Hebrew poetry is heightened speech. It is far more compressed than prose. Prose uses sentences and paragraphs as its basic unit. The narrative uses episodes and scenes as its basic unit. Poetry uses individual images and figures of speech as its basic unit.
The epistles explain godliness with sentences and paragraphs. Narratives express godliness in the characters within the stories. Hebrew poetry compresses godliness into an image or picture. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season” (Psalm 1:3).
The colorful language of Hebrew poetry draws the audience into the painted picture to bring warmth, vividness, and vitality. Therefore it is important to understand imagery and figures of speech in poetry. What are they and how do they work?
Below are some of the most common figures of speech used in the psalms.
The simile compares two objects by using the word like or as. This is clearly seen in Psalm 1:3. We read that the wise man is like a tree planted by streams of water and in Psalm 1:5 we read that the unwise man is like chaff. The comparison of the wise man and the tree planted by the stream implies growth and prosperity. The comparison between the unwise man and the chaff implies uselessness and hopelessness.
Instead of using like or as, the metaphor simply compares two objects by stating one to be like another. If Psalm 1:3 and Psalm 1:5 were examples, we could easily state that the wise man is a tree planted by streams of water and the unwise man is chaff that is blown away and perishes. The metaphor simply states one to be like the other.
Another good example of the metaphor stating one to be like another is Psalm 23:1. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” A simile would state that the Lord is like a shepherd. The metaphor is more intense in its statement than a simile.
An allegory is a series of extended metaphors build around a central theme. There are two great examples of this in the Psalms – Psalm 80:8-16 and Psalm 23:1-4.
In Psalm 23:1-4, the allegory or the extended metaphor of the shepherd and how it interacts with the sheep in ancient Israel. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:1-4).
The metonymy substitutes one object or concept for that of another to which it is closely related. In Psalm 73:9 the tongue is substituted for the mouth. “Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.”
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10). A steadfast spirit is substituted for a pure heart.
The synecdoche is a literary device in which a part is made to represent the whole or the whole for the part. Psalm 24:4 is an example of how the literary device works. The hands and the heart represent the whole of one’s life. “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false” (Psalm 24:4).
The hyperbole conveys a concept using a deliberate exaggeration for dramatic effect. Hyperbole does not convey literal truth but instead presents an emotional truth. Hyperbole is considered poetic license and therefore not intended to be interpreted as literal fact.
“The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it” (Psalm 18:7-8).
An apostrophe addresses a thing as if it were a person or an imaginary person as if he were present. It can be combined with personification treating a lifeless object as though it is alive.
“Lift up your heads, O gates” (Psalm 24:7); Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God” (Psalm 87:3); “Bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 103:1).
Anthropomorphism speaks of God as being human in that it refers to God, who is Spirit, has having eyes to see, ears to hear, tongue to speak, and nose to smell. “Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless” (Psalm 10:12).
“Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me” (Psalm 31:2).
Conclusion: Hebrew poetic language is very colorful and vivid. It brings energy and vitality to truths that God wishes to proclaim. An understanding of the figures of speech in psalms will help you bring the psalms alive as you proclaim them to your congregation.
TODD: You’re about to hear the premiere of a podcast about Rush done by my friend James Golden, who you know as “Bo Snerdley.” We welcome him now to the show. James Golden, it’s bizarre for me to say, “Welcome to the show” that you were such a part of. But, James, welcome to Rush’s program.
JAMES: Todd, it is an unbelievable honor, and I’m just blown away to be here with you. And thank you so much.
TODD: Well, of course. This may be inside baseball, but I want folks, to understand something about this man, James. Whenever I do this program, there’s three words that are in a Post-It Note. It says, “Relax. Pace. Enjoy,” because James has held the hands of a lot of guide hosts and guest hosts through the day, and he’s meant the world to me in terms of doing this job. But I feel nervous talking to James because I’ve never talked to him on Rush’s program before. What’s this meant to you, to put together this podcast about Rush?
JAMES: It has meant a lot of anxiety because the first thing is that we, those of us that are working on it — and there are two extremely talented producers working with me on this, Phillip Tower and Chris Kelly. And all of us want to deliver something that Rush would be proud of, that this audience will be proud of. And, you know, Rush’s everyday creed was that he wanted to meet and exceed the expectations of his audience. And he was serious about that.
