What is the trust which is commended here? To say that I trust in the name of the Lord when I am not facing any trouble allows me the appearance of faithfulness without the cost. There is no actual trust in such a situation.
At the other end, one who is in an solvable problem for which there is viable response, to say I trust the Lord means more I hope the Lord will act. There is some actual trust here, but it is a trust without other option. I trust in the Lord, because there is nothing else I can do.
There is a third situation where I could act, and in fact will act, but my trust is not in my own conduct but in God.
Then looking to the commentators:
4. Weak man cannot choose but have some confidence, without himself, in case of apparent difficulties; and natural men do look first to some earthly thing wherein they confide: some trust in chariots, and some in horses, some in one creature, some in another. 5. The believer must quit his confidence in these things, whether he have them, or want them, and must rely on what God hath promised in his word to do unto us: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
Dickson, David. A Brief Explication of the Psalms. John Dow; Waugh and Innes; R. Ogle; James Darling; Richard Baynes, 1834, p. 100.
Cassiodorus takes the passage in a very different way. He speaks of the sorts of triumphs one could enjoy with chariot and horse, then concludes:
But the psalmist leaves such things to worldly men, and maintains that he has been exalted in the Lord’s name. It is not chariots or the horse that exalt, though they are seen to glorify with distinctions in this world, but the Lord’s name which in the end leads to eternal rewards.
Cassiodorus. Cassiodorus: Explanation of the Psalms. Edited by Walter J. Burghardt and Thomas Comerford Lawler, Translated by P. G. Walsh, 51st ed., vol. I, Paulist Press, 1990, p. 207.
Some trust in chariots. I do not restrict this to the enemies of Israel, as is done by other interpreters. I am rather inclined to think that there is here a comparison between the people of God and all the rest of the world. We see how natural it is to almost all men to be the more courageous and confident the more they possess of riches, power, and military forces. The people of God, therefore, here protest that they do not place their hope, as is the usual way with men, in their military forces and warlike apparatus, but only in the aid of God. As the Holy Spirit here sets the assistance of God in opposition to human strength, it ought to be particularly noticed, that whenever our minds come to be occupied by carnal confidence, they fall at the same time into a forgetfulness of God. It is impossible for him, who promises himself victory by confiding in his own strength, to have his eyes turned towards God. The inspired writer, therefore, uses the word remember, to show, that when the saints betake themselves to God, they must cast off every thing which would hinder them from placing an exclusive trust in him
Calvin, John, and James Anderson. Commentary on the Book of Psalms. Logos Bible Software, 2010, p. 340.
LUTHER: God must help and advise; our plans and actions are otherwise of no value.—OSIANDER: Great, exalted titles do not make a king invincible, but God’s help, which is gained by the prayer of faith. The victory is a gift of God, and is not accomplished by great preparation or a great host
Lange, John Peter, et al. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Psalms. Logos Bible Software, 2008, p. 160.
A collect based on the Psalm:
Hear us, O LORD, we beseech Thee, in the day of trouble, and defend us from all evils, that risen, and standing upright, when our enemies are fallen, we may ever rejoice in Thee, our LORD and GOD.
Neale, J. M. A Commentary on the Psalms from Primitive and Mediæval Writers: Psalm 1 to Psalm 38. Second Edition, vol. 1, Joseph Masters; Pott and Amery, 1869, p. 269.
3:10 Concerning those persons who promote false teaching, Paul commanded that Titus “warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.” Paul described a false teacher as a “divisive person” (hairetikon). The terms heresy and heretic are derived from this Greek word. Although this adjective appears only here in the New Testament, the noun form hairesis refers to sects within Judaism (Acts 5:17; 15:5; 24:5, 14; 28:22) and factions or parties within the church (1 Cor 11:19). Paul even included “factions” as one of “the deeds of the flesh” (Gal 5:20). While Paul stood squarely against false teaching (1:13; 2:15), his use of the term “divisive” indicates the destructive nature of those promoting error among believers (cf. 1:11).
Lea, Thomas D., and Hayne P. Griffin. 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992, pp. 327–28.
Listen, give attention to. The paragogic H at end of the verb is explained as follows:
5. The imperative, in accordance with its other points of connexion with the imperfect in form and meaning, admits of a similar lengthening (by ־ ָה, Arab. imper. energicus, with the ending -ănnă or -ăn, in pause -ā) and shortening
Gesenius, Friedrich Wilhelm. Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar. Edited by E. Kautzsch and Sir Arthur Ernest Cowley, 2d English ed., Clarendon Press, 1910, p. 131.
