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)

Galaxy-Planets-Sun.wallpaper

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.

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


 

GOD’S HEAVENLY LEIKARRINGEN, AS NOTED IN ISAIAH 40:22

GOD’S HEAVENLY LEIKARRINGEN, AS NOTED IN ISAIAH 40:22

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

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

What is “the circle of the earth”? Just because an interpretation seems to “help” win arguments does not make it right—it’s the truth that really counts.  (Sad to say, quite a few creation scientists, employing superficial review of the Scriptures, are guilty of this.)

For decades some creation scientists have suspected (and/or assumed) that Isaiah 40:22 refers to Earth’s spherical shape, because Earth is round like a ball.  But is that what the phrase “circle of the earth” refers to, in Isaiah 40:22?  As a matter of Biblical creation apologetics (as opposed to deistic science practices), it is important to take a philological “magnifying glass” to the Biblical Hebrew text’s details, in order to see what this verse is actually describing.

The foundational question — if truth is the priority — is whether the Hebrew noun chûg, used in Isaiah 40:22 (and translated as “circle” by the King James Bible translators), means “round” like Earth’s spherical shape, as opposed to some other kind of “circle”.

The noun “ball” is used to translate the Hebrew noun dûr in Isaiah 22:18. So, if God had wanted to describe Earth as a globe (i.e., a ball), in Isaiah 40:22, why not use the Hebrew noun dûr? Obviously that noun was part of Isaiah’s vocabulary, because Isaiah used that noun (dûr) in Isaiah 22:18.

But, to understand this part of Isaiah 40:22, the most focal question is what does chûg (“circle”) mean? To answer this question, we should compare Scripture with Scripture, i.e., especially by reviewing how that same Hebrew word is used elsewhere within Scripture.

First, consider that the noun chûg is used only 2 other times, in Job 22:14 and Proverbs 8:27.

Job 22:14 says: “Thick clouds are a covering to Him, that He seeth not; and He walketh in the circuit [chûg] of heaven.”  Question: is this “circuit” an orbit-like pattern or a spherical ball?

Proverbs 8:27 says: “When He prepared the heavens, I was there; when He set a compass [chûg] upon the face of the depth.” Question: is this “compass” an orbit-like pattern or a spherical ball?

Next, consider the root verb (that this Hebrew noun derives from), which is the Hebrew verb chûg, spelled that same as the noun (similar to how our English words “report” and “record” are either verbs or nouns, depending upon context).

As a verb, chûg appears in Job 26:10 (“He hath compassed the waters…”), denoting cloud-contained rainwaters, being part of Earth’s water cycle dynamics. The idea here is cyclical or circuitous movements, not sphericity.

Furthermore, we can review other Hebrew words that utilize the consonantal stem CHG (also transliterated ḤG), such as the verb châgag that uses the extended stem CHGG (also transliterated ḤGG). By doing this we acquire more relevant data for identifying the core meaning of chûg. Consider, therefore, these Scriptures that employ some form of the verb châgag, and/or a noun derived from that verb: Leviticus 23:9 (“feast”); Leviticus 23:34 (“celebrate”, “feast”); Leviticus 23:41 (“celebrate”, “feast”, “celebrate””); and 1st Samuel 30:16 (“dancing”).(1) Do the concepts of celebratory feasts—or “dancing”—fit the idea of Earth’s spherical roundness? Or, do “dancing” and cyclical celebrations compare better with Earth’s orbit-motions, while circling the sun, within our solar system that itself orbits within the Milky Way Galaxy?

The best English word, to picture the core idea here, is choreography—an amazingly well-ordered, orchestrated, festive, happy, harmonious DANCE.(1),(2) Like King David, even the heavenly bodies “dance” unto God’s glory!(2)

References

(1)The Hebrew noun chûg (“circle” in Isaiah 40:22, KJV) is related to the verb châgag, which is translated “celebrate” in Leviticus 23:9 & 23:41. The Hebrew noun chûg shares the same root verb as chag, another Hebrew noun, which is translated “feast” (referring to the Feast of Tabernacles) in Leviticus 23:34 & 23:9 & 23:41. The concept of celebratory dancing is illustrated in 1st Samuel 30:16, where the Hebrew verb châgag (in participle form) is translated “dancing”.

