Psalm 145:8-16, “The Case of the Missing Nûn”

Psalm 145:8-16,  “The Case of the Missing Nûn” 

(An Exegetical Study)

James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD

JohnKnox-statue-StGilesCathedral.Edinburgh

PSALM 145:8-16 

 חַנּ֣וּן וְרַח֣וּם יְהוָ֑ה אֶ֥רֶךְ אַ֝פַּ֗יִם וּגְדָל־חָֽסֶד׃
9 טוֹב־יְהוָ֥ה לַכֹּ֑ל וְ֝רַחֲמָ֗יו עַל־כָּל־מַעֲשָֽׂיו׃
10 יוֹד֣וּךָ יְ֭הוָה כָּל־מַעֲשֶׂ֑יךָ וַ֝חֲסִידֶ֗יךָ יְבָרֲכֽוּכָה׃
11 כְּב֣וֹד מַלְכוּתְךָ֣ יֹאמֵ֑רוּ וּגְבוּרָתְךָ֥ יְדַבֵּֽרוּ׃
12 לְהוֹדִ֤יעַ׀ לִבְנֵ֣י הָ֭אָדָם גְּבוּרֹתָ֑יו וּ֝כְב֗וֹד הֲדַ֣ר מַלְכוּתֽוֹ׃
13 מַֽלְכוּתְךָ֗ מַלְכ֥וּת כָּל־עֹֽלָמִ֑ים וּ֝מֶֽמְשֶׁלְתְּךָ֗ בְּכָל־דּ֥וֹר וָדֽוֹר׃
14 סוֹמֵ֣ךְ יְ֭הוָה לְכָל־הַנֹּפְלִ֑ים וְ֝זוֹקֵ֗ף לְכָל־הַכְּפוּפִֽים׃
15 עֵֽינֵי־כֹ֭ל אֵלֶ֣יךָ יְשַׂבֵּ֑רוּ וְאַתָּ֤ה נֽוֹתֵן־לָהֶ֖ם אֶת־אָכְלָ֣ם בְּעִתּֽוֹ׃
16 פּוֹתֵ֥חַ אֶת־יָדֶ֑ךָ וּמַשְׂבִּ֖יעַ לְכָל־חַ֣י רָצֽוֹן׃

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  1. Verification of Biblical Text and its English Translation:

The above-quoted text is taken from the Westminster Leningrad Codex (“WLC”) of the Hebrew Bible.  There is no serious controversy about the Masoretic Hebrew text of Psalm 145.  However, some Old Testament sources (and some textual analysts) differ with the Masoretic  Text of verse 13, because it deviates from the otherwise-perfect acrostic structure of Psalm 145.  In other words, the structure of Psalm 145 follows the exact sequence of the Hebrew alphabet’s 22 letters with one exception – the Hebrew letter for N (nûn) is missing!  What explains that?

The obvious question is: why would an otherwise perfectly acrostic psalm have only 21 verses, with each verse beginning with the next Hebrew alphabet letter, except for N (nûn)?

Many textual analysts (typically “critical text” advocates), as well as a few modern English translations (including the New International Version, Revised Standard Version of 1952, Holman Christian Standard Version of 2003), have attempted to “correct” this apparent omission – based upon their self-asserted assumption that the psalmist could not possibly have intended to omit one letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The skipped-nûn text of Psalm 145, provided in the Masoretic Text – and retained in the Judaica Press Tanach (of 1917, 1936, and 2001) – is followed by the King James Bible, Bishops’ Bible of 1568, Coverdale Bible of 1535, Geneva Bible of 1599, Darby translation, Spanish Reina Valera versions of 1602-1995, as well as many other translations.[1]

But, as will be shown below, that unwarranted assumption has resulted in committing the Pharisaic error of adding to God’s Word, an arrogant practice prohibited by Deuteronomy 4:2.  In trying to (supposedly) “correct” the Biblical text, by supplying a “fitting” phrase to complete the acrostic, the originally intentional omission’s poignant message is forfeited.[2]  (This will be discussed, below.)

So, how have some ancient (and not-so-ancient) sources tried to “correct” the missing nûn?

Although it might seem better to discuss two New Testament passages later in this analysis, those two passages are nonetheless inserted here because they both help to introduce analytical missteps taken by several who have analyzed Psalm 145:13. Specifically, said missteps are based upon the insistent (and unwarranted) assumption that an almost-perfect acrostic psalm (with a missing nûn) “must” reflect a “copyist’s omission” (i.e., a failure in textual preservation and/or transmission), as opposed to possibly being the intentional omission by the human author (David) – due to an intentional almost-perfect acrostic was ultimately intended by the divine Author (God the Holy Spirit), to emphasize something that is or was “missing”.  This concept is sometimes called employing a “loud silence”.

First example of a “loud silence” omission: the opening of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

A review of Paul’s epistles shows that Paul routinely began his correspondence with appreciation for how God was blessing his intended readers, and how Paul was praying for their spiritual growth (see, e.g., 1st Thessalonians 1:28; 1st Corinthians 1:4-9; Romans 1:8-12; Ephesians 1:15-16; Philippians 1:3-11; Colossians 1:3-9), but not so with the Galatians.

As you begin to read Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians, you can tell immediately that something is radically wrong, because he does not open his letter with his usual praise to God and prayer for the saints. He has no time!  Paul is about to engage in a battle for the truth of the Gospel and the liberty of the Christian life.[3]

In short, by noticing the pattern of Paul’s customary beginning to his New Testament epistles, and by noticing how that beginning is “missing” (i.e., excluded) in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, provides us with an insight into a contrast – Paul deliberately departed from his usual letter-writing custom, to provide an emphatic point: the Galatians were in the worst of trouble![4]

Second example: Christ refers to human conduct in the days of Noah and Lot.

When describing the condition of people who would be unprepared when the Lord returns to Earth in glorious power and punitive judgment, the Lord Jesus Christ alluded to the contemporaries of Noah (who were judged by the Flood) and the contemporaries of Lot (who were judged in the fiery destruction of Sodom) – an did so with “loud silence” omissions.

And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.  They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.  Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded.  But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.  Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.[5]

Notice the behaviors that Christ mentioned, as characterizing the “days of Noah”: eating, drinking, and getting married.  None of these behaviors is per se wrong![6]

Christ surprisingly omitted mention of the overwhelmingly wicked and violent behaviors that dominated pre-Flood humanity (see Genesis 6:5 & 6:11-13). Likewise, when referring to Noah’s contemporaries, Christ omitted mention of the strange sexual sins that the pre-Flood population was known for, which were somehow comparable to how the Sodomites were infamous for “going after strange flesh” (compare Genesis 6:1-4 with Jude 1:6-7).  Why did Christ omit mentioning the pre-Flood perversions, corruptions, and violence?

In similar manner, notice that the behaviors that Christ mentioned, as characterizing the “days of Lot”: eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building.  None of these behaviors is per se wrong!  As before, when referring to Noah’s contemporaries, Christ omitted mention of the Sodomites’ perverse and prurient lust for violent and aberrant sexual abominations, a sordid and vile habit that the Sodomites of old are still remembered for today (e.g., in the English word “sodomy” – as noted in Genesis 18 & Jude 1:7).  Why did Christ omit mentioning the perversions, corruptions, and violence for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed?

Try to imagine the reaction of Christ’s original audience, when He spoke the words recorded in Luke 17:26-30. When the contemporaries of Noah and of Lot were so described, by Christ Himself, the “loud silences” must have been jarring – what trait was Christ condemning the antediluvians and Sodomites for?  Was it for their horribly ugly “fruits”, or for the wicked “root” of ignoring God, rejecting God, going about life in a way that excluded God and His Word?

The point here is that Christ surprisingly omitted what His audience expected to hear, and He accomplished this dramatically by a conspicuous omission of what was expected “in context”. Having recognized that there is Scriptural precedent for the usage of conspicuous “loud silence” omissions, a summary of other (so-called) solutions to the almost-perfect acrostic (or Psalm 145) is provided.

The lack of the נ verse has caused some to question whether the verse may have fallen out of the Masoretic Text of the Psalm due to scribal error. They seek to justify this view on the basis that the נ [nûn] verse is found in one medieval Hebrew manuscript, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint and the Syriac.

Indeed, some modern versions, such as the ESV and NIV, add the supposed missing נ verse to Psalm 145 because of its presence in these witnesses. However, we believe that the omission of the נ verse is intentional and not at all due to scribal error, and that the evidence for the proposed נ verse is insubstantial and the verse is rightly omitted.[7]

There is only one medieval Hebrew manuscript that includes an extra phrase, to complete the alphabetic acrostic (saying “the LORD is faithful to all His promises, and loving towards all He has made” – the Hebrew text of which begins with the word ne’emân, the singular masculine  niphal participle form of the verb ’aman, “to be firm”/“to affirm”, i.e., “to be faithful”), yet even that manuscript (in Dublin’s Trinity College) only includes the extra phrase as a marginal writing on the bottom of the page, and appears to be a gratuitous redundancy of Verse 17.

[At Dublin’s Trinity College] there is … one medieval Hebrew manuscript. The נ verse appears in this manuscript as:

 נאמן יהוה  בכל  דבריו וחסיד  בכול מעשיו    

[The LORD is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works]

However, this verse does not appear where it might reasonably be expected in the body of the text, but rather at the bottom of the manuscript page, as if it were a suggested correction of the text. Additionally, the proposed verse is similar in its first part and identical in its second part to v17:

צדיק יהוה בכל דרכיו וחסיד בכול מעשיו     

[The LORD is righteous in all his ways and holy in all his works] [8]

Thus, the inclusion of the verse introduces a repetition into the Psalm which otherwise does not contain any repetition. Redundancy, as a repeating emphasis, does sometimes occur in the Psalms.  However, the redundancy that occurs, when this “extra nûn verse” is inserted, does not fit with any contextual pattern of repetition in Psalm 145.  Thus, the extra verse insertion “cures” one anomaly of form, only to introduce an unnecessary anomaly of content!

Also, the Dead Sea Scrolls avoid the awkward omission by including this extra phrase (“saving” the alphabetic acrostic’s “need” for an N, by inserting a phrase that begins with the Hebrew word ne’emân [“faithful”]), but the Dead Sea Scrolls variant doesn’t square with the solitary variant held by Dublin’s Trinity College.

[Regarding the variant reading of Psalm 145:13 found in] the Hebrew Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) … the verse appears as follows:

נאמן אלוהים בדרכיו וחסיד בכול מעשיו    

(God is faithful in his ways and holy in all his works)

There are a number of differences between this verse [Psalm 145:13] in the DSS and the one found in the medieval Hebrew manuscript. The name of God is different, being God ( אלוהים ) rather than LORD ( יהוה ). This is significant since the name of God which is used throughout the Psalm in similar expressions is LORD ( יהוה ) and not God ( אלוהים ): ‘great is the LORD’, ‘the LORD is gracious and full of compassion’, ‘the LORD is good’; indeed, in the very next verse after the supposed missing נ verse, the reading is ‘the LORD upholdeth’. Other differences between the manuscript and the DSS readings are: ‘his ways’ in the DSS as opposed to the Hebrew manuscript ‘his words’, and the omission in the DSS of the word ‘all’, which the Hebrew manuscript includes.[9]

In other words, the Dead Sea Scrolls variant, which includes an “extra nûn verse”, won’t match up with the only medieval Hebrew manuscript that has an “extra nûn verse”.   (In forensic contexts, such as courtroom trials, this does not look good for the two conflicting witnesses  — whose conflicting testimony notably disagrees with the vast majority of “regular” witnesses.)