JAMES: And he was serious about being excellent every single day.
JAMES: So we want this podcast series to be a reflection of the man that we love so much and that we owe so much to. And we would like him to be pleased with it.
TODD: I can hear in your voice the love. You know, I’ve gotten to know Team EIB through the years, and I always want Rush’s audience to know that what you hear in James/Snerdley’s voice is in everybody’s heart. So we’ve got a whole bunch of news to pile through, but this first portion of the show is gonna be an exploration in trying to achieve that excellence and hearing from James these great stories — and just before we cut to break, we’ll come back and hear part of this podcast. I wanted to ask you a question quickly, James.
TODD: Of all the nicknames that the Maha, America’s Real Anchorman had, what was the nickname that you thought best applied to the man Rush Limbaugh?
JAMES: That’s a tough question —
JAMES: — because he’s so larger than life. And all of them, you know, Truth Detector, the Doctor of Democracy.
TODD: (laughing) I was just thinking —
JAMES: The harmless little fuzzball.
TODD: I was just thinking about “the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-loving Maha Rushie,” because that’s what I hear in your voice, James.
JAMES: I love that.
TODD: Okay. Good. When we come back, we will hear the world premiere of Rush Limbaugh: The Man Behind the Golden EIB Microphone, sponsored by theTunnel to Towers FoundationandMyPillow. That’s next on the EIB Network.
RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, this… This day has been one of the most difficult days in recent memory for me because I’ve known this moment was coming in the program today. I’m sure that you all know by now, I really don’t like talking about myself, and I don’t like making things about me other than in the usual satirical, parodic, joking way.
I like this program to be about you and the things that matter to all of us and I’ve mentioned to you that this program and this job is what has provided me the greatest satisfaction and happiness that I’ve ever experienced, more than I ever thought that I would experience. So I have to tell you something today that I wish I didn’t have to tell you. It’s a struggle for me because I had to inform my staff earlier today. I can’t escape… Even though people are telling me it’s not the way to look at it, I can’t help but feel that I’m letting everybody down with this.
JAMES: This was a day that I will never forget, certainly none of us who have worked with Rush Limbaugh will I ever forget. I was on my way to work when I got the call. There was going to be a meeting. And instantly butterflies in the stomach. We never had meetings. Maybe two (chuckles) over the last 30 years, maybe two. Rush wants to meet with the staff. We knew, I knew something was wrong.
ANNOUNCER: Whether you listened every day —
RUSH: You are at the EIB Network and the Rush Limbaugh program, heard on over 600 great radio stations.
ANNOUNCER: — or every now and then —
RUSH: Th enation’s the leading radio talk show, the most eagerly anticipated radio program in America.
ANNOUNCER: — these are the stories you’ve never heard from the people behind the scenes who knew him best and loved him most.
RUSH: Rush Limbaugh, having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have.
ANNOUNCER: Rush Limbaugh: The Man Behind the Golden EIB Microphone, hosted by James Golden.
JAMES: So I get to work, and we go back to the media room, which is in the back of the Southern Command complex. This was an all-hands meeting. And later talking to everyone, we all knew something was wrong. Rush, his demeanor was normal. You couldn’t see any anxiety. He started off the conversation, the first few words, normal. “I asked you all to come today,” something to the effect, and quickly we learned the truth.
RUSH: The upshot is that I have been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
JAMES: “Advanced lung cancer,” and it was confirmed. Got a second opinion. The second opinion verified what was on the first opinion, that it was indeed advanced. And then Rush, being Rush, apologized to us. He said, “I’m sorry I let you down.” And I let out an involuntary scream, “No. You can’t apologize to us,” because I was mortified that he would actually, in this — what had to be the worst moment of our broadcast lives together as a team, as a group of people — he was apologizing to us on what had to be the worst, one of the worst days of his life.
And he said that he was obviously gonna seek treatment, seek the best treatment that there was for it, and whatever else he told us in that meeting, I don’t remember because I just felt numb, in shock. And I didn’t know quite what else to think. Then Rush being Rush thanked everybody for coming together and turned and walked down that hallway back into his broadcast studio.
RUSH: I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, and I thought about not telling anybody. I thought about trying to do this without anybody knowing ’cause I don’t like making things about me. But there are going to be days that I’m not gonna be able to be here because I’m undergoing treatment or I’m reacting to treatment.
