- Preaching the Living WORD through the Written WORD - 2 Tim 4;:2 -
LITERARY DEVICES OF THE BIBLE
Grace Bible Church, Gillette, Wyoming
Pastor Daryl Hilbert
I. LITERARY APPROACH TO THE BIBLE
Literature exploits, for example, such devices of language as metaphor, simile, allusion, pun, paradox, and irony. Of course, these resources of language are the very essence of poetry, but the important thing about the Bible is that they appear everywhere, not just in the poetry. This is why, incidentally, a literary approach is necessary throughout the Bible and not just in predominantly literary parts. (Leland Ryken, “How to Read the Bible as Literature” pg. 27)
II. VARIOUS LITERARY DEVICES OF THE BIBLE
A. Simile is a figure of speech that states a comparison between two objects using “like” or “as.”
Psa 52:2 Your tongue devises destruction, Like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit.
1Pe 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,
B. Metaphor is a figure of speech that makes an implied comparison between two objects.
Psa 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
2Ti 2:6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.
C. Paradox is an apparent contradiction that upon reflection, expresses a genuine truth.
Pr 12:10 A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.
2Co 6:10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
D. Apostrophe is a literary device that speaks to an imaginary person or thing.
Psa 24:7 Lift up your heads, O gates, And be lifted up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in!
Ro 2:3 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
E. Symbol is a figure of speech that represents one or more other ideas or concepts.
Psa 27:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?
Jn 9:5 "While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world."
F. Personification is a figure of speech in which human attributes are given to God or objects.
Psa 17:8 Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.
Mt 11:19 "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."
G. Irony occurs when a writer states one thing but means another as in sarcasm.
Jdg 10:14 "Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress."
2Co 11:19 For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly.
H. Hyperbole is a figure of speech that uses conscious exaggeration for effect.
Psa 6:6 I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears.
Mt 18:9 "If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.
I. Metonymy is a figure of speech in which one name is substituted for another.
Pr 25:15 By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, And a soft tongue breaks the bone. Lk 16:29 "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'
J. Synecdoche is a figure of speech that uses a part to refer to the whole.
Gen 4:26 … men began to call upon the name of the LORD.
Mt 6:11 'Give us this day our daily bread.
K. Allusion is an indirect reference alluding to another Scripture, person, topic, or idea.
Psa 119:3 They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways.
1Co 15:45 So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
L. Allegory is literature that contains a hidden or corresponding other meaning(s).
Isa 28:20 The bed is too short on which to stretch out, And the blanket is too small to wrap oneself in.
Gal 4:24 This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.