What are the stones mentioned in Isaiah 54:11?

What are the stones mentioned in Isaiah 54:11?                                               by Jack Kettler

“O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.” (Isaiah 54:11 KJV)

What are the “stones” mentioned in this passage?

Does the symbolism in this passage look forward to Heavenly New Jerusalem?

Nine parallel translations

New International Version

“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. (Underlining emphasis mine)

English Standard Version

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires.

New King James Version

“O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires.

New American Standard Bible

“Afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, And I will lay your foundations with sapphires.

NASB 1995

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires.

NASB 1977

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.

Amplified Bible

“O you afflicted [city], storm-tossed, and not comforted, listen carefully, I will set your [precious] stones in mortar, and lay your foundations with sapphires.

Christian Standard Bible

“Poor Jerusalem, storm-tossed, and not comforted, I will set your stones in black mortar, and lay your foundations in lapis lazuli.

American Standard Version

O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will set thy stones in fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

In five of the nine parallel passages, the word antimony is use. What is antimony? First, the Strong’s Lexicon will be consulted to gain an understanding of the Hebrew word for stones.

Strong’s Lexicon:

“your stones

אֲבָנַ֔יִךְ (’ă·ḇā·na·yiḵ)

Noun – feminine plural construct | second person feminine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 68: 1) stone (large or small) 1a) common stone (in natural state) 1b) stone, as material 1b1) of tablets 1b2) marble, hewn stones 1c) precious stones, stones of fire 1d) stones containing metal (ore), tool for work or weapon 1e) weight 1f) plummet (stones of destruction) also made of metal 1g) stone like objects, eg hailstones, stony heart, ice 1h) sacred object, as memorial Samuel set up to mark where God helped Israel to defeat the Philistines 1i) (simile) 1i1) sinking in water, motionlessness 1i2) strength, firmness, solidity 1i3) commonness 1j) (metaph) 1j1) petrified with terror 1j2) perverse, hard heart”

From the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia on the word Stones:


ston, stonz:

1. Hebrew and Greek Words:

(1) Chiefly ‘ebhen, and lithos; but also, occurring rarely, ‘eshekh (Leviticus 21:20); tsur (Job 22:24), usually “rock”; tseror (2 Samuel 17:13); petros (John 1:42); psephos (Revelation 2:17). For cela`, usually “cliff,” “crag,” “rock,” the King James Version, in Psalms 137:9; 141:6, has “stone,” but the Revised Version (British and American) “rock.” For the King James Version “stones,” cheres (Job 41:30), the Revised Version (British and American) has “potsherds.”


2. Literal Usage:

The word is used of great stones (Genesis 29:2); of small stones (1 Samuel 17:40); of stones set up as memorials (1 Samuel 7:12, “Eben-ezer,” “stone of help”); of precious stones (Exodus 35:9, etc.); of hailstones (Joshua 10:11).

3. Figurative Usage:

Of hardness:

“I will take the stony heart out of their flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19); of one smitten: “(Nabal’s) heart died within him, and became as a stone” (1 Samuel 25:37); of weight: “A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty” (Proverbs 27:3); of dumbness: “Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise!” (Habakkuk 2:19); of Jerusalem: “I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all the peoples” (Zechariah 12:3); of the corner-stone as a figure of high position:

“The stone which the builders rejected, is become the head of the corner” (Psalms 118:22).


(2) Used also anatomically of the testicles (Leviticus 21:20; Deuteronomy 23:1; Job 40:17, pachadh, the Revised Version (British and American) “thighs”).” Alfred Ely Day (1)

Under point number 3, the figurative usage of stones best applies to the Isaiah 54:11.

Now for an understanding of antimony.

Holman Bible Dictionary for Antimony:

“(uhn’ tih moh nih) A silvery-white, brittle, metalic chemical element of crystalline structure, found only in combination. It is used in alloys with other metals to harden them and increase their resistance to chemical actions. Compounds of antimony are used in medicines, pigments, matches, and fireproofing. In the NRSV and the NAS antimony is used as a translation of the Hebrew terms abne-puk to describe the materials used to build the Temple (1 Chronicles 29:2; see Isaiah 54:11; NIV has turquoise; REB and TEV stones for mosaic work; KJV, glistering stones and stones with fair colors, respectively). It is likely that abne-puk refers to some sort of cement or mortar used in the creation of mosaics, which it is suggested, would make precious stones appear larger and more colorful. In two other passages (2 Kings 9:30; Jeremiah 4:30), puk is consistently translated as eye paint. One of Job’s daughters was named Keren-hapuk—that is, “horn of eye paint” (Job 42:14).” (2)

It can be gleaned from the Isaiah passage that antimony is a special type of black mortar that has a striking appearance. This is because the antinomy or mortar secured the stones in place.

Is there a spiritual or figurative sense of how to understand the significance of the stones?

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges captures several points of the Isaiah passage well:

“11, 12. The outward splendour of the new Jerusalem described in highly figurative language; comp. Tob 13:16-17; Revelation 21:18-21.

I will lay thy stones with fair colours] lit. in antimony (R.V. marg.). Antimony (pûkh) was used by Oriental females as an eye-powder to blacken the edges of the eyelids and enhance the lustre of the eyes (2 Kings 9:30; Jeremiah 4:30; comp. the name of Job’s third daughter, Keren-hap-pukh, ‘horn of eye-powder,’ Job 42:14. see further Lane, Manners and Customs, &c. ed. 1890, pp. 29 ff.). In the figure the antimony would represent the costly mortar used to set off the brilliancy of the still more costly stones. The ἄνθρακα of the LXX. seems to stand for נפך (instead of פוך), a kind of precious stone; see Exodus 28:18 &c. In 1 Chronicles 29:2, where we read of “stones of pûkh” (R.V. “stones for inlaid work”) prepared for the Temple, the idea must be different; but whether that passage has any connexion with the present image is doubtful.

I will lay thy foundations (lit. “I will be found thee”) with sapphires] Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:26.” (3)

In closing:

The following entry will look at the spiritual meaning of the stones and what they foreshadowed.

From J. C. Philpot‘s Daily Portions:

“July 11

“Behold, I will lay your stones with fair colors.” Isaiah 54:11

By these “stones,” which the Lord has promised to “lay with fair colors,” I think we may understand the blessed truths of the gospel which are laid into the soul by the hand of God. The fair colors are deeply ingrained and embedded in the very substance of the stone, not artificially laid on. They are like beautiful marbles, in which every bright hue and vein penetrate into the deepest substance of the material. Such are the truths of God, beautiful throughout, penetrated with grace and glory into their inmost depths.

But these colors are hidden from view until brought out and laid into the soul by the hand of God. However fair or beautiful any word of God be in itself, it only experimentally becomes so as inlaid by his own divine hand into the soul. This brings out the fair colors. How often we read the word of God without seeing the least beauty in it! But let the very same portion come home with sweetness and power to the soul, then beauty, inexpressible beauty, is seen in it immediately; it becomes “a stone of fair colors.” Salvation full and free, the pardoning love of God, the precious blood of the Lamb, justification by Christ’s imputed righteousness, “wine and milk without money and without price,” super-abounding grace, eternal mercy, everlasting life–these are some of the precious stones with fair colors which God the Spirit with his own hand lays into the conscience.”

“July 12

“I will lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

Before we can stand firmly in the things of God we must have a good foundation, something solid for our faith, our hope, our love, our all, to rest upon. This God promises to lay for his afflicted Zion–“I will lay your foundations with sapphires.” “A gift,” we read, “is a precious stone in the eyes of him that has it.” Every testimony, then, that God gives to the soul, every promise brought into the heart, every manifestation of mercy, every visit of love, or application of truth, we may call, in a spiritual sense, a sapphire; for it is indeed a precious stone, radiant with heaven’s own hue. When God thus lays his sapphires in the soul, they afford a solid foundation for faith. And as they are laid by the hand of God himself, they must be firm; as they are sapphires, they must be indestructible.