(3)See 2 Samuel 6:14 & Psalm 149:3. Notice that the festively cosmic choreography of Isaiah 40:22 is like the mathematically blended and harmonious interactive movements of a perfectly performed Norwegian Leikarringen folk dance (see photograph above), as opposed to a frenzied solo dancer’s break-dancing gyrations.

><> JJSJ    profjjsj@aol.com


In AD1982, at Wake Forest University, Dr. Johnson received the American Bible Society Award for scholarship in Biblical languages, especially Hebrew and Aramaic. However, despite many repeated efforts (and repeated encouragement from Kermit and Glenda Anderson), Johnson has unquestionably failed to learn the memory-challenging choreographic artistry of Norwegian folk dancing.


 

WHEN GALILEO WAS PUT ON TRIAL, WHO WAS RIGHT?

When Galileo was Put on Trial, Who was Right?

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

solar-system-heliocentric

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)

Galileo Galilei, in AD1633, faced hostile Inquisitors who threateningly opposed his astronomical discoveries.  Galileo taught that Earth moves around the sun, while the sun stays “stationary”, but his opponents taught vice versa, and put Galileo on trial for “heresy”.(1) This historic confrontation is often labeled as a “religion-versus-science” trial, because it involved a disagreement about what Psalm 93:1 teaches — and it came close to getting him killed!  (Yet, as shown below, the odd conflict was a display of both sloppy religion and sloppy science.)

The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded Himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.

The latter part of Psalm 93:1 allegedly clashed with Galileo’s analysis of our solar system. Why? Galileo’s telescopic measurements of movements in the heavens (i.e., sun, moon, planets, etc.) “proved” that it was Earth that “moved” (i.e., regularly cycled) around the stationary sun, not vice versa! However, Roman Catholic interpretations of Scripture, during AD1633 (in Italy, where Galileo lived), disagreed with Galileo’s astronomic analysis.(1)

Actually both sides were part wrong, because both sides relied on errors:

(a) both the sun and Earth are moving, in very predictable orbits, yet when described contextually, both are moving in relation to one another (and to the Milky Way galaxy, as well!)—plus all motion must be described with respect to a frame-of-reference (i.e., relative motion), anyway, so it is most practical for observers to use their own positons as the standard locational indices;(1),(2) and

(b) the Hebrew phrase translated “it cannot be moved”, in Psalm 93:1, means that Earth cannot be yanked away from its divinely prescribed (“established”) program of movements—as opposed to describing a state of absolute motionlessness.(2)

The lesson? When “religion” clashes with “science”, expect to see examples of sloppy religion (inaccurate Bible interpretations), or sloppy science (inaccurate scientific observations and/or analysis), or both.(3)

But this is not new. During the heyday (AD1700s-AD1800s) of the so-called “Enlightenment”, there flourished a fad called deism. Deism was—and still is—an “free-thinking”-dominated theism that exalts human reason (ignoring how fallen reason really is) while keeping the Bible closed whenever “science” is discussed.

Prioritizing popularity with secular culture, deists strive to retain some (sometimes many) aspects of Biblical Christianity—but the ecumenical deists’ fondness for unbiblical compromise unbalances and over-tips their epistemological boat, eventually sinking their ship under an ocean of self-contradictions.

Accordingly, deism was (and is today) artificially “cherry-picking” fashionable Bible teachings, while ignoring and discarding other (undesirable or inconvenient) Biblical teachings.(1)  How so?

Modern-day deists (e.g., so-called “Intelligent Design Movement” proponents) often react to apparent “religion-versus-science” conflicts by siding with “science” over whatever the Bible teaches.  (For example, IDM deists routinely refuse to affirm the Biblical details of Genesis Flood history, IDM deists routinely imagine an evolutionary  “Big Bang”  cosmogony that includes imagined billions of years, and most IDM deists favor the Darwinian genes-in-magic animism called “natural selection”, etc.).