An interesting observation about the verb:
(The original idea I consider to be that of sharpening, so that קָשַׁב is almost the same as קָצַב, German die Ohren fpißen, to prick up the ears, an expression taken from animals; see the remarks under אֹזֶן p. 26, B)
Gesenius, Wilhelm, and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles. Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, Logos Bible Software, 2003, p. 746.
To me (li) and answer me (ni).
1. LN 34.40–34.41 (qal) disassociate, formally, roam, be in a state of no longer being in an association, as a figurative extension of roaming or wandering about in linear motion (Jer 2:31; Hos 12:1[EB 11:12]+), see also domain LN 15; (hif) start to roam (Ge 27:40+); 2. LN 25.223–25.250 (hif) be troubled, formally, be caused to roam, i.e., have feelings of anxiety or distress as a figurative extension of being driven or caused to flee in linear motion (Ps 55:3[EB 2]+)
Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament), Electronic ed., Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997. This image is striking: The Psalmist has come into such pain as to be unable to stay still.
The NJV has “I am tossed about”.
In my pain
I think it is best to understand the Beth here as because of my pain. The pain keeps me from resting.
(iv) Cause—the so-called beth causa
וְשָׂמַחְתָּ בְכָל־הַטּוֹב אֲשֶׁר נָתַן־לְךָ
And you shall rejoice in (or: because of) all the good which the Lord your God has given to you (Deut. 26:11).
כִּי כַפֵּיכֶם נְגֹאֲלוּ בַדָּם
For your hands are defiled with blood (Isa. 59:3).
Van der Merwe, Christo, et al. A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar. Electronic ed., Sheffield Academic Press, 1999, p. 282.
We could take the “pain” as the agent: My pain is throwing me around.
Is an interesting word.
(2) to speak, pr. to utter with the mouth, comp. אָמַר No. 1. Followed by לְ to speak to any one, Job 12:8; with suff. Prov. 6:22, תְּשִׂיחֶךָ “he shall speak with thee.” Followed by בְּ to speak of any one, Ps. 69:13.
(3) to sing, Jud. 5:10; Ps. 145:5. Followed by בְּ to celebrate anything in song, Ps. 105:2, and in a bad sense, to lament, to complain, Psa. 55:18; Job 7:11.
(4) to talk with oneself, i.e. to meditate, especially on divine things, Ps. 77:4, 7; followed by בְּ of the thing, Ps. 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 148; 77:13. Compare syn. הָגָה.
PILEL שׂוֹחֵחַ to meditate, Psalm 143:5; to think upon anything, Isa. 53:8.
Gesenius, Wilhelm, and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles. Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, Logos Bible Software, 2003, pp. 788–89.
There is some kind of communication which has the effect or is expressive of pain. That is understood from the broader context of the Psalm.
This last verb makes the scene even more striking:
And I am/I have become, in a confusion, murmuring, distracted.
The combination ideas here are: I roam about, talking to myself, distracted, confused. This is describing someone in an extremely agitated state who cannot even think. I KJV has here, “I … make a noise”.
The Ar. according to Walton probably reads כי before אריד, and some such word seems to be wanting, as Mudge and others think, “when I mourn in my complaint; and am vexed.” Or as Green with Ch. “and cry aloud.” Who thinks also that a word has been dropped after אריד. See Isai. 15:3.
Dimock, H. Notes Critical and Explanatory on the Books of Psalms and Proverbs. J. F. and C. Rivington; J. and J. Fletcher; J. Hough; R. Raikes, 1791, p. 88.
2. Rend. “Attend unto me and answer me, [when] I am troubled in my meditation and moan aloud.” I am troubled, H. אריד ârîd, lit. “I am uneasy:” as in Gen. 27:40 the word is used of physical roaming, so here it is used of mental perturbation. The Arab. רוד radâ in Voice 1. means “to wander,” but in 4 (as in the subst. taraddud “mental disturbance,” “doubt”), the psychological use of the word is evident. In my meditation, the signf. “In my complaint” is quite allowable but not so appropriate: H. בשיחי b’sîchî, cf. 104:34, 105:2. שיח sîach (1) means both “Meditation,” and the putting of meditation into articulate words (cf. the verb in ver. 17), “Prayer,” “Complaint:” cf. the union of these two signff. in the Rt. הגה hâgâh. Fuerst’s attempt to connect the word with Germ. “sagen” is absurd. There is an Arab. word shaych = Pers. pîr, “an old man” or “teacher,” but whether this word is derived from shâcha (fut. i.) “was old,” or whether we are to regard this verb as a denominative, and to suppose the shaych to be so called because he is one who is used to meditation, is open to doubt. שיח sîach (2) means “a shrub” (e.g. Gen. 2:5), cf. the Syr. shucho, Arab. shaych, but these latter are doubtless from a different root. And moan aloud: here the H. אהימה âhîmâh Hiph. of הום hoom is equivalent to אֶהֱמֶה eh’meh ver. 17 .
