Abraham Kuyper, Common Grace, Genesis 3, glory, honor, shame
This chapter raises two issues, first the serpent. Kuyper takes it that Eve was surprised to hear from the Serpent. This is a disordering of nature: humans speak to and about animals, but speech moves in only one way. She should have or must have realized this was some alien power. In Genesis 2:15, God instructed Adam to “keep” the Garden. That would infer that something dangerous was about.
The verb sh-m-r, to keep, does mean (in appropriate places) an action to protect or preserve. For instance, in 1 Samuel 25:12, David speaks of “guarding” Nabal’s property. As Wenham explains, “Similarly, שׁמר “to guard, to keep” has the simple profane sense of “guard” (4:9; 30:31), but it is even more commonly used in legal texts of observing religious commands and duties (17:9; Lev 18:5) and particularly of the Levitical responsibility for guarding the tabernacle from intruders (Num 1:53; 3:7–8). Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 67.
This leads to the question, “Guard against what?” It does seem odd, at first glance, to see a command to “protect” when all is very good Adam is in Paradise. Thus, Kuyper is correct to see the implied danger in the command “to keep.” Kuyper thinks she must have known of
When a beast appears disrupting the natural order, he should have been recognized immediately as the danger previously warned against. Kuyper asserts Eve did know this was the alien power.
The second issue addressed in this chapter is the counter-factual: What if they had withstood the test? They would have known God better as their king and law giver. Their sin did open up a world of knowledge to them. It was an actual form of knowledge, because God sought to bar them from the Garden by armed Cheribum.
Adam and Eve were deluded in what they obtained: they did not actually raise to the preeminence of determining right and wrong in an absolute sense; merely in a rebellious manner refusing to accept God’s pronouncement. This disruption of the proper relationship with God has left us poor humans with a bad conscience. He refers to that status as a “holy sensation to feel shame.”
We are thus left with shame were there was once honor. It perhaps useful to note at this place that we are promise “honor” at the return of Christ (1 Peter 1:7) and we destined for “glory”. (Rom. 8:30) Such honor and glory will then replace all shame which we now experience.