Now what I am going to share with you may seem a bit academic, some of it is fairly technical and admittedly not easy – this will feel a lot like work in the beginning as you attempt to use it. It did for me as well. Let assure you though, I do not even think about this anymore, I just do it. In the example I will show you later in the post I have written out my observations next to the verses of the Psalm. It took me about 30 minutes to type them out, but as I was reading the Psalm those thoughts were immediate because I know for what I am looking and have been looking like this for some time now.
Some Background Data
The first thing I look for in any passage I am reading is the literary structure the author has used to share his thoughts. The text is riddled with clues that reveal that structure, markers if you will, like the road signs on the interstate that tell you where you are and how far you are from where you are going. “Therefore,” is one of those markers. You may have heard that when you read a “therefore” in the text you have to look and see what it is there for. Why, because that word communicates that what follows is a result of what came before. But that is not the only word that marks structure for us. Here is a list, if not exhaustive, of some more words that may serve as markers as you read and what they mean in many contexts. Here is a list defining some of the literary relationships the markers indicate. Print them out and use them as you read through the Psalm.
How I Use This Stuff
The first thing I do when reading a passage – and I emphasize I almost do this unconsciously now – is to identify the structural markers. Here is part one of the walk through for Psalm 107. You can see that I highlighted the structural markers in yellow. If you look at the list of words that you downloaded earlier you will see most of the highlighted words on that list. The ones that are highlighted that are not on the list are there to draw my attention to either an implied marker or else something that over the years I have learned is a marker that is not on Traina’s original list.
To the right of each verse I responded to what the text says. I observed how the structure framed the message of the Psalm and made some other notes. I used the terms on the Literary Relations sheet so you could see how the sheets interact. I only did the first 10 verses so you can try the rest on your own.
We are not done. Tomorrow I will show you the next things I saw and how they help me see what is going on in the text.
This may seem over complicated but really after you work through the awkwardness of looking for the terms and understanding the literary relations, it really becomes second nature and unlocks amazing richness in the text.
Try it. Any effort you expend will be well rewarded.