Recently, I fell in love with the comedy Parks and Recreation. Its dry wit and sarcasm crack me up.
The characters amuse me. One of them is played by 80s heartthrob, Rob Lowe. He’s the boss at the little city government office, a health nut, and a positive person. Many of his lines emphasize the phrase “Quite literally…” often when it’s uncalled for (which is all the time, if you ask me). But that’s what makes it funny. At work, in love, about himself, his character has a literal view of the world. That’s just his personality.
We all know people like that, right?
Although I am all for analogy and symbolism (love it, actually), I think that I am one of those ‘literal’ people too.
I know people in general have a sliding scale of what to take literally or figuratively in the Holy Bible. From completely literal, to completely figurative, and everywhere in between, people are all over the place as to whether they believe the Word is actual/factual to poetic/symbolic.
While I treasure the artistic nature of the figurative perspective of the Bible, I believe in the literal interpretation whole-heartedly.
For example, I believe the world really was created in six days.
I believe there was an actual flood covering the entire earth.
I believe Daniel's three friends were really thrown into a fiery furnace and lived to tell about it.
Even though I believe in these literal events recorded in the Bible, I find sometimes when reading the more lyrical passages, like the Psalms, I skim over specific words as ‘figures of speech’ (a.k.a. figurative). In so doing, I miss the literal implications. This came to mind one morning when I was reading the following Psalm:
Praise the Lord, all you nations. Praise Him, all you people of the earth. For He loves us with unfailing love; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 117)
Short and sweet, constructed with language I’ve heard all my life.
What if, however, I read it with a different perspective? What if I read it as if I read if for the first time, taking each word literally?
In that case, the word ‘unfailing’ should take on a whole new meaning, shouldn’t it?
The phrase ‘endures forever’ should blow my mind, shouldn’t it?
These are not just figures of speech. When God says that His love is “unfailing,” He means it literally. When He says that His faithfulness “endures forever,” He means it quite literally!!
How then shall I live? No wonder my Perfect Lover implores me to ‘rejoice’ so often in His word. There’s so much cause to!