These sapphires, it is true, may every one of them be buried in the dust of carnality and worldly-mindedness; the filth and sewage, the mud and slush, of our fallen nature may roll over them flood after flood. But are they injured thereby? is their nature changed, their value impaired, their hue tarnished, their luster faded and gone? They may be hidden from view, their setting be obscured, and their faces for a while be dimmed, but one ray from the Sun of righteousness will bring them again to light; one touch of the Polisher’s hand will restore all their beauty. Grace has no more communion with sin than a diamond with an ash-heap.” (4)

The Puritan John Gill’s entry is similar to Philpot’s. Gill predated Philpot by approximately 100 years.

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible:

“O thou afflicted, tossed with tempests, and not comforted, … Or, “O thou poor” (s) church; for the first Christian churches chiefly consisted of poor persons, not many mighty and noble being called; and which were greatly “afflicted” with false teachers, who broached errors and heresies, and made schisms among them; and “tossed with tempests” like a ship at sea; or “stormed” (t) with the rage and fury of violent persecutors, such as the Roman emperors were; and not “comforted”, having none to administer any external comfort or relief to them; none of the kings or princes of the earth, or any civil magistrate to protect and defend them; what comfort they had was internal and spiritual; what they had from Christ and his Spirit, and by the word and ordinances; or rather this may describe the state of the church under Papal tyranny and persecution, which brings it nearer to the times of peace and prosperity after promised:

behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours; or, “with paint” (u); such as women used to paint their faces or eyes with, 2 Kings 9:30. The Targum is,

“behold, I will lay with paint the stones of thy pavement;”’

and the words seem plainly to design the stones of a pavement, and perhaps by an hypallage or transposition may be rendered,

I will lay thy pavement with glistering stones; so the word is translated 1 Chronicles 29:2 or, “with stones of paint” (w); which are of the colour of the “stibium”, or paint before mentioned, and which was of a black colour; and Aben Ezra says the word here signifies a precious stone of a black colour; perhaps black marble is meant, a stone fit for pavements; but, be these stones what they will, they design in the spiritual sense the materials of a Gospel church, those “lively stones” which

are built up a spiritual house, and which are beautified with the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God; and may also denote that the lowest and meanest of the Lord’s people, pointed out by stones of the pavement, should be thus adorned:

and lay thy foundations with sapphires; a precious stone of a white colour, according to R. Saadiah Gaon; but, according to Aben Ezra, of a red colour; though the sapphire is usually said to be of a sky colour, shining with specks of gold. The Targum renders it, “with precious stones”; and so the foundation of the wall of the New Jerusalem is said to be garnished with all manner of precious stones, Revelation 21:19, this may respect Christ, the sure foundation God has laid in Zion, the foundation of the apostles and prophets; the one and only foundation of the church of Christ, and all true believers, who is more precious than sapphires, or all the most precious stones; he always has been the foundation of his church in all ages; but the meaning is, that he shall now appear most clearly and manifestly to be the foundation, and to be a firm, rich, and glorious one; see Exodus 24:10.” (5)

Both Philpot and Gill understand that the afflicted people mentioned in the passage are given hope by Isaiah as he projects forward to the church age with its millennial blessing typified by the imagery of the heavenly New Jerusalem. The stones foreshadow the Lord Jesus Christ, who is “The stone which the builders rejected, is become the head of the corner.” (Psalms 118:22).     

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


1.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, (“Entry for ‘STONE, STONES’”, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915).

2.      Butler, Trent C. Editor, Entry for ‘Antimony’, Holman Bible Dictionary.

3.      Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, John Skinner, Isaiah, vol. 1, 2 Volume 20 of (Cambridge University Press, 1898), e-Sword version.

4.      Philpot’s Daily Portions: Daily Readings for Christians.

5.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Isaiah, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 865.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com

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What is Levirate marriage in Scripture?

What is Levirate marriage in Scripture?                                                           by Jack Kettler

The following Scripture citations give a glimpse of levirate marriage.

“And Judah said unto Onan, go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.” (Genesis 38:8)

“Saying, Master, Moses said, if a man dies having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.” (Matthew 22:24)

“If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother unto her.” (Deuteronomy 25:5)

How exactly is levirate marriage defined?

“Levirate, custom or law decreeing that a widow should, or in rare cases must, marry her dead husband’s brother. The term comes from the Latin levir, meaning “husband’s brother.” The “brother” may be a biological sibling of the deceased or a person who is socially classified as such.” – The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The most well-known example of levirate marriage in Scripture is that of Ruth and Boaz. Ruth’s original husband died without a child, see (Ruth 1:1-5). As a result, God sovereignly directs Ruth to meet a wealthy landowner named Boaz. Boaz was a relative of Ruth’s late husband, see (Ruth 2:20). Ruth asked Boaz to be her kinsman-redeemer, which he did, thus fulfilling the levirate custom.

More importantly, Ruth bore a son named Obed, who fathered Jesse, the father of David and a forefather of Jesus (see Matthew 1:5-6). Moreover, God showed His favor in this Old Testament practice by including Boaz and Ruth in the lineage of Christ.

Levirate marriage is not practiced today in modern Judaism or Christianity. However, the practice was connected to the time when Israel was in the promised land, and genealogies were important, especially in regard to how Israelites passed on their land inheritance to their children. Establishing one’s lineage was a type of land deed. Whether the levirate marriage was commanded by God or a custom is unclear. According to Deuteronomy 25:5, the levirate marriage practice seemed to be part of the civil law and, therefore, expired in the New Covenant.  

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com

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What is the sin that is unto death?

What is the sin that is unto death?                                                             by Jack Kettler

“If any man sees his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (John 5:16)

1.      What is a sin unto death?

2.      Can this sin be identified by one who is committing it or observing it?

3.      Can a Christian commit this sin?

The passage from 1 John has been one of the more difficult texts to interpret.

Some distinctions:

First, the Apostle addresses a sin that is not unto death and can be committed by a brother, 5:16a.

Second, 1 John 5:16a involves prayer. 1 John 5:16b seemingly does not include prayer.

The following observation may help to answer the second question:

1 John 5:16a is regarding a brother. However, 1 John 5:16b seemingly does not have a brother in view.

Many expositors and commentators have noted these distinctions.

One possible interpretation: 

Is 1 John 5:16 the same as blaspheming against the Spirit seen in Matthew 12:31?

In Matthew 12:31, blasphemy against the Spirit is mentioned. Is this blasphemy a sin unto death? Is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit accusing Jesus Christ of being demon-possessed instead of filled with the Spirit? Blasphemy of this nature seems probable. The standard interpretation is that the unpardonable sin today is remaining in the state of unbelief.

If this is correct, then 1 John 5:16, b could not be talking about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit since the restriction about not praying for this sin would be inconsistent with other Scriptures about praying for the lost.

One possible interpretation of 1 John 5:16 is what happened to Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1–10. However, after consulting the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, as will be seen, it seems to rule this out under point number two.

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:

“There is a sin unto death Or, there is sin unto death; we have no τις or μία in the Greek, a fact which is against the supposition that any act of sin is intended. In that case would not S. John have named it, that the faithful might avoid it, and also know when it had been committed? The following explanations of ‘sin unto death’ may be safely rejected. 1. Sin punished by the law with death. 2. Sin punished by Divine visitation with death or sickness. 3. Sin punished by the Church with excommunication. As a help to a right explanation we may get rid of the idea which some commentators assume, that ‘sin unto death’ is a sin which can be recognised by those among whom the one who commits it lives. S. John’s very guarded language points the other way. He implies that some sins may be known to be ‘not unto death’: he neither says nor implies that all ‘sin unto death’ can be known as such. As a further help we may remember that no sin, if repented of, can be too great for God’s mercy. Hence S. John does not speak even of this sin as ‘fatal’ or ‘mortal’, but as ‘unto death’ (πρὸς θάνατον). Death is its natural, but not its absolutely inevitable consequence. It is possible to close the heart against the influences of God’s Spirit so obstinately and persistently that repentance becomes a moral impossibility. Just as the body may starve itself to such an extent as to make the digestion, or even the reception, of food impossible; so, the soul may go on refusing offers of grace until the very power to receive grace perishes. Such a condition is necessarily sin, and ‘sin unto death’. No passing over out of death into life (1 John 3:14) is any longer (without a miracle of grace) possible. ‘Sin unto death’, therefore, is not any act of sin, however heinous, but a state or habit of sin wilfully chosen and persisted in: it is constant and consummate opposition to God. In the phraseology of this Epistle we might say that it is the deliberate preference of darkness to light, of falsehood to truth, of sin to righteousness, of the world to the Father, of spiritual death to eternal life.” (1) (Underlining and bolding emphasis mine)

The Cambridge commentators rightly note that if John could identify the sin, he would be able to warn believers of this sin. However, since John does not identify the sin unto death, the following possibilities are ruled out, “1. Sin punished by the law with death. 2. Sin punished by Divine visitation with death or sickness. 3. Sin punished by the Church with excommunication.”