Jennings, A. C., and W. H. Lowe. The Psalms, with Introductions and Critical Notes. Second Edition, vol. 1, Macmillan and Co., 1884, pp. 252–53.
Having argued that the word know in the phrase “knowing good and evil” could mean choose, Kuyper now returns to the Genesis to consider whether taking “know” (Hebrew ydh) as “choose” would make sense of the passage:
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”
Genesis 3:22 (ESV) Change the word “know” to “choose”, “man has become like one of us in choosing good and evil”. Kuyper contends that the understanding makes good sense of the passage. He asserts that it does and he bases that conclusion upon this contention, “The distinction between God as Creator and man as moral creature consists precisely therein, that God assesses and determines what is good and what is evil and that man must not do this but must accept it from God.”
Kuyper does not prove that point, but I think it can be derived from the remainder of Scripture, particularly Romans 1:18-3: we humans run absolutely independently of the law.
Here is the key issue: God alone has the right to determine what is good or evil. By taking upon himself the power to make that determination –I, Adam, will decide for myself what is good and evil—Adam rebels against the Creator-Creature distinction. Adam seeks to usurp a position which belongs to God alone.
He then develops this thesis throughout the narration between Adam’s creation to the Fall. Prior to the Serpent’s intrusion, Adam what was good. There was a correspondence between what God required of Adam as good and what was objectively good. I think at this point, Kuyper’s argument may have a wrinkle: If Adam was doing what was God commanded (which was good) because it was objectively good, doesn’t that mean that Adam was making a choice prior to the Fall.
I think the way to avoid Adam choosing the good does not result in an autonomous choice is that there was no countervailing pull. It seems to be sort of an attraction, it wasn’t a choice it was so “obvious” to Adam that it was not a choice. If I look at a ball and realize it is a ball, I’m not making a choice to decide that it is a ball: it just is; I can’t conceive of it otherwise. So, Adam is not really deciding to choose the good; he simply can’t conceive of it as anything other than good and attractive. It is no more a choice than my inability to conceive of the sun as anything other than the sun.
How then will God put Adam to the choice: Will you live by the evaluation of God alone as to what is good or evil? Merely telling Adam to do good would prove nothing more than telling Adam he must breath air and drink water. Therefore, God set a task which was not good or evil except for the fact that God commanded it. Eating from the Tree was wrong because God forbade Adam from eating from the Tree. This put Adam to a choice: Will I accept God’s evaluation of this Tree, or will I make my own?
Adam decided that he could determine what was good or evil. That power to make my own decision spread to all moral concerns.
This leaves human beings the conflict of having two laws, two judgments competing for our decision. Conscience is the struggle of the competition of judgment: our own judgment and God’s judgment seeking to establish a final judgment which leads to some action.
I elaborate this proposition a bit more to make plain that our evaluations are not baldly cognitive rational considerations but are messy and involve desire. The conflicting judgments are, in more Augustinian terms, conflicting loves.
He ends the chapter by introducing what is meant by you shall surely die. He distinguishes die from exist. A plant can cease to exist. Satan is not in the least alive, but unquestionably exists. Rational beings having come into existence cannot cease to exist. So death and existence are not the same.
This psalm begins the (hifil) imperative: Give ear, listen, hear me. The intensity of this opening can be seen by considering the passages where the words are not directed to God.
“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
Deuteronomy 32:1 (ESV)
5 Hear this, O priests!
Pay attention, O house of Israel!
Give ear, O house of the king!
For the judgment is for you;
for you have been a snare at Mizpah
and a net spread upon Tabor.
Hosea 5:1 (ESV)
It is a strong command. But with God as the one being addressed, it cannot be a command, so it must be the intensity of imploring his attention. I need something from God.
Next the one addressed, and what he wishes to be heard:
My prayer. In many of the cases, there seems to be a connotation of lament or supplication.
