Distinguishing poetry from prose is another important factor of Bible Interpretation. About thirty percent of the Old Testament is written in poetry. Most older versions such as the King James Version doesn't indicate these differences between prose and poetry. Newer versions such as New International Version, New Living Translation, and New English Bible are using different formats in writing prose from poetry. You will notice such differences by looking at the narrative book of Genesis and the poetical book of Psalms in these newer versions.
Since poetry is concerned with emotions rather than the accurate descriptions of the message, it uses more figurative language more than prose. With proper understanding, poetry is just as comprehensible as prose and they are easier to be memorized.
There are common features of poetry called parallelism, and you need to recognized them to help understands the main point of the poetry.
Synonymous parallelism. A line strengthen, develop, reinforces or repeat the line before it.
7Ask, and it shall be given you;
seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8For every one that asketh receiveth;
and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (KJV)
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.(NIV)
What we have in Matthew 7:7-8 are not 3 steps or different types of prayer. They are simply different ways of saying the same thing. The verses are simply expressing that "God answers our prayer " by way of synonymous parallelism.
Antithetical parallelism. The most common parallelism in the Bible, where a line contrast the message or the point of the line before it.
The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously. (NIV)
A wise son maketh a glad father:
but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. (KJV)
Synthetic parallelism. A line goes further then just repeating or reinforcing but by providing more information on the line before it.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the son of men
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God. (NIV)
And saviours shall come up on mount Zion
to judge the mount of Esau;
and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.
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