Have you ever wondered what God looks like? Or what he sounds like? Does he really have eyes to see us and ears to hear us? Does he really smell the “sweet aroma” of our prayers? What does it mean that humans are created in the image of God? Does that mean that God has eyes and ears? Or when the writer of Genesis goes on and says, “In the image of God he created them, male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27)? Does this verse mean that our gender reflects gender in God? How are we to understand these expressions about God, when we know that he is a Spirit and does not have a body? Are they merely the way uneducated people in ancient times spoke about things they did not understand? Are we too sophisticated and educated today to pay any attention to these expressions? In short, why are all the human images of God in the Bible, and what are Christians to learn from them in the twenty-first century? This book attempts to answer these questions, and many like them, as we examine the human images of God in the Bible and what they have to say to us today.
We begin with several passages from the Bible for your consideration. These passages are taken from the Pentateuch, the Psalms, the prophets, the gospels, a New Testament epistle, and the book of Revelation. As such, they represent a cross-section of the writings in the Bible. Here they are.
“The LORD will fight for you, and you can be still” (Ex. 14:14).
“As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God” (Ps. 42:1).
“Loyal love and faithfulness meet; deliverance and peace great each other with a kiss” (Ps. 85:10).
“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (Ps. 23:1).
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11).
“This is what the LORD says: ‘The heavens are my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where then is the house you will build for me?” (Isa. 66:1)
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it again” (Jn. 2:19).
“I am the bread of life” (Jn. 6:48).
“But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22).
“Then I saw standing in the middle of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the middle of the elders, a Lamb that appeared to have been killed. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6).
These are all familiar images from the Bible, so recognizable that it is difficult to think of the Bible without them. These images are so common to us that we have memorized some of them from our earliest days in Sunday School. But look at them again. What strikes you about them as you read them? What do they all have in common? One important feature they all share is that they use figures of speech to express theological truths. That is, they all use non-literal language to make a point; they all use comparisons between physical objects and spiritual truths. In short, they use figures of speech; they are figurative. It may surprise you to know that fully one third of the Bible is figurative in one way or another, and it is not just in the poetry that we find figures of speech. We find figures of speech in the Old Testament history books as well as the Psalms, and the New Testament epistles as well as the gospels. What would the book of Revelation be without its figures of speech? It would hardly be recognizable to us at all.
How would the Bible be different if we did not have figures of speech in the books of the Old and New Testaments? Take another example, this one of wisdom as personified in Proverbs 8:
Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
At the top of the elevated places along the way,
at the intersection of the paths she takes her stand;
beside the gates opening into the city,
at the entrance of the doorways she cries out
This passage personifies wisdom as if it were a woman out in the streets, beckoning to those who would listen. The extended personification of wisdom continues for seven more verses and suggests many divine characteristics, or attributes. Wisdom, after all, comes from God, and in fact “the beginning of wisdom is to fear the LORD” (Prov. 9:10). In the twenty-third Psalm, the divine attributes are developed as variations on another image, that of the Lord as a shepherd tending his sheep—providing for them, protecting them, encouraging them. These are only two images of God in the Old Testament; there are many others.
How often in the Old Testament is Yahweh presented to the reader in such images as a King ruling the universe? “This is what the Lord says: ‘The heavens are my throne and the earth is my footstool. Where then is the house you will build for me? Where is the place where I will rest?’” (Isa. 66:1; cf. Pss. 47:8; 97:2; 99:1). In the great declarations of comfort to his people in the book of Isaiah, Yahweh repeatedly calls himself Israel’s King (e.g. Isa. 43:15; 44:6). The earth is the Lord’s kingdom, and in a special way, Israel is God’s kingdom. Likewise in the Old Testament, God is a warrior, defending his people. “The LORD will fight for you” (Ex. 14:14), Moses writes, and again, “The Lord your God is about to go ahead of you; he will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt “ (Deut. 1:30). A king and a warrior—two images of Yahweh that echo throughout the pages of the Old Testament and promise God’s people his provision and protection.
In the New Testament, we find figures of speech beginning with the gospels and appearing throughout the other books as well; Christ’s many “I am’s” in the gospels are all figurative. The day after he fed the 5000 and walked on the water, Jesus preached again to the multitude, offering them eternal life and forgiveness of sins. How does he make the offer of eternal life “accessible” to the people who hear him? He uses the image of the bread of life. “I am the bread of life,” Jesus tells the crowds, “The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty” (Jn. 6:35). Referring to the everyday need for bread and water and speaking directly to the needs of the people seated on the ground before him, Christ offers satisfaction for spiritual “hunger” if they will trust in him as the giver of life. Here again we have spiritual truths being expressed in physical terms. Or, to put the other way around, physical objects are used to represent spiritual truths, making them immediate and relevant to those who heard Christ speak these words. These are figures of speech.