And do not wa ‘al
Hide yourself Hitpael titel‘allam
Psalm 10:1 (ESV)
10 Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
The hithpael of עלם, “conceal oneself,” has here the force of “ignore” or “withhold help” as in Deut 22:4, “You shall not see your brother’s ass or his ox fallen down by the way, and withhold your help from them [lit. “and hide yourself from them”].” See also Pss 10:1; Isa 58:7; Job 42:3; cf. Job 38:2.
Tate, Marvin E. Psalms 51–100. Word, Incorporated, 1998.
From (min) my pleading.
The word תְּחִנָּה: can mean “mercy” referring to something received from God. But when it is sought, the word is translated as pleading:
Aorist imperative: give ear to, listen to. The word “ear” is in the middle of this verb.
The Psalmist is directly addressing God, which would require a vocative, but the text gives us an articular nominative The + God. The vocative would be “Thee”. This matters because Hebrews 1:8, quoting Psalm 45:6-7 has the same constructive for God. Thus the nominative is used for the vocative when referring to God.
τὴν προσευχὴν μου my prayer. Prayer is accusative as the object of the verb.
καὶ μὴ ὑπερίδῃς
The and is coordinating a parallel (not subordinate) clause.
μὴ is used to negate a subjunctive: you do not overlook
τὴν δέησίν μου: my petition
δέησις, εως f: (derivative of δέομαι ‘to plead, to beg,’ 33.170) that which is asked with urgency based on presumed need—‘request, plea, prayer.
Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, Electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., vol. 1, United Bible Societies, 1996, p. 407.
[Distinctions between rûaḥ and nepeš: rûaḥ is the principle of man’s rational and immortal life, and possesses reason, will, and conscience. It imparts the divine image to man, and constitutes the animating dynamic which results in man’s nepeš as the subject of personal life. The distinctive personality of the individual inheres in his nepeš, the seat of his emotions and desires. rûaḥ is life-power, having the ground of its vitality in itself; the nepeš has a more subjective and conditioned life. The NT seems to make a clear and substantive distinction between pneuma (rûaḥ) and psychē (nepeš). G.L.A.]
Payne, J. Barton. “2131 רִיַח.” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, edited by R. Laird Harris et al., Electronic ed., Moody Press, 1999, p. 837.
’ish, man can mean a human being or a male as opposed to a female, a husband rather than a wife.
Contain, sustain, endure. The root idea is to hold, take hold of something. The spirit of a man can endure. Could we say “hold it together”/ “not fall apart”?
His (the man’s) sickness, infirmity
But a spirit broken/cross-references The HALOT gives all the uses: נָכֵא: נכא: cs. נְכֵא, fem. נְכֵאָה: defeated, רוּחַ נְכֵאָה Pr 15:13 17:22 18:14 (:: לֵב שָׂמֵחַ); נְכֵה־רוּחַ broken in spirit (Gesenius-K. §128x) Is 66:2, 1QIsa pl. נכאי (כאה, see Kutscher Lang. Is. 200), cj. Ps 109:16 נִכְאֵה לֵבָב rd. נְכֵא/ה var. †
Proverbs 15:13 (KJV) 13 A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. Proverbs 17:22 (KJV) 22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Isaiah 66:2 (KJV) 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. Psalm 109:16 (KJV) 16 Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.
Interesting thing as a tentative notice: A broken spirit is something which a human being cannot bear. But, it is simultaneously that which renders one to become a object of God’s mercy.
Who can bear/carry?
The spirit can bear infirmity. But an infirm spirit can bear nothing.
Van Gogh Old Man in Sorrow
The body can, as it were, fall back upon the support of the spirit, when it is distressed and weakened; but when the spirit itself is broken, grieved, wearied, debilitated, it has no resource, no higher faculty to which it can appeal, and it must succumb beneath the pressure. Here is a lesson, too, concerning the treatment of others. We should be more careful not to wound a brother’s spirit than we are to refrain from doing a bodily injury; the latter may be healed by medical applications; the former is more severe in its effects, and is often irremediable.
Spence-Jones, H. D. M., editor. Proverbs. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909, p. 350.
Verse 14 points out that one’s attitude, for good or ill, is the single most important factor in confronting adversity.
Garrett, Duane A. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993, p. 165.