Consequently, in their reckless haste, to favor humanistic “science” over the authoritatively accurate and relevant Scriptures, deists (including IDM deists of today) illegitimately employ straw-man caricatures of Biblical truth, erring — like Sadducees — because they ignorantly under-value both the holy Scriptures and the power of God (Matthew 22:29).

Dembski justifies his Scriptura sub scientia approach (i.e. Scripture [ranked] under science) by raising the tired old canard about geocentrism. …

        Dembski: Yet, during that time [of Galileo’s trial, for teaching heretical science], church teaching also held that the earth was stationary.

Unfortunately, this [ecclesiastical error] is because they kowtowed to the prevailing Aristotelian science of the day, which included the Ptolemaic cosmology. …

        Dembski: Psalm 93 [verse 1] states that the earth is established forever and cannot be moved. … A literal interpretation of Psalm 93 seems to require geocentrism.(4)

 Pity Galileo. If only he had today’s Newtonian astrophysics (and geokinetics), a good Bible concordance, and a Bible in his own language!  Galileo could have seen that the  Bible’s descriptions of God’s choreographed heavens are corroborated—not opposed—by true science.

References

(1) Russell Grigg, “The Galileo ‘Twist’”, CREATION EX NIHILO, 19(4):30-32 (September 1997); Jonathan Sarfati, “ID Theorist Blunders on Bible:  Reply to Dr William Dembski”, posted February 7, 2005 at http://creation.com/id-theorist-blunders-on-bible-response-to-dembski (accessed March 2, 2017); Jonathan Sarfati, “The Sun:  Our Special Star”, CREATION EX NIHILO, 22(1):27-31 (December 1999); Robert Carter & Jonathan Sarfati, “Why the Universe Does Not Revolve Around the Earth (Refuting Absolute Geocentrism)”, posted February 12, 2015 at http://creation.com/refuting-absolute-geocentrism/  .  Galileo’s writings were controversial and public—he wrote in Italian, not scholarly Latin. Galileo was stigmatized by his own church (i.e., the Roman Catholic church) as a “heretic”, sentenced to prison/house arrest, and his publications were censored—a very lenient punishment by Roman Catholic Inquisition standards!  Ironically, Lutherans (e.g., the astronomer-genius Johannes Kepler) — whom Galileo opposed — were not theologically opposed to Galileo’s astronomical theories.

(2) The Hebrew verb môṭ appears often in contexts that portray a pulling-away motion (e.g., Proverbs 24:11; Psalm 82:5 [“foundations of the earth are out of course”]; Isaiah 54:10); also, the related noun môṭâh is routinely translated as “yoke” (e.g., Leviticus 26:13 [“the bands of your yoke”]; Jeremiah 27:2 [“bonds and yokes”]). See George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance to the Old Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendricksen Publishers (2001 reprint of 1874 3rd edition), page 670.  Regarding interrelated positons and predictable motions of the sun and earth, see also Psalm 19:1-6 (19:2-7 BH); Psalm 104:2-5; Ecclesiastes 1:5; & Isaiah 40:22.

(3) For another example of how sloppy theology and sloppy science can easily lead to a misunderstanding of both Scripture and nature, see James J. S. Johnson, “A Hart for God”, ACTS & FACTS, 43(7):17 (July 2014), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/8184 .

(4) Quoting Jonathan Sarfati (see note #1 above).


Solar System (fair use) image credit:  ScienceABC.com

Does Psalm 58:3 Teach that Babies are “Estranged from the Womb”?

Does Psalm 58:3 Teach that Babies are “Estranged from the Womb”?

James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD

baby-in-the-womb

The wicked are estranged [zōrû] from the womb; they go astray [ta‘û] as soon as they be born, speaking [dōbrî] lies.  (Psalm 58:3)

Among other Scriptures that deal with original sin (i.e., the sin nature that we inherit automatically from Adam, our ultimate forefather), there is Psalm 58:3. Yet those who disagree with the notion of inherited sin find ways to dodge what is (otherwise) obvious in Scripture.

Here is one example, “Does Psalm 58:3 Support the Doctrine of Original Sin?”, by Jason Hoag, who begins his critique by quoting a modern English translation of that Old Testament verse:

Psalm 58:3 (ESV)   The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.