Later in his discourses, Christ uses another figure of speech and explains the extent of his love for the people in the image of the good shepherd. “I am the good shepherd,” he says, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:11). While the people did not understand him to be speaking of his impending crucifixion when they heard these words (cf. Jn. 10: 6), the image is nonetheless significant. When we read the image today, it seems perfectly obvious that he was speaking of Calvary where he would indeed lay down his life for the people. In the epistles, Christ is the church’s bridegroom (Eph. 5:25-32), purifying for himself a people. These are the people, John tells us in the apocalypse, who will “eat” with Christ at the “wedding celebration of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). Simultaneously inherent in the marriage supper imagery are two important theological truths: (1) the intimacy of a personal relationship (for Yahweh is our father), and (2) the theology of the atonement in the image of the sacrificial lamb. We simply cannot avoid literary language if we are to read the Bible well—that is, the way it was composed and written.
Since so much of the Bible is figurative, we need to understand some of the essential characteristics of figures of speech. A figure of speech is a literary device involving comparison of dissimilar things: two objects or ideas, which we call “terms,” that are logically distinct are found to be similar in an imaginative way. That is, by bringing the two dissimilar ideas together, they are shown to have something in common after all; this is the point of comparison in all figures of speech.
In the opening statement from the Twenty-Third Psalm, “The LORD is my shepherd,” the two terms are “shepherd” and “LORD.” Were this statement to be taken literally, it would be absurd—for the Lord is certainly not a literal shepherd. Brought together in the figure of speech, however, the Lord and shepherd are found to have certain similarities, and these are detailed in the remainder of the Psalm. In other words, in a figure of speech, two logically-distinct terms are found to be imaginatively similar. It is this similarity that produces the idea that the figure of speech expresses. In the comparison of the Lord with a shepherd, the Lord Provides for us (vv. 1-2), gives us rest (v. 2a), meets our spiritual needs (v. 3), protects us in trouble (v. 4), and gives us eternal life (v. 6). All of these theological truths are contained within the comparison of the Lord to the shepherd. The comparison of God to a shepherd allows the reader to see something about his relationship with his people—in this instance the many ways in which he provides for and protects his own. Besides, who cannot remember the image of the shepherd with his sheep that runs throughout Scripture? The figure of speech is more memorable than the theology, and easy to memorize.
What are some of the primary figures of speech used in the Bible? E. W. Bullinger identifies some 200 figures of speech in the Bible.2 In his popular book on the subject, Basic Bible Interpretation, Roy B. Zuck mentions a short list of the devices he regards to be some of the primary figurative devices in the Bible; Zuck’s short list comes to twenty-five separate devices.3 For our purposes, however, we will name only three devices of comparison in the Bible and concentrate on the last of these, anthropomorphisms—the subject of this book. Accordingly, we will mention simile, metaphor and anthropomorphism as some of the primary figurative devices in the Bible.
1. Simile. A simile is a comparison of two objects or ideas which uses like or as. It is the easiest figure of speech to recognize because it signals itself with the comparison words, like or as. If you think of a simile in mathematical terms, you might say, “(a) is like (b).” By way of example, “her eyes are like stars” is a simile, comparing the brightness and beauty of a woman’s eyes to stars in the sky. To take an example from the Bible, Psalm 1 tells us that the godly man “is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time and its leaves never fall off” (v. 3). That is, the godly man is stable, strong, productive, and blessed. Is it not easy to remember the comparison of the godly man to the strong tree and, earlier in the same psalm, to see the contrasting godless man who progressively walks, stands, and finally sits with mockers? The similes help us remember the theology.
2. Metaphor. A metaphor is the imaginative identification of two objects without using like or as. In other words, the one object is imaginatively associated so closely with the other that they are seen as one. Put mathematically, we might say, “(a) = (b).” A metaphor is a stronger, tighter comparison than a simile. For instance, in Psalm 100, “we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (v. 3). Believers are compared to sheep in this metaphor; believers are sheep in the terms of the metaphor—those for whom he provides. The effect of the metaphor is to intensify the theology of the psalm: God is the lord in believers’ lives, and in turn they are the objects of God’s special love and Provision.
