Tag Archives: language

JOYOUS LAUGHTER OF THE AGES


William Andrew Dillard

Often in the ancient languages, new words were coined from sounds. Such are recognized today as onomatopoeic, or mimicking words. This was the case in the naming of the first woman, our mother Eve, whose name in Hebrew was Havvah, coined from the sound of inhaling and exhaling. It is also true in the case of the patriarch, Isaac.
I recently surprised some friends who offered me a Snicker candy bar by stating, “This is a scriptural candy bar.” “What on earth do you mean?” was the reply. I answered, “When the Lord promised Abraham and Sarah a son in their very old age, she snickered.” The comment opened an interesting conversation.
Revisiting the Genesis story, Abraham was approaching 100 years of age; Sarah was approaching eighty-five years of age. Ishmael had already been born years earlier to Abraham and Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid. Offered to God as Abraham’s heir, he was rejected of the Lord. The heir would be the promised son born to both Abraham and Sarah. Now, at their advanced age, the very idea that the couple should have a conjugal relationship, even more, that conception and birth should occur to one whose cycles of life had long ceased was overwhelming. Sarah snickered! But, not out of unbelief that God could make it happen, but at the very prospect of she and her husband having such pleasure once again, and it resulting in a child.
Consequently, when the male child was born to them, Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was eighty-five years old. They remembered their overwhelming reaction to the prospect, and named him with a new word that mimicked the sound of laughter: “Isac, sac, sac;” hence, Isaac (Laughter).
Today, when we consider the wonder of the myriad promises God has given to us: some fulfilled, others coming soon, we laugh at such blessings: from the provision of the Redeemer, to the wonder of the new birth, to the prospects of resurrection, to living in the millennium in an immortal body; to the sight of universal cataclysm, to witnessing a new universe created; to seeing and enjoying the New Jerusalem, but most of all getting to spend eternity with the altogether Wonderful, Only Begotten Son of God, we laugh! Not a laughter of doubt or skepticism, but a laughter of overwhelming wonder at the prospect of it all happening to us….and…we think of Abraham, and Sarah, and Isaac, their important son of laughter…and we laugh with sheer joy, again, a laughter that reverberates through the ages!

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REVIEWING PAST ASSESSMENTS


William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person

IT’S A COLLECTIVE ANIMAL WORLD

The English language has some wonderfully anthropomorphic collective nouns for the various groups of animals. We are all familiar with a Herd of cattle; a Flock of chickens; a School of fish, and a Gaggle of geese. However, less widely known is a Pride of lions; a Murder of crows (as well as their cousins the rooks and ravens); an Exaltation of doves, and, presumably because they look so wise, a Parliament of owls. Now consider a group of Baboons. They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive, and least intelligent of all primates. And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons? Believe it or not ……. a Congress! Is it not weird how their descriptions parallel? I guess that pretty much explains a lot of the things that come out of Washington! It seems more prominent today than it did years ago.

IT’S A FRUITCAKE WORLD

Well, as the clock struck the midnight hour, officially ending the day, it was much as other days except a few times in recent years those days were supposed to be the end of the world, the return of Jesus, etc. Of course those things did not occur, nor were there many who thought they would, but in retrospect I just need to say: so much for the fruitcakes that know more than Jesus knows (according to them). The world has not ended…..the age is not over…..the rapture has not occurred. Did I think it would? Certainly not on the day designated. Has this sort of thing happened before? Yep! Will it happen again? Yep! Why anyone would pay any attention to it at all underscores biblical ignorance. Well, at least the fruitcakes are proving themselves to be false prophets according to Deut. 18:18-22. Maybe that alone is a good thing.

IT’S AN EDUCATED-BEYOND-INTELLIGENCE WORLD

An intellectual scholar was once described in homespun wisdom as being “educated beyond his intelligence.” Of course, there is humor in the description, but beyond that, it seems there is also some sobering truth. It occasionally appears that the more a few folks are educated, the more they appear to be ignorant of what is truly important in life.
On the other hand, those hearing the words of the truly wise man, Solomon, will have their feet firmly established in true wisdom. He said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7. Doubtless, the wise man had encountered a few fools in his day, but it is also obvious that he had listened well to his father, King David, who described those who deny their maker in favor of preposterous theories in these words, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…” Psalm 14:1. The practicality of truth over theory shines so brightly that those who turn from it really do give cause to wonder if they have not been educated beyond their intelligence!

