick to do the same. The question I ask myself is whether following this pop star glorifying God. We give him glory when we fear his commandments and keep them. The Lord of the Bible does not allow premarital sexual relations, adultery or abortion. Choices like these are dumb for so many people in the world but these are choices that have an eternal impact.

Dishonoring my parents, conforming to my peers to be acceptable, and following the pop culture may be things that will bring happiness, acceptance, and independence but as the book of Ecclesiastes show all these are futile. Pursuits of self-pleasure and temporal success do not align with the life that God expects from us. The duty of man is to follow the commandments of the Lord and seek his guidance in all steps of life.