Hyperbole

Psalm 97

“​1 The LORD is king! Let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him,
and consumes his adversaries on every side.
4 His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
and all the peoples behold his glory.
7 All worshipers of images are put to shame,
those who make their boast in worthless idols;
all gods bow down before him.
8 Zion hears and is glad,
and the towns of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments, O God.
9 For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
10 The LORD loves those who hate evil;
he guards the lives of his faithful;
he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light dawns for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name! NRSV

Hyperbole is when one uses exaggerated statements or claims about someone or something that are not meant to be taken literally. The Psalmist takes attributes of God (righteousness and justice being the foundation of God’s throne, God’s disdain for evil and love and protection of the faithful) and wraps them in imaginative hyperbole (i.e. “mountains melting like wax before him”).

The truth is, even imaginative hyperbole falls dramatically short of being able to describe God. There just aren’t words in any language that can capture the essence of God. So, we faithful do our best with these magnificent exaggerations. They do come from loving hearts and wells of deep faith and, at times, can expand our own hearts and minds in understanding God a wee bit more.

I pray the Psalms (nearly) every day. There are times, if I can get myself out of the way of them, when I ride the hyperbole wave along with the Psalmist in trying to imagine the awesomeness of God. Then, the rest of my time in prayer is spent being eternally grateful for the ride.

I encourage you to give it try.

Be a blessing to someone today.

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