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FIGURES OF SPEECH


HEBREW HONEYCOMB

William Andrew Dillard
IN FIGURES OF SPEECH

In every language known to mankind, there is no shortage of figures of speech that serve to color, emphasize, and deepen the points of thought being presented. The Bible, far from being an exception to this, is a repository of dozens of kinds, and multiple usages of practically all of them.
Unfortunately, many students of the Word have not been exposed to a survey of the Bible from a “figures of language” viewpoint. So, some chap will roar in negative reply that the Bible must always be interpreted literally. Really? So, the Bible says “All flesh is grass.” What grass is your flesh: Bermuda or Zoysia? Johnson grass or Centipede? Obviously, a figure of speech is in play. If it were to use “Like” or “as” it would be a simile, but since it omits those words and simply call one thing another it is a metaphor.
It is impossible for this article to be inclusive of all the figures of speech in the Bible. But a few are offered as an encouragement to recognize them, and to appreciate them for their rich enhancement to understanding the vivid points under consideration

Parable: a continued simile such as Matt. 13, the parable of the sower, etc.
Idiom: particular words or phrases such as “break bread” to indicate “eat a meal.”
Hyperbole: exaggeration. Of Saul and Jonathan, David said, “They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.” Again, David said, “Rivers of water run down mine eyes. . . “ Psalm 119:136.
Omission: words or meaning are purposefully left out, but the meaning of them are obvious. “For John came neither eating nor drinking.” Note Matt. 11:18. Obviously John had to eat and drink to live, but “declining invitations to eat with others” is the sense understood in the omission.
Allegory: a continued metaphor as Paul so wonderfully stated in Galatians 4:24.
Oxymoron: an apparent contradiction of word meanings as Wise-fool or as one might humorously say in modern times. “military intelligence.”
There are more, so many more that a course in Biblical Figures of Speech is offered in many liberal arts colleges, and theological schools. Figures of speech make ideas vivid, more understandable and memorable. After all, that is what language is supposed to do. So, far from weakening the inference of an implication, it strengthens it, and enhances the success of both speaker and hearer in sharing ideas. Surely, the author of language provided for our understanding these marvelous figures which fill His Word, and which He used in His mission on earth. Their presence enhances one’s love of the Word!

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UNDERSTANDING THE THEOLOGICAL POWER OF CONJUNCTIVES


HEBREW HONEYCOMB

William Andrew Dillard
UNDERSTANDING THE THEOLOGICAL POWER OF CONJUNCTIVES

There is great power in language conjunctives to transmit proper, cohesive thought. It is true in daily language usage, but greater in theology. Think!
To help assure continuity of thought, such conjunctives as “furthermore, and, additionally,” signifies continuing thought with previous statements. Words such as “therefore, subsequently, but, however, conversely” signal a change in thought pattern to a different or opposite effect.
Obviously, the use or misuse of these powerful unions of thought convey strong implications in both spoken and written form. Unfortunately, the translators of the English Bible choose to use what they thought was a neutral conjunctive “and” almost exclusively. But, it is not neutral. “And” being used to imply both continuous and diverse thoughts may confuse the reader, especially the unstudied one.
Genesis 1:1-2 is a case in point. Verse One denotes the Almighty, Triune, Creator creating (cutting out, forming, shaping in perfection ) both the heavens and the earth.
Verse two states, “And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” There is no mention of the heavens being in such chaotic state. Focus is shifted from the universal cosmos to the planet earth. The shift does not convey a continuation of the actions of verse one, but a different effect altogether. What a difference would be made if readers were reading “but” or however” that is contextually warranted instead of “and.” The context warranting such understanding does not reference the heavens being in such a chaotic state, but both were created instantly by the power of the Word of the Almighty. Yet it is the earth only that is portrayed as a chaotic mess of which God is not the author. It is simple: The perfect God never does an imperfect thing!
The prophet Isaiah underscored this fact. He wrote in 45:18 that the Creator did not create either the heavens or the earth in vain “tohu” the same Hebrew word used to describe the chaotic condition of the earth in Genesis 1:2. The method of creation is simply the Word of His mouth, and a sudden reality, as denoted in Isa. 48:3. In the ancient Hebrew language, there is a distinct difference between a consecutive conjunction and a simple conversive conjunction. Consecutive conjunctions are employed in all the verses of Genesis 1:3-31, but in Genesis 1:2 it is a simple conversive conjunction that is not to be understood as consecutive to verse one action.
While this theological explanation may not be fully appreciated by the average person, it is a vital part of the overall understanding that is to be derived from the pages of Holy Writ both here and in other places as well. In English, context demands the proper use of conjunctives.