According to the apparatus in Kittel’s (1973) Stuttgart-printed edition of Biblica Hebraica, this same inserted “extra nûn verse” is also found in some Syriac and Septuagint translation copies, though apparently not all copies of those translations.[10]  Regarding the Septuagint Greek translation’s variant (in Psalm 145:13), Larry Brigden notices worse problems with the Septuagint rendering.

The rendering of the supposed נ verse in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament dating from the second century BC) is:

πιστος κυριος εν τοις λογοις αυτου και οσιος εν πασι τοις εργοις αυτου

 (The Lord is faithful in his words and holy in all his works)

The Septuagint differs in the first part of the verse from the Hebrew manuscript, simply having ‘his words’ rather than the Hebrew’s ‘all his words’. In addition, the Septuagint has ‘his words’ as opposed to the DSS’s ‘his ways’.[11]

Once again, the irregular witnesses – who try to insert an “extra nûn verse” to complete the alphabetic acrostic — can’t get their “stories” to match.

Likewise, appealing to the non-Lamsa Syriac translation variant, which includes yet another variant alternative “extra nûn verse”, provides yet another inconsistent “witness” against the Masoretic Text’s transmission of Psalm 145.

The Syriac translation of the נ verse has:

The Lord is faithful in his words and righteous in all his works.

There is a significant difference between this version and the Hebrew manuscript, the DSS and the Septuagint in the second part of the verse: the Syriac has ‘righteous’, whereas the other three textual witnesses have ‘holy’. As seen from this survey of the [variant] witnesses to the supposed missing נ verse, it is evident that there is no consistent testimony about the reading, but clear disagreement among themselves. This is commonly an indication that a verse is spurious.[12]

Thus, the non-Lamsa Syriac variant further demonstrates that the few-and-far-between efforts, of some textual handlers, to supply an “extra nûn verse” are not rooted in an underlying Hebrew original.  Having reviewed the rare and completely inconsistent variants, the question remains: if God intentionally omitted to include a “nûn verse”, why? How is the message of Psalm 145 furthered by such a literary surprise?

Just as the departure from Paul’s customary correspondence structure gave emphasis to the alarm and danger that he proclaimed to the Galatians, — and just as Christ’s allusions to the ordinary business-as-usual attitudes, in the pre-Flood and Sodomite populations, were surprising descriptions to Christ’s Jewish audiences, — omitting the nûn, in the almost-perfect alphabetic acrostic of Psalm 145, would arrest the (anticipated) Jewish reader with the question: why?

Larry Brigden, senior editorial consultant for the Trinitarian Bible Society, suggests [see Footnote #7] that David is contrasting his own fallibility with the infallibility of God.

“Psalm 145 shows the same deliberate variation from the normal form of the acrostic pattern for an intended purpose. The Psalm is one of praise to God. The acrostic pattern is probably chosen to bring to bear the full resources of the Hebrew language upon this expression of praise. It is to be full-orbed praise where every letter of the Hebrew alphabet evokes a Hebrew word which strikes a new chord in that praise. So verse 3 is ג and the Psalmist thinks of גדול (‘great’), ‘great is the LORD’; verse 9 is ט and the Psalmist thinks of טוב (‘good’), ‘the LORD is good’, and so on. When he comes to verse 13, the letter is מ and the Psalmist thinks of מלכותך (‘thy kingdom’), ‘thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom’. This verse completes a distinct section of the Psalm and is a climax point in the Psalm.

The last part of Psalm 145 begins at verse 14 and continues to the end of the Psalm, in which David praises the Lord for His condescending love. The Psalmist had to decide how to begin this section.

The next letter in the alphabet is נ; what word would this evoke for the Psalmist?

נפל (‘fall’ or ‘fail’) perhaps?

But the Lord does not ‘fall’ or ‘fail’. It is men who ‘fall’ and ‘fail’. So what does the Psalmist do? He makes a striking point by omitting the נ verse and then writing the next verse, the ס (samekh) verse, as:

Psalm145-samekh-verse.png

Every Hebrew reader of the Psalm will notice something striking at this point: it is the Psalmist himself who ‘falls’ ( נפל ) in the omission of the נ verse.

What more graphic way to highlight the frailty of men and the condescending love of God than by omitting the נ verse and following with a verse that speaks of the Lord upholding ‘all that fall’ [lecâl hannōphlîm]?   The structure of the Psalm ‘chimes’, as it were, to the thought expressed by the words of the Psalm. Thus, the omission of the נ verse is deliberate and for an intended effect, an effect that relies on a slight variation from an otherwise closely followed acrostic form.  [Quoting Larry Brigden, footnote #7]

The purpose of the variation, or apparent irregularity, from the normal acrostic form is not the same in all acrostic Psalms, but Psalms 25 and 145 plainly demonstrate that such variation is a deliberate literary device employed for a particular purpose. Clearly, if the Psalmist chooses the acrostic pattern for a purpose, any variation from that pattern is also likely to be for a purpose.”  [Quoting Larry Bridgen  —  see Footnote #7]

So why would the Hebrew verb naphal (“to fall”, i.e., to fail) be a key to solving this alphabet-linked riddle?

Remember, this psalm is uniquely about David’s life of praise to God.  It is not a mizmôr (“praise-song”) authored for the choirmaster, or for the sons of Korah to sing.

Rather, this is the only tehillâh “praise” psalm that David ever wrote—this psalm is quite personal to David’s life of worship.

It is true that David was, for the most part, a “man after God’s heart” (1st Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), yet there was a period of David’s life that failed to worship God (2nd Samuel chapter 11).  That chapter of David’s life is forgiven (Psalm 51), so it is not replayed to David’s shame in eternity.

However, that sin-stained timeframe, of that shameful chapter in David’s life, is a prolonged loss of opportunity to worship God. As a worshiper of God, with temporal opportunities to honor Him, David failed — and those times of failure are now lost forever. (David is a fair representative of all of us – time-wasting sinners – in this tragic respect.)

Those times of sin (for David, and for us), which appeared pleasant “for a season” – those earthly hours and days and weeks – were wasted, and they are forever missing.  (What is not stored up in Heaven, as eternal treasure, perishes (Matthew 6:20).

When David fell (naphal) he lived human experiences that are erased by God’s forgiveness – but those hours cannot count as worship hours; those days were not productive of treasures laid up in Heaven, immune from rust, moths, or thieves.  They are gone.

Psalm145.12-14.Verse14-in-English

Even so, God restores the fallen (Psalm 145:14). This is a hidden-in-plain-view precious gem – if not the most precious theological jewel – within this very personal psalm of David.

In sum, the preponderance of the relevant and reliable evidence shows that the Masoretic Text rendering of Psalm 145 (and of Psalm 145:8-16 in particular) is a faithful transmission of the original text of David’s very personal praise, the tehillâh of Psalm 145.

2. Understanding Literary/Historical Background and Context:

Psalm 145 is a psalm of King David, so it was written about 1000BC.   As noted above, Psalm 145’s literary purpose (as the Hebrew text of its first verse uniquely indicates) is to provide David’s very personal praise (tehillâh) of the LORD, with a blending of God’s greatness as the transcendent holy God He is (Psalm 145:1-7) with God’s mercy-filled goodness to humans like David, who continues with personal gratitude for God’s grace and salvation (Psalm 145:8-21).

Like many (though not all) of the psalms, it focuses on true worship: praising the true God.  However, Psalm 145 has a unique message:  it is David’s personal appreciation for God’s greatness (God’s glory as God, the God of all creation) and God’s special goodness to David (God’s benevolent care of David, as David’s very personal God).

Part of the historical-biographical background, that appears relevant to understanding this passage (Psalm 145:8-16), is the overall trend of David’s life (1st Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), with recognition that David’s life did have one major interruption of very serious sin (2nd Samuel chapter 11) which is now redemptively forgiven and erased – thanks to Christ our Savior — from God’s record-books (Psalm 51; Luke 10:20).  During that time in David’s life he was “AWOL” (“away without leave”) from God’s holy service.  Being “out of service” is a waste of precious Earth-time, and it has other tragic consequences too.

Parallelism in Psalm 145 (discussed at length below) likewise provides other content comparisons that help readers to discern other important details within the text of the psalm.

3. Identification of Literary Structure of the Book:

Psalms appears to be internally divided into five series of chapters: (a) 1-41; (b) 42-72; (c) 73-89; (d) 90-106; (e) 107-145; plus a five-chapter “grand finale” epilogue (146-150), based upon repeating doxology closure verses (which act as literary dividers, somewhat like the toledôth divisions in Genesis) that occurs at Psalms 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; 106:48; and 145:21.[13]  If these five sections correspond to the five books of Moses, as ancient Jewish commentators have guessed, Psalm 110 would belongs to the fifth section that corresponds to Deuteronomy.[14]

One overarching literary theme, repeatedly developed throughout all of the Psalms, is that God’s glory is shown (and thus should be rightly recognized by humans) in and through conflict.

Psalm 145 explicitly identifies itself as the only tehillâh psalm “of David”.[15]  Psalm 145, as a tehillâh psalm, contrasts with the “song”-psalms (i.e., psalms introduced as mizmôr psalms) such as the first Hebrew verses (which are often denoted as a “title” in English translation, obscuring the fact that the original Hebrew text includes phrases that English translations render as editorial-appearing “titles”) in Psalm 24, 29, 30, 31, 38, 39, 40, 41, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 73, 75, 76, 77, 79, 80, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87, 88, 92, 98, 100, 101, 108, 109, 110, 139, 140, 141, and 143.[16]

Not all of the Psalms were authored by David, although David is the most frequently named author (of those whose human author is known).[17]

The fact that David was the human co-author of Psalm 145, and that the Holy Spirit was the divine co-author of Psalm 145, is accented by the first verse in the Hebrew text of Psalm 145, which begins: “a praise of David”.

4. Identification of Grammatical and Syntactical Keys:

The entire book of Psalms has the literary form of Hebrew poetry – which means its content is presented in paralleled sentences.[18]

English poetry is defined by its verbal “hardware,” with the delivery of its pronounced sounds identifying the text as poetry. Hebrew poetry, however, is defined by its “software,” its verbal information and meaning, which is presented with parallelism of thought, not sound.

In short, Hebrew poetry is defined by parallelism in meaning, whereas English poetry is defined by the format of verse and sound (such as rhyme and meter). This is easier to illustrate than to explain. Consider the below examples of both kinds of poetry.

Example of English poetry, using a limerick rhyme and meter format.

Some Get a “Bang” Out of Fables

The Bible, to read, some are able,

Yet prefer to read a false fable;

            Though God’s Word says “six days,”

            A “Big Bang” gets their praise,

Their doctrine, therefore, is unstable.1

Verses of English poetry routinely rely on rhyme. In limerick poems, the rhyme pattern is AA, BB, A (because able, fable, and unstable all rhyme, as do days and praise). Other poems often use other patterns, but almost without exception some kind of rhyme is used to identify English verse-based literature as poetry.