Calvin on 1 John 5:16:

“But among the faithful, this ought to be an indubitable truth, that whatever is contrary to God’s law is sin, and in its nature mortal; for where there is a transgression of the law, there is sin and death.

What, then, is the meaning of the Apostle? He denies that sins are mortal, which, though worthy of death, are yet not thus punished by God. He therefore does not estimate sins in themselves, but forms a judgment of them according to the paternal kindness of God, which pardons the guilt, where yet the fault is. In short, God does not give over to death those whom he has restored to life, though it depends not on them that they are not alienated from life.

There is a sin unto death I have already said that the sin to which there is no hope of pardon left, is thus called. But it may be asked, what this is; for it must be very atrocious, when God thus so severely punishes it. It may be gathered from the context, that it is not, as they say, a partial fall, or a transgression of a single commandment, but apostasy, by which men wholly alienate themselves from God. For the Apostle afterwards adds, that the children of God do not sin, that is, that they do not forsake God, and wholly surrender themselves to Satan, to be his slaves. Such a defection, it is no wonder that it is mortal; for God never thus deprives his own people of the grace of the Spirit; but they ever retain some spark of true religion. They must then be reprobate and given up to destruction, who thus fall away so as to have no fear of God.

Were any one to ask, whether the door of salvation is closed against their repentance; the answer is obvious, that as they are given up to a reprobate mind, and are destitute of the Holy Spirit, they cannot do anything else, than with obstinate minds, become worse and worse, and add sins to sins.

But it may be asked again, by what evidences can we know that a man’s fall is fatal; for except the knowledge of this was certain, in vain would the Apostle have made this exception, that they were not to pray for a sin of this kind. It is then right to determine sometimes, whether the fallen is without hope, or whether there is still a place for a remedy. This, indeed, is what I allow, and what is evident beyond dispute from this passage; but as this very seldom happens, and as God sets before us the infinite riches of his grace, and bids us to be merciful according to his own example, we ought not rashly to conclude that any one has brought on himself the judgment of eternal death; on the contrary, love should dispose us to hope well. But if the impiety of some appear to us not otherwise than hopeless, as though the Lord pointed it out by the finger, we ought not to contend with the just judgment of God, or seek to be more merciful than he is.” (2)

As Calvin notes, “They must then be reprobate and given up to destruction, who thus fall away so as to have no fear of God.” In this respect, Calvin equates the “sin unto death” with the sin of final apostasy.

From Spurgeon’s Expositions of the Bible on the 1 John passage:

“1 John 5:16-18. If any man sees his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whatsoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

He who has committed the sin which is unto death have no desire for forgiveness, he will never repent, he will never seek faith in Christ but he will continue hardened and unbelieving; he will henceforth never be the subject of holy influences, for he has crossed over into that dark region of despair where hope and mercy never come. Perhaps some of you think that you have committed that unpardonable sin, and are at this moment grieving over it. If so, it is clear that you cannot have committed that sin, or else you could not grieve over it. If you have any fear concerning it, you have not committed that sin which is unto death, for even fear is a sign of life. Whoever repents of sin and trusts in Jesus Christ is freely and fully forgiven, therefore it is clear that he has not committed a sin which will not be forgiven. There is much in this passage to make us prayerful and watchful, but there is nothing here to make a single troubled heart feel anything like despair. He that is born again, born from above, can never commit this unpardonable sin. He is kept from it; “that wicked one” cannot even touch him, for he is preserved by sovereign grace against this dreadful damage to his soul. You need not be curious to enquire what this unpardonable sin is. I will give you an old illustration of mine concerning it. You may sometimes have seen a notice put up on certain estates in the country, “Man-traps and spring guns set here,” but, if so, did you ever go round to the front door of the mansion, and say, “If you please will you tell me where the man-traps are, and whereabouts the spring guns are set?” If you had asked that question, the answer would have been, “It is the very purpose of this warning not to tell you where they are, for you have no business to trespass there at all.” So, “all unrighteousness is sin,” and you are warned to keep clear of it.” There is a sin unto death,” but you are not told what that sin is on purpose that you may, by the grace of God, keep clear of sin altogether.” (3)

As noted by Spurgeon, this “sin unto death” cannot be committed by a true Christian.  

In closing:

In this final contribution, a look at the grammar and possibilities of a different translation of the text is explored to find a solution to understanding what John had in mind.


V. Conclusion p. 608

Arguments from grammatical usage and from the flow of John’s argument

in 1 John point towards an alternative interpretation of 1 John 5:16–17:

(a) because the main verb levgw, “I speak,” comes between the prepositional

phrase “not concerning that” and the ªna-clause, NT usage heavily favors

taking the prepositional phrase with “I speak”; (b) John’s normal usage of

o§ti and ªna-clauses favors taking the ªna-clause here as a purpose clause,

“in order that he might supplicate”; and (c) the immediate context of 1 John

5:13–17 and the principle of maximal redundancy favor this reading.

The resulting translation is: “If anyone should see his brother practicing

a sin that does not lead to eternal death, he shall supplicate God and he shall

give him eternal life for those who are sinning not unto eternal death. There

is sin that leads to eternal death. I am not speaking concerning that sin that

leads to eternal death in order that he might supplicate God for the brother

whom he sees sinning. 40 For while all unrighteousness is sin, there is sin that

does not lead to eternal death.”

John’s purpose is to assure Christians of the efficacy of their prayers for

fellow members of the Christian community who fall into sin: our intercessory

prayers will certainly restore them to fellowship with God (tantamount

to having eternal/resurrection life in John’s writings, since God is the only

source of life), with one exception. While John acknowledges that there is

this exception, a category of sin that leads to eternal death, he does not wish

to focus on it because his purpose is to call believers to intercessory prayer.

Intercession thus appears to be one of the ways in which Christians are

to bear one another’s burdens (cf. Gal 6:1–2). Ultimately, each individual

40 John’s interchange of ejrwtaÅn with a√te∂n in John 16:23 and 26 shows that no difference in

meaning should be posited between these two verbs. John 16:26 also points the way to the words

that I supplied above: one supplicates God for people. John 17:9 shows how the one to whom one

supplicates can be omitted after the referent is established in context. Cf. notes 18 and 35. The

attempt to distinguish ejrwtaÅn from a√te∂n as indicating a more intimate relationship between the

one praying and the one addressed (see e.g. Westcott, The Epistles of John 192; G. Stahlin, “a√tevw,

ktl.” TDNT 1.193; and H. Greeven, “eußcomai, ktl.” TDNT 2.806) seems ill-founded

John’s confidence in 1 John 5:16–17 p. 609

must bear his or her own burden (individual responsibility; Gal 6:5). Each

must confess sin, repent, and believe the gospel for himself or herself (cf.

1 John 1:5–2:2). 41 Yet Christians who acknowledge John’s authority would

do well to heed his call to intercession. We can be confident that it is God’s

will that we intercede for a brother or sister who falls into sin and that our

intercessions will avail. If our intercessions do not ultimately avail, we will

know after the fact that this person has committed sin that leads to eternal

death (1 John 5:16b) and that he or she was never really part of the true

Christian community (1 John 2:19).