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Incline


 

nātāh (1)

The Hebrew nātāh (H5186) appears 215 times in the OT and literally means “to extend, stretch out,” that is, extending something outward and toward, as one would extend his arm (Exo_7:5) or point a staff (Exo_7:19) or a spear (Jos_8:18). It is used also for stretching out, that is, pitching, a tent (Gen_12:8; Exo_33:7) and as the idiom for stretching out one’s hand against something in a hostile manner (Job_15:25).

This word is often used, however, in a figurative way, such as inclining or leaning toward something. As the psalmist Asaph writes, for example, we are to “incline [our] ears to the words of [God’s] mouth” (Psa_78:1). Of special note is Psa_119:36 : “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.” The godly believer is not inclined or reaching toward covetousness (“which is idolatry,” Col_3:5), not “[inclined] . . . to any evil thing, to practise wicked works” (Psa_141:4). Rather he or she is inclined toward God’s testimonies, that is, the solemn testimonies of His will, the serious expressions of His standards for human behavior.

This pictures the same truth that Paul declares in Php_3:13-14 : “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” In spite of being trained by our Lord Himself (implied in Gal_1:16-18) and thirty years of Christian growth and ministry, Paul says (in effect), “I haven’t arrived yet. I haven’t reached the prize. I don’t even fully comprehend the prize. I therefore continue to reach forth, to press toward, to pursue, to go after the prize of the knowledge of Christ.” “That I may know him,” was his driving motive (Gal_3:10).

Therefore, an essential part of a consistent Christian life is that we are always “reaching forth.” Sadly, many Christians, and even Christian leaders, get to a point in their lives where they become complacent and satisfied. They might say, “Well, I think I’m okay. I know the basic truths of Christianity, I know what I believe, and I love the Lord. That’s all I need.” Such an attitude shows we have already failed! If we are not always reaching, we begin to stagnate and even slide back.

Dear Christian Friend, are you always reaching?

Scriptures for Study: Read the following verses, noting what each encourages us to do: 1Ki_8:58; Psa_119:51; Psa_141:4; and Pro_2:2.

 

 

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Lie Down [and] Green (Pastures)


 

rāḇas [and] deshe’

A particularly pictorial phrase found in Psa_23:2, another provision from the Shepherd, is, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” The Hebrew verb behind lie down is rāḇas (H7257), which is equivalent to the Akkadian rabāsu, meaning “a stable” or possibly “a lying place.” Appearing about thirty times, the idea in the Hebrew is not so much a place to sleep, but rather a place to lie down to rest from exertion.

We see just such a pastoral scene in verses such as Gen_29:2, where Jacob comes to Haran and sees a “well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks.” While a much smaller scene, the picture of a bird’s nest is no less tranquil as we watch the mother “sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs” (Deu_22:6). But who would want to rouse a lion when it is resting (Gen_49:9)?

Perhaps most blessed of all is a scene Isaiah paints for us of the coming Millennium, when “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ [viper’s] den” (Isa_11:6-8). What a day that will be!

But what about the here and now? What are the green pastures (literally, “pastures of tender grass”) God provides today? (Green is deše’, H1877, “the tender first shoots of vegetation.”) No one answers that question better than the beloved Puritan Matthew Henry: “God’s ordinances are the green pastures in which food is provided for all believers; the word of life is the nourishment of the new man. It is milk for babes, pasture for sheep, never barren, never eaten bare, never parched, but always a green pasture for faith to feed in. God makes his saints to lie down; he gives them quiet and contentment in their own minds, what ever their lot is; their souls dwell at ease in him, and that makes every pasture green.”