English poetry, being dominated by sound, also relies on meter, the rhythmic “beat” of a poem. The number of stressed syllables in all A lines should match, as should those in the B lines. One English tradition uses iambic pentameter, employed by English poets John Donne, William Shakespeare, and John Milton.2 Note that rhyme and rhythm neither provide nor depend upon a poem’s meaning.

Unlike the rhyme and rhythm of English poetry, Hebrew poetry is defined by informational parallelism—parallelism of meaning.3 The paralleled thoughts may emphasize good and bad, wise and unwise, reverent and blasphemous. They may or may not recount historical events, although time and place, if mentioned at all, are less emphasized than in narrative prose. This informational parallelism―using comparative lines and phrases―portrays similarities and/or contrasts, or comparisons of whole and part, or some other kind of logical associations of meaning.

Knowing this linguistic trait helps us to correctly read biblical Hebrew poetry. Since such poetry requires complementation of meaning (not sound), both halves of a verbal parallelism must be reviewed together as a complementary unit in order to understand fully what either half means, as well as to understand how they complement each other in meaning. Almost always the paralleled lines come in pairs,4 but sometimes a triplet is used.5

Major examples of Hebrew poetry in the Old Testament are Psalms, Proverbs, Lamentations, and Song of Solomon—but not Genesis.

Example of Hebrew poetry, illustrating parallelisms of both similarity and contrast.

Psalm 104:29   Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled:
thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

Psalm 104:30   Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created:
and thou renewest the face of the earth.

Note how both lines in verse 29 show parallel similarity of meaning, as do both lines in verse 30. Yet verse 29 informationally contrasts with verse 30—verse 29 tells how God controls the death of certain creatures (like leviathan, mentioned in verse 26), but verse 30 tells how God controls the life of His creatures. In order to get the full meaning of either verse 29 or verse 30, the total parallelism must be appreciated. This is the hallmark of Hebrew poetry.

For another example, read any chapter in Proverbs. They are dominated by parallelism of meaning, verse after verse. Sometimes the parallelism spreads over consecutive verses, as in Proverbs 28:15-16 (“wicked ruler” in verse 15; “the prince” who is a “great oppressor” in verse 16). Sometimes the parallelism is condensed within one verse, as in Proverbs 28:28 (“when the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase”). Parallelism dominates the informational structure of Hebrew poetry. Careful reading cannot miss it.[19]

In sum, Hebrew poetry is recognized by the parallelism used to convey the author’s message. Accordingly, the text of Psalm 145 implements Hebrew parallelism to convey its God-honoring message.  This parallelism in Psalm 145:8-16 can be diagrammed as follows:

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.

The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

The LORD being “gracious” and the LORD being “good to all” provides parallel thought. Likewise, God’s “compassion” (which includes being “slow to anger” and being “of great mercy”) matches the fact that His “tender mercies are over all His works”.

10 All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.

The LORD is to be praised by all His works; He is to be blessed by His saints. Although all of God’s works will glorify Him, one way or another, voluntarily or involuntarily — yet surely God’s own people should lead in lauding Him as He is due!

And what should we glorify and praise God for? God should be lauded for His powerful deeds and for His majestic splendor!

11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power, 12 to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.

13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

Verse 11-12 complement Verse 13 – God’s people shall speak of His glorious kingdom, His power, and His rule over humanity is both glorious and never-ending. As David refers to God’s “kingdom”, and the “glorious majesty” of God’s reign, David can compare God’s kingship (which is absolutely perfect in every way) with David’s own mortal and limited and imperfect  experiences as an earthly king.  This is a sober comparison.

This involves a “bump” in David’s otherwise doxologically prioritized journey – verse 14.

David appears to be recalling how God’s rulership over the affairs of men and women (including their sexual “affairs”) include how God deals with moral failings. (So David’s lost opportunity to praise God, during the time when David was “out of service”, appears as a “missing” letter in the otherwise-complete “alphabet” of David’s life as God’s man.)

But there is hope! God is gracious, God is merciful, God restores the repentant sinner!

14 The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.

Verses 15-16 continue to focus on David’s restored life, as God’s man. David recognizes that God is the ultimate provider of all that is needful and good. God gives us what is truly valuable, for this life and for life hereafter all “in due season”.[20]

15 The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. 

16 Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

Obviously David is serious about living a life of worship!

In sum, the parallel structure of Psalm 145’s verses begin with David extoling God, with parallel content blending God’s transcendent greatness (verses 1-7), followed by a more personal appreciation for Who God is – to David – and how believers (like David) need to appreciate and praise God now and hereafter (verses 8-21).

5. Identification of Lexical Keys (i.e., Biblical word studies):

Several Hebrew words are especially noteworthy in Psalm 145:8-16. As noted above, Psalm 145 is uniquely titled (in the original Hebrew text) as a tihellâh of David, in contrast to the many psalms which are titled as “praise-songs” (singular mizmôr) of David.  That lexical uniqueness alone show grab our attention, prompting us to investigate how (and why) Psalm 145 is different from every other Davidic psalms that is titled as a “praise” psalm.

The word “praise” (as used in the Old Testament) routinely translates one of several Hebrew verbs: barâk (also translated “to bless”), halâl (usually in the piêl form), zamâr (also translated “to sing”), yadâh (“to praise”, with the connotation of stretching out the hands, usually in the hiphîl form), and shabâḥ (“to laud”, usually in the piêl form, with the Aramaic equivalent verb being shebâḥ).[21]

Of these verbs, barâk is used about 330 times (usually translated “bless”),[22] halâl is used about 165 times (usually translated as “to praise” or “to glory”),[23] zamâr is used about 50 times (usually translated “to sing praises”), [24] yadâh is used about 111 times (usually translated “to praise” or “to give thanks”), [25] shabâḥ is used about 11 times (usually translated “to praise”),[26] and shebâḥ is used 5 times (always translated as “to praise”) [27]

Since only Psalm 145 is explicitly titled as David’s psalm of tehillah (Psalm 145:1, Hebrew text), it is useful to see how related words are translated into English.  The root verb, of course, is halâl (usually in the piêl form, translated as “to praise” or “to glory”).  The singular noun tehillah usually appears, yet sometimes the plural form (tehillim) is used (e.g., Isaiah 60:6).

The usages of the Hebrew verb halâl – in the poêl [active participle] form (e.g., Job 12:17; Ecclesiastes 7:7; Isaiah 44:25), and in the puâl [passive intensive] form (e.g., Proverbs 12:8; Psalms 78:63), and in the hithpaêl [reflexive] form (e.g., Psalm 97:7; Proverbs 25:4) — emphasize that “glorying” means to manifest the true character/nature of whoever or whatever is doing the “glorying” – for good or for bad.[28]

In other words, a fool who “glories” in falsity (e.g., Isaiah 44:25; Psalm 97:7; Proverbs 25:4) shows the deluded folly and vainglory by which his empty character has become characterized. A fool glories in his folly.  God’s glory, however, is always virtuous and holy – He is manifested in His holiness, His goodness, His justice, His compassion, His righteousness, His grace, His faithfulness, His truthfulness, His omnipotence, His omniscience, His omnipresence, His creativity, His beauty, His love, etc., etc., etc.!

6. Identification of Biblical Context (e.g., book’s purpose/theme):

The Book of Psalms is “sepher tehillim”, literally the “book of praises”.  But, as noted before, the context of Psalms is that God is being praised (and is glorifying Himself, so that we can learn more about Who He really is) amidst and in the aftermath of huge conflicts.

Why? The universe is at war, as is illustrated by Psalm 1 and Psalm 2, between those who revere God (the “godly”) and those who don’t (the “ungodly”).  It is wise to be godly!  It is sinfully stupid to be ungodly. The end of the ungodly is ruin and doom; the destiny of the godly is goodness. The poetic lyrics of the Psalms provide praise-songs that equip the believer for spiritual-mindedness and godly living (see Colossians 3:16). God’s great and holy deeds, which show His great and holy character, prove that He alone is worthy of worship and exaltation on earth as in Heaven.

Obviously, God’s glory is best presented in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly, the Book of Psalms testify of Jesus (Luke 24:44), and some of the Psalms are overtly Messianic in prophetic content, e.g., Psalm 2 (which is quoted in Acts 13:33), and Psalm 22 (which is quoted in Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:43), and in Psalm 45 (which is quoted in Hebrews 1:8), and in Psalm 102 (which is quoted in Hebrews 1:10-12).

7. Identification of Theological Context (as related to themes):

David’s “Lord” – the Lord Jesus Christ – is recognized as ascended and exalted to the throne of God, at God’s right hand, to sit there till His enemies are made into a “footstool” for Him. Quite obviously, the timeframe for this heavenly exaltation of Christ must be after His resurrection and ascension.

It is David’s Lord (i.e., the LORD, Who has chosen to give faithful mercies to David and to all who are forgiven in Christ) Who forgave David, the sinner, for David’s failings. This is the hidden-in-plain-view lesson of the almost-perfect alphabetic acrostic of Psalm 145.

As the Epistle to the Hebrews emphasizes (in chapters 5, 6, and 7) this immortal and heavenly priesthood of Christ contrasts with the mortal and earthly priesthoods of the sons of Aaron.  This distinction should not be a problem for dispensationalists, because they are routinely sensitive to the difference in roles that Christ has in relation to Israel, to the Church, and to the rest of the world.  But this distinction is often lost to those who use “replacement theology” to commingle prophecies about Israel with prophecies about the Gentile-dominated Church, as they fail to distinguish between Christ’s earthly throne in Jerusalem (which is yet future) as Israel’s King, and Christ’s heavenly throne (where He sits now, and will continue to sit till His enemies are “positioned” into His footstool) at God the Father’s right hand.

The theological importance of Christ’s present throne (and His being seated there) is emphasized in Hebrews chapters 9 and 10, as judicial proof that His self-sacrifice sufficiently satisfied the need to pay for human sins once for all.

What is our real “glory” as Adam’s children, redeemed in Christ?  What kind of creatures are we, truly, when we are at our best?  It is our great privilege to know God, and to make Him known to others:  “That, according as it is written, ‘he that glorieth, let him glory in the LORD’.” (1st Corinthians 1:31, quoting from Jeremiah 9:23-24).  Notice that Paul quoted from the prophet Jeremiah, to show what real glory is – for a child of Adam.

The fuller quotation from Jeremiah 9:23-24 reads: “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”

It is our glory, therefore, “to understand and to know the LORD”, and to appreciate how He is a God of lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in all the earth! That is what it means to “glory in the LORD”!  What a Savior we have!  Although we fail Him (as David did), He is nonetheless faithful as our sustaining Creator, our Redeemer, Shepherding, and Advocate.

8. Secondary Verification (i.e., considering the views of others):

The intentional omission of the Hebrew letter nûn – in Psalm 145:13 – has been noticed by others (e.g., Larry Brigden, who has cited and quoted before[29]) who do not jump to the hasty conclusion that the original text was somehow bungled by Masoretic Text copyist-scribes.

9. Development of Exposition (verse-by-verse commentary):

Verses 8-9: The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy; the Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

After objectively emphasizing God’s greatness (e.g., the glorious honor of His majesty, His wondrous works, etc.), David’s objectivity shifts somewhat to personal subjectivity – God is David’s God. Many of God’s created works display His wisdom, His power, and His creativity – such as the sun, the moon, and the stars (see Genesis 1:16-18), but David knows God in a relational way that emphasizes God’s character as the God Who is “gracious” (ḥannûn), full of “compassion” (raḥûm), and of faithful “mercy” (ḥesed).  Although God has a right to be angry with our sinful failings He is “slow to anger” (’apayîm).