When we are interpreting scripture, we first need to recognize what type of literature we are looking at. The Psalms are a book of poetry and they need to be viewed differently than a book of history, law or prophecy. Poetry is a style of writing that says a lot with very few words. In doing this poetry often uses figurative language to make a point. With this in mind, let’s evaluate Psalm 58:3.

Is Psalm 58:3 figurative, or is it to be taken literally? This verse is clearly figurative and is meant to be taken that way. For us to take this verse literally we would have to assume that babies come out of the womb talking. Clearly this is not the case. Babies do not speak lies as soon as they are born because as everyone knows, babies are not born talking. [emphasis added]

[Quoting Jason Hoag, “Does Psalm 58:3 Support the Doctrine of Original Sin?”, at https://journeytochampel.wordpress.com/tag/psalm-583/ .]

REBUTTAL:  Jason Hoag fails to appreciate that the verbs involved (in Psalm 58:3, which is numbered as Psalm 58:4 in the Hebrew Bible) are Hebrew verbs, so a detailed analysis of the verse should not ignore whatever precise information is built into the words and phrases of the Hebrew text (of that verse).

To clarify what verbs we are here analyzing, Psalm 58:3 is quoted below, again, this time from the King James Bible translation, with insertions to show the specific Hebrew verbs involved. (Immediately after that, the Hebrew text (of that verse ) is reprinted, to show the overall context of Psalm 58:3.)

The wicked are estranged [zōrû] from the womb; they go astray [ta‘û] as soon as they be born [no Hebrew verb here – it’s literally written as “from belly”], speaking [dōbrî] lies.

זֹ֣רוּ           QAL perfect 3rd person masculine plural [root verb: zûr]
רְשָׁעִ֣ים     adjective masculine plural (quasi-noun substantive use)
מֵרָ֑חֶם       preposition + masculine singular noun
תָּע֥וּ           QAL perfect 3rd person common plural [root verb: tâ‘âh]
מִ֝בֶּ֗טֶן         preposition + feminine singular noun
דֹּבְרֵ֥י          QAL active participle/masculine plural construct [root: dâbar]
כָזָֽב            masculine singular noun

In other words, the actions portrayed by the verbs (in Psalm 58:3, which is numbered as 58:4 in the Hebrew Bible) denote 2 actions that are described as completed, plus one action that is continuing.

Let us consider those philological details – and what those details show that the verse is teaching, theologically.

It is noteworthy that Jason Hoag assumes that the phrase “from birth” means that the baby is speaking on his or her date of “birth”, if taken literally – so Hoag (recognizing that babies don’t speak intelligible language on their birthday) concludes that the verse must be “figurative” – and thus Hoag dismisses any literal approach to that verse’s meaning.

In fact, Hoag apparently never checked a Young’s Analytical Concordance (much less the Hebrew text) to see where the English phrase “as soon as they be born” came from – actually it’s a “dynamic equivalence” translation (which occurs rarely in KJV) for a compound word meaning “from belly” (or “from womb”).

So the continuing action of “speaking [of] lies” was not a change of habit that occurred sometime after birth, when a supposedly “sin-free” baby chose — sometime after birth (perhaps as a toddler) to avoid telling the truth, as he or she made the (supposedly) radical decision to speak a lie. Rather, the idea here is that the baby’s predisposition to be deceitful, when doing so appears to further a selfish desire, is built-in — even from BEFORE BIRTH.  (Obviously that selfish predisposition must be expressed later, in order for us to see it in action.)

In fact, other Scriptures indicate that babies who are sinful-from-the-start is not a category limited to those who grow up to be “wicked” as “wicked” is defined by worldly norms; rather, it is everyone who is natural born as a descendant of Adam, as is clarified by Psalm 51 (which chronicles David’s agony about his own sins that manifested his own sinful-from-the-start nature, as well as Romans chapter 3, where Paul pronounced the tragic reality that “all” are sinners, as is exhibited by sin-manifesting attitude and action.