JAMES: I walked down that hall after him and opened the door and went into his studio. He was standing. And I went over to him and gave him a hug, and I told him that I loved him and that everything was gonna be okay and that I felt confident in it. What I have not revealed publicly until now was that I had just finished my own bout with cancer. I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer — and it was typical of Rush and the organization.
Kraig, Julie Talbott who runs Premiere Network, and Brian Johnson and our engineers on the West Coast, did extraordinary things to allow me to continue working in Maryland where I moved for almost half the year while I was being treated. No one knew (chuckles) because I kept working, and my workdays were kind of normal. I had my treatment early in the morning and would just go to work. And so I said to myself, “Well, you know, Rush is gonna beat this. Rush can beat anything!” I had the feeling that Rush was invincible. But at the same time, that word: “Advanced.” Advanced. That was a bothersome word.
RUSH: It is what it is. You know me. I’m the mayor of Realville. So this has happened, and my intention is to come here every day I can and to do this program as normally and as competently and as expertly as I do each and every day because that is the source of my greatest satisfaction professionally, personally. I’ve had so much support from family and friends during this that it’s just been tremendous.
JAMES: Shortly after that, it was showtime. Along comes the theme of the show. Rush opens the show. Couldn’t tell. Couldn’t tell anything was wrong. Typical day. The show opened strong. Rush leading off with stories of the day. During the next two hours and 45 minutes, the show proceeds along like any day on the Rush Limbaugh Show: Rush cracking jokes, Rush being funny, Rush going through a detailed analysis of the news. All of us… Four of us are in the control room at that point.
Dawn is the official stenographer. She’s taking in real-time transcribing what Rush is saying and what the callers are saying, what the sound bites are. Brian Johnson is there. We have a video monitor of our New York crew, Mike Maimone in the studio in New York. It’s a normal day. All of us are trying to keep composure. We just kept looking at each other and trying not to cry and trying not to… Just hold on. You know, Rush is on. We have to give our usual to Rush.
We have to look and be engaged in the show. He can’t look in there and see us crying. He can’t look in there and see us upset. We have to have… When something’s funny, yeah, we’re gonna react with the laughter and the smiles, and when he’s talking about a news story that’s particularly interesting, we’re there. I’m screening calls as usual. Dawn’s doing her job, as usual. Brian is. All of us are doing our jobs. But we have this dread. Dread. We know it’s coming. After the 43 break — a little inside radio there — Rush comes back. And that’s when he told you, the media, the rest of the world what was going on. And it sounded just as horrific to us hearing it again as it did that morning.
RUSH: I told the staff today that I have a deeply personal relationship with God that I do not proselytize about. But I do, and I have been working that relationship (chuckles) tremendously, which I do regularly anyway, but I’ve been focused on it intensely for the past couple of weeks. I know there are many of you in this audience who have experienced this, who are going through it yourselves at the same time. I am, at the moment, experiencing zero symptoms other than… Look, I don’t want to get too detailed in this.
What led to shortness of breath that I thought might have been asthma or — you know, I’m 69 — it could have been my heart. My heart’s in great shape, ticking away fine, squeezing, and pumping great. It was not that. It was a pulmonary problem involving malignancy. So I’m gonna be gone the next couple of days as we figure out the treatment course of action and have further testing done. But, as I said, I’m gonna be here as often as I can.
And, as is the case with everybody who finds themselves in this circumstance, you just want to push ahead and try to keep everything as normal as you can, which is something that I’m going to try to do.
JAMES: But at least now we didn’t have to pretend to feel anything other than extreme anxiety, sadness, hopefulness, being prayerful, trying to do our best to give what little we can to Rush during those moments. Within five or six minutes of the announcement, the first breaking news story shows up on television, and we knew from there life was never gonna be the same. And it wasn’t.
TODD: The voice just heard along with Rush’s is that of James Golden, you know as Bo Snerdley. He’s with us. And, James, you know the clock by heart, so I won’t give you the clock warning. I just wanted to ask you one question, having heard your words there. Was Rush aware of how many people he inspired to fight cancer bravely by the way he faced this with optimism and dignity and, in fact, humor?