David personally experienced God’s kindness, God’s compassion, and God’s faithful mercies (which Jeremiah alludes to in Lamentations 3:22-23), and so do we! – all because Christ has provided us with propitiation for our sins, redemption that liberates our souls, and reconciliation that overcomes our spiritual alienation from the life of God. How often God has a right to be angry with our selfishness, our ingratitude, our covetousness, yet He forbears – we can rejoice (Luke 10:20) that God is slow to anger and quick to restore us to the abundant life that we can only have in Him (John 10:10).

Verse 10: All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee. 

In this verse David moves from the general to the particular, from the universal to the personal. One way or another, voluntarily or involuntarily, all of God’s creation will honor Him – perhaps in mercy, perhaps in judgment, perhaps in showing His power, perhaps in showing His providential care – but all of God’s works will accomplish some kind of glorification of God.

Why? Because glorifying God means manifesting Who He is, what kind of God He is, and what kind of deeds He chooses to do – and all of His creation is ultimately His property, which He utilizes as He is revealing Himself to the sentient creatures He has chosen to create (including us!).  Yet is it only His “holy ones” (a/k/a “saints”) who can enjoy God’s glory, because all who sin and go unredeemed cannot enjoy God’s holiness and justice.

Fallen angels will learn God’s judgment but they cannot enjoy its application to their doomed souls. Likewise, unsaved humans will learn of God’s glory – His holiness, His righteousness, His wisdom, His justice – but they cannot enjoy God’s glory in their doomed destinies.  But the elect angels, as well as the redeemed of Adam’s race, can enjoy God’s glory – imperfectly in time (because we are hindered by sin in and around us) and perfectly in eternity (when sin is completely removed from Heaven and Earth by Christ).

However, the righteous angels can only observe God’s redemptive grace in Christ – only forgiven sinners (like us) can personally experience the glory of redemptively belonging to Christ as personal Redeemer (Luke 10:20; Revelation 5:9) – and can bless Him accordingly.

Verses 11-12: They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power, to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.

As noted above, it is the high honor of God’s redeemed children “to know God and to make Him known” to others. It is our privilege to tell others how great our Creator is, how wise His providence is as He sovereignly rules His creation, and how caringly He loves those for whom Christ sacrificed.  This is part of the privilege and responsibility of being an older member of a multi-generational (extended) family – the opportunity to tell posterior generations of God is a fast-fleeting obligation to be used before it is gone.  As indicated in in fulfillment of Psalm 102:18 and 2nd Corinthians 5:17, it is God’s pleasure to create new lives – and to regenerate them, redemptively, in Christ.

For some of this, this can be improved by taking our family history more seriously – and using it to honor God in a grateful way.

This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.  (Psalm 102:18)

Shakespeare’s Hamlet considered the grave question of whether to end his earthly existence with the famous words “to be, or not to be.”

Yet more basic is the underlying issue of God’s sovereign choice to create us “to be” in the first place.

If God had not chosen to make us as His creatures, we couldn’t think, reflect, or ask any questions. Thankfully God chose otherwise and uniquely created each of us.1 Yet how much do we really enjoy knowing and appreciating God as our personal Creator?

Origins matter.1 Over 150 years ago Darwin’s “natural selection” theory usurped Genesis truth, and the ubiquitous influences of evolutionary mythology have since distracted many from valuing God as their magnificent and multi-generational Creator.2

Does Genesis guide your thinking about your personal origins, including your own family history? How was God working prior to and when He biogenetically knit you together using nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA blueprints? Indubitably God deserves praise for His authorship of our vast genealogical heritages (Psalm 139).

In so many details, beyond the in-the-womb procreation of our physical bodies, we owe gratitude to God for our lives (Romans 8:28). Historical events and geographical realities are ingredients that God carefully and continuously blends to make us exactly who we are.1,2

God providentially plans and engineers the details of life that lead to genealogical relationships. God twice used agricultural conditions to graft Moab’s Ruth into the Jewish family of Naomi, so that Ruth ultimately met and married Naomi’s kinsman Boaz, who became Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 1:1, 6). And God has used family history to fulfill biblical prophecy.3

The value of family history, if appreciated from a Genesis perspective, is truly priceless. It should be learned, treasured, and transferred as a testimony to future generations (Psalm 102:18; Proverbs 13:22a; Daniel 5:20-23).

Since the creation revival began more than 50 years ago, the creation science community has rightly emphasized origins science in general.1 Tragically, however—for at least 200 years and due largely to secularized origins science—many creation scientists have virtually ignored forensic science-qualified study of biogenetic family history, a specialized origins science applying forensic science methodology principles.2,3

Anti-Genesis attitudes have sabotaged appreciation for God’s providential workings in our multi-generational family histories. Lamentably, God’s role as our Creator—at the personal level—has often been denied, dismissed, and/or discounted by the many voices of evolutionary thinking.1,2 No wonder today’s Christians, generally speaking, live at a “poverty level” when it comes to knowing and valuing their own family histories.

Some think Mormons have a monopoly on appreciating family history. Others, ignoring forensic science’s role in clarifying biogenetic family history, think that family history is irrelevant to origins science.2,3 Both assumptions egregiously miss the mark.

It is each Christian’s duty to appreciate God’s creatorship at a personal level. Doing so includes learning and valuing personal family history because God’s creative and praiseworthy providences determine whom each one of us is “to be, or not to be.”[30]

Try to imagine just some of the providential deeds that God needed to accomplish just so you (or I) could be born the specific individual He fore-ordained you (or me) to be. Then add to that the providential workings that He orchestrated in order to provide us with the saving Gospel of Christ, so that you (or I could become a believer in Christ, with eternal life (John 3:16).

Verse 13: Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

Again David is considering the multi-generational reality of God’s reign over the affairs of mankind. God’s rule was not that of a human lifespan, as David’s reign was.  Rather, God rules always, everywhere.  God’s rulership is universal, at all times and in all places.

Even those who defy God are ultimately being ruled by God, even while God gives them a limited time and space to be rebellious (before the Lake of Fire becomes their permanent destiny). As Dr. Martin Luther once said, even Satan is under God’s ultimate control – he may be the devil but he is God’s devil!  (For example, consider the early chapters of the book of Job, to see how Satan must ask permission of God, to be allowed to cause specific kinds of trouble.)

Verse 14: The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.

This is the focal — and most controversial — verse in Psalm 145, as this analysis has already detailed (above).

Psalm145.12-14.Verse14-in-English

The main point to notice, here (in Psalm 145:14), is that God restores His redeemed children – after they fall and fail – yet there is still something missing.  The sin is forgiven (John 1:29; 1st John 1:9), but the time wasted in sin is an opportunity lost forever.  Better to avoid sin; better to capture each opportunity to glorify God, to serve Him, and to enjoy belonging to Him.

Verses 15-16: The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

            This verse reminds us of God’s nature sermon to Job, in chapters 38-41, especially Job 38:41, which notes that even animals depend on God for their necessary daily food.

It is God Who provides necessary food to humans and animals, even to the lowliest “creeping things” that live upon the earth.

In fact, as Acts 14:17 teaches us, God’s providential care of His creatures – which includes providing food, water, and air — is itself an immeasurably huge and unavoidably obvious proof of God’s glorious Creatorship.

Sometimes the proof that God is our Creator comes in the form of a potato, or lingonberries, or cheese, or eggs, or a codfish. Each type of food is a witness to God’s providential care. The meals consumed over a human lifetime offer a huge quantity of proof, from a huge pantry of witnesses!

God never leaves Himself without a truth witness

Food provides strong evidence of God’s wisdom and power as our Creator, as well as His goodness in providing for fallen mankind’s physical needs. In fact, the Bible teaches that the providentially programmed production of all food, anywhere and everywhere on earth, is itself a continuing proof that God is a caring Creator. The apostle Paul taught this:

And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:15-17, emphasis added)

Think about God’s providence and how it is displayed on earth. God has demonstrated His immeasurable glory by His many acts of providential care for His creatures, especially humans and animals. Yet some of what God provides is so commonplace that it is routinely ignored, although that ignorance cannot negate the overwhelming proof of God’s providence.

Consider just two of those providential care evidences named above by the apostle Paul: fruitful seasons and food. Both of these blessings provide an ongoing benefit for God’s favorite creature, mankind.

The apologetics of fruitful seasons

Since the Flood, God’s historic providence in providing a dependable cycle of annual seasons has been routine.

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22)

If the “reawakening” of plant life during spring were to occur only once in a human’s lifetime, the wonder of it all would (and should) be recognized as an immense miracle, so majestic and clever that billions of words could not do justice to describe it.

God planned for fruitful trees to provide food for humans, generation after generation, as a long-term renewable provision that was to be considered more important than the immediate activities of any one generation, a resource to be protected even during crises such as military activities. (See Deuteronomy 20:19-20; notice that food availability for multiple generations is also planned for in Deuteronomy 22:6-7.) This reproduction-driven multi-generational provision was preprogrammed by God, with each fruit’s biogenetic reproductive capacity written within its seeds, as Genesis taught from the beginning.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:11-12, emphasis added)

Thus, “fruitful seasons” are a positive proof of the providential care of our Creator.

The apologetics of food

Likewise, God’s provision of an amazing diversity of foods—around the world, in every age, in every culture, to every people group—is proof positive that God is Creator. Food is absolutely necessary to prolong our physical life.

Why? As a result of Adam’s sin, death entered the human race (Romans 5:12). God’s warning to Adam indicated a double-death penalty: “To die thou shalt die” (Genesis 2:17, which includes an infinitive-imperfect “double verb” in the Hebrew text). Sin immediately triggered a relational break between Creator and creature, because God is holy. That relational break was a spiritual death, a separation from God that Paul called being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Also, sin triggered an ongoing process of dying physically—what some scientists call “chemistry eventually wins out over biology”—so our human bodies die.

Before birth, even from the time of conception, our physical bodies are dying, yet the metabolic profit we gain from eating food postpones and prolongs that dying process. (If you doubt food’s necessity, try abstaining from eating for two months!)

In some humans, physical life is prolonged by food for more than a century. But, in time, the condition of mortality takes its toll and we all anticipate death, even if we eat every day.

Food only postpones the inevitable. But while it does, it is a life-sustaining fuel, an amazing and precious gift from our Creator,1 as well as a testimony to the amazingly complex and efficient world He designed, as Dr. Randy Guliuzza notes:

Plants use biological systems that harvest light energy from the sun to convert environmental water and carbon dioxide into tiny carbon/hydrogen energy units stored within them.

When people eat those energy units, the extraordinary human digestive and metabolic systems convert the work of plants into energy that is useful to people and give back water and carbon dioxide to the environment that can be used by plants.…

In this amazing process that powers the human body, nuclear fusion energy in the sun is converted and conveyed as light energy to the earth, where it is captured and converted by plants to food-stuffs, then digested by a person and metabolized to universal energy packets that can be converted to chemical, mechanical, and electrical energy as needed.

The information content behind all of this is truly staggering.

The conversion of sunlight to body energy involves all systems of the body, plus a few plant systems, which must be totally functional.

