A Bit of Poetic Theology

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I know many of us don’t like poetry, much less care to read it. And others of us think of the word “theology” and thank God we’re not called to read such large tomes as Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology or Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics. We’ll leave the former to the romantics among us, and the latter we’ll leave to the brains. The food of those tables is often foreign to our palate.

But I imagine God has called us, if not to feast, at least to taste from those plates from time to time. We’re called to think rightly. And we’re called to adore Him with all our affections.

But it’s a rare thing to see theology and poetry in one place (at least, on its own apart from our putting it to music). Have we parsed out these things too cleanly? Like separating home life and work like, or separating faith and reason, have we separated our intellect from our emotions? Can we imagine God desires reasoning romantics, who want to think clearly so our religious affections are oriented rightly? Or do we keep our compartments clean between our reasoning and our romantic selves, and never the ‘twain shall meet?

So here, friends, is an invitation, where our reason is invited to sit with our romance at the feast of worship, where the ‘twain between Biblical Theology and Poetry are invited to fellowship. It’s a brief story that moves from God’s good creation, to fall, to redemption and restoration. We’ll call it:

The King’s Return: His Story in Ours

Morning dew and evening breeze,
The sigh of wind—sweet zephyr song
As trees in harmony sway ‘long
And He has given us the keys.
Sunrise caught in water drop,
Puts dimples in the perfect pond.
Sweet summer drizzle here and gone,
And we, from dirt to honored top.
His promise rings still in our heads:
“This golden plot is yours—partake!
Save one tree, all is for your sake!”
Sly snake assays his smarts and says:
“Is His promise life, indeed?
Take and eat! Know and see!”
The spotted fruit once spotted shines,
We took to live, now know we die.

Garden to desert; figs to thorns,
Now broken, now twisted, now torn.
His promise faintly dims our eyes:
“Death is one day doomed to die.”
A bit of fruit and nothing less,
We sold our souls for a pound of flesh.

Birthright turned from crown to pence;
Cheap, our prize had cost too much!
Our brothers fierce in anger turned
To put red hands to violence.
Echoes of former Tov M’od
Was strangled by some crouching sin,
Was twisted by our own device,
Still whispered our Creator’s ode.
And He, our Sovereign, enthroned
Great Hesed gave the promised seed,
This theme had stretched the centuries:
“Deliver them who are your own!”

So Israel’s tutor, Pedagogue,
Might lead the nation to the prize.
The laud was ringing loud and long:
“Here His Christ, your Lord, your God!”
But she in blind self-righteousness
Had sold her soul for so much less.

Crown of thorns and garden tomb
Now broken corpse, deserted soul
His promise faintly dims our eyes:
“I am resurrection-life!”
The Son of Man and nothing less,
Redeemed our souls in righteousness.

The Cross: the unexpected means;
The Son of God and promised Christ
Upon the tree he sways and dies;
Once dead now risen owns the keys.
The sunrise on the tomb would bring:
The stone, the cloth, the empty bed,
Proclaims the truth of what he said,
And he, from slave to sovereign King!
His words, they ring still in our head:
“This bread, this cup is mine—partake
Save one race, all is for His sake!
Body, blood, given instead:
This is promised life, indeed
Take and eat! Know and see!”
Spotless bread and spotless wine,
We took to live, and with Him died.

And so our teacher, man-divine
Now leads His people to the prize,
Whose promise resonates our lives:
We, the branch, and He, the Vine.
The Son of God and nothing less,
Now owns our lives for righteousness.

Birthright turned from cross to crown;
Rich, this lavished grace to grace!
Now sends His Spirit, seals His prize,
And makes His name through us renowned.
Hope of future sinless days
Still wrestles with our crouching sin
But promises far better still,
And trumpets our Creator’s praise
So He, our Sovereign, enthroned
Anticipated promise known,
His theme now trumpets through the age:
“Christ our King; I am His own!”