3. Anthropomorphism. In anthropomorphisms, God is spoken of as if he had human characteristics—such as eyes, ears, face, heart, hands, mouth, and nose. Put mathematically, “(a—human) stands for (b—God).” For example, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place,” the writer of Proverbs states, “keeping watch on those who are evil and those who are good” (Prov. 15:3). It is not that God has literal eyes, as we do, with which he physically observes the people of the world. Rather, it is that the anthropomorphism (or the human image) of God’s eyes helps us understand that God is omniscient; he “sees” everything. Such a thought is comforting to the believer who is the “good” man of the comparison, but surely the same thought is terrifying for the “evil” man—if he only could see his peril. We are to be encouraged and warned by the writer’s statement that God “sees” everything. The human image helps us understand something about God, who, if He had not communicated it to us, would be unapproachable. In short, anthropomorphisms allow us to draw near to God and see Him for who He is.
These three figures of speech are enough to illustrate that figurative language works by bringing dissimilar objects and ideas together in such a way as to produce a new idea or insight. Why are they important to us when we read the Bible? We can suggest at least three reasons here. First, they encourage us to read actively. Second, they make the abstract concrete and accessible to us. And, third, they bring us closer to God than theological statements alone would allow. In short, figures of speech are necessary if we are to understand the Bible.
What do figures of speech do in the Bible? One of their important functions is to produce meaning by bringing a new idea out of the comparison of two dissimilar ideas. The meaning of figures of speech is different in significant ways from logical statements of the same or a similar idea. In fact, the ideas in the two types of language (logical and figurative) are similar, but not the same. Take for instance the logical statement that Christ’s death was a sacrifice of himself for sinners and put it alongside the figurative image of Christ as the Lamb of God. Both the statement and the image speak to the same theological doctrine—that of the substitution of Christ for sinners—in short, the atonement. The logical statement expresses the theology of Christ’s death. The figurative image, however, nuances and extends the logical statement to include the whole range of Old Testament sacrifices and the New Testament representations of Christ as the Lamb on the throne of the universe. The image incorporates a host of meanings and experiences that would take volumes of theological dogma to assert in logical prose. In short, the figurative image of the Lamb says something more than the logical statement alone.
Consider another illustration, this time the comparison of Christ to the vine and believers to branches (Jn. 15:1-7). There are two pairs of comparisons in this passage. First, Christ is compared to the vine and, second, believers are compared to the branches of the vine. Every reader recognizes instantly that the statement is not literal, for the statement would be meaningless and absurd if it were interpreted literally. So how does the figure of speech create a new meaning? The metaphor expresses a new meaning by creating a new idea—in this case, two new ideas: (1) the “Christ-vine” and (2) the “believers-branch.” That is, in the comparison of Christ to a vine, we understand that Christ gives believers spiritual life, and in the comparison of believers to the branches we realize that they are entirely dependent on Christ for everything. This is the idea in the twin comparisons of the vine-branch metaphor. It is the comparison of Christ to the vine and believers to the branches that creates the understanding. Isn’t the image of the vine and branches easy to remember? Isn’t that image a permanent part of your mental furniture, forever comforting you in difficult times?
How do figures of speech work in non-biblical literature where the texts are not the inspired Word of God? A few examples from such literature might help us understand how figures of speech work in the Bible. We will consider three examples of one particular device, namely personification. Personification is a special type of metaphor in which human characteristics are attributed to a non-human object. Personification is also a close cousin to anthropomorphism in that it assigns human characteristics to any nonhuman object or being, while anthropomorphisms assign human characteristics to God.
Our first personification is of the season of autumn as a harvester and gleaner from John Keats’s “To Autumn”:
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours4 (12-22).
Keats first pictures the season of autumn as a tired worker, lounging on the “granary floor,” perhaps at noon while he takes a short, mid-day rest from the day’s work in the field. Or perhaps he is resting on his tool handle half-way down a furrow. Later he is working diligently, gleaning the best from the pressed apples as he collects the juice for cider. In all of these comparisons, the season of autumn is compared to a person doing the work of the autumn harvest. These are all personifications (comparing an inanimate object—autumn—to a human being—a harvester). The personifications have the effect of making the work of the harvest vivid and personal for the reader. The speaker in the poem actually addresses the autumn/harvester in the stanza quoted above, further personalizing the impression the harvest makes on him. The poem involves at least three of our five senses to create the desired impression. We see the harvester resting and gleaning; we hear the sound of his tools swishing as he cuts the crop; and we smell the apple juice as it is pressed into the vat. In these ways, the personification of autumn as a worker involves the reader in the experience of the harvest, making the season more memorable to us in Keats’s description.
Consider another personification, this one William Wordsworth’s view of the city of London, England, early in the morning, in his poem, “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802.” As you read the lines, remember that this is the early nineteenth century, and as the day progressed the smoke from countless coal and wood fires would fill the air.