Ultimately, only God knows every heart, and we should leave all matters

in his hands. At the same time, we should not allow uncertainty over

whether a member of the visible Christian community has sinned or strayed

in a way that casts doubt on the genuineness of his or her faith keep us

from making fervent and persevering intercession for that person. Just as

we should humbly seek to instruct and correct, we should intercede with God

on behalf of straying brethren, “if perhaps God might grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2:25). 42

41 One should not vainly hope that one’s conversion or restoration from straying would come

through others’ intercession apart from humbling oneself in personal confession of sin, repentance,

and renewed faith.

42 1 John 5:16–17 represents just one aspect of how the Christian community should deal with

straying members of the community. Other equally important aspects are brought out by pas-                         

sages like Matt 18:15–22; Luke 17:3–4; 1 Cor 5:1–6:11; 2 Cor 2:6–11; Gal 6:1–2; 2 Thess 3:14–15;

1 Tim 1:20; and James 5:15, 19–20. A balanced application of biblical teaching would neither

neglect intercession nor privilege it to the expense of the other aspects. Furthermore, anyone who

is in sin or contemplating sin should not reason perversely that since intercession, repentance,

and forgiveness are readily available, one might as well sin with impunity and seek restoration

later. For a helpful treatment of perseverance and assurance, see Thomas R. Schreiner and Ardel

B. Caneday, The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance (Downers

Grove/Leicester: InterVarsity, 2001) (4)

To answer the starting questions:

What is a sin unto death?

This question cannot be answered with certainty. From the commentary evidence surveyed above, the sin unto death would be final apostasy.

Can this sin be identified by one who is committing it or observing it?

Like the first question, this question likewise cannot be answered with certainty.

Can a Christian commit this sin?

If the sin unto death is final apostasy, then no, a Christian cannot commit it.

Concluding comment:

In light of the fourth entry by Randal K. J. Tan, the highlighted text seems to clarify the mystery of the “sin unto death.” Therefore, it was not John’s purpose at all to identify this sin; the text is an encouragement for intercessory prayers to fellow believers.

For more research:

Pastor theologian Sam Storms has a comprehensive analysis of 1 John 5:16 that can be found at, https://www.monergism.com/can-christian-commit-sin-unto-death

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


1.      The Epistles of John, The Cambridge Bible for Schools, Alfred Plummer, (Cambridge University Press, 1898), e-Sword version.

2.      John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, 1 John, Volume XXII, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House Reprinted 1979), pp. 268-269.

3.      Spurgeon, Charles Haddon, “Commentary on 1 John 5,” “Spurgeon’s Verse Expositions of the Bible” Online resource.

4.      Journal of Evangelical Theology Society, (JETS) 45/4 (December 2002) 599–609

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com

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Examples of conspiracies in the Bible

Examples of conspiracies in the Bible                                                           by Jack Kettler

Has the reader ever heard the pejorative “That’s a conspiracy theory”?

This Scriptural study will consider the above example of a pejorative. Additionally, the use of a pejorative will be looked at in regards to its origin and if the one using it is dodging a question or committing the equivalent of the abusive ad hominem fallacy.

Another focus of the study will be to consider Scripture and what it has to say about conspiracies. Unfortunately, the above pejorative has become so common in society that the phrase has almost become a mantra.

Are there conspiracies? Have politicians ever conspired to start wars? Have politicians conspired to have illegal monetary advantages? Have criminals ever conspired to commit all manner of crimes? In a sinful, fallen world, the depravity of man presupposes there will be conspiracies for evil. Nevertheless, prisons around the world are filled with conspirators.      

For starters, what is a pejorative?

Pejorative – Wikipedia

“A pejorative or slur is a word or grammatical form expressing a negative or a disrespectful connotation, a low opinion, or a lack of respect toward someone …”

What does the Bible say?

Virtually all of the texts cited in this study will involve conspiracies that are primarily political. Were conspiracies confined to Biblical times only? If argued that this is so would be preposterous. 

In this survey of Scriptures, the reader will see a number of texts where the word conspiracy or the equivalent is used.  

Synonyms for conspiracy:

cabal, crew, gang, Mafia, mob, ring, syndicate

Words related to conspiracy:

collusion, cover-up, frame-up, setup, plot, plotteth, scheme, devising, planning, to do mischief, treason, unlawful alliance

Texts that use the word conspiracy:

“And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counseller, from his city, even from Giloh, while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy (הַקֶּ֙שֶׁר֙ (haq·qe·šer) was strong; for the people increased continually with Absalom.” (2 Samuel 15:12) (All Scripture citations are in the KJV unless otherwise noted) (Underlining are mine)

Strong’s Lexicon:

“So the conspiracy

הַקֶּ֙שֶׁר֙ (haq·qe·šer)

Article | Noun – masculine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 7195: 1) conspiracy, treason, (unlawful) alliance”

The above entry from the Strong’s Lexicon is typical of the Hebrew in the following passages.

“Now after the time that Amaziah did turn away from following the LORD they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem; and he fled to Lachish: but they sent to Lachish after him, and slew him there.” (2 Chronicles 25:27)

“And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla.” (2 Kings 12:20)

“Now they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem: and he fled to Lachish; but they sent after him to Lachish, and slew him there.” (2 Kings 14:19)

“And the rest of the acts of Shallum, and his conspiracy which he made, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel.” (2 Kings 15:15)

“And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.” (2 Kings 15:30)

“And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore, the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.” (2 Kings 17:4)

“And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 11:9)

“There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.” (Ezekiel 22:25)

“And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.” (Acts 23:13)

From Strong’s Lexicon:


συνωμοσίαν (synōmosian)

Noun – Accusative Feminine Singular

Strong’s Greek 4945: A conspiracy, plot. From a compound of sun and omnuo; a swearing together, i.e., a plot.”

Texts that use the equivalent of conspiracy:

“Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, “Come, let’s meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they were plotting חֹֽשְׁבִ֔ים (ḥō·šə·ḇîm) to harm me.” (Nehemiah 6:2 NASB)

From Strong’s Lexicon:

“were planning

חֹֽשְׁבִ֔ים (ḥō·šə·ḇîm)

Verb – Qal – Participle – masculine plural

Strong’s Hebrew 2803: 1 to think, plan, esteem, calculate, invent, make a judgment, imagine, count 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to think, account 1a2) to plan, devise, mean 1a3) to charge, impute, reckon 1a4) to esteem, value, regard 1a5) to invent 1b) (Niphal) 1b1) to be accounted, be thought, be esteemed 1b2) to be computed, be reckoned 1b3) to be imputed 1c) (Piel) 1c1) to think upon, consider, be mindful of 1c2) to think to do, devise, plan 1c3) to count, reckon 1d) (Hithpael) to be considered”

“The wicked plotteth זֹמֵ֣ם (zō·mêm) against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.” (Psalm 37:12)

From Strong’s Lexicon:


זֹמֵ֣ם (zō·mêm)

Verb – Qal – Participle – masculine singular

Strong’s Hebrew 2161: 1 to have a thought, devise, plan, consider, purpose 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to consider, fix thought upon 1a2) to purpose, devise 1a3) to plot (of evil intent)”

The two Hebrew words in the above two passages are rendered by the translators as

“Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the throng of evildoers.” (Psalms 64:2)

Comments and questions:

In light of the Scriptures seen above, it is irrefutable that the concept of a conspiracy can be dismissed. Moreover, to deny conspiracies is to deny the Biblical record itself.

What to do when someone wants to advance or expose by way of presenting information about a possible plot to advance illegal activity?

This writer realizes that no one is required to research and respond to every nefarious scheme. However, simply using a pejorative in response to serious research is unsatisfactory. Not everyone is obliged to respond to everything put forward by a theory. Moreover, it is admitted that some individuals that have a new theory every day.

Who is obligated to consider and test theories?

However, media reporters are required to do research instead of dismissing things out of hand. For many uncovering illegal schemes is a professional duty. It is also a duty of citizenship.

For those in the media, in particular, it is incumbent to at least look at the merits of theory or argument. Many laws are designed to inhibit illegal activity. 

On the other hand, no one is obliged to deal with outright absurdities like “The moon is made out of green cheese.” An assertion like this is not a conspiracy as a more likely possible mental problem. 

Has the reader ever heard of the term cover-up? A cover-up is a conspiracy.