STRENGTHEN YOUR SPIRIT (18:14)
That this proverb makes a true observation, few would doubt. “What can you do when the spirit is crushed?” (THE MESSAGE) “Short of outward resources, life is hard; short of inward, it is insupportable.”9 The purpose of 18:14, however, goes beyond mere observation to help the reader avoid a crushed spirit. God has designed the way of wisdom to bypass problems. The more we walk in this path, the less chance of having our spirits crushed. Broken hearts do happen, sometimes by our mistakes and sometimes through no fault of our own. Knowing this, God endowed others with the capacity to bring us joy (see 17:21–22; 12:25).
Lennox, Stephen J. Proverbs: A Bible Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition. Wesleyan Publishing House, 1998, p. 185.
It is unusual that the word “spirit” appears twice. In v 14a it stands for the strength and determination of a person that can deal with physical sickness. In v 14b it is a “crushed spirit” that is so far depressed and shaken that it simply destroys a person. The phrase “crushed spirit” occurs in 15:13 and 17:22, where the contrast is with a joyful heart. Here the contrast is with the normal drive for life that anyone would usually have in confronting illness or adversity; the situation may be difficult, but one can recover; cf. Prov 12:25. However, the effect of the rhetorical question in line b is to throw doubt on the possibility of recovery, when one’s courage fails.
Murphy, Rowland E. Proverbs. Thomas Nelson, 1998, p. 136.
Wouldst thou have a sound body; then see to it that thou hast a joyful heart and a good courage, a heart which is assured of the grace of God and well content with His fatherly ordaining.—[T. ADAMS (on ver. 14): The pain of the body is but the body of pain; the very soul of sorrow is the sorrow of the soul.—FLAVEL:—No poniards are so mortal as the wounds of conscience.—WATER-LAND:—On the misery of a dejected mind].
Lange, John Peter, et al. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Proverbs. Logos Bible Software, 2008, p. 169.
Bear up patiently (18:14). “The spirit of a person will sustain his infirmity.” Willpower and determination can counterbalance physical weakness and enable a person to win the day. On the other hand, “a broken spirit who can bear?” If the willpower is undermined, a person cannot endure. He must surely succumb and suffer defeat. In the first clause the term “spirit” is masculine, in the second feminine. The change of gender suggests that the manly quality of the inner person has become weakened through affliction. The implication is that believers should be as reticent to wound a brother’s spirit as they would be to injure his body. The latter may be healed by medical treatment; the former is more severe in its effects, and is sometimes irremediable.
Smith, James E. The Wisdom Literature and Psalms. College Press Pub. Co., 1996, p. 596.
A man’s spirit will endure sickness: TEV has interpreted spirit as “[your] will to live” and translates endure sickness as “can sustain you when you are sick.” In some languages if this model is followed, it will be necessary to say something like “desire to go on living” or “desire to stay alive.” But a broken spirit who can bear?: A broken spirit renders the same Hebrew expression translated by RSV in 17:22 as “a downcast spirit” meaning “discouragement” or “despair.” However, TEV makes spirit refer to the same “will to live” as in the first line: “but if you lose it.…” Bear renders a word meaning to carry a load. In this case the burden is the emotional one of despair. Stated as a question we may ask “Can anyone stand it?” “Who can bear up under it?” or “Who is able to carry on?” Since the question is rhetorical, it may also be put as a statement; for example, “No one can bear it.”
Reyburn, William David, and Euan McG. Fry. A Handbook on Proverbs. United Bible Societies, 2000, p. 389.
Yet there are bounds beyond which a man cannot go, without almost miraculous assistance. The spirit, like the body, may be borne down by a weight beyond its strength: and when the spirit, which ought to support a man under all his other trials, is itself broken, he must fall of course.
Now there are many things which inflict so deep a wound upon the spirit, as to destroy all its energy, and incapacitate it for its proper office: and that we may provide an antidote against them, and afford some consolation under them, we will,
Simeon, Charles. Horae Homileticae: Proverbs to Isaiah XXVI. Holdsworth and Ball, 1833, p. 193.
Simeon lists 4: Nervous disorders, bodily ailments. By great and long-continued afflictions By guilt upon the conscience By violent temptations/trials By spiritual desertion
He then lists three remedies:
There is no affliction which is not sent by God for our good— [Afflictions, of whatever kind they be, “spring not out of the ground:” they are all appointed by God, in number, weight, and measure, and duration
Our afflictions, of whatever kind they be, will endure but a little time
Simeon, Charles. Horae Homileticae: Proverbs to Isaiah XXVI. Holdsworth and Ball, 1833, p. 196.
