Is Poetry less or more accurate? – Psalm 139

everywhereIn the Favorite Verses series I am speaking on Psalm 139.  This is great poetry.  Some wonder if that makes it less accurate.  For example from Derek Kidner

“This statement of omniscience is characteristically vivid and concrete; not formulated as a doctrine but, as befits a psalm, confessed in adoration.”  (Psalms, Tyndale OT Commentary, vol 2, p 464)

Which is a better description of Omnipresence?

Psalm 139:7-12

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

Wayne Grudem in “Bible Doctrine” p. 78

“God’s omnipresence may be defined as follows: Gd does not have size or spacial dimensions, and is present at every point of space with his whole being, yet God acts differently in different places.”  

In reference to the above passage he adds, “There is nowhere in the entire universe, on land or sea, in heaven or in hall, where on can flee from God’s presence.”

I believe these kinds of statements are complimentary.  They have equal value and accuracy.  If by accuracy we include the idea of being comprehensive.  Poetry may miss a few fine gradations of definition found in theological prose. It adds a great deal in the importance and impact on our minds and hearts.  Theological prose does not have the poetry and the power to move, but it helps us stay where the scripture speaks and not travel off and beyond the content of revelation.

Unbelievably to me, one of the most boring series of lectures I ever heard was a theologian unenthusiastically delineating definitions of attributes of God, in the manner of one reading the tax code.  I consider that a crime against good theology!  The gentleman needed to look up from his curled yellow pages and read a little from the Psalms, Job, Isaiah, John, Colossians, Proverbs and maybe open the hymn book and find something like “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.”

J. I. Packer rightly said,

…knowing God is a relationship calculated to thrill a man’s heart.”

(Knowing God, IVP, p. 32)

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