Thursday, August 24, 2017


** an earlier post on literary devices in the Psalms is linked here **


I am excited to be attending an event The Psalms in the Christian Life as presented by Moore Theological College's Centre for Christian Living.  The goal of the event "is to deepen  appreciation of the Psalms—as poetry, as a book, as a part of Christian Scripture—in order to deepen our experience of the Psalms as a crucial resource for Christian living." (source:
The Psalms have always been fascinating to me theologically and as literature. Many literary devices are used in the Psalms.  Four literary devices are found in Psalm 1 alone. Hyperbole is another literary device that is utilised in the Psalms.  Hyperbole is use of exaggeration for emphasis or rhetorical effect.
In Psalm 3 we see this:
“Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies
on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.”
The exaggeration is in the notion that God breaks the teeth of the wicked.  God does not literally do such a thing.  God metaphorically does break the teeth of the wicked in that in God’s judgment of the wicked, God offers the wicked no right to testimony against a righteous person.  Striking of the wicked person’s teeth: a removal of the ability to testify.

We know it to be an exaggeration from an understanding of the full context of the Psalm.  It is only a short Psalm of eight verses.  The writer is under stress from enemies yet identifies God as a shield.  In God, the author finds glory.  While the writer is anguished by that which he experiences around him, he knows that God will ultimately conclude the power struggles of the day.
The hyperbole achieves its aim through exaggeration.  The teeth of the enemies are broken in that God offers the author peaceful carriage through judgment.  It is a peaceful carriage in that his enemies are silenced at that time.
Note: all links good as at 24 August 2017

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