Credit belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ—the creative genius! The Lord is gracious to all people by freely giving the sun’s light energy, the vital biological systems of plants, and humans’ incredible digestive and metabolic systems.2 [Quoting Dr. Randy Guliuzza]

God has also acted in human history, in the lives of human beings, in ways that so tellingly reveal His intervention that to fail to recognize God’s providential involvement is morally and intellectually inexcusable.

No random “chance” could provide a satisfactory explanation for the results of God’s providential care, and the proof is everywhere for those with eyes to see, even in every bite we eat. No wonder we are obligated to give thanks to God for our food.3

Food helps to prove that Jesus rose from the dead

In fact, even the eyewitness proof of the Lord Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection was accentuated by His eating solid food (such as fish and honeycomb), demonstrating that He was physically raised from the dead.4

No one—man or woman, boy or girl—who has ever eaten a meal, and benefited metabolically from doing so, can honestly say, “God gave me no witness of Himself, so how was I supposed to know He was my Creator?”5

So, the proof is in the pudding—as well as in every other form of food that God provides for us, whether potato, lingonberry, cheese, egg, or codfish.[31]

So, every meal you (or I) eat is yet another proof of God’s caring providence as our Creator!

A fitting way to personally apply these last two verses (i.e., Psalm 145:15-16) would be to eat some wonderful food – while giving thanks to God as our generous Creator-God (1st Timothy 4:3-5; 1st Corinthians 10:31), Whose gracious lovingkindness sustains us, and even restores us when we fail Him.

Hallelujah! What a Savior-God we belong to!

                     ><> JJSJ     (AD2015)

birding-chez-webel.bob-and-jjsj

Chaplain Bob Webel & JJSJ at Webel backyard, birdwatching [photograph by Marcia Webel]

BIBLE TEXTS & TRANSLATIONS USED

The 1599 Geneva Bible (White Hall, WV: Tolle Lege Press, 2008 Calvin Legacy Edition; Raymond G. Vallorani & Brandon R. Vallorani, eds.)

The 1611 King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990 reprint edition)

The Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987; John R. Kohlenberger, III, ed.)

The New Defender’s Study Bible (Nashville: World Publishing, 2006; Henry M. Morris, editor an author of appendices).

The Scofield Study Bible, New King James Version (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2002; C. I. Scofield, orig. ed.)

Biblia Hebraica (Stuttgart, Germany: Württembergische Bibelanstalt Stuttgart, 1973, edited by Rudolph Kittel & others).

The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, reprint of original 1851 publication by Samuel Bagster & Sons of London).

(The “Leningrad” edition of the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible and the New American Standard Version were both accessed from the www.BibleGateway.com website. Also, the modernistic so-called “Bible translations” that are based upon the “dynamic equivalence” paraphrasing methodology, such as “The Message”, “New International Version”, and “Good News for Modern Man”, were accessed from the  www.BibleGateway.com website.)

OlafTryggvason-hears-Gospel.wood-sculpture

 SUPPLEMENTAL   BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brigden, Larry, “The Supposed Missing נ Verse in Psalm 145”, Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Issue #602 (January-March 2013).

NOTICE:  indentations, to show the beginning and ending of quoated material, has been problematic in formatting this blogpost — so please notice that Larry Brigden is quoted several times in this blogpost (and Dr. Randy Guliuzza is quoted within a quotation) — and footnote indications are used to show where quotations conclude — hopefully,  based on advice from Lee Dusing (who is the expert on all things blog), I will continue to repair the  indented-quote function of this blogpost.

Cone, Christopher, Prolegomena on Biblical Hermeneutics and Method, 2nd ed. (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2012).

Johnson, James J. S., “The Evidence of Nothing: The Silent Witness of Evolution’s Missing Links”, Acts & Facts, 37(4)4-5 (April 2008), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/evidence-nothing/ .

Johnson, James J. S., “Our Daily Bread: How Food Proves the Providence of God”, Acts & Facts, 40(4):8-9 (April 2011), posted at www.icr.org/article/8377 .

Johnson, James J. S., “Genesis Is History, Not Hebrew Poetry: Exposing Hidden Assumptions about What Hebrew Poetry Is and Is Not”, Acts & Facts, 40(6):8-9 (June 2011), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-history-poetry-exposing-hidden/ .

Johnson, James J. S., “People Yet to Be Created”, Acts & Facts, 43(11):20 (November2014), posted at www.icr.org/article/8377 .

McGee, J. Vernon, Briefing the Bible (Pasadena, CA: Thru the Bible Books, 1984).

Morris, Henry M., editor of annotated notes and appendices, The New Defender’s Study Bible (Nashville: World Publishing, 2006).

Morris, Henry M., Treasures in the Psalms (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2001).

Pratico, Gary D., & Miles V. Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001).)

Ryrie, Charles C., Dispensationalism, rev. ed. (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2007).

Walvoord, John F., & Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985).

Weingreen, Jacob, A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979).

Wiersbe, Warren W., The Bible Exposition Commentary: An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire “BE” Series (Volume I: Matthew – Galatians; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989).

Wigram. George V., The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874).

Young, Robert, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879).

Rosemaling-plate.JJSJ

FOOTNOTES

[1] For examples of more-modern English translations that retain the “almost-perfect” alphabetic acrostic version of Psalm 145, see the New King James Version of 1982, New American Standard Version (of 1963-1995), and even liberal Dan Wallace’s NET version.

[2] As an illustration of an intentional omission, this writer recalls a memory from his junior high days, when a wood shop teacher put the following on the blackboard, during December: ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. Some boys in the classroom observantly noticed “there’s no L” – which provided the shop-teacher’s seasonal meeting: NOEL!

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, “Bad News about the Good News – Galatians 1:1-10”, The Bible Exposition Commentary: An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire “BE” Series (Volume I: Matthew – Galatians; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), page 682.

[4] Interestingly, the “evidence of nothing” (when there supposedly should be “something”) is a forensic principle that is relied upon in courtroom decision-making. See James J. S. Johnson, “The Evidence of Nothing:  The Silent Witness of Evolution’s Missing Links”, Acts & Facts, 37(4)4-5 (April 2008), posted at  http://www.icr.org/article/evidence-nothing/ .

[5] Luke 17:26-30.

 [6] See 1st Corinthians 10:31 & Hebrews 13:4a.

[7] Quoting Larry Brigden, “The Supposed Missing נ Verse in Psalm 145”, Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Issue #602 (January-March 2013), page 13.

[8] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 15.

[9] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 15.

[10] Rudolph Kittel, editor, Biblia Hebraica (Stuttgart, Germany: Württembergische Bibelanstalt Stuttgart, 1973), page 1100.

[11] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 15. See, accord, The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, reprint of original 1851 publication by Samuel Bagster & Sons of London), at page 785.

[12] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 16.

[13] Henry M. Morris, “Introduction to the Psalms”, page 827 to the New Defender’s Study Bible.  See also Henry M. Morris, Treasures in the Psalms (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2001), 17.

[14] Morris, Treasures in the Psalms, 17.

[15] See George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874), pages 684 & 1337.  See also Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), pages 766-767.

[16] See George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874), page 1337.

[17] Morris, Treasures in the Psalms, 18.

[18] See James J. S. Johnson, “Genesis Is History, Not Hebrew Poetry: Exposing Hidden Assumptions about What Hebrew Poetry Is and Is Not”, Acts & Facts, 40(6):8-9 (June 2011), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-history-poetry-exposing-hidden/ .

[19] Quoting James J. S. Johnson, “Genesis Is History, Not Hebrew Poetry: , Acts & Facts, 40(6):8-9 (June 2011), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-history-poetry-exposing-hidden/ (footnotes omitted).

[20] This truth of God’s providence is echoed, by Paul, in Acts 14:17.

[21] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), pages 766-767.

[22] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 70.

[23] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 18.

[24] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 55.

[25] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 53.

[26] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 43.

[27] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 45.

[28] See George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874), pages 366-367.

[29] Larry Brigden, “The Supposed Missing נ Verse in Psalm 145”, Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Issue #602 (January-March 2013), pages 13-16.

[30] James J. S. Johnson, “People Yet to Be Created”, Acts & Facts, 43(11):20 (November2014), posted at www.icr.org/article/8377 .

[31] Quoting from James J. S. Johnson, “Our Daily Bread: How Food Proves the Providence of God”, Acts & Facts, 40(4):8-9 (April 2011), posted at www.icr.org/article/8377 .



Pondside-at-Webels.Ducks-on-Pond-1

JJSJ birdwatching, backyard of Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel (St. Petersburg, Florida)


See also this Fathers’ Day message: http://bcctampa.sermon.net/main/main/21403928 .

God gave us the book of Genesis.

God Gave Us the Book of Genesis

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  (Genesis 1:1)

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God has given us the book of Genesis as miraculously revealed truth that is informationally accurate, authoritative, reliable, infallible, and relevant to understanding our origins; in other words, God has told us understandable truth about our origins in the book of Genesis. [Genesis chapter 1-11; John 5:44-47; etc.] 

Details in Scripture, including many “high definition” details embedded in Hebrew words and phrases, repeatedly demonstrate God’s communicative perspicuity, reliability, and genius. [Psalm 19; Psalm 119; Psalm 139; etc.]

In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ endorsed the books of Moses (which include Genesis) as authoritative, and indicated that we ourselves will be judged by how seriously we respect those Scriptures. [John 3:12; John 5:44-47]

The Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1 teaches us a lot about important facts about creation (which occurred “in the beginning” – not “in a beginning”)—Who, what, when, etc. [Genesis 1:1]

Cosmos-SpiralGalaxy-space

God’s creative works include creating physical stuff form nothing, creating animal nephesh life from nothing, and human spirits (made uniquely in God’s image) from nothing, as well as His creative shaping of physical stuff into physical bodies of humans, animals, plants, and other object on Earth and in the heaven – as well as His redemptive work of regenerating sinners who trust in Christ for salvation.  [Genesis chapters 1 & 2; Psalm 102:18; 2nd Corinthians 5:17]

Creation Week consisted of God creatively working for 6 normal days [yôm in singular; yamîm in plural], followed by 1 normal day of rest (the Sabbath); therefore, the so-called “Day-Age” theory, “Gap” theory, and all other departures from the Genesis cosmogony (of 6 normal days) are errors. [Genesis chapter 1-11; John 5:44-47; etc.]  The Day-Age theory (which includes the “progressive creation” variant of that theory) is false.  Also, the Gap Theory is false. 

Theories that evade the historical narrative character of Genesis, such as those which mischaracterize Genesis as if it was “Hebrew poetry”, are false cosmogonies.

Why do many teach an origins story that departs from understanding Creation Week as 6 normal days, followed by 1 normal day of rest (the Sabbath)?   Sadly, this is done just to accommodate secular mythologies.

Yet chronological information provided within Genesis (e.g., Genesis chapter 5) establishes a recent creation history (within an absolute range of 6,000 to 7,000 years of age), regardless of whether genealogies in Genesis are “open” or closed”.  [ Genesis 1-11, analyzed in www.icr.org/article/4124 ]

Theories that impute personification to “nature” (e.g., Darwin’s notion of “natural selection”) clash with the creation account reported in Genesis, because Genesis excludes animistic powers to natural forces.  However, it was God Who did all the “selecting”, for each of us to be (pro)created!Psalm139.13-16-FamilyHistory-slide

Bottom line:   God gave us the Book of Genesis, so that we can know what really happened “in the beginning”, i.e., so we can truly know about origins — such as how all of the physical creation originated, how animal life originated, how human life originated, how human sin originated, how human death originated, how redemptive hope (in Christ, as the prophesied “Seed of Woman”) for humanity was originally promised, etc., etc., etc.