Dear Christian Friend, are you resting there today?

Scriptures for Study: Compare Eze_34:13-15 with Joh_6:35 and Mat_11:28. What is the promise then and now?

 

 

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Want


 

chāsēr

David writes in Psa_23:1, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” After using God’s covenant name LORD and then picturing such a personal relationship by likening Him to a Shepherd, the first blessing David mentions receiving from his Shepherd is that he does not want for anything.

The Hebrew chāsēr (H2637) means “to be lacking or needy or to decrease.” The first two of its some twenty occurrences reflect that latter idea when the waters of the Flood “were abated” and “decreased” (Gen_8:3; Gen_8:5). The idea of lacking is apparent in the third occurrence when Abraham found a “lack” of righteous people in Sodom (Gen_18:28).

Our text, however, says that David did not lack for anything, that he was not needy, that there was no decrease of any necessary thing in his life. The most frequent use of chāsēr, in fact, is to show that God’s provision is sufficient to meet the needs of His people. As one might expect, we find this very word in the account of God feeding His people in the wilderness. God’s provision of manna was so miraculous that “he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating” (Exo_16:18).

That is, indeed, the Shepherd’s promise. If we follow Him, we will want for nothing. As Spurgeon writes, “I shall not lack for temporal things. Does he not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can he leave his children to starve? I shall not want for spirituals, I know that his grace will be sufficient for me. Resting in him he will say to me, ‘As thy day so shall thy strength be’ [Deu_33:25]. I may not possess all that I wish for, but ‘I shall not want.’”

Is there a prerequisite for such provision, or is it automatic no matter how one might live? As David makes clear elsewhere, “They that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing” (Psa_34:10; also Mat_6:25-34). In contrast, when God’s people turned to idol worship, “[They] wanted all things, and [were] consumed by the sword and by the famine” (Jer_44:18). While there are starving people in many places in the world, the problem is not a lack of resources, rather a wrong response to God, not a lack of food, rather a lack of faith.

Scriptures for Study: Read the following passages, noting the promise of God’s provision in each: Deu_8:3; Deu_8:9 (also Mat_4:4); Mat_6:25-34; Php_4:19. Is there ever a reason to doubt?

 

 

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David (2)


 

Dāwid

Of the many events in David’s life, few were as far-reaching as his adultery with Bathsheba. That act, along with his attempted cover-up, brought incalculable misery to David’s household, just as Nathan predicted (2Sa_12:10-11), starting with the death of the child conceived in that sin and then encompassing rape, rebellion, revenge, and revolt within his house (2Sa_12:15 to 2Sa_20:26).

Psalms 51, however, is a light in the darkness. While the consequences of sin were not diminished, this psalm records David’s confession and forgiveness. It stands even today as a model for Christians.

First, we see David’s repentance (Psa_51:1-6). “Acknowledge” (Psa_51:3) is yāḏa‘, which speaks of knowledge acquired by the senses. David uses personal pronouns thirteen times to underscore that only he was to blame for his sin, not Bathsheba, his parents, society, or even an aberrant gene in his DNA. His sin was willful (“transgressions” in Psa_51:1 is pesha‘, April 2), and was against God alone. Yes, he had betrayed and hurt his family, Bathsheba, Uriah, and the entire nation, but sin is always against God, the breaking of Hislaw. This passage emphasizes the broken heart brought on by sin, and the desire to turn from it and be forgiven.

Second, we see David’s refinement (Psa_51:7-12). He prayed that God would “purge [him] with hyssop” (Psa_51:7). Because of its stiff branches and hairy leaves, this common plant from the mint family was used for sprinkling purifying water (Lev_14:2-7; Lev_14:49-52; Num_19:1-19). David also prayed that God would “wash” him (Num_19:2; Num_19:7). The Hebrew kāḇas (H3526) commonly referred to washing clothes, both the ordinary task (Gen_49:11; 2Sa_19:24) and ritual cleansing (Exo_19:10; Exodus 14; Lev_11:25). Further, David wanted a “clean heart” (Lev_11:10). Clean is tāhôr (H2889), which speaks of the absence of impurity, filthiness, defilement, or imperfection, such as “pure gold” (Exo_37:11) or “pure words” (Psa_12:6). David did, indeed, want refinement, for only with such cleansing comes joy, “gladness,” and “[rejoicing]” (Psa_12:8).

