Deciphering the meaning behind repetitive elements

Deciphering the meaning behind repetitive elements

Understanding Repetitive Elements

  • Pay close attention to repetition in the Psalms. Essentially, repetition serves to place emphasis on specific words, phrases or concepts that are crucial to understanding the message of the Psalm.

  • Repetition in Psalms often indicates a theme or motif. For example, in Psalm 3, the phrase “how many” is used repetitively to underline the speaker’s state of desperation or overwhelm.

  • Acknowledge the use of refrains or recurring phrases designed to frame the discussion or to serve as a reminder of the central subject matter within the psalm. An example exists in Psalm 3:6 , “I am not afraid of ten thousands of the people who have set themselves against me all around”.

Analysing Repetitive Patterns

  • Notice the poetic breakdown of repetitive elements into synonymous, antithetic, and synthetic parallelism. Synonymous repeats similar ideas, antithetic presents contrasting ideas, and synthetic adds information or completes a thought.

  • Comprehend the system of repetitive parallelism, where ideas are reiterated using synonymous language. An example is Psalm 3:1, where the speaker says “Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!” Here, foes and those who rise against him are parallel, reinforcing his distress.

  • Places emphasis on the staircase parallelism, where the last word or words in one line become the first word or words in the next. This repetition propels the narrative forward in a dynamic fashion.

Decoding the Repetitive Techniques

  • Identify how repetition and parallel structure can convey the intensity of the psalmist’s emotions or his deep conviction. Repetition can lend emphasis to a poet’s joy, despair, or hope.

  • Understand how poets employ polysyndeton, the repetition of conjunctions, to slow down the rhythm of the poem and add gravity to every item in a list. This is prominent in Psalm 3:5 - “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.”

  • Recognise the illustrative use of repetition where repetitive wording is used to create vivid imagery or to illustrate a particular point. This technique allows the events described to be visualised more easily.