Skip to main content

March 2014: Proverbs 3 by Doug

Proverbs 3:3 is one you would do well to read in multiple translations. Let’s look at why by comparing the opening line in the verse. No matter what you look at, you find an imperative here. Do not let (or allow) two characteristics to get away from you. What are they?

First, the NASB, which is my starting point: kindness and truth. Not bad. Let’s look further at the ESV: steadfast love and faithfulness. That’s a little different, true? How about NLT’s loyalty and kindness? Given that that the NLT isn’t a word-order stickler, it’s possible that they’ve just shifted NASB’s kindness to the second position, or they’ve translated both words differently.

The NIV uses love and faithfulness, and the KJV uses mercy and truth. If you use the HCSB, you’ll find loyalty and faithfulness. For my nerdfolk, the Latin uses misericordia et veritas, (generally mercy and truth) and the Greek elehmosunai and pisteis (pity/mercy and faith/trustworthiness).

You might be seeing the problem here, but I’ll spell it out. The Hebrew words underlying the translations address virtues, but the terms do not come clearly through into English. This is not uncommon—after all, we bind up many concepts in the same word (unless you love a sports team, a food, your spouse, and God in the same manner) as well. Let’s peel this back a touch:

The Hebrew words underneath the couplet are transliterated (made into English letter combos) as chesed (”c” optional) and emet. To see what Solomon is commending and commanding, we should look at these.

First is chesed (some leave off the c, but I first learned it with the c): This is a word that typically refers to loyalty among family when referring to human relationships. It is used of the relationship between Jacob and Joseph at Jacob’s death. It’s not just an obligatory loyalty, but one built on relationship.

Chesed is also used of the relationship of God to His people in the Old Testament. It’s word about more than feeling devoid of action, and more than action devoid of feeling.

Not allowing chesed to to leave you is to not forsake your committed love and loyalty for the people in your life. This is about standing firm in your relationships, about honoring your commitments. There is also a hinting here not to push it out of the people around you: you can drain by abuse the loving loyalty of the people around you. You can drive them to not have it for others. That’s sinful—and unwise to boot.

Then there’s emet. Emet is about trustworthiness, faithfulness. The main Hebrew Lexicon (HALOT) on my Logos suggests that constancy is also at work here. Emet is reliability put to work. There is less emotion bound up in the idea (generally), but it’s the stability here to follow through when the emotions go floppy.

Emet may not stir your heart, but it keeps you where you belong until your heart stirs again. I am seeing this as a good pairing: there are times we feel like doing what we should, and times we don’t. Chesed and emet (there’s a vav there to connect the two instead “and.” Sue me, Hebrew scholars) keep us on track no matter how we feel.

And emet remains a value that we celebrate today. That constancy, that willingness to keep going even if things are not as awesome as we would like. How do I know? The hero of the hit film, The Lego Movie?

His name’s Emmet.


Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Curiosity and the Faithlife Study Bible

Good morning! Today I want to take a look at the NIV Faithlife Study Bible. Rather than spend the whole post on this particular Study Bible, I’m going to hit a couple of highlights and then draw you through a few questions that I think this format helps with.

First, the basics of the NIV Faithlife Study Bible (NIVFSB, please): the translation is the 2011 New International Version from Biblica. I’m not the biggest fan of that translation, but that’s for another day. It is a translation rather than a paraphrase, which is important for studying the Bible. Next, the NIVFSB is printed in color. Why does that matter? This version developed with Logos Bible Software’s technology and much of the “study” matter is transitioning from screen to typeface. The graphics, maps, timelines, and more work best with color. Finally, you’ve got the typical “below-the-line” running notes on the text. Most of these are explanations of context or highlights of parallels, drawing out the facts that we miss by …

Foolishness: 1 Corinthians 1

In Summary: 1 Corinthians opens with the standard greeting of a letter from the Apostle Paul. He tells who he is with (Sosthenes) and who he is writing to. In this case, that is the “church of God that is in Corinth.” He further specifies that this church is made up of those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints. 
He then expresses the blessing/greeting of “grace and peace” from God. From there, Paul reflects on his initial involvement with the Corinthian people and the beginning of the church. After that, though, there are problems to deal with and Paul is not hesitant to address them. He begins by addressing the division within the church. Apparently, the church had split into factions, some of which were drawn to various personalities who had led the church in times past. There is no firm evidence, or even a suggestion, that Paul, Cephas, Apollos, or anyone else had asked for a faction in their name. Further, the “I follow Christ” faction may not have been any le…