Sitric ‘Silkbeard’, Family Fireworks, and Viking Age Ireland

Sitric ‘Silkbeard’, Family Fireworks, and Viking Age IrelandWhen Blood Kin, In-Laws, and Outlaws Read Like a ‘Who’s Who in the Royal  Zoo’ of Queen Gormlaith

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.   (James 3:16)

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If a Viking ruled over Ireland’s busy port of Dublin, for more than 40 years, one might expect that Viking had good connections – political networks and family dynasty links. True enough, but those royal connections also came with a lot of family conflict baggage!   This mix of family politics, applied to Viking-style conflict resolution processes, is repeatedly illustrated in the family life and political career of Dublin’s Viking ruler Sitric “Silkbeard” (a/k/a “Silkenbeard”) Olafsson.(1)  

Of course, Vikings in Ireland are known by both their Irish and their Norse names, and variants abound when spelling those names —  so Sitric’s name appears in variants including  Sigtrygg, Sigtryg, Sigtryggr, Sihtric, and Sitrick.  Sitric was not an uncommon Viking name, but history only knows one Viking nicknamed “Silkbeard” (or “Silkenbeard”), so that is how he will often be identified here.

Silkbeard had political connections, as well as family ties, directly, both by his birth and by his marriages, as well as indirectly, because his blood kin and in-laws themselves were very interconnected with the geopolitical networks of Ireland Viking Age, both inside and outside of Ireland.

This short study will show that Silkbeard’s family ties, which overlap with his political networks, help to explain just how interconnected personal relationships were in Viking Ireland, especially during Silkbeard’s unusually long career, as well as during the times immediately before and after that illustrious career.

Viking-reenactors.Oban-Scotland

FAMILY FEUDS: DIVORCE COURT BATTLES, WRIT LARGE?

To specifically illustrate Silkbeard’s interconnectedness with notable players in his world, consider how his career was traumatically challenged when his own mother (Gormlaith ingen Murchada, whose name in Old Norse is Kormloð  –  since the Old Norse use K for both “G” and “K” consonants) urged him to war against her ex-husband (Brian Boru), who was Silkbeard’s former stepfather.

Besides her son Silkbeard, Gormlaith incited others, especially her brother Máel Mórda, plus 3 other warriors whom she appeared willing to marry (if Brian was defeated), to go to war against her ex, Brian Boru. How did ex-queen Gormlaith become so heavily involved in plotting a military coup against her royal ex?

But Silkbeard’s mother, Gormlaith, was not new to politics in Viking Age Ireland.

Firstly, Gormlaith’s father was Murchad mac Finn, king of Leinster (in southern Ireland); her brother Máel Mórda (a/k/a Máel Mordha) mac Murchada, became the successor king when their father (Murchad) died.

Secondly, it is important to notice that Gormlaith’s brother Máel Mórda fought against Brian Boru (Gormlaith’s ex-husband, so Máel’s ex-brother-in-law) at the Battle of Clontarf in AD1014, where many brave warriors breathed their last. (2)

Thirdly, as wife of Dublin-York’s king Olaf Cuaran (a/k/a Kváran(3)) Sitricsson, she mothered Silkbeard (who later became king).

Fourthly, as wife of Munster’s king Brian Boru, she mothered Donnchad (who later became king of Munster).

And, fifthly, it seems that her third and last marriage was to Meath’s king Máel Sechlainn mac Domnall(4) (who once defeated Olaf Cuaran in AD980), — and  who once fought on December 30th of AD999 with Brian Boru, and later against him in AD1002, and  against him again in AD1014), for whom Gormlaith mothered Conchobar (who appears to have died during AD1030).  This part of Gormlaith’s life is less documented (i.e., the evidence for this third marriage is not as sound and thorough as the historical evidence of Gormlaith’s first and second marriages), yet that is to be expected (or at least it is not unforeseeable) because her political relevance apparently faded soon after the Battle of Clontarf.

VikingLongboat-moored.NorthernLights

BRIAN BORU FLIPS THE FAMILY DYNASTY SEESAW

Silkbeard’s mother, years after becoming a widow (when Silkbeard’s father died in AD981) married Brian Boru, who had previously fathered children.

One of Brian Boru’s preëxisting children, in AD1000, was a daughter named Sláine ingen Briain (i.e., Brian’s-dottir), whom Silkbeard (Gormlaith’s son) then married.

In other words, Gormlaith’s marriage to Brian Boru (who was already the father of Sláine), when combined with Silkbeard marrying Sláine (both occurred shortly after the Battle of Glenmama, though Gormlaith’s marriage to Brian preceded Silkbeard’s marriage to Brian’s daughter), meant that Silkbeard was then married to his own mother’s stepdaughter —  in order to doubly tie the dynastic family of Brian Boru to that of Gormlaith and her son (by Olaf Cuaran) Sitric “Silkbeard”.

As a result, Olaf Sitricsson, the son of Silkbeard (and thus part of the Olafsson family dynasty, which apparently descends from the original Norse-Danish Viking dynasty – called by the Irish Uí Ímair (“descendants of Ivar”) —  that established Dublin, led by Ivar, Halfdan, and others) and Sláine (and thus part of Brian Boru’s family dynasty)  —  could claim Gormlaith as both his paternal grandmother and as his maternal step-grandmother.(5)

This double marriage alliance was no romantic accident or lucky coincidence. Rather, this double marriage alliance was a strategic reaction to the outcome of the Battle of Glenmama, where all 4 belligerent parties had a tie to Gormlaith.

Viking-boat-at-sea

BATTLE OF GLENMAMA,  December 30th A.D. 999

Before considering who fought against whom at the Battle of Clontarf (in April of AD1014), it is helpful to notice who fought whom during the earlier Battle of Glenmama (on Little Christmas Eve, AD999).  The Glenmama (Irish: Ghleann Máma) battle climaxed a rebellion in Leinster (southern Ireland).

Four Irish kingdoms were involved at Glenmama’s showdown:

(1) Kingdom of Leinster, headed by King Máel Mórda (Gormlaith’s brother);

(2) Kingdom of Munster, headed by King Brian Boru (who became Gormlaith’s 2nd husband);

(3) Kingdom of Meath, headed by “High King” Máel Sechnaill II mac Domnall (a/k/a “King Malachy”, who appears to have been, at some point, Gormlaith’s husband,  —  most likely her 3rd husband, soon after the Battle of Clontarf, although some say they were a pair before Gormlaith married Brian  —  perhaps both suggestions are true); and

(4) Kingdom of Dublin, headed by Norse-Viking King Sitric “Silkbeard” (Gormlaith’s son by Olaf Cuaran, Gormlaith’s 1st husband).

Battle-Glenmama-AD999.verbal-summary

Brian Boru has thus defeated Gormlaith’s brother (Máel Mórda), and Gormlaith’s son (Sitric “Silkbeard”), at Glenmama.  Two politically coërced marriage alliances soon follow: (1) Gormlaith marries Brian Boru; and (2) Gormlaith’s son Silkbeard marries Sláine, one of Brian’s daughters.

Now to consider the later controversy — about 14 years later — when Gormlaith has been prodding her son (Silkbeard) to help lead a war against her ex-husband (Brian Boru), Silkbeard’s former stepfather.

Unsurprisingly, the rejected ex-queen/now-divorcée, Gormlaith sought revenge against Brian Boru.  This hostile alienation led, in short time, to what history calls the Battle of Clontarf, a major event in Irish history, on Good Friday of AD1014.  Geographically, Clontarf is a coastland on Dublin Bay’s north side (see map below, on page 8).

Gormlaith was determined to support a worthy challenger who could (and would) defeat her ex-husband, Brian Boru.   But who would that be?

Actually the “who” was not just one warrior! The Viking Age histories (especially the Icelandic sagas) indicate that Gormlaith “diversified” the risks involved, i.e., she chose not to put all of her matrimonial “eggs” in one basket.

Gormlaith instructed her son Silkbeard to tell Sigurd “the Stout” Hlodvirsson (earl of Orkney, grandson of Thorfinn Skull-splitter Einarsson) that she would marry Sigurd Hlodvirsson if Brian Boru (her ex) was defeated, plus Gormlaith would use her political power/influence to establish Sigurd as High King in Ireland.

However, Gormlaith likewise instructed her son Silkbeard to similarly tell Bróðir (a/k/a Bróðir of Man, i.e., a warrior from the Isle of Man) that she would marry Bróðir if Brian Boru (her ex) was defeated, plus Gormlaith would use her political power/influence to establish Bróðir as High King in Ireland. (Ironically, Óspak, the brother of Bróðir, refused to fight Brian, choosing rather to fight for him – and thus Óspak’s men fought for Brian Boru while Bróðir’s men fought against Brian.)

Unsurprisingly, Gormlaith instructed her son Silkbeard to avoid telling the Orcadian earl Sigurd what she was promising Bróðir; likewise, she told Silkbeard to keep secret from the Manx warrior Bróðir what she was promising Sigurd!

Ireland-kingdoms-as-of-AD1014.Clontarf

BATTLE OF CLONTARF, April 23rd A.D. 1014

Several Irish kingdoms, plus many mercenary “neighbors”, clashed at Clontarf:

(1) Kingdom of Leinster, headed by King Máel Mórda (Gormlaith’s brother);

(2) Kingdom of Munster, headed by King Brian Boru (who was Gormlaith’s 2nd husband, but now divorced from her) and militarily led by his son Murchad (born of Brian’s 1st wife Mór, daughter of a king of Connacht), with help from Brian’s son Tadc (born of Brian’s 2nd wife Echrad), and from Brian’s grandson Turlough (only 15) and grandson Tadc (son of Murchad);

(3) Kingdom of Meath, headed by “High King” Máel Sechnaill II (of the Irish Uí Néill family dynasty, who apparently became Gormlaith’s 3rd husband, after the battle — it appears that his forces “showed up”, but did not seriously engage in the early fighting, until it was clear that the defenders were winning; only then did the Meath men join the fight, chase down and slaughter the fleeing Manxmen and Orcadian attackers, and soon afterwards claim victory);

(4) Kingdom of Dublin, headed by Norse-Viking King Sitric “Silkbeard” (Gormlaith’s son by her 1st husband; Silkbeard was aided by his brother Dubgall Olafsson);

(5) Earldom of Orkney, headed by Sigurd “the Stout” Hlodvirsson (whom Gormlaith promised to marry, and to help establish as Irish high king, if Brian was defeated)

(6) Isle of Man mercenaries (linked to Sigurd the Stout), represented by Bróðir (whom Gormlaith also promised to marry, and to help establish as Irish high king, if Brian was defeated); and others, of course.

But what happened to those who fought at Clontarf, on Good Friday of AD1014?

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Battle of Clontarf, A.D.1014 [image credit: Sean Duffy, History Ireland, 22(2):30-31 (2014)]

Estimates of casualties suggest many thousands fought: maybe 13,000 to 14,000 men total, with Brian’s coalition forces comprising perhaps 7000 or 8000 of that number.