There is in Christ a full sufficiency for every wound
The Lord Jesus “will not break a bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax, but will bring forth judgment unto victory;” and, if we confide in him, “our heaviness may indeed continue for a night, but joy shall come in the morning.”]
Simeon, Charles. Horae Homileticae: Proverbs to Isaiah XXVI. Holdsworth and Ball, 1833, p. 197.
Cross References: See broken spirit HALOT, above.
There are a few ways to take this spirit:
Body vs. soul/spirit. The spirit can hold up a broken body. But a broken spirit leaves no remedy.
As a matter of self-control/self-will/courage. Sort of a stoic, Kipling’s If If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
As just an observation: If your crushed in spirit, you cannot survive
As pointing to something beyond the immediate verse.
a. First look at the cross-references b. Second consider the issue of overwhelming grief and trial generally (as Simeon does. He may have gotten here from cross-references, but if so, he doesn’t show his work). c. What do we find? i. The unusual phrase broken spirit is used three times in Proverbs as something one cannot bear. ii. But it is used twice outside of Proverbs as a predicate for the mercy of God. If take the phrase more broadly to include smashed/shattered we get these verse: Psalm 51:17 (KJV) 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Isaiah 61:1 (KJV) 1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; Psalm 34:19 (KJV) 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. Psalm 147:3 (KJV) 3 He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. iii. A very clear pattern is seen: There is a brokenness which overcomes a human being, a degree of suffering which shatters one heart/spirit. It cannot be overcome But, this very same irremediable trouble is something which makes one the peculiar object of God’s mercy and grace.
iv. This when thought of more broadly opens up to those passages a. Rom. 5:1-5
Romans 5:1–5 (KJV) 1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
b. James 1:2-3 James 1:2–3 (KJV) 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
Conclusion: We could look at weakness as something to avoid at all costs. Our weakness is something we cannot bear. We then look at God’s help as something which rescues us and puts back on our own feet. But that is not what the texts when taken together tell us. If gaining God is a good which we should seek, then weakness is not an evil but a good for us. We glory in our weakness because our weakness makes us dependent upon God.
Another conclusion: When come to speak with, to counsel and encourage another who is broken in spirit, we should realize they actually cannot bear the trouble they face. They are weak, and that is not bad. An attitude of, “Why don’t you trust Jesus, buck-up” is cruel and harmful. If we are coming in the Spirit of Christ, we should come with the attitude, that you cannot bear this burden and you should not expect that you can. While this is exceptionally painful, it is not bad. This is for your good. God uses this to conform you to the image of the Son:
Romans 8:28–30 (KJV) 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
There is no other way to this end without the benefit of being crushed so that what we now have will give way to what He will give.
We are hardwired to search out the good. History proves that. History also proves we seem to have no idea what the “good” might be.
We disagree with one another as to what the good might be. Our self today disagrees with our former self about the identity of the good. We form governments which seek impose a vision of the common good upon us all.
We even war about the good. The Romans were quite certain the good entailed Romans ruling over everyone in the world. Everyone in the world was not always in agreement. The German tribes were certain they should rule the Romans. And so lifetimes were spent brawling over the nature of the good, as each sought to kill the other in the name of the good.
The giants of human thought provided us their insight into the good. Aristotle began his treatise ethics with the observation: “Every art and every investigation, and likewise every practical pursuit or undertaking, seems to aim at some good: hence it has been well said that the Good is That at which all things aim.” (Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Edited by Jeffrey Henderson, Translated by H. Rackham, Revised edition, vol. XIX, Harvard University Press, 1934, p. 3.) All things aim at the good.
He then must spend page upon page seeking to ascertain the good that everything is trying to achieve. One would think that if anyone could solve that problem for everyone at all times, then it would be someone like Aristotle. But not even Aristotle (nor any philosopher since) was able to provide an answer for which everyone could say, “Yes, that is the good.”
We are like children sent out into the world with a compulsion to come home with the good, while having no idea what the good actually is. We must have it, but we can’t identify it.
What a strange thing the “good” must be. We must have it. We can’t identify it, however we try. We cannot live without it. It is a matter of life and death. We will kill to have it, and kill to make others see it our way. It something upon which we cannot agree. The desire is common to all human beings always. The solution is not.
The good is like a Blackhole. A massive, invisible beast which directs the actions of all things about it, and yet itself is never seen.
When we come to Romans 8:38, we just as lost. Perhaps the most common misuse is to tell some who has just lost her job, “all things for good. You’ll get a better job.” But she does not get a better job. Instead, she gets cancer. So she concludes the promise was a lie.