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty;
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky.
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air5 (1-8).
Wordsworth admires the beauty of the city of London while it is still silent in the morning—before the commercial crowds come to do their business and the dirty smoke fills the air. It is the solitude that impresses the poet as beautiful. Notice the personification of the city as a person wearing a garment. The garment in this case is “the beauty of the morning”—the quiet solitude of the city as the sun rises. The effect of the personification is to make the city seem like a living being who has chosen the morning as a special garment of beauty. The fact that Wordsworth admires the city is all the more remarkable because he is the Romantic poet of nature. How beautiful must the picture have been for him that September day in 1802!
One final example will suffice to illustrate how figures of speech work in secular literature. This time, we reference John Donne, a seventeenth century English poet and, later in life, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Donne wrote a number of “Holy Sonnets,” the tenth of which is based on 1 Corinthians 15:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so,
For those whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou are slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.6
Donne’s point in the poem is that the believer will live forever; he will die only once and will live again after that death. The unbeliever is born once and dies twice (physically and spiritually). For the believer, however, it is death that “dies”; the believer is born twice (physically and spiritually) and dies only once (physically). The effect of the poem is to reduce the fear and terror believers have of death to a healthy level. Donne accomplishes this effect by personifying death and thereby bringing it “down to size”—the size of just another human being, not a fearsome superhuman foe. Donne reduces death even further by stating that he keeps bad company, for he is a “slave” to undesirables (9) and keeps company with low-life’s (10). Why should he (death) be so proud, then, Donne asks? He can do us no harm. The personification of death in this poem helps the reader to understand that it is not so fearful for one to die, if he is a believer.
In all three of these poems, we have seen personifications. In each case, the reader understands the poet’s point by seeing the object—the season of autumn, the city of London, and death—as a mere human being with whom he can communicate and to whom he can relate. In the Bible, the writers compare God to human beings. We call such comparisons “anthropomorphisms.” They make God more accessible to our limited human understanding and relate us to God in ways that reflect our humanity.
When we turn to God—and everything else in the spiritual domain for that matter—all language has to be figurative. Apart from the ways he discloses himself to mankind (as he does in the words of the Bible), God is transcendent (the term itself is a figure) and therefore ultimately beyond (another figure of speech) full human comprehension. Such a condition exists even more than man’s original capabilities entailed. For, although the Bible declares that man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), hence capable of full fellowship with him, due to his fall (Gen. 3:1-19) man’s personal make-up has become altered. “If we choose to investigate the Bible’s depiction of man, we find that man today is actually in an abnormal condition. The real human is not what we now find in human society. The real human is the being that came from the hand of God, unspoiled by sin and the fall.”7 It is true that fallen man still bears the image of God, which forms the basis of the dignity of man and demands a high view of human life and reputation (James 3:9). Yet that image is so marred that Paul speaks of the natural man as having a darkened mind, degraded emotions, and a sin-dominated will (Eph. 4:16-19). The believer is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and is being renewed (Col. 3:16) after the image of Christ, the full image of God (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). Yet in his finitude he still can only apprehend what God comprehends (1 Cor. 13:12; cf. Job 38-39).
In one sense, then, all language about God must be metaphorical because “God is so far above us that we can only approximate his glory.”8 Rather than being understood as mere decorations and ornaments that display the writers’ skill and adorn the theology, images and metaphors in the biblical texts “demonstrate that the consummate glory of God is too great for human words to capture.”9 God is entirely “other” (separated from us and above us—another figure of speech), and we must approach him only in the terms he prescribes—and those terms are necessarily metaphorical. Tremper Longman helps us understand how figures of speech about God work. He writes, “…images, particularly metaphors, help to communicate the fact that God is so great and powerful and mighty that he can’t be exhaustively described…. Metaphor preserves the mystery of God’s nature and being, while communicating to us about him and his love for us.”10 For Longman, metaphors help bridge the gap (note the image) between finite man and infinite God. Human language can only “come close” to describing the supernatural and God. Figures of speech are one form of language which allows us to come close to what we need to know about God.
