In His Word – with the Poets

psalm 119 103

This week we are looking into the importance of God’s Word as well as some of the goodies we are rewarded with when we open the book.  First, we had an overview of the 5 books of Law.  Yesterday we considered the 12 books of History, so today we are up to the 5 books of Poetry.

When I was a school kid eating up my history classes, I was yawning during my poetry course.  And, I still haven’t matured enough to really enjoy a ‘good book of poetry’ whatever that means.  However, I truly love opening up my Bible to these inspired books of poetry.  So many times when I reach for my Bible – it is to the books of Poetry that I go, and I am not disappointed.

Often when reading the books of law and history you get the facts of the events.  And from there you can piece together the likely thoughts or emotions of the characters and what their relationship with God was like at the time.  But, in many of the books of poetry you get the poet’s raw emotion: disappointment, anger, depression, elation, thankfulness, etc… And, through it all – God is there.  Along with the poet’s emotion, you get to read of his personal testimony of God’s faithfulness.  Psalm 13 is one short example – it starts out with quite a bit of pain and anguish and questions for God – but it ends with a beautiful statement of God’s unfailing love and goodness.

I really appreciated Andrew Cheatwood’s devotions two weeks ago when he wrote candidly about his struggle with spiritual depression and the help he found in the Psalms.  I applaud his wisdom in looking to God’s Word.

Here’s a brief overview of the 5 books of Poetry

JOB – Suffering, But Still Trusting

Satan attacks Job.  He loses everything except his trust in God – and that is enough.  He prospers again, even more than before.

PSALMS – Jewish Songbook

Songs, prayers and praises to God in poetry.  The longest book of the Bible, mostly written by David.  Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible – all about the greatness of the Word of God

PROVERBS – Wisdom!

Wise King Solomon shares his wisdom on many matters: work, money, temptation, discipline, etc…These 31 chapters can be read one chapter a day every month and you will find yourself a wiser person.

ECCLESIASTES – Search for the Meaning of Life

Solomon found pleasures, riches, and fame don’t satisfy.  Instead, revere God, follow Him and let God be God


Poems by Solomon celebrating the beauty of married love, also called Song of Songs


Which is your favorite book of Poetry?  Go ahead – read some God-inspired poetry today!

Marcia Railton

Smokin’ Hot Mama OR The End Of SOS – Which Title Do You Prefer?

Song of Solomon 5-8


Saturday, February 4

As I mentioned yesterday, there is quite a discrepancy of opinions among Biblical scholars about SOS (Song of Solomon).  Commentators such as Matthew Henry and James Durham believed SOS was solely allegorical.  Whereas, in the “Passion Pursuit” class, the ladies referred to the Shulammite woman as a “Smokin’ Hot Mama”.   In his commentary, Ray Stedman states that the Bible, especially here in SOS, handles physical passion frankly and forthrightly.  In my research, I found an excellent commentary that blends both lines of thought (it was also mentioned several times on the Authentic Intimacy website). How to Love God With All Your Heart by Keith Simons and Mark Kirkpatrick analyzes each verse in both its literal and allegorical interpretations.

I really appreciate being able to pull from both interpretations when it comes to real life applications.  If you are single, the literal application may not apply.  If you only take the allegorical application, you will miss the beauty of physical love and permission from God to be a “smokin’ hot mama” or “dude” in the marital realm.

It makes a lot of sense that SOS follows the other poetic books of the Bible not only because of its poetic nature but also because it offers wisdom for living as do the other books.  Ray Stedman refers to the 5 books of poetry as each containing a “cry.”  Job is the cry of the spirit. Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes are the cry of the soul.  SOS is the cry of the body for love.  He goes on to say that because the devil pushed this beautiful gift to extreme evil, Victorianism pushed sex into prudishness, as if it were something to be ashamed of.  SOS represents “sex as God intended it to be, involving not just a physical activity, but the whole nature of man.”

When having “the talk” (one of many) with our son, we described the reproductive purpose of sex and the bonding purpose.  Husbands and wives need to “reenact SOS” to bond.  In fact, I learned in the “Passion Pursuit” class there are many studies that show that the same hormone that bonds a mother to her child, oxytocin, is released during sex and plays a role in bonding a man and woman together.  Of course, discussing the bonding purpose of sex with our son was a little harder than the reproductive purpose.  Both of our children were adopted so he knew that wasn’t an issue… was hoping he wasn’t going to put 2 and 2 together for the other purpose! But alas….

SOS is also a beautiful allegory for God’s love and want for intimacy with his people. The New Testament also compares Christ and the church as a groom and his bride. So clearly, God created marriage as an allegory for this relationship.  I cannot state all of this nearly as well as Simons and Kirkpatrick, so I really encourage you to read How To Love God With All Your Heart ( ) or just Google it!

