Week 1 Introduction – Consider the Genre (Feb 21) … what kind of literature, or what type of writing is it?
Yesterday we looked at a few examples of context. There are different ways of looking at context. There is the “immediate” context which falls into yesterday’s example with the parable of the “Good” Samaritan. “Immediate” context involves looking at a few verses before and after the passage you are focusing on. “Greater” context means considering previous paragraphs or chapters up to the whole book or Bible as a whole.
Genre, or type of literature, is an example of “greater” context. Genre looks at the book as a whole and considers how the type of literature helps us understand what we are reading. A good example of this is the difference between a poem and a letter. The way you interpret a poem would be very different than the way you would interpret a letter that you got in the mail. You would usually take what is written in a letter quite literally, where in a poem, you would expect to run into symbols and metaphors and often take what is written as possibly having a deeper meaning. In the weeks to come, we will consider some of the different genres in the Bible, such as, Parables, Poetry, Narrative, Letters and Teaching.
Neusa Barbosa contributed this verse as one of her favourites: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
So what does this verse mean?
Let’s look at the literary context: Read the previous verses, 8 and 9. These verses talk about destruction and war and how God will “break the bow,” “snap the spear,” and “burn the shields”. Then in the midst of all this chaos he commands, “Be still, and know that I am God!” followed by His statements about being honoured not only by every nation but throughout the whole world. The context implies that God is telling us to be quiet among the turmoil and honour Him.
Let’s look at the genre: This is a poem, so we have to be careful before taking things too literally—what is symbolic, and what does it mean? When the previous verse talks about breaking the bows and spears we can be fairly certain that the psalmist does not mean that God will literally damage all the weapons of war, instead we can understand that God will make peace, or possibly force peace.
So we can see that “Be still” does not only imply a quietness, but also a call or command for peace while recognizing who God is. Why? Because He is God and He will be honoured!
Matthew Henry, in his commentary writes, “Let his enemies be still, and threaten no more, but know it, to their terror, that he is God…” and, “Let his own people be still; let them be calm and sedate, and tremble no more, but know, to their comfort, that the Lord is God, he is God alone…”
Neusa Barbosa commented about this verse, “God is so big and so huge, yet He is my God, and He’s telling me that He is. It’s very personal. He is MY God.”
1) How can you apply this verse to areas in your life where you feel excessive stress or feel threatened in one way or another at work or at home or wherever life takes you?
2) Pray: Ask God and consider how you can “Be still” and know Him.
3) Refer to your Prayer Journal.