One of the ways God is accommodated to the reader in Scripture—the divine to the human—is in the many anthropomorphisms (human images) in the texts of both the Old and New Testaments. If we take just one human feature and reflect on some of the passages in which the writers of Scripture apply it to God, we can learn something of how these human images work. By way of illustration, we will consider the eye in reference to God. To begin, God’s “eye” suggests his mercy. The psalmist writes, “The LORD looks down from heaven at the human race, to see if there is anyone who is wise and seeks God” (Ps. 14:2), figuratively associating God’s mercy with the image of human eyes to underscore God’s active seeking of the lost (cf. 2 Pet. 3:9). Again, the Psalmist rejoices, “The LORD pays attention to (lit,: eyes of the LORD are toward) the godly and hears their cry for help” (Ps. 34:15). And when he dedicates the temple, Solomon petitions the Lord, “Night and day may you watch over this temple, the place where you promised you would live. May you answer (lit., listen to) your servant’s prayer for this place” (1 Kings 8:29; cf. v. 52).In the images of seeing and hearing this passage suggests that God regards his people with favor he does not extend to others. The concrete image of the eyes makes the theology of hesed love concrete.
The human image of the eyes also expresses God’s protection of his people. While an army cannot ultimately save God’s people, the Lord can—and does—preserve his people. In this regard, the psalmist writes, “Look, the LORD takes notice of (lit., the eye of the LORD [is] toward) his loyal followers (lit., those who fear him), those who wait for him to demonstrate his faithfulness” (Ps. 33:18). The sharp contrast in the psalm between the vincible human army (vv. 16-17) and the invincible eye of God highlights God’s effective protection of his people, even when their own devices cannot save them. All it takes, as it were, is the eye of God to do what whole armies cannot do. Again, as a parent watches over a child, or as a shepherd keeps his eye on a lamb, so God watches his people with his eyes to ensure their safety. In the same manner, God’s provision for “all creatures great and small” is figured in eyes. As a child looks to his mother for food, so all creation looks to God for sustenance: “Everything looks to you in anticipation (lit., the eyes of all wait for you), and you provide them with food on a regular basis” (Ps. 145:15).
What is true about figures of speech and God is also true of everything else that is not physical—that is, all spiritual and supernatural things. Whenever we would say anything about non-physical objects, we must necessarily speak in figures. Often we do not have the option of substituting a more literal speech for a metaphorical one. When we speak of spiritual things, we must speak in a “grammar of metaphor,” comparing spiritual things with physical things; this way, we can easily understand what is otherwise difficult to understand.
Think of the Scriptures without figurative language. One third of the inspired texts would disappear, and much of the meaning of the texts would shrivel. Without figures of speech, the Bible would be a book of theological proof texts that only the theologically-educated could understand. Without figures of speech, our understanding and appreciation of God’s condescension to us in Christ and the words of Scripture would be impoverished. How we read the Bible would be altered beyond recognition, for biblical figures of speech reflect God’s accommodation in his self-revelation to us in language that we understand. The Bible simply would not be the book it is without figures of speech.
In the chapters that follow, we turn to the many ways in which the biblical writers picture God in human terms. Each chapter will consider one human feature as it is applied to God. Chapter Two examines the feet of God and what it means for the believer to walk with God. Chapter Three turns to the hands of God and what they mean in Scripture—both about God the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ; in turn, this chapter reflects on what it means to have hands that work for God. Chapter Four considers the face of God and places the believer face to face with God. Chapter Five looks at the mouth of God and ponders how believers should use their words to honor the Lord. Chapter Six focuses attention on the eye of God and contemplates how believers are to live in the light of God’s watching them. Chapter Seven examines the ear of God and what it tells us about our prayers. Chapter Eight turns to the heart of God, focusing attention on his character—who God is—and his actions—what he does for his people. Each chapter will conclude with a consideration of what the specific human feature of God means for the believer’s relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son. In chapter nine, the conclusion to the book, we consider what we have learned in the book and relate it all to our Christian lives. Throughout, the book highlights some implications, which we can draw from the many human characteristics of God in the Bible and suggests some practical applications for believers’ lives. Each chapter looks simultaneously in two directions—first, toward God and what we learn about him in the human images and, second, toward how we might live a faithful Christian life in the light of what we learn about God. With the psalmist of old, then, we will seek the face of the Lord with all our heart (Ps. 119:58).
2 E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, Explained and Illustrated (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968), xix-xlvi.
3 Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation (Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1991), 148-161.
4 John Keats, Keats: Poetical Works, ed. H. W. Garrod (London: Oxford University Press, 1967), 218-219.
5 William Wordsworth, Wordsworth: Poetical Works, ed. Thomas Hutchinson and revised Ernest DeSelincourt (London: Oxford University Press, 1967), 214.
6 John Donne, “Holy Sonnet 10,”in Donne: Poetical Works, ed. Herbert Grierson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), 297.
7 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1985), 496.
8 Michael E. Travers, Encountering God in the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2003), 40.
9 Ibid., 40-41.
10 Tremper Longman, III, How To Read the Psalms (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 121.