Depending on the reader’s age, they may remember the “Watergate” cover-up. What if the reporters for the Washington Post started receiving leaks about the cover-up, and what if they responded by saying, “That a conspiracy theory?”  

What is good for the goose is good for the gander, meaning that one person or situation should be treated the same way that another person or situation is treated:

So, if the documentaries Rigged 2020 and 2000 Mules which tell the story uncovered by the non-partisan True the Vote.org, are going to be dismissed by simply saying “that is a conspiracy theory,” then saying that an old guy named Joe with dementia who did not campaign got 81 million votes is a “conspiracy theory” also.

One of the most outlandish “Conspiracy Theories” to be promoted in recent times is by the Uni-party political establishment, namely, that Joe Biden, who is in dramatic mental decline and spent most of his time in his basement during the campaign. On limited occasions when he made a few appearances, the crowds were extremely small. As the Biden conspiracy theory goes, this feeble candidate with no visible support got 81 million votes. This is the real conspiracy theory.  

Criteria that demands evidence be evaluated:

·         A majority of the American people want answers

·         A credible whistleblower comes forward

·         Investigators bring evidence forth

Joe Biden said his team created:

“The most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.” – Joe Biden

October 25, 2020, as reported in the “Free Beacon.”

Do those who dismiss millions of Americans’ concerns about a stolen election simply by saying it is a “Conspiracy theory” know who Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips are? Furthermore, can they also identify the non-profit Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) and its relevance to the discussion? If not, why not? Are those dismissing the concerns of millions of Americans who cannot answer the above two questions simply parroting something they heard?

Was the state of Texas’ lawsuit against Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, for diluting and invalidating their votes “conspiracy theorists”? Is Ken Paxton, the Texas Attorney General who brought the lawsuit, a “conspiracy theorist”? What about the AGs from the twenty states that signed on with the Texas lawsuit?

A sizeable majority of Americans do not believe in the 2020 election results. Therefore, dismissing the concerns of millions of Americans is offensive and a “conspiracy” itself.

The origins of the term conspiracy theory:

“The Term “Conspiracy Theory” — an Invention of the CIA

from the Rev. Douglas Wilson, member of the Core Group of Project Unspeakable

Having read JFK and the Unspeakable several years ago, I’ve been thinking about assassinations for quite a while and I’ve seen how “conspiracy theory” is used to shut off debate, to signal that we’re entering “the unspeakable” zone. So, I began to wonder if the use of the term Conspiracy Theory might be a conspiracy itself.

So, I went exploring, and surprise surprise, there is a 1967 CIA memo that puts forward a great many of the commonly heard rebuttals to the Warren Commission Report. The CIA owned over 250 media outlets in the 1960s, spent close to a billion dollars (in today’s dollars) spreading information, and had people doing its bidding in every major city in the world, so it is not surprising that they were able to disseminate this idea.

And the issue is contemporary, too, not just historical. Cass Sunstein is a powerful Obama Administration insider whose new book, Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas, is a sophisticated apology for the established order.

The last of this series of articles is the CIA 1967 memo itself.

CIA Document 1035-960: Foundation of a Weaponized Term”

See the CIA document at the following site:

The CIA document referenced came about as a result of the outcry of millions of Americans not trusting the “Warren Commission’s” findings on the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The CIA using its media influence, coined the phrase “That’s a conspiracy” to dismiss the questions of concerned citizens. How convenient. Unfortunately, just hearing this charge throws individuals into a panic, thinking that they will be seen as someone wearing a tin foil hat. Again, how convenient.

In closing:

The goal of this study is to remind Christians that the Biblical record makes it clear there are conspiracies. Moreover, Christians should not become intellectually lazy by using pejoratives to refute credible information fallaciously. The AGs from twenty-one states are not conspiracy theorists.

How the fed gov itself fuels the fears of government cover-ups:

Why did the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initially seal Pfizer testing data on their vaccine for the covid virus for 75 years? An outcry from the public changed this. Social medial sites initially dismissed this as a “conspiracy theory” and locked individuals out of their accounts for asking questions.

Is this censorship of free speech on the internet the result of the initial CIA scheme to slander individuals asking politically incorrect questions? It has become common knowledge that in many cases, the government at all levels, when charged with wrongdoing, is to lie.

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13 ESV)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com

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The prayer of Jabez, is this prayer for all Christians?

The prayer of Jabez, is this prayer for all Christians?                  by Jack Kettler

“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 ESV)

Is this prayer for Christians today to emulate?

This writer has been at sales conferences and has seen the passage regarding the prayer of Jabez used as what seems like a magical incantation for people to use. The prayer of Jabez is used in the “Prosperity Gospel,” “Name it and Claim it,” and “Word of Faith” movements. Jabez’s prayer in these circles is promoted in such a way that God is bound to answer it if the person has the right amount of faith.

Bruce Wilkinson, the author of this book on the prayer of Jabez, believes that ordinary Christians can live extraordinary lives by seeking God’s blessing. In his view, the prayer of Jabez becomes a model prayer to achieve wealth and prosperity.

Wilkinson declares that God always answers this prayer:

“God favors those who ask. He holds back nothing from those who want and earnestly long for what He wants.” (1)

God, according to this assertion, is seemingly bound to answer this prayer.

Wilkinson asserts that if one prays the prayer of Jabez:

“Word-for-word, every day for a month, then believers will see God’s power released in our lives.” (2)

The very title of Wilkinson’s book reveals his theology that blessings of material wealth will follow by praying this prayer. How is this so? Jabez’s prayer in Scripture provides no mandate for Christians down through the ages to repeat this prayer. While it is not sinful to repeat this prayer, it is presumptuous to think God is obligated to respond to this prayer as He did for Jabez. Why would God be bound to answer this prayer by believers other than Jabez?

Furthermore, nothing in the 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 text warrants anything other than seeing it as a historical account. Therefore, there is no textual warrant for ripping this prayer out of its historical context.    

Wilkinson’s hermeneutics is flawed:

Hermeneutics: is the science of interpretation. From the Greek hermeneuo, “to explain, interpret.” Hermeneutics is known as the science of Biblical interpretation. The apostle Paul described the goal of all accurate hermeneutics in 2 Timothy 2:15 when he said, “rightly dividing the word of truth.”

The grammatical-historical hermeneutic is needed:

The goal of the historical-grammatical hermeneutic or method attempts to recognize what the writer intended and what the original hearers would have understood it to mean. Grammar and

syntax is used to determine the various parts of the thoughts in the text and how they are to be understood.

Exegesis, the interpretive norm:

Exegesis (from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι’ to lead out’) is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage, it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term “Biblical exegesis” is used for greater specificity. The goal of Biblical exegesis is to explore the meaning of the text, which then leads to discovering its significance or relevance.

Exegesis includes a wide range of critical disciplines: textual criticism is the investigation into the history and origins of the text, but exegesis may include the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds of the author, the text, and the original audience. Other analysis includes the classification of the type of literary genres present in the text and an analysis of grammatical and syntactical features in the text itself.

Eisegesis, the interpretive danger:

Eisegesis (from Greek εἰς “into” and ending from exegesis from ἐξηγεῖσθαι “to lead out”) is the process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one’s ideas, reading into the text. Eisegesis is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. While exegesis draws out the meaning of the text, eisegesis occurs when a reader reads his/her interpretation into the text. As a result, exegesis tends to be objective when employed, while eisegesis is regarded as highly subjective. An individual who practices eisegesis is known as an eisegete, and someone who practices exegesis is known as an exegete.

The assertion that saying this prayer every day word-for-word sounds like an incantation. In addition, Wilkinson’s assertion sounds a lot like Napoleon Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich.” Moreover, Wilkinson’s approach to Scripture in his book on the Prayer of Jabez seems like how some approach the writing of Nostradamus by searching the writings looking for some secret truth or code that can be found.  

Instead of praying every day for God to “enlarge my territory,” Believers should follow Jesus’s example when He asks for God’s kingdom to come, for God’s will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:0).

Wilkinson’s approach to Scripture is flawed and commits the error of reading into the text (Eisegesis) ideas that are not the passage. If Wilkinson has had hermeneutical training, he has thrown it out the window in approach to the prayer of Jabez.