Of those myriads of warriors, most died in battle.  Most died on or near the battlefield, or drowned in tidewaters while trying to flee to their Viking ships, or died from their battle wounds. Records suggest that the attacking allies lost 80% to 90% of their numbers, the defenders lost ¼ to ½ of their numbers  —  its bloodiness is somewhat comparable to the bloodshed at Antietam in America’s Civil War, although that Western Maryland battle exceeded 23,000 casualties in one day, whereas the Battle of Clontarf suffered somewhat close to half that number.

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During the Battle of Clontarf the Manx Viking Bróðir killed Brian Boru, bragging about it immediately:  “Now, let man tell man, that Bróðir felled Brian!”

Fame flees fastly, though: Bróðir himself died later that day, captured then disemboweled, with his intestinal tract literally wrapped around a tree by Wolf the Quarrelsome (no more details are needed!).

Also, Orkney’s earl Sigurd Hlodvirsson was killed by Brian’s son Murchad; soon afterwards Murchad himself (the main leader of Brian’s forces) also died.

Leinster’s king Máel Mórda (Gormlaith’s brother) was also killed that day.

Obviously Gormlaith never had a problem explaining her simultaneous proposals of marriage to Sigurd and to Bróðir —  because both men died then at Clontarf.

In the end, the Dublin Bay defenders (Brian’s army and its coalition forces, including Silkbeard’s army) “won” the battle – even though Brian Boru himself, and his son Murchad, died in the defense, as did Murchad’s son Tadc (i.e., Brian’s grandson). However, the House of Brian (Uí Briain, a/k/a O’Brien) itself was not a dynastic “winner”, as political power shifted back to the Uí Neill (O’Neill) high-kingship, which then was represented by Máel Sechlainn II.

Accordingly, Máel Sechlainn II, king of Meath, who usually had opposed Brian Boru more than he had helped him, survived the Battle of Clontarf –  and so it was Máel Sechlainn II who would take much of what Brian and others had lost.

Donnchad mac Briain (son of Brian Boru and Gormlaith) also survived the Battle of Clontarf. Donnchard returned to Munster, soon ruling there, in lieu of his deceased father. After eliminating a competitor (his half-brother Tadc mac Briain, whose father was Brian and mother was Echrad) in AD1023, Donnchad established his rule as Munster’s king for 40 years afterwards, a feat comparable to the resilience of his half-brother Sitric Silkenbeard.

The other notable survivor (besides Gormlaith herself(6)) was Sitric Silkbeard, who some say fought valiantly, but others say he stayed close to the Dublin fortress walls, as its military defender (to prevent looting, etc.).

Likely, Silkbeard did some of both.

Politically, the strongest survivor of the battle was Máel Sechlainn II, so he “mopped up” much of Brian’s realm, reimposing the Uí Neill (O’Neill) high-kingship dynasty in central Ireland. Under Máel Sechlainn II’s overlordship, therefore, Silkbeard continued to rule Dublin.  In AD1036, after more than 40 years of ruling Dublin, Silkbeard finally retired – abdicating his throne to his nephew Echmarcach.  Silkbeard traveled widely for 6 years, dying in AD1042.

the Rose and Viking Festival in St. Annes Park

Clontarf Battle Viking reenactor (image credit: Irish Times)

So what was the key to Sitric Silkbeard’s longevity as Dublin’s ruler, amidst all the family fireworks and turf-grabbing turmoil in Viking Age Ireland?

One wise habit Silkbeard practiced was the pragmatic virtue of not trying to be “top dog” in rank or power.  If it was tolerable, Silkbeard submitted to an overlord, what the Irish called a “high king” (i.e., a king who also overruled other kings, what continental Europe called an “emperor”).

The result, for Silkbeard, was survival with less-than-complete autonomy for his Viking port-based kingdom of Dublin, an international commerce giant. Meanwhile, others, who stretched for greater lots, often died trying to overreach.  Contentedness (i.e., appreciating what you have, when it is enough) has its rewards (see 1st Timothy 6:6).

Covetousness is a cruel slavemaster, and greed for glory (and/or for other kinds of gain) has ruined many an ambitious men and women.          ><> JJSJ        profjjsj@aol.com 

JJSJ-CliftonMuseum-NST-lecture


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Dr. James J. S. Johnson (JD, ThD, CPEE, CNHG, MSHist, MSGeog) often researches, writes, and speaks on Viking history, serves the Norwegian Society of Texas, and has taught aboard 9 international cruise ships (by which he visited Dublin in AD2002).  A lifelong learner, he may be reached at profjjsj@aol.com .



ENDNOTE  REFERENCES

(1) As surprising as it may be to some, Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin (Ireland), was originally established by King Silkbeard around AD1028  —  it now belongs to the (Anglican Protestant) Church of Ireland.  Silkbeard died in AD1042.

(2) Both Máel Mórda (Gormlaith’s brother, as king of Leinster) and Brian Boru (Gormlaith’s 2nd husband, who divorced her) died during the Battle of Clontarf on Good Friday of AD1014, along with thousands of other Norse and Irish warriors.

(3) Olaf Cuaran was king of Northumbria/Jórvík (York) 2 or 3 times, plus king of Dublin twice.  Olaf was known as Óláfr Sigtryggsson in Old Norse, and in old Irish Gaelic as Amlaíb mac Sitric or as Amlaíb Cuarán (meaning Olaf “Sandal”). Olaf was a direct descendant of “Ivar the Boneless”, one of the Great Heathen Army heads.  Regarding the Great Heathen Army’s contribution to creation apologetics, see James J. S. Johnson, “Something Fishy about Radiocarbon-Dating Viking Bones”, Creation Research Society Quarterly, 54(3):213-216 (winter 2018).  Olaf’s sister (some say “daughter”; Brian Tompsett says “sister”; maybe ½-sister?), Gytha (a/k/a Gyda), after becoming widowed, married Christian Viking Olaf Tryggvason, himself then a widower; for a few years Olaf Tryggvason lived in both England and Dublin, likely helping Olaf Cuaran, his royal brother-in-law in Dublin.

(4) It also seems that Máel Sechlainn II mac Domnall (a/k/a “Malachy”) previously married Dublin/York’s king Olaf Cuaran’s daughter named Máel Muire ingen Amlaíb (the latter 2 words meaning “Olafsdottir”, i.e., “daughter of Olaf”).  This Máel Muire was half-sister to Dublin’s king Sitric “Silkbeard” Olafsson, as well as sister (or half-sister) to Gytha Olafsdottir (who married Olaf Tryggvason, who later became Christian Viking king of Norway and its possessions).   Assuming that Gormlaith eventually married Máel Sechlainn II, who previously had married Olaf Cuaran’s daughter Máel Muire (who once was Gormlaith’s stepdaughter), that would mean Gormlaith was marrying the ex-husband of her own stepdaughter!

(5) Would Olaf Sitricsson call Gormlaith “Farmor” (meaning “Father’s mother”), or “Mormor” (meaning “Mother’s [step]-mother”), or just “Bestemor” (meaning “grandmother”)?   [AUTHOR’S PERSONAL NOTE:  my son’s sons (i.e., my biogenetic grandchildren)  call me “Farfar”,  Norwegian for “Father’s father”.     ><>  JJSJ  ]

(6) Some sources suggest that Gormlaith married king Máel Sechlainn II (“Malachy”), after her 1st husband Olaf Cuaran died  —  yet before she married Brian Boru.  Other sources strongly disagree, suggesting that Gormlaith was married only to Olaf, then Brian, then a third time to Máel Sechlainn II, king of Meath.

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On Creation Week’s Day 1, How Intensively did God Work?

On Creation Week’s Day 1, How Intensively did God Work?

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”   (Genesis 1:1)

Galaxy.Tarantula-photo

The Bible teaches us that everything and everyone (except God Himself) was made by God, so He is called the “Creator”; that means that God made everything that is (including ourselves) out of nothing, by His command!

That is so powerful that we cannot fully understand that power to create something (or someone) out of nothing. The Bible teaches us that God did His creation work “in the beginning”, staring with the heavens and the earth on Day #1. Although doing this is impossible for us to do, or even to fully understand, it was quite easy for God to do!

RosettaNebula-galaxy.Pinterest

Hebrew philology (i.e., word studies) demonstrate their value in the Bible’s first verse: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

The subject noun is “God,” translating the Hebrew text’s plural noun Elohîm. The action verb is “created,” translating the Hebrew text’s singular verb bara’.  What a grammar teacher’s conundrum! A plural subject noun with a singular verb!  Yet what better way to foreshadow the Bible’s Trinitarian theology of God’s being? This is clarified later in Scripture, of course, as the Great Commission illustrates, but the doctrine of God’s Tri-unity is actually introduced in Genesis 1:1. The universe’s Maker is plural, yet one

Genesis 1:1 has more to say about God’s first action as Creator—informing us about what God’s action of creating was and what it was not.

Hebrew verbs usually appear in one of these seven basic forms: qal (simple active), niphâl (simple passive), piêl (intensive active), puâl (intensive passive), hiphîl (causative active), hophâl (causative passive), hithpaêl (active and passive combined—i.e., your action directly impacts yourself, like combing your own hair).

Genesis 1:1 uses a singular 3rd person masculine qal verb, bara’ (“He created”).  So what does that tell us about God’s action on Day 1?

From God’s perspective, His action of creating (on Day 1 of Creation Week) was “simple”; it was not “intensive” work!  Astoundingly, God did not work very hard to decree into existence, from nothing, all “the heavens and earth” (i.e., all of the physical matter-energy that now exists)!  Also, notice that God’s work of creating was not merely “causative.” God then acted directly, not merely as a first cause instigator triggering a long series of dominoes.  (Specifically, it was God the Son, i.e., Christ, Who was most directly involved in doing this creation work  — see John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1.)

Furthermore, because the verb bara’ is a perfect verb, the action of creating is reported as completed—finished! That specific work of creation (i.e., creating physical matter-energy into being), that God did on Day 1, needed no further ex nihilo (out-of-nothing) creating.

And that was just the beginning! The next five days involved developmental use of Day 1’s creation, providing us with many more biblical word study opportunities in Genesis.

galaxy-w-stars.reddish-tone


 

Majestic Medley in the Heavens

 

MAJESTIC   MEDLEY   IN   THE   HEAVENS

Dr. James J.S. Johnson

There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.   (1st Corinthians 15:40-41)

The cosmos is filled with heavenly bodies that display wonderful variety.

What variety (sun, moon, stars, planets, comets, etc.) is in our universe?  Variety in the heavens actually exists on an enormous scale.

God likes variety—more variety than we can fully appreciate, even if we had multiple lifetimes to investigate His creation!

Moon-phases-NASA-diagram

Here are two proofs:

(1) Scripture shows that variety matches God’s divine nature (i.e., God is simultaneously plural and one, being triune: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) and how He made mankind in His own image; and

(2) God’s physical non-human creation (including animals, plants, rocks, stars, bacteria, protozoa, etc.) shows that God supernaturally selected and favors variety.

Nature displays differences in details of diverse animals, plants, microörganisms, earth’s geophysical environment, and even the innumerable galaxies of outer space – including each and every star that is out there, regardless of whether any human ever sees it or not! So, how do the heavens show God’s love for variety?

There are at least 100 billion stars in the heavens (that’s 100,000,000,000 different stars!) – that we are of (and maybe there are many more!), yet Psalm 147:4 says that God not only can count exactly how many there are, He has even given a specific name to each of those many stars!