JAMES: You know, I don’t know because Rush was so… Contrary to what many people think, Rush was not all about himself. And, you know, I think Rush was genuinely surprised at the reaction that he got from so many people so many times during his career on his influence. He was about tomorrow. He was about “What can I do tomorrow?” not looking back, and he would say that repeatedly. So I don’t know. I hope he did. I hope he knows how much he influenced so many other people, Todd.
TODD: It was brave of you — and I appreciate you disclosing the battle that you had with cancer, and some of us knew about that, the way you fought that. When we come back, I want to get your reaction to what it left like to hear you say the words and to relive that day. And I would just ask, as people listen to this… The other question I want to ask you, James, when we come back is this partnership, this EIB. You mentioned Kraig and Julie and so many of the people behind the scenes.
I’d like to know when you come back with us, in your heart, was there a time in which you realized, “Wow. This is a job. It’s a radio career. It’s the biggest radio show ever, and this is world-changing for me emotionally”? So we’ll ask you that when we come back. What you’ve heard is the first installment of a podcast that you can tell is gonna be something you’re going to want to get. You will be able to get this at RushLimbaugh.com.Tunnel to Towers FoundationandMyPillowsponsoring this.
TODD: It’s always an honor to guide this program, be a guide host. But to be here during the premiere of Rush Limbaugh: The Man Behind the Golden EIB Microphone podcast — which is sponsored by Tunnel to Towers Foundation and MyPillow and done by James Golden (who you would know at Bo Snerdley) and other great contributors as James has said — is just an amazing honor.
James is with us, James Golden. James, was there a time where you realized, “Okay, this is a radio job and now it’s a huge radio show and the TV…”? Was there a time when you think back in your relationship with Rush and the family at EIB that you said, “This is extraordinary from the perspective of living and life, not just career”?
JAMES: Yeah, there was. But here’s the thing, Todd. I knew, just like everybody in America knew when they first heard Rush, the day that you heard Rush Limbaugh was a game-changer. You knew that day, that instant that you had on the radio when you heard that voice and you heard that wit, you heard that intelligence, “Wait a minute. Something special here.”
You know, I’ve been in radio since I was a kid, pretty much, and I’ve worked with great, great personalities in radio. I grew up in the New York radio market, and so you have the creme de la creme in New York, people that have worked their entire careers to get to New York and be on New York City radio. Right? Rush comes along. Rush Limbaugh comes along from Sacramento.
JAMES: Nobody knows who he is. Right?
JAMES: Nobody knows this guy.
JAMES: He starts off on WABC in New York, talk radio in New York, doing a local show for one hour and then a national show. Very quickly, that local hour went away because people were demanding more of Rush. It jumped from 56 radio stations, which to some people would be the crown of their career.
JAMES: It starts with 56 radio stations. The next thing you know, you’re at 150. The next thing you know you’re at 300, 400, 500, 600 — and here is the thing about Rush. Rush Limbaugh, the Rush Limbaugh radio program, grew every single year. Thirty-three years Rush was on the national stage; 33 years his program grew because he kept the same excellence, the same excitement that people had the first time that they heard him that led to this run-away success.
He kept working.
His work ethic was so incredible, and he never got tired of it.
This was his passion.
He loved being on the radio. He loved being Rush Limbaugh, and the show just continued to grow all of those years. It’s because Rush was born to do this. He was born to do this. God did give him this gift! God gave him this talent that. Once people heard him, they wanted more. So I knew instantly — and I think everybody on this staff and everybody in this audience knows that this is true — Rush was something different, something remarkable. And no offense to anyone else in this industry who does this.
JAMES: There will never, ever, ever be another Rush Limbaugh, period because he came here with this mission.
TODD: It’s absolutely the truth. So well said. James, you’ve shared your firsthand experience with Rush, but you’ve also spoken to others like his brother David. David Limbaugh appears in a future episode in this 12-week, 12-episode series.
DAVID LIMBAUGH: He always said what he believed. So you read these stories and they say, “He’s bombastic.” He wasn’t bombastic — and that’s another thing, by the way. He might have started off being a little bigger than life but as the show evolved in these later years, they talked about him being mean. Have you ever heard him be mean to a caller?
JAMES: No. Never.