Jeffrey H. Mahan, professor of ministry, media, and culture at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, said:

“It fits with the narcissism of the age. Religious life is focused on me and my needs.” (3)

In closing:

Before Wilkinson wrote his book, he should have consulted a number of classic commentaries that are easily assessable online.

A sober exegesis of the 1 Chronicles text from Matthew Poole’s Commentary:

“Jabez called on the God of Israel, when he was undertaking some great and dangerous service.

Oh, that thou wouldst bless me indeed. I trust not to my own or people’s valour, but only to thy blessing and help.

Enlarge my coast; drive out these wicked and cursed Canaanites, whom thou hast commanded us to root out, and therefore I justly beg and expect thy blessing in the execution of thy command.

That thine hand might be with me, to protect and strengthen me against my adversaries.

That thou wouldst keep me from evil, or work with (for so the Hebrew prefix mem is sometimes used, as Song of Solomon 1:2 3:9 Isaiah 5:7,8), i.e. so-restrain and govern it.

That it may not grieve me; that it may not oppress and overcome me, which will be very grievous to me. The consequent put for the antecedent; and more is understood than is expressed. He useth this expression in allusion to his name, which signifies grief: q.d. Lord, let me not have that grief which my name implies, and which my sin deserves.” (4)

One can be presumptuous, unseemly self-confident and make prideful predictions regarding their standing before God. However, being presumptuous is a type of arrogance that is inappropriate.

Instead, believers should be governed by humility seeking God’s will rather than demanding God’s favor.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


1.      Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life, (Sisters, OR, Multnomah, 2000), p. 76.

2.      Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life, (Sisters, OR, Multnomah, 2000), p. 86.

3.      Jeffery H. Mahan, A Book Spreads the Word: Prayer for Prosperity Works, (New York Times, May 8, 2001).

4.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, 1 Chronicles, Vol. 3, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 231.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com

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What does “God came from Teman” mean?

What does “God came from Teman” mean?                                      by Jack Kettler

“God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.” (Habakkuk 3:3)

At a glance:

In chapter 1:5, Habakkuk raises questions to God because he could not understand why evil was dominant. God had promised to bless, and Habakkuk did not see any evidence of this. Additionally, God said He would do great things that “you would not believe if you were told.”

Chapter two consists of God replying to Habakkuk’s question.

In chapter 3:2, Habakkuk gives God the glory and praise for faithfully answering his questions, “LORD, I have heard thy speech about You and I fear. O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.”

The above starting passage from the minor prophet Habakkuk is somewhat obscure. If one were to approach this passage from a finite corporeal finite of view, interpreting the verse would quickly degenerate into complete nonsense. For example:

One might speculate that God was on a trip or visiting his hometown.

The goal of this study will be to understand the text and in particular, learn about Teman and Mount Paran, or the wilderness of Paran.

In the following cross references, Teman is referred to again:

“And Jobab died, and Husham of the land of Temani reigned in his stead.” (Genesis 36:34)

“And when Jobab was dead, Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his stead.” (1 Chronicles 1:45)

“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came everyone from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.” (Job 2:11)

“Concerning Edom, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?” (Jeremiah 49:7)

“Therefore, thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword.” (Ezekiel 25:13)

“But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.” (Amos 1:12)

“And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mounts of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.” (Obadiah 1:9)

In the following cross references, Paran is referred to:

“And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto El-paran, which is by the wilderness.” (Genesis 14:6)

“And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.” (Numbers 10:12)

“And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousand of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.” (Deuteronomy 33:2)

“And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran.” (1 Samuel 25:1)

Definitions and historical details from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:


“te’-man (teman, “on the right,” i.e. “south”; Thaiman): The name of a district and town in the land of Edom, named after Teman the grandson of Esau, the son of his firstborn, Eliphaz (Genesis 36:11 1 Chronicles 1:36). A duke Teman is named among the chiefs or clans of Edom (Genesis 36:42 1 Chronicles 1:53). He does not however appear first, in the place of the firstborn. Husham of the land of the Temanites was one of the ancient kings of Edom (Genesis 36:34 1 Chronicles 1:45). From Obad 1:9 we gather that Teman was in the land of Esau (Edom). In Amos 1:12 it is named along with Bozrah, the capital of Edom. In Ezekiel 25:13 desolation is denounced upon Edom: “From Teman even unto Dedan shall they fall by the sword.” Dedan being in the South, Teman must be sought in the North Eusebius, Onomasticon knows a district in the Gebalene region called Theman, and also a town with the same name, occupied by a Roman garrison, 15 miles from Petra. Unfortunately, no indication of direction is given. No trace of the name has yet been found. It may have been on the road from Elath to Bozrah.

The inhabitants of Teman seem to have been famous for their wisdom (Jeremiah 49:7 Obadiah 1:8 f). Eliphaz the Temanite was chief of the comforters of Job (2:11, etc.). The manner in which the city is mentioned by the prophets, now by itself, and again as standing for Edom, shows how important it must have been in their time.” W. Ewing (1)

The wilderness of Paran:

Paran, El-paran

“pa’-ran, (pa’ran, ‘el-pa’ran; Pharan):

(1) El-paran (Ge 14:6) was the point farthest South reached by the kings. Septuagint renders ‘el by terebinthos, and reads, “unto the terebinth of Paran.” The evidence is slender, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that this is the place elsewhere (De 2:8; 1Ki 9:26, etc.) called Elath or Eloth (‘el with feminine termination), a seaport town which gave its name to the Aelanitic Gulf (modern Gulf of `Aqaba), not far from the wilderness of Paran (2).

(2) Many places named in the narrative of the wanderings lay within the Wilderness of Paran (Nu 10:12; 13:21; 27:14; compare Nu 13:3,16, etc.). It is identified with the high limestone plateau of Ettih, stretching from the Southwest of the Dead Sea to Sinai along the west side of the Arabah. This wilderness offered hospitality to Ishmael when driven from his father’s tent (Ge 21:21). Hither also came David when bereaved of Samuel’s protection (1Sa 25:1).

(3) Mount Paran (De 33:2; Hab 3:3) may be either Jebel Maqrah, 29 miles South of `Ain Kadis (Kadesh-barnea), and 130 miles North of Sinai (Palmer, Desert of the Exodus, 510); or the higher and more imposing range of mountains West of the Gulf of `Aqaba. This is the more probable if El-paran is rightly identified with Elath.

(4) Some place named Paran would seem to be referred to in De 1:1; but no trace of such a city has yet been found. Paran in 1Ki 11:18 doubtless refers to the district West of the Arabah.” W. Ewing (2)

Next, an entry from a classic Bible commentary to gain an enlightening overview of the Habakkuk 3:3 passage is in order. 

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges explains the passage:

“3. God came from Teman] cometh: the poet feels himself in presence of the manifestation. Teman is a district lying in the north-west of Edom, Ezekiel 25:13; Obadiah 1:9.

the Holy One from mount Paran Or, the mountains (hill country) of Paran. The “Holy One” is virtually already a proper name (without the Art.), as Isaiah 40:25. Paran is the elevated region lying between the wilderness of Kadesh on the north and that of Sinai on the south, west of the Arabah. If any particular mountain be referred to it may be Jebel Mukrah, which has a height of 2000 feet, and forms the southern boundary of the plateau. At present the region is the seat of the Azazimeh Arabs. The whole region of Sinai, Paran and Edom is regarded as the scene of the divine manifestation; comp. Deuteronomy 33:2; Jdg 5:4.

His glory covered covereth the heavens. The “glory” is the splendour of the divine majesty, which overspreads the heavens. Psalm 8:1; Psalm 148:13.

was full of his praise] the earth is filled with. The term “praise” has a secondary meaning, viz. that in God which evokes praise or adoration. The meaning is not that praises from men’s mouth filled the earth, but that the light of God’s glory filled it, just as it overspread the heavens. Isaiah 6:3.