I didn’t recall signing up for writing a devotion on SOS at Family Camp.  I just wanted to do the devotions between school semesters.  But I’m really glad I did.  I got to use some of the stuff I learned in “Passion Pursuit” and I did research I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to doing if I didn’t have to write about it.  We all make jokes about King Solomon’s pick up lines, but in truth, SOS is a beautiful book to be read on several levels.  I think God included SOS in scriptures so that we know that “every good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17)

God bless you and the reading of His Word!

Maria Knowlton

(Maria’s devotion shared this week were originally used as part of a year-long Bible reading plan following 2015 COG Family Camp at Camp Mack.  We thank her for permission to reprint them here).

 (photo credit:

Even though Proverbs is Coming to a Close – Keep up with the Wisdom!

Proverbs 29-31


Monday, January 30

Today’s reading will wrap up the book of Proverbs.  This book is one of what we refer to as the five book section of poetry.  You’ve probably noticed that neither Proverbs, nor the rest of this section has a lot of rhyme and rhythm which is often associated with poetry.  Here’s a little poem I remember from my school days.  “Roses are red, Violets are blue.  God made me pretty, what happened to you?”  The rhyme and rhythm are obvious.  The Biblical books of poetry are classified as such, because of the rhyme and rhythm of thought and reason.  This is often called parallelism, putting similar or contrasting thoughts side by side.  These five books are also often called Wisdom Literature.  The reason is obvious.  They are full of wisdom, every one of them, but particularly the Proverbs.


I liken the book of Proverbs to the New Testament book of James.  Both are very practical, and contain much wisdom for day to day living.  The Proverbs can be seen not so much as hard and fast promises or guarantees, but rather as counsel, guidance, directives to follow, with consequential blessings.


Solomon wrote many of the proverbs contained in this book, though not all of them.  He actually did write many, many other proverbs not contained in this book.  His wisdom was a gift from God, and we would do well to follow his counsel.


Read Proverbs 29 slowly and observe the many and varied topics.  You might recall Biblical examples that fit right into some of the proverbs.  You may even think of real life experiences that relate to or prove some of the counsel shared.


Proverbs 30 begins, “The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh – an oracle.”  An oracle is either the counsel or message of a person of trust and authority, or the person him or herself.  Again, I would suggest you read slowly through Proverbs 30.  Ponder the various topics addressed.  Agur likes the organization of numbers, two things he asked of the LORD, four things that are never satisfied, four things that are amazing, four things under which the earth trembles, four things that are small, yet extremely wise, and more.


Proverbs 31 comes in two parts.  The first nine verses are an oracle (again), this time from the mother of King Lemuel.  I’ll just comment a bit on verses 4-7, where she addresses the use of alcohol.  The use of alcohol is very much accepted these days within the church as well as without.  Lemuel’s mother cautioned him about its use, because of the risk of it affecting the king’s ability to properly perform his responsibilities.  The contrast then is given in verses 6 and 7, “Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.”  Alcohol so easily impairs people to the point where it’s an effective escape from the realities of life.  I can’t tell you the Bible condemns the use of alcohol, but I would caution those who use it freely that it often impairs the user of both wisdom and judgment.  I’ve seen all too often how the abuse of alcohol has been behind the ruining of marriages, families, careers, relationships, integrity; people have been killed, etc.  Most of the examples and stories I could cite have been within the church, people who should have known better, people who never set out to destroy their marriage, family, career, etc.  They just got caught up.  It isn’t worth it to me, to use my freedom to use alcohol, when the abuse of it is so easy and so costly.  I have enough of a challenge to somewhat control my food intake, and am not willing to risk what could happen if I were to use, and go on to abuse alcohol.  I’m confident that those who never take their first drink will never be an alcoholic.  I’ve never heard of an alcoholic who set out to become one.


The rest of Proverbs 31 is a wonderful passage describing a beautiful wife and mother.  It’s actually an acrostic, with each verse beginning with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  Of course we lose all that in the translation into the English language.  It’s still a beautiful description.  This is as modern day as one could ask.  Read through it slowly.  If you’re in search of a wife, look for someone such as this.  If you are a wife, or may be some day, be one such as this.  If your wife or mother is one such as this, rise up and do as suggested in verses 28-31.


John A. Railton

-John Railton is a pastor in Northern Indiana at Family Bible Church.  He also uses his ministry talents working at a funeral home.  He would love to have a conversation with you about the Bible – and maybe play a round of ping-pong, too.

(photo credit: