Terms in Psalms

Term Explanation Example
Image A word or phrase that names a concrete action or thing; by extension, a character, setting, or event in a story is an image—a concrete embodiment of human experience or an idea. the way (or path); the congregation (or assembly); nature (or harvest) (Psalm 1)
Metaphor An implied comparison that does not use the formula like or as. “The Lord is my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1).
Simile A figure of speech in which a writer compares two things using the formula like or as. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water” (Ps. 1:3).
Personification A figure of speech in which human attributes are given to something nonhuman, such as animals, objects, or abstract qualities. Light and truth are personified as guides in Psalm 43:3.
Hyperbole A figure of speech in which a writer consciously exaggerates for the sake of effect; usually that effect is emotional, and thus, loosely put, hyperbole usually expresses emotional truth rather than literal truth. “My tears have been my food day and night” (Ps. 42:3).
Apostrophe A figure of speech in which the writer addresses someone absent as though present and capable of responding. By slight extension, an apostrophe might be an address to something nonhuman as though it were human and capable of responding, even if the speaker is in the presence of the object. The poet in Psalm 148:3 might well be looking up at the sun, moon, or stars as he commands them to praise God.