Consider how the first Hebrew verb in this verse [zōrû] is a perfect verb, denoting action that is complete. Likewise, the second Hebrew verb [ta‘û] is a perfect verb, denoting action that is complete. What exactly does that mean?

The phrase “The wicked are estranged [zōrû] from the womb” refers to the fact that “from the womb” the wicked alienated themselves from God – the spiritual alienation is not a continuing process, it’s a completed reality — even inside the womb.  Likewise, the phrase “they go astray [ta‘û] from birth” refers to the fact that “from the [mother’s] belly” the wicked are have erred, i.e., separated from God.  Again, it’s not a continuing process of separation, it’s a completed reality — even inside the mother’s belly.  (Alienation?  Sounds a lot like Ephesians 2:1.)

This does not fit well with the notion of “no original sin” because only inherited sin can explain how an unborn child can be alienated from God, in light of Romans 9:11, which says:

For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil — that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth. (Romans 9:11)

Also, because Sepher Tehillim (the book of Psalms) is Hebrew poetry, its meaning must ALWAYS take into account that meaning is conveyed by parallelism in meaning (not paralleled in sound, as in English poetry).

Thus, to understand Psalm 58:3b it is needful to understand Psalm 58:3a, plus it is needful to understand how both of them parallel one another (in meaning).

In this case, the parallelism (in meaning) is a form of synonymous parallelism – because both “halves” of the parallelism are saying pretty close to the same thing.

Here, the baby’s completed estrangement “in the womb” is the same thing as the baby’s completed separation “in the belly” — and Romans 9:11 informs us that unborn babies cannot individually commit right or wrong inside the womb.

Accordingly, whatever estrangement the unborn baby has, from God, inside the womb, cannot be caused by the baby’s personal wrongdoing – it must be (somehow) inherited from Adam. As Romans chapter 5 (and 1st Corinthians chapter 15) inform us, the original sin of Adam is imputed – and thus applied – unto all of Adam’s natural descendants (and that obviously excludes Christ Himself, since He was supernaturally conceived apart from the normal procreation process (Isaiah 7:14).

Yet, thankfully, those same Scriptures — Romans chapter 5 and 1st Corinthians chapter 15 – wonderfully promise us that those who trust Christ for redemption have Christ’s own righteousness (and many other aspects of the salvation He provides to those who believe in Him), which is the remedy for the problematic sin nature that we inherited from our first forefather, Adam.

So, the application of Adam’s original sin, unto us his descendants, occurred completely (and automatically) in the womb, where we were created as individuals (see Psalm 102:18), long before we could commit any wrongdoing of our own – yet the application of Christ’s redemption-provided righteousness can also be applied, at the individual level, unto “whosoever believeth” in the Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be praise forever!

><> JJSJ

romans9-11-nasv

photo credit:  Babies Daily News

(https://babiesdailynews.com/2016/05/18/5-things-your-baby-would-learn-in-the-womb/ )

Proverbs 22:6 – is it a promise, or a command, or a description of a general trend in human behavior?

Proverbs 22:6 – is it a promise, or a command, or a description of a general trend in human behavior?

James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD

fork-in-the-road-forest

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).

What does that verse look like under a “Hebrew microscope”? Are there any details, in the Hebrew, that can clarify our understanding of this amazing verse?

For starters, consider whether the verbs involved (i.e., in Proverbs 22:6) are descriptive or imperative: is the verse telling us what to do, or is the verse describing to us how life works, or both?

The verb translated “train up” is the same verb that the noun “Hanukkah” is derived from – the root verb (ḥanak) means to “dedicate”. In this verse it is an imperative (in fact, the only imperative form of ḥanak in the Bible), commanding us what to do – it is not a descriptive verb, describing what occurs. Specifically, this command is a 2nd person masculine qal imperative verb, effectively indicating that the verse is a command directed at the child’s father. (More on the importance of that to follow.) So the child’s father is hereby commanded to “dedicate” the child in some way.