Third, we see David’s restoration (Psa_51:13-19). Upon being delivered from sin, David now declares God’s salvation. He desires to proclaim to others what God will do in the repentant heart. As God recommissioned Peter for service (John 21), the restored believer is one who proclaims the gospel of Christ with new fervor.

Scriptures for Study: Read Psalms 32, where David tells of his joy after God forgave him. What does 1Jn_1:9 say about God’s forgiveness of His children?

 

 

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David (1)


 

Dāwiḏ

While no more inspired than any other Scripture, Psalms 23 is, indeed, one of its crown jewels. “Using common ancient near-eastern images,” writes one expositor, “David progressively unveils his personal relationship with the LORD.” David refers to the LORD as his Shepherd (Jehovah-Rā‘â,), and then in beautiful poetry speaks of what he receives from his Shepherd: protection (Psa_23:1-4), provision (Psa_23:5), and permanence (Psa_23:6).

Let us consider the nameDavid. While the etymology is uncertain, it is commonly believed that Dāwiḏ (H1732) is derived from the root dôḏ (H1730), meaning “beloved, loved one, and even uncle” (e.g., Lev_20:20). Most of its fifty-eight occurrences refer to “the beloved” in Song of Solomon. As David prefigures Messiah (Eze_34:23-24; Eze_37:24-25; Hos_3:5; Jer_30:9), who in turn was spoken of as the Father’s “beloved Son” (Mat_3:17), this etymology seems at least possible.

While there is much detail about this pivotal character—his name appears more than 1,000 times—we can briefly summarize David with seven words:

(1) Son. The youngest of eight brothers, David was the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, grandson of Ruth and Boaz, tracing his heritage back to Abraham and then forward to Messiah (Mat_1:1-17). Anointed secretly by Samuel as the next king (1Sa_16:1-13), this young man was infused with the Spirit and destined for true greatness. (2) Shepherd. Oh, the lessons he learned as a shepherd! Courage, compassion, care, and much more helped mold a leader. (3) Singer. A musician and poet without equal, David penned most of the Psalms, providing unprecedented praise to God. (4) Soldier. Facing Goliath in his youth and later entire armies, David was a true warrior who received his power from God. (5) Sovereign. In a forty-year reign (1010–970 BC), the Hebrew nation reached the peak of its unity and power under King David’s leadership. (6) Sinner. As no one is perfect, David fell into sin, the most grievous of which was adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. The consequences of sin are great, and untold misery came to David’s household. (7) Savior. Not David himself, of course, but the “Son of David,” Jesus Christ, who would save His people from their sins and sit on David’s throne.

Scriptures for Study:Read Psalms 51, David’s great psalm of repentance.

 

 

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HOPE


My good friend Pastor Jim Harris is Author of this explanation.

 

 

Jim Harris

·

“Looking for that happy, glad expectation, even the glorious appearance of the great God, even our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Titus 2:13 (Harris Translation)

 

There are certain words and certain constructions in the Greek text that should thrill our hearts. The word that is translated “hope” (here translated “expectation”) is one of them. The Greek word is “elpis” and refers to a glad expectation. It expresses the thought of the assurance of some future good. It is not “iffy,” as is often heard in our “wishful thinking,” “I hope it will be good weather today,” etc. We do not know for sure whether the weather will be good or not, but our desire is that it will be so. Instead, “elpis” expresses a certainty. We KNOW that Jesus is coming. We are assured of it. We just don’t know when it will take place. Also, there is a construction in the Greek that presents the word “and” essentially as an equal mark, showing the phrases on each side of it to be equal. That is expressed by the use of the word “even” in the above translation. Our glad expectation is the coming of Jesus, the Son, who is co-equal and co-eternal with God, the Father. “Evenso, Come, Lord Jesus.”

 

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