DAVID LIMBAUGH: It’s the most unfair thing — and this crap about him being a racist? It blows my mind. He was the tip of the spear. He took the arrows for all of the rest of us and for the country, and people now are taking some of the heat. He took it before all the rest of us, and he had no one defending him. We all tried to defend him. There was no mechanism to defend him, and he was the toughest guy I have ever seen, not just in the way he fought cancer and bounced back and powered through that last year, but his whole career.
He defeated deafness when it was instrumental to his art. Who could be deaf and be a radio host? And he overcame that. He overcame addiction. He overcame all the obstacles that were placed in front of him and all the hate from Media Matters and the rest, and he powered through bigger than every one of them to be the most successful person that I’ve ever met in my life and that everyone — at least on our side — ended up loving. And I’m really, really proud of him and really miss him.
TODD: James Golden’s with us — and, James, I hear the emotion in your voice throughout the entire podcast. You cannot miss it. You share a lot of profound shots including this one about Rush’s talents on loan from God. Let’s share this with the audience.
JAMES: You know, so funny. I still think about this a lot. He said, “There will come a time when I will no longer be able to do this. But until then, I’m gonna do this as many days as I can,” and to me, I wanted to ignore the first part of that, that there will come a time when I can’t do this. Of course, we all know that that’s reality. There’s a time in everyone’s life when life changes, when whatever has gone on before is not gonna go on again. This is life for all of us. But to have it on a stage before 27 million or more people?
The audience, by the way, kept growing and growing and growing and never stopped growing into his 33rd year. To have this that “I am going to do this as long as I can do this” showed you where his love was. He loved his wife. He loved what he did for others through charities and through philanthropy. He loved all of that. But Rush made no secret about it. He said it — and it was a jest, but it wasn’t — “I was born to host, and you were born to listen.” (chuckles) And until the very end, that was Rush Limbaugh: Born to host, with talent on loan from God, and we were there to listen and to enjoy that broadcast.
TODD: It’s Rush Limbaugh: The Man Behind the Golden EIB Microphone podcast sponsored byTunnel to Towers FoundationandMyPillow. The voice you heard there, James Golden, you know as Bo Snerdley. James, as the podcast is gonna be available at RushLimbaugh.com, I wanted to ask you, “What else are we gonna learn in this 12-week series, this 12-episode podcast?” What else are we gonna learn? What’s one thing you want people to listen for?
JAMES: I want people to meet some of the extraordinary people that have worked with the EIB Network over the past 30 years. And, sadly, we won’t get a chance to interview every single member of his staff. I wish that I could. I wish that we had enough time in this podcast series for this audience to meet every single person on our staff. Rush was one of the most amazing businessmen and bosses to me in this radio industry.
He hired people, whether it be for the newsletter, with our editrix, Diana Allocco —
JAMES: — and Denise Mei, (laughing) whether it’s our web staff with Koko and Ali and Mojo and Keith and Dean, everybody. He hired people in every front and every aspect of this organization who excel at what they do, and he left them alone to do their job. And as a result, we have one of the lowest turnovers probably in the history of this industry. People came to this organization and they stayed because we all have this undying love and gratitude for Rush.
And we wanted to please him.
We wanted to deliver the excellence that he had made the trademark for this network, and so I want people to meet some of the people and hear from them. You know, I get a lot of attention because of the back-and-forth that Rush and I had on the air. And sometimes I feel guilty about it because every single person that works for this company loves Rush like I do, every single one of them. And every single one of them is just as devoted to Rush as I am. And I would like for this audience to meet these amazing people that worked with Rush and that worked with me and all of us worked together as the EIB Family Network.
TODD: Yeah. That’s the voice of James Golden, and there’s nothing else to add other than thank you for being a gentle hand in the first time I did this and every time I got to do this. And, James, thank you for sharing this with us. It’s just so special. I just appreciate you. Thank you.
JAMES: Well, Todd, thank you so much. And, you know, I love working with you. And you are one of the most incredible human beings that I’ve ever met. Your intellect… You know, you don’t have to do this for a living. You could have retired a long time ago and been off enjoying the fruits of your tech years. But for you to do what you’re doing and for you to be a part of this EIB family, I cannot tell you how much we appreciate you and every one of our guest hosts. ‘Cause y’all are part of the EIB family too. And so thank you, and what a pleasure, and I thank you for allowing me to be here today with you guys.
TODD: With God’s good grace and thank you for saying all that. It’s unbelievable.