But in, or into, what “way” — is the child to be dedicated? In English translation the next verb is “go” but there is no such verb in the Hebrew text! Actually, the English phrase “way he should go” is a translation of one Hebrew word, pî (pronounced “pea”, like the small round green vegetable), as if pî was a noun meaning “way-he-should-go”. The noun pî is a construct form of the Hebrew noun peh (usually translated “mouth”), sometimes translated “entry” or “opening” – the idea being a mouth-like entrance to something, such as the earth’s “mouth” (Genesis 4:11; Numbers 16:30 & 16:32) or the “mouth” of a grain-sack (Genesis 42:27; 43:12; 43:21; etc.).

In this context (i.e., in Proverbs 22:6), the construct noun pî is directly linked to a form of the noun derek (“way”, i.e., pathway) that immediately follows pî in that sentence, in what is called a construct-absolute relationship. (Specifically the noun derek, meaning “way”, has a possessive pronoun suffix attached, producing the word darkô to convert the noun’s meaning to “his way”.) The meaning of these 2 nouns, as a noun coupling unit, is that the first noun (pî) is a “construct” noun, linked to the second noun (darkô), which is the “absolute” noun. In Hebrew grammar, a construct noun is built onto (i.e., appended or attached to) an absolute noun, so the idea is that the construct noun belongs to the absolute noun. An illustration of how pî is the construct form of the noun peh (meaning “mouth” or entry) occurs in Genesis 29:2-3, where the phrase “well’s mouth” is a translation of pî-habeêr (i.e., “mouth of the well”). Thus, the literal translation of the construct-absolute noun coupling pî-darkô (in Proverbs 22:6) is “mouth of his pathway”, i.e., the entrance of his path (in life) – i.e., whichever of the two destinies that the child takes in life.

Another important observation, to avoid the error of “adding to the Word”, when analyzing the absolute noun darkô, is to recognize that the verse does not specify what is “his way”, i.e., which pathway (of the child) is the one that the child’s parent is being told to dedicate (and thus direct) his child into. (Answering that question must involve other Scriptures.)

The next verb in the verse is translated “he is old”; it is a form of the Hebrew verb zakên (“to age”, i.e., to be or to become old, as used in Genesis 18:12-13; 19:31; 24:1; 27:1-2; Proverbs 23:22; etc.). Specifically, however, this verse uses a hiphîl imperfect form of zakên, i.e., a causative form that denotes action that is not completed – he is causing oldness. (The only other instance in Scripture, of a hiphîl imperfect use of zakên, is Job 14:8, which refers to the roots of a chopped-down tree aging and dying.) In other words, this use of zakên indicates the scenario of the child causing oldness, i.e., making old – but who is becoming old, the child or the parent (or both)?

The third (and last) verb in this verse, which is qualified by a negative (“not”), is translated “depart”, so combining the negative to the verb produces the phrase “not depart”. The root verb here is sûr, usually translated “to depart” (e.g., Numbers 12:10; 2nd Samuel 12:10) or “to turn aside” (e.g., Exodus 3:4; Judges 14:8; Ruth 4:1; 1st Kings 20:39). The action described (when the verb sûr is used) is turning aside, turning away, changing direction to avoid someone or something. So the idea here is that the time will come when the child will not “turn aside” from “his way” in life. (But, we wonder, what is “his way” that the child will eventually not “turn aside” from?)

But what is the relationship between the action of dedicating (a child) and the outcome of that child’s life? The linking particles are 2 Hebrew words, gam kî (translated in KJV as “and when”). The word gam is a conjunctive particle, often translated “and” or “again” or “also”. It is the second particle (kî) that is trickier to translate, because it can mean “because”, “in order that”, “when”, etc., depending on the words and phrases that contextualize it. To get the context it is necessary to look at whatever contiguous verse has a parallel meaning, because Proverbs uses Hebrew poetry format, and that involves message parallelism — sometimes identifying similarities, sometimes identifying contrasts.

(For more on that Hebrew grammar concept, consult “Genesis is History, Not Poetry” http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-history-poetry-exposing-hidden — as well as the analysis of Psalm 42:1-2 within http://www.icr.org/article/hart-for-god — and the analysis of Proverbs 26:4-5 within http://www.icr.org/article/how-do-we-answer-fools .)