Our trouble comes with that slippery word “good.”
One reason we cannot find the good is that we define the good in a circle. I want the good. What I wants is good. Therefore, whatever I want is good. It is good because I want it.
Such thinking would not have trapped Aristotle. But even Aristotle could not reason his way to “good.” While he could not think about the “good” without knowing something of the desire for the good; he could not find the good.
The reason even Aristotle has failed is that the good is not here. It is not apart of this age, this world. The good is so elusive, because the good is further away from us than even the furthest star. One could travel – if one could live long enough – to the furthest star. But no one could travel to the good.
The good belongs to who and what we are. We were made for a very different place. We were created for Eden’s Garden and direct fellowship with God. We were created in God’s image, to re-present that God in this creation. But we now live in a world under a curse. Augustine famously said we are looking for a happy life in the land of death. The good is not here.
What a sad thing to be a human being, possessed of an unquenched desire for that we can never obtain.
If that is so, then how can Paul promise the good? Because a way to the truest good, the most profound god, the end for which we are created is opened upon here. To use the sloppy tropes of science fiction, a portal to another dimension has been opened.
The good is that we will be made fit for the world to come. The perishable cannot inherit the imperishable. (1 Cor. 15:50) We must be made fit to receive that inheritance. We must be change to reflect and display that image for which we were created. And so, the good is that we would be conformed to the image of the Son of God, of Christ himself. Rom. 8:29
The good is not something from this world or of value in this world. The good is to be made fit and to be put to use for something different.
The good is be given a new identity, to be conformed to the image of our Creator. (Col. 3:10) That let us make man in our own image purpose of Genesis 1:26-17, is being renewed. To be conformed to Christ is our good.
We long for this good, because this good fulfills the reason we are. Stamped upon every human being is the desire for this good, the greatest of all goods: to reflect the image of God.
And if that is so, it is no wonder our life is marked with such trouble. How then can be conformed, if to be conformed is good?
The previous post on Kuyper’s Common Grace, volume 1 may be found here.
Now on to the first question of chapter
Genesis 3:22 (ESV)
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”
What then is meant by the statement that the tree from which Adam and Eve were not to eat was the tree of the “Knowledge of Good and Evil.” The obvious answer, at least when we consider the frequency with which it is raised, is that the knowledge is the knowledge of experience. How could Adam and Eve “know” evil without being evil? I could know about arson or embezzlement or any number of crimes, without knowing what is like to commit such crimes. And perhaps the experience of evil would give me a different knowledge of the “good.”
Kuyper says that the held this position until he faced two objections with the explanation could not meet. Before we come to the objections, I would like to stop at Kuyper’s epistemic modesty, “it is fitting that one not begin by rejecting the work of one’s predecessors but by associating oneself with it.” Abraham Kuyper, Common Grace: God’s Gifts for a Fallen World: The Historical Section, ed. Jordan J. Ballor, Melvin Flikkema, and Stephen J. Grabill, trans. Nelson D. Kloosterman and Ed M. van der Maas, vol. 1, Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press; Acton Institute, 2015), 236.
What then are the objections. The first derives from the word of God respecting the effect of Adam and Eve eating from the tree, “they have become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” God cannot have experiential knowledge of evil, therefore, the comparison does not work. Thus, the knowledge cannot mean “experiential” knowledge.
The second objection is that sinning gives us no experience of “good.” But I believe that objection can be met by merely stating experiential knowledge of evil throws experiential knowledge of good (which Adam did have prior to eating) into relief and thus one gains a sort of experience of good with could not be had before.
Kuyper suggests that the knowledge here refers to not the experience of the thing but the choice:
4 Let us choose what is right;
let us know among ourselves what is good.
Job 34:4 (ESV) In this passage, choose is parallel to know, as right is parallel to good. He gives as an example, “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” Genesis 18:19 (ESV) The ESV does the work for Kuyper, because the word translated “chosen,” “For I have chosen him” is the word ydh: the verb commonly translated as “to know.” The KJV (for instance) has “For I know him.”
This at least makes the argument plausible: that we should understand ydh (commonly translated “to know”) as to choose. The next test is whether that translation makes sense of Gen. 3:22
Kuyper further clarifies this use of “know” for “choose”: I know a thing, I evaluate, I then choose. Does that make sense of Gen. 3:22? Yes, the human being – rather than accept the valuation of God as to good and evil – has appropriate this power to himself.