Also, 1st Corinthians 15:40-41 says that God gives a different “glory” to each star – and that should remind us that God gives a unique dignity to each human. In other words, each of us is valuable to God in a way that no one else is – what a wonderful fact! Since God treats each of the stars as unique, with its own name, that proves that God loves variety. In other words, God has demonstrated His love for variety in the many differences (including differences in “glories”) that He has designed into the heavenly bodies, including the uniqueness of the stars and of the planets. As humans we cannot actually count stars, one at a time, and know their individual names – to do so would take trillions of years – and during our earthly lives we cannot live that long.

Galaxy.Tarantula-photo

Although heavenly bodies have individual uniqueness, they simultaneously have interactive relationships with one another on huge scales – for example, our solar system is a working system, within the Milky Way Galaxy (which is a working system), and there even exists groupings of galaxies.

God values variety, so the cosmos is filled with heavenly bodies that display wonderful variety.   God has demonstrated His love for variety in the many differences (including differences in “glories”) that He has artistically designed variety into the heavenly bodies, including the uniqueness of the stars and of the planets.  Consequently, stars, groups of stars, and other heavenly bodies show variety and artistic uniqueness.   (See 1st Corinthians 15:40-41; Psalm 147:4; Job 26:13.)

Cosmos-SpiralGalaxy-space

For more information on this topic you might want to see these online articles:

Henry M. Morris: http://www.icr.org/article/9944

Henry M. Morris: http://www.icr.org/article/2292

Henry M. Morris: http://www.icr.org/article/1342

Henry M. Morris: http://www.icr.org/article/21014

Henry M. Morris: http://www.icr.org/article/20964

JJSJ: http://www.icr.org/article/created-sun-and-moon

JJSJ: http://www.icr.org/article/valuing-gods-variety/

JJSJ: http://www.icr.org/article/grackles-gratitude


 

John 3:16’s Promise, Recalling a Snake?

John 3:16,  Recalling a Snake?

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

John3.14-16-pic

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”   (John 3:14-15)

John 3:14-15 is the foundation for the promise of John 3:16, because the first word [houtôs] in the Greek text of John 3:16, means “like this” (translated “so” in KJV)  — referring back to John 3:14-15, which looks further back to Numbers 21:4-9.

So, how does this provide a “snake connection” to the meaning of John 3:16?

The Bible portrays serpents as sinister and even devilish reptiles, especially the serpent which Satan embodied when he tempted Adam and Even (in the Garden of Eden),  —   so how can serpents (such as the king cobra) demonstrate God’s glory?

Consider the unusual role that serpents have in God’s creation. The first serpent specifically mentioned in the Bible is the one that Satan used, as his mask, for talking with Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden.  Prior to the Garden of Eden event serpents could walk on legs, but afterwards – as part of the curse God imposed as consequences for that terrible event – serpents were limited to crawling on their bellies (Genesis 3).

Did serpents, and other animals, routinely talk to humans in the Garden of Eden, before the Fall? Does the fact that Balaam’s donkey was enabled to talk to Balaam, later in history (after the Jews exited Egypt under Moses’s leadership), an indication that animals were originally able to converse with humans, but now are not?  Scripture does not explicitly tell us the answer, one way or the other.

Meanwhile, serpents – what we call “snakes” cannot now walk on legs, and they are a continuing reminder of what happened in the Garden of Eden (and the seriousness of sin), thousands of years ago.

Apart from that unusual role that one serpent once had, in the Garden of Eden, we see that snakes are reptiles that God created, cold-blooded (“ectothermic”) predators, capable of great subtlety and viciousness.

Earth has many kinds of snakes today, from huge snakes like pythons of the Amazon River rainforest, to small “harmless” Rough-earth Snakes that live mostly underground (unless heavy rains flush them out of the topsoil).

The King Cobra (a/k/a “hamadryad” snakes) are the world’s longest venomous snake, meaning that this snake puts out a poisonous toxin (which is squired form openings in its fangs) when it bites a victim.  Humans easily die of cobra bites, unless a counteracting anti-venom remedy is immediately applied.  As the victim succumbs to the venom’s destructiveness the snake swallows the victims, if the victim is small enough for the cobra to swallow it. The venom is mostly a mix of painful neurotoxins that destroy the central nervous system, ruining vision, balance, alertness, and the brain’s control of the ability to breathe – quite a metaphoric picture of how sin ruins, cripples, incapacitates, and can ultimately destroy the life of a human, if a sufficient remedy to the venomous snakebite is not timely applied.

For human sin there is only one remedy, the substitutionary death of the Lord  Jesus Christ, Who died on the cross for our sins (i.e., receiving punishment as our substitute) – if, as, and when a human accepts this wonderful fact he (or she) receives God’s saving grace, the antidote for sin’s consequences.

The Bible’s first prophecy of Jesus, as the sin-defeating Messiah, was given in Genesis 3:15, when God was addressing the serpent in Eden:

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; He Himself [i.e., Woman’s seed = Jesus] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.

This prophecy (called the “Protevangelium”) was fulfilled by Christ when He was crucified, because the Lord Jesus’s substitutionary death on the cross actually defeated the power of both sin and death, as is explained by Paul in 1st Corinthians chapter 15.

Interestingly, the comparison that Jesus Himself used, when explaining eternal life to Nicodemus, referred back to an incident involving snakes:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world [literally “like this God loved the world”, i.e., like what occurred in the wilderness with the snakebites and the miraculous remedy that God provided, that involved a copper snake on a pole, combined with snake-bit Israelites believing God’s promise of a cure if they looked at the pole], that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:14-16). 

That strange event, which Jesus referred to, is reported in Numbers 21:4-9, which says:

And they [i.e., the Israelites] journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.  And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.  

And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.

And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

And Moses made a serpent of copper, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of copper, he lived.

In other words, if we think of Jesus Christ dying on the cross (crucified for our sins) as our substitute, as we believe God’s promise (in John 3:16) that we will be graciously cured of our sin’s consequences as a miraculous gift He generously gives us due to Christ being our Savior   –   we too receive God-given life, but not just receiving an extension of our earthly life (cured of earthly snakebites), but rather receiving the forever-permanent gift of eternal life (forgiven all our sins!).

So, when you think of the wonderful promise of John 3:16, remember that John 3:16 refers back to John 3:14-15, which then looks back to the snake incident reported in Numbers 21:4-9.  

So how is the Lord Jesus Christ, when He was on the cross, comparable to the copper snake-on-a-pole that Moses erected (Numbers 21:4-9), as part of God’s solution to the snakebite crisis in the wilderness?   Christ voluntarily and graciously accepted the curse and punishment of our sin, and was nailed to a pole-like cross, as He exchanged our sin for His own righteousness:

For He [God the Father] hath made Him [Christ Jesus] to be sin for us [human sinners], Who knew no sin [i.e., Christ Himself was personally sinless in His humanity]; that we [human sinners] might be made the righteousness of God in Him [i.e., in Christ]. (2nd Corinthians 5:21)

So snakes should remind us of God’s gracious redemption in Christ, to save us humans from the consequences of our sin, and we should be mindful that God first promised this redemption in Genesis 3:15, and it was later explained by the Savior Himself, in John 3:14-15 (which alludes to Numbers 21:4-9).

John3.14-16-alternative-pic

 


 

 

God Stretched Out the Heavens, Like Tent Curtains.

God Stretched Out the Heavens, like Tent Curtains

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

RosettaNebula-galaxy.Pinterest

It is He Who sits upon the circle [i.e., choreographed circuit] of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers;  —  He Who stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in.   (Isaiah 40:22)

God spread out the heavens, stretching them out like a curtain. (See, e.g., Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22 & 42:5 & 45:12.)  The Bible teaches that God made (and organized) the cosmos in an orderly and logical way (including how He organized the cosmos to be ruled by the laws of mathematics), so the created cosmos is neither chaotic nor produced by “accidents” — such as is imagined by the “big bang” myth-makers.  (See Genesis 1:14; Judges 5:20; Psalm 19:6 & 93:1 & 104:19.)

Many secular astronomers tell us that the universe is “receding” from us, i.e., moving away from Earth, as if the cosmos itself was (and is) “expanding”, growing larger in volume, every day!  There are many problems with that speculative notion, most of which are beyond the scope of this philological study.  However, to understand the underlying controversy, consider this quick quote from creation astrophysicist Jake Hebert, which helps to set the stage for examining this cosmological question:

“Light from distant galaxies contains clues that most astronomers interpret to mean that the galaxies are receding away from us. Furthermore, most astronomers interpret this to mean, not that the galaxies are moving through space away from us, but that space itself is expanding, carrying these galaxies ‘along for the ride.’  But what about creation astronomers?  What do they think? Some have suggested that the numerous references to “stretching out” the heavens in Scripture (Job 9:8, Psalm 104:2, Isaiah 40:22, 42:5, and 45:12) refer to this ongoing expansion of space itself —  as if the universe is continuing to expand, every moment, consistent with the idea of a ‘big bang’ explosion eons ago, long before any scientific observations were possible.”  [Quoting Jake Hebert, with James J. S. Johnson, “God Spread out the Heavens, Stretching them out like a Curtain”, ICR-DC Universe Room, TS-A-2/Q-3 (AD2018-08-16).]

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However, this appeal to Scripture – to promote Big bang “expanding universe” notions — is not only a “stretch”, it is flat-out wrong, because the usual Hebrew word for “stretch” (naṭaḥ) does not denote elasticity (much less ongoing/unlimited elasticity!), as one would expect if these verses were referring to some kind of ongoing and unlimited “stretching out” of space itself, as Big Bang advocates imagine. Rather, these passages are simply referring to God’s initial structuring of the stars, in their respective (and choreographed) circuit arrangements.

In fact, the qualifying phrase “like a [tent] curtain” really refutes the idea of unlimited elasticity, because when Old Testament Hebrews constructed a tent (as Bedouin Arabs frequently do, to this day), they arranged the structural positioning of the tent curtains, upon the rod-assembly scaffolding – but the curtains did not stretch and stretch and stretch forever! Rather, once the curtain is positioned into the desired structure it is maintained by the pole-assembly scaffolding.

Furthermore, the same Hebrew verb (naṭaḥ) used for “stretching out” the heavens [in the 1st paragraph above] is repeatedly used of Moses “stretching out” his arm to hold his staff up in the air (e.g., Exodus 7:19; 8:5; 8:6; 8:16; 9:22; 9:23; etc.), such as when Moses did so at the miraculous parting of the Red Sea. That word “stretched” did not mean that Moses’ arm (or hand, in some contexts) got longer and longer and longer, like a huge anaconda or an unbreakable rubber-band! Rather, Moses repositioned (i.e., unfolded) his arm so that it was fully stretched out from his torso.

Galaxy-w-stars.greenish-tone

In short, when God “stretched out the heavens” He was positioning the stars (and their respective galaxy formations) into the structural arrangement that He intended for them – and it takes God’s continuing maintenance for those stars to “stay in place” due to the otherwise-disintegrating influence of cosmic entropy (see Colossians 1:17).   In fact, if God did not maintain the structure of the universe (and its innumerable parts, in their choreographed circuits), the universe’s order would disintegrate due to unrestrained entropy ( Colossians 1:17).

Solar-System.heliocentric