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: By the Waters of Babylon

Worship. It is what the church does as we strive to honor God with our lips and our lives. And then, many churches argue about worship. I have about a half-dozen books on my shelf about worship, but adding Scott Aniol’s By the Waters of Babylon to the shelf has been excellent.

First of all, Aniol’s work is not based on solving a musical debate. While that branch of worship is often the most troublesome in the local church, By the Waters of Babylon takes a broader view. The starting point is the place of the church. That place is a parallel of Psalm 137, where the people of God, Israel, found themselves in a strange land. The people of God, again, find themselves in a strange land.
Second, in summary, the book works logically to the text of Scripture, primarily Psalm 137 but well-filled with other passages. Then it works outward from how the text addresses the problems submitted in the first chapter into how worship, specifically corporate worship, should look in the 21st century Weste…

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…

Sermon Recap for October 14

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here: video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: are stockpiled here:!