Thus, the probation of Adam was, Will you allow God to make the determination of what is good or evil? Will commit moral valuation to me, or will you seek to make this determination yourself.
The tree thus provokes conscience, because conscience can only have play if there is a potential conflict between moral choices.
This leads to an understanding of human psychology. First, there is the evaluation. The evaluation of a thing as good or bad then brings the will to act based upon that judgment. However, that determination is subject to a further judgment of God. Conscience rightly working concurs with God on the moral valuation of a behavior, “Conscience is a conflict between two judgments: the judgment of man himself and that of God.” (242)
Such a determination corresponds well to the use of similar language by Paul:
Romans 1:28 (ESV)
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
The first verb in that sentence, “see fit” comes from a verb which means to test and approve [dokimazo]
δοκιμάζωc: to regard something as genuine or worthy on the basis of testing—‘to judge to be genuine, to judge as good, to approve.’ μακάριος ὁ μὴ κρίνων ἑαυτὸν ἐν ᾧ δοκιμάζει ‘happy is the man who doesn’t cause himself to be condemned by what he judges to be good’ Ro 14:22; καθὼς οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν τὸν θεὸν ἔχειν ἐν ἐπιγνώσει ‘since they did not approve of retaining the knowledge of God’ or ‘… of acknowledging God’ Ro 1:28. For another interpretation of δοκιμάζω in Ro 1:28, see 30.98.
The word translated as “debased” mind means “not” tested or approved. If you will not evaluate God correctly, you will be evaluated as condemned. By not accepting God’s evaluation of good and evil, we become evaluated as evil (or we have a mind that cannot properly evaluate). This is then matched by Romans 12:1-2
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1–2 (ESV). Notice verse 2, you will be given the Spirit and thus in this transformation will begin to be able to test things to discern (by testing discern is the same verb dokimazo as used in Romans 1:28.
By eating the of the tree, Adam rejected God’s evaluation and was cast from the Garden. Romans 1:28 explains that having rejected God’s evaluation we are evaluated as debased (or we are unable to judge) and only in renewal of our mind can we begin to regain a right evaluation (by following God’s valuation).
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.
But flesh complains. What right for this? Let’s know
For right or wrong, I can’t appear unto’t.
And shall a sentence pass on such a suit?
How can I appear before the tribunal of God? How even do angels appear before God? This first question is a bit obscure, but I believe it an allusion to a question from Job. And that allusion provides an opening to understand this stanza.
The story of Job concerns the Accuser (“the satan”) appearing before God. He twice challenges God concerning Job saying that Job only obeys because God is good to Job. God permits the accuser to strip Job of his children, his wealth, his physical well-being. Job’s friends appear to comfort Job and tell him: You are being punished because you have sinned. You need to repent.
I have heard in a series of lectures that Job’s friends take on the position of the accuser against Job. Part of the evidence come Job 4, where the first friend Eliphaz claims to have heard a mysterious spirit tell him that God finds no one right:
Job 4:12–21 (AV)
12 Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof. 13 In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, 14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. 15 Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up: 16 It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, 17 Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? 18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: 19 How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth? 20 They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for ever without any regarding it. 21 Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they die, even without wisdom.
The argument goes: God does not find even the elect angels pure before his eyes – which us, who are made of dust? The stanza alludes to this question: It is not as depressing as Job, the poet merely asks, What is the judgment of God on the angels (Eliphaz says God condemns the angels, which goes beyond the evidence). And if God judges the angels, what about someone like me whose actions are not all virtues: some of my acts are good, some bad.
This then leads to the development of Taylor’s thought:
But flesh complains. What right for this? Let’s know
For right or wrong, I can’t appear unto’t.
And shall a sentence pass on such a suit?
Stated vernacularly: “how is this fair?” How can God judge when: I’m flesh, what I am I to do? This also is Job’s question in response to the condemnation of his friends:
Job 9:1–12 (AV)
1 Then Job answered and said, 2 I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? 3 If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand. 4 He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? 5 Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. 6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. 7 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. 8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. 9 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. 10 Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. 11 Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not. 12 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
What we have in this stanza is an abbreviation of Job’s quandary: Who can stand before God’s judgment? And if that is so, then what can I do? Taylor does not go as far as Job’s friends, but he does see the ultimate judgment which is coming and asks, how will I survive this judgment?
As Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress says to Evangelist:
He answered, “Sir, I perceive, by the book in my hand, that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment, Heb. 9:27; and I find that I am not willing to do the first, Job 16:21, 22, nor able to do the second.” Ezek. 22:14.