3–7. Approach and manifestation of Jehovah in the storm

The Theophany is pictured as a great tempest in the heavens in the midst of which God is present. It comes from the south, the region of Paran and Sinai (Habakkuk 3:3 a); there is a terrible splendour around the advancing God, which lightens the heavens and the earth (Habakkuk 3:3 b, 4); pestilence and fever-glow follow in His wake (Habakkuk 3:5); all nature shudders, the eternal hills sink down (Habakkuk 3:6); the nations and tribes in the desert are dismayed (Habakkuk 3:7).

3–15. The Revelation of Jehovah

The passage has three strophes of 5, 4, 4 verses respectively. (1) Description of the Theophany, Habakkuk 3:3-7. (2) The question, what is its meaning? Habakkuk 3:8-11. (3) Statement of its meaning—it is to save His people, Habakkuk 3:12-15.” (3)

In closing, a summary:

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers is an excellent commentary summary:

“(3-15) Habakkuk describes the “Theophany” or self-manifestation of Jehovah, which is to introduce the desired deliverance. The Authorised Version has unfortunately rendered all the verbs in this section in the past tense, thus obscuring the sense of the poem. They all refer to a scene really future, but brought by the grasp of faith into the immediate present. In the Hebrew some of these verbs are in the future tense, others in the past used with the force of a present, the “prophetic perfect” as it is sometimes termed. Such a use of the Hebrew preterite is common in Biblical poetry, notably in the Book of Psalms. It is almost impossible to reproduce in English the slight distinction between these tenses. While, however, his eyes are thus fixed on a future deliverance, the basis of all Habakkuk’s anticipations is God’s doings in time past; the chief features in the portraiture are, in fact, borrowed from the Books of Exodus and Judges.

(3) God came. — Render “God shall come from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise.” Jehovah reveals Himself from the south: i.e., from Mount Sinai, as in Deuteronomy 32, Judges 5, Psalms 68. The southern country is here designated as “Teman,” i.e., Edom to the S.E., and “Paran,” the mountainous region to the S.W., between Edom and Egypt.” (4)

The Habakkuk 3:3 passage, at first sight, is seemingly an obscure passage. Nevertheless, the diligent reader will find a gold mine of edification from sampling some of the rich contributions that Biblical commentators have made regarding the text. The manifestation of Jehovah in the storm or the Theophany is striking and majestic. 

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


1.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘TEMAN,’” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 2929.

2.      Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, “Entry for ‘PARAN,’” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), p. 2247.

3.      Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Andrew B. Davidson, Habakkuk, (Cambridge University Press, 1896), e-Sword version.

4.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Habakkuk, Vol.5, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 531.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com

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What did Jesus write on the ground in John 8:8?

What did Jesus write on the ground in John 8:8?                                      by Jack Kettler

“And again, he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.” (John 8:8)

Cross References

“When they continued to question Him, He straightened up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.’” (John 8:7)

“When they heard this, they began to go away one by one, beginning with the older ones, until only Jesus was left, with the woman standing there.” (John 8:9)

The passage in John under consideration has been the subject of much speculation about what Jesus wrote on the ground. It should be pointed out that the text in John says nothing about what Jesus wrote on the ground, which in this case, the theories are based upon an argument from silence.

An argument from silence is flawed:

Argumentum ex silentio is a logical fallacy. How so? An argument from silence tries to prove something as true in the absenteeism of evidence.  

What Was it That Jesus Wrote on the Ground?

Four of the most common theories:

1.      Jeremiah 17:13 is said to show that Jesus was to write on the ground. “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away from You will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.”  

2.      Jesus allegedly wrote the accuser’s names in the dust and perhaps then wrote a sin that they had committed next to their name.

3.      He wrote the Ten Commandments with His finger.

4.      The woman was “caught in the act” of adultery, possibly she was without clothes, and Jesus was writing in the dirt to avoid His eyes from seeing the unclothed woman.

Theory number one attempts to base the theory on a possible prophecy found in Jeremiah 17:13 predicting Jesus writing on the ground. However, even if this were true, the Scriptures still do not say what he wrote.

Raymond Brown’s Anchor Bible Commentary has the most comprehensive list of theories, some of which are listed below:

1.      “Starting with Jerome, there is a suggestion that Jesus wrote the names of the accusers.

2.      T.W. Manson, in a widely cited article: “The Pericope de Adultera (Joh 753–811)”, Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 44 (1953): 255-6, argued that Jesus’ actions reflected Roman legal practice: writing the sentence (8:6), then delivered (8:7), and wrote again (8:8) what he would say in v. 11.

3.      Some find echoes not of Exodus/Deuteronomy but of Jeremiah 17:13, which speaks of “writing on the earth.”

4.      J.D.M. Derrett proposed (1963) specific connections to Exodus 23:1b, concerning the prohibition against being a malicious witness.

5.      Some suggest that Jesus is just biding his time, with various grounds suggested.” (1)

From Arthur Pink’s Commentary on John 8:6-8:

“But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground” (John 8:6). This was the first thing that He here did. That there was a symbolical significance to His action goes without saying, and what this is we are not left to guess. Scripture is its own interpreter. This was not the first time that the Lord had written “with his finger.” In Exodus 31:18 we read, “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” When, then, our Lord wrote on the ground (from the ground must the “tables of stone” have been taken), it was as though He had said, you remind Me of the law! Why, it was My finger which wrote that law! Thus, did He show these Pharisees that He had come here, not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. His writing on the ground, then, was (symbolically) a ratification of God’s righteous law. But so blind were His would-be accusers they discerned not the significance of His act.”

“So, when they continued asking him” (John 8:7). It is evident that our Lord’s enemies mistook His silence for embarrassment. They no more grasped the force of His action of writing on the ground, than did Belshazzar understand the writing of that same Hand on the walls of his palace. Emboldened by His silence, and satisfied that they had Him cornered, they continued to press their question upon Him. O the persistency of evil-doers! How often they put to shame our lack of perseverance and importunity.”

“So, when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). This, too, has a far deeper meaning than what appears on the surface. God’s Law was a holy and a righteous one, and here we find the Law-giver Himself turning its white light upon these men who really had so little respect for it. Christ was here intimating that they, His would-be accusers, were no fit subjects to demand the enforcement of the law’s sentence. None but a holy hand should administer the perfect law. In principle, we may see here the great Adversary and Accuser reprimanded. Satan may stand before the angel of the Lord to resist “the high priest” (Zechariah 3:1), but, morally, he is the last one who should insist on the maintenance of righteousness. And how strikingly this reprimanding of the Pharisees by Christ adumbrated what we read of in Zechariah 3:2 (“The Lord rebuke you, O Satan”) scarcely needs to be pointed out.”

“And again, he stooped down, and wrote on the ground” (John 8:8). Profoundly significant was this, and unspeakably blessed. The symbolic meaning of it is plainly hinted at in the word “again”: The Lord wrote on the ground a second time. And of what did that speak? Once more the Old Testament Scriptures supply the answer. The first “tables of stone” were dashed to the ground by Moses, and broken. A second set was therefore written by God. And what became of the second “tables of stone”? They were laid up in the ark (Exodus 40:20), and were covered by the blood-sprinkled mercy-seat! Here, then, Christ was giving more than a hint of how He would save those who were, by the law, condemned to death. It was not that the law would be set aside: far from it. As His first stooping down and with His finger writing on the ground intimated, the law would be “established.” But as He stooped down and wrote the second time, He signified that the shed blood of an innocent substitute should come between the law and those it condemned!”

“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last” (John 8:9). Thus was “the strong man bound” (Matthew 12:29). Christ’s enemies had thought to ensnare Him by the law of Moses; instead, they had its searching light turned upon themselves. Grace had not defied, but had upheld the law! One sentence from the lips of Holiness incarnate and they were all silenced, all convicted, and all departed. At another time, a self-righteous Pharisee might boast of his lastings, his tithes and his prayers; but when God turns the light on a man’s heart, his moral and spiritual depravity become apparent even to himself, and shame shuts his lips. So, it was here. Not a word had Christ uttered against the law; in nowise had He condoned the woman’s sin. Unable to find any ground for accusation against Him, completely baffled in their evil designs, convicted by their consciences, they slunk away: “beginning at the eldest,” because he had the most sin to hide and the most reputation to preserve. And in the conduct of these men we have a clear intimation of how the wicked will act in the last great Day. Now, they may proclaim their self-righteousness, and talk about the injustice of eternal punishment. But then, when the light of God flashes upon them, and their guilt and ruin are fully exposed, they shall, like these Pharisees, be speechless.”

