Haiku Chee Coo Chee Coo

I lie awake
I have become like a bird
alone on a roof

(Psalm 102:7)

Every once in a while I stumble on a passage in the Bible that is sheer poetry. Like this one. Everything is just right about it and it captures an elusive emotional truth perfectly. If the whole Bible were written like this, we’d need less Bible. Just think, the whole book of Leviticus could be distilled in a haiku:

Practice good hygiene
The Lord God is a clean freak
(Don’t mind the blood stains)

Even the book of Job, that long, tedious complaint, could be rendered palatable with a little poetic ingenuity:

God’s favorite guy
Satan gives him a black eye
God barks “Don’t ask why”

Unfortunately, though the whole Bible may be inspired, those special gems of pure precise poetry are hard to come by. Maybe the Holy Spirit needed to work up to them. (It ain’t easy writing verse.) Maybe the other, less captivating parts of the Bible are more like God’s rough draft. He’s probably embarrassed that they made it into print. Alas. Even the early church fathers knew that a book of poetry would never become a best seller. To ensure the Bible’s success, they had to add all those lurid stories about sex and violence. And for good measure they included everything else they could get their hands on, including all those boring rules and regulations. It ended up being a holy hack job of instruction, inspiration, condemnation, fragmentation, and speculation that any modern editor would reject out of hand.

The Bible isn’t usually the place to find economy of style. Where else can you find 1001 ways to fillet a goat? And good old Solomon, for all his wisdom, tended to incline toward being prone to repeat himself again over and over redundantly. The Bible is a big book, mostly because there are lots and lots of words in it. This wasn’t always the case. In the beginning there was the Word. As in one word. It was only after God turned the writing job over to humans that things got out of hand. Bummer. With a little more insistence on brevity, the Holy Spirit could have reduced the Scriptures to a few short chapters at most, which, in my opinion, would have made the Good Book a Better Book. But nobody asked me. I wish somebody had because I can summarize the whole Bible—all 31,102 verses of it—in four simple lines:

God made
Man strayed
Jesus paid

It’s all you need to know.


4 Responses

  1. These last two posts were really enjoyable. I have no idea how many people read these on a daily basis, but I wonder how many of them fully comprehend the genius of it. And the courage it takes to go where one needs to go to provide this kind of devotional.

    Sorry about the butt kissing, sycophantic nature of this reply, but I really do appreciate what you are doing. I hope God does too.

  2. That photo is really freaking me out… where in the world did you find it?

  3. Speaking of poetic gems, I’m particularly fond of Proverbs 11.22 & Micah 1.8. I’m digging you summary- a modern day creed.

  4. Wow. I want to rate this with about 254 green stars. Where’s the link?

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