Therefore, as a logic-linked couplet, consider the parallel messages of Proverbs 22:5-6, as if the pair were “twins”, providing together a linked unit of meaning:

5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward; he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them. 6 Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Notice various parallelism themes that link these two verses. Verse 5 refers to the soul-keeping person as avoiding the “thorns and snares” that are “in the way”. As a contrast, Verse 6 refers to the child not avoiding “his way” after aging occurs. In order to understand Verse 6 we need to understand what Verse 5 is saying, because the meaning of both is discerned by understanding their messages as a package, a unit of wisdom about living life.

Accordingly, Verse 5 defines 2 different pathways in life – the way of the “froward” and the way of one who “keeps his soul”. These are 2 basic choices in life. These 2 pathways can be compared to the 2 paths mentioned in Psalm 1 (q.v.), which are really the same 2 pathways mentioned by the Lord Jesus Christ, when He defined that choice between the “strait gate” and the “broad way”:

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Quoting Matthew 7:13-14.)

Therefore, the “froward” is unlike the one who “keeps his soul”. The “froward” person will live life with “thorns and snares”, but not so the one who “keeps” (i.e., guards) his soul. Matthew 7:13-14, like Proverbs 22:5, is a general description of universal realities regarding human destinies. It is upon this description, about how human life works, that Verse 6 follows.

In effect, Verse 5 reminds the reader that human destinies are the built-in result of cause-and-effect dynamics: namely, a froward personality has a thorns-and-snares life to look forward to; however, a soul-guarding personality will avoid living a life dominated by thorns and snares. These twin principles are a framework upon which Verse 6 builds, adding a practical application. Unlike Verse 5, which is descriptive only, Verse 6 is “dominated” by an imperative verb – the command to “dedicate” a child to the entrance of “his way”. But Verse 6 does not subtract the message of Verse 5!

Rather, the reality of what Verse 5 describes should motivate the parent (who is assumed by the 2nd person masculine singular in Verse 6, as Verse 6’s intended audience) to “dedicate” the child, because the child’s destiny alternatives are already known from Verse 5. Of course, only the child can choose – from the age of moral accountability onward – whether he (or she) will be “froward” or “soul-guarding” in character. The parent can (and should) provide early guidance, such as boundaries and consequences, to teach the child about these alternative destinies. This is leading the child unto the entrance of “his way”.

The parent’s duty is to lead the child to the choice, with sufficient training (and explanations) to ensure that the child’s choice is an informed decision. Yet having done so, the choice made (and thus the life chosen) by the child is still “his way” – not the parent’s way.  Thus, the (well-informed) choice — about how to live life, etc. – is and remains the child’s choice, not the parent’s!  Personal moral accountability before God is the essential key to understanding Proverbs 22:6, because Proverbs 22:5 is the very foundation whereupon Proverbs 22:6 provides a parental imperative.

And what about the aging aspect of Proverbs 22:6? Recall that it uses a causative verb form (of zakên) that also appears in Job 14:8. Consider how trees might “make a comeback” in life, if the root system obtains water at the right time.

7For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. 8 Though the root thereof wax old [same form of zakên as appears in Proverbs 22:6] in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; 9 yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.   (Quoting Job 14:7-9.)

Thus, just as a chopped-down tree’s root system can again revive, producing above-ground maturity (aging, growing, developing) in a tree, the child’s pathway through life can experience a revival, using his own parentally-provided “root system” to support a “comeback” in life, so long as the right kind of spiritual “water” (i.e., the “water of life – see John 7:37-39) is obtained (i.e., accepted by the spiritually accountable child) at the right time.

(One way or another, God is honored, ultimately, in the child’s life – either by displaying God’s glory in redemption — or by showing His glory in judgment.)

Bottom line: parents can (and should) lead their children to “water” (escorting them to the right “doorway” for a “soul-guarded” life), but parents can’t make those children “drink”. However, each child will choose his (or her) own “way” in life, and time will tell what the child is really rooted to, sooner or later.

The above analysis may not clear up all of the questions that parents have about Proverbs 22:6, but hopefully it helps.                  ><> JJSJ     profjjsj@aol.com