“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out.” There is a solemn warning here for sinners who may be exercised in mind over their condition. Here were men who were “convicted by their own conscience,” yet instead of this causing them to cast themselves at the feet of Christ, it resulted in them leaving Christ! Nothing short of the Holy Spirit’s quickening will ever bring a soul into saving contact with the Lord Jesus.”

“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” (John 8:9). This is exceedingly striking. These scribes and Pharisees had challenged Christ from the law. He met them on their own ground, and vanquished them by the law. “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those your accusers? has no man condemned you? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn you” (John 8:10, 11). The law required two witnesses before its sentence could be executed (Deuteronomy 19:15), yet, those witnesses must assist in the carrying out of the sentence (Deuteronomy 17:7). But here not a single witness was left to testify against this woman who had merely been indicted. Thus, the law was powerless to touch her. What, then, remained? Why, the way was now clear for Christ to act in “grace and truth.”

“Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). No doubt the question occurs to many of our readers, was this woman saved at the time she left Christ? Personally, we believe that she was. We believe so because she did not leave Christ when she had opportunity to do so; because she addressed Him as “Lord” (contrast “Master” of the Pharisees in verse 4); and because Christ said to her, “Neither do I condemn you.” But, as another has said, “In looking at these incidents of Scripture, we need not ask if the objects of the grace act in the intelligence of the story. It is enough for us that here was a sinner exposed in the presence of Him who came to meet sin and put it away. Whoever takes the place of this woman meets the word that clears of condemnation, just as the publicans and sinners with whom Christ eats in Luke 15, set forth this, that if one takes the place of the sinner and the outcast, he is at once received. So, with the lost sheep and the lost piece of silver. There is no intelligence of their condition, yet they set forth that which, if one take, it is representative. To make it clear, one might ask, ‘Are you as sinful as this woman, as badly lost as that sheep or piece of silver?’ (Malachi Taylor)”

“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those your accusers? has no man condemned you? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.” How striking and how blessed is this sequel to what has been before us! When Christ wrote on the ground the second time (not before), the “accusers” of the guilty departed! And then, after the last accuser had disappeared, the Lord said, “Neither do I condemn you.” How perfect the picture and to complete it, Christ added, “Go, and sin no more,” which is still His word to those who have been saved by grace. And the ground, the righteous ground, on which He pronounced this verdict “Neither do I condemn you,” was, that in a short time He was going to be “condemned” in her stead. Finally, note the order of these two words of Christ to this woman who owned Him as “Lord” (1 Corinthians 12:3). It was not, “Go and sin no more, and I will not condemn you,” for that would have been a death-knell rather than good news in her ears. Instead, the Savior said, “Neither do I condemn you.” And to everyone who takes the place this woman was brought into, the word is, “There is therefore now no condemnation” (Romans 8:1). “And sin no more” placed her, as we are placed, under the constraint of His love.”

“This incident then contains far more than that which was of local and ephemeral significance. It, in fact, raises the basic question of, how can mercy and justice be harmonized? How can grace flow forth except by slighting holiness? In the scene here presented to our view we are shown, not by a closely reasoned out statement of doctrine, but in symbolic action, that this problem is not insolvable to Divine wisdom. Here was a concrete case of a guilty sinner leaving the presence of Christ un-condemned. And it was neither because the law had been slighted nor sin palliated. The requirements of the law were strictly complied with, and her sin was openly condemned—”sin no more.” Yet, she herself, was not condemned. She was dealt with according to “grace and truth.” Mercy flowed out to her, yet not at the expense of justice. Such, in brief, is a summary, of this marvelous narrative; a narrative which, truly, no man ever invented and no uninspired pen ever recorded.”

“This blessed incident not only anticipated the epistle to the Romans, but it also outlines, by vivid symbols, the Gospel of the grace of God. The Gospel not only announces a Savior for sinners, but it also explains how God can save them consistently with the requirements of His character. As Romans 1:17 tells us, in the Gospel is “the righteousness of God revealed.” And this is precisely what is set forth here in John 8.” (2)

In closing:

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Proverbs 3:6 has an exhortation to be heeded:

“6. Add thou not] Do not mix with the pure silver of His words the dross of human speculations. “Noli investigare res quæ mentem humanam transcendunt (Proverbs 30:4), ut doctrinam divinitus patefactam inde compleas. Maurer.” (3)

Google translation of Maurer “so that you may complete the doctrine revealed by God.”

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


1.      R.E. Brown, The Gospel According to John I-XII, (Yale Anchor Bible 29; Doubleday, 1966), pp. 333-334.

2.      Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of the Gospel of John, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1975), pp. 14-19.

3.      The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, Proverbs, by T. T. Perowne, (Cambridge University Press, 1898), e-Sword version

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com

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What is the good of thy chosen that the Psalmist desires to see?

What is the good of thy chosen that the Psalmist desires to see?                     by Jack Kettler

“That I may see the good (bə·ṭō·w·ḇaṯ) of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.” (Psalm 106:5) (highlighting emphasis mine)

“It was probably written by David, –at any rate its first and last two verses are to be found in that sacred song which David delivered to Asaph when he brought up the ark of the Lord (1 Chron. Xvi. 34, 35, 36).” (1)

Other translations render bə·ṭō·w·ḇaṯ as benefit, prosperity, goodness, pleasure, and gladness of thy chosen or thy elect.  

The online Strong’s Lexicon shows the range of meaning of bə·ṭō·w·ḇaṯ:

“the prosperity

בְּט֘וֹבַ֤ת (bə·ṭō·w·ḇaṯ)

Preposition-b | Noun – feminine singular construct

Strong’s Hebrew 2896: adj 1) good, pleasant, agreeable 1a) pleasant, agreeable (to the senses) 1b) pleasant (to the higher nature) 1c) good, excellent (of its kind) 1d) good, rich, valuable in estimation 1e) good, appropriate, becoming 1f) better (comparative) 1g) glad, happy, prosperous (of man’s sensuous nature) 1h) good understanding (of man’s intellectual nature) 1i) good, kind, benign 1j) good, right (ethical) n m 2) a good thing, benefit, welfare 2a) welfare, prosperity, happiness 2b) good things (collective) 2c) good, benefit 2d) moral good n f 3) welfare, benefit, good things 3a) welfare, prosperity, happiness 3b) good things (collective) 3c) bounty”

In any case, the Psalmist draws attention to the favor of God’s chosen people. To have this favor is a great thing.

The opening verses, 1-4, set up the context to help understand verse 5:

“Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? who can shew forth all his praise? Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation.” (Psalm 106:1-4)

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary helps understand the overall context:

“106:1-5 None of our sins or sufferings should prevent our ascribing glory and praise to the Lord. The more unworthy we are, the more is his kindness to be admired. And those who depend on the Redeemer’s righteousness will endeavour to copy his example, and by word and deed to show forth his praise. God’s people have reason to be cheerful people; and need not envy the children of men their pleasure or pride.” (2)

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, one learns:

“That I may see the good of thy chosen – Thy chosen people; or, thine elect. That I may possess and enjoy the same favor and happiness which they do. It is implied here that there are special favors conferred on them; or, that happiness is found in the friendship of God which is not to be found elsewhere. It is a characteristic of true piety to desire to make that our own. A truly religious man more desires the happiness which results from being among the “chosen” of God than all that the world can confer.

That I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation – The happiness found in the nation that serves thee. True religion – the favor of God – not only confers happiness on the “individual” who possesses it, but on the nation or people where it prevails. It is just as much suited to produce happiness there, and is just as necessary for happiness there, as in the case of an individual.

That I may glory with thine inheritance – That I may share the honor of thy people. The word “inheritance” here is used to denote that which is one’s own, and is thus applied to the people of God considered as “his.” The meaning is, that the psalmist desired no other glory, honor, or distinction, than that which pertained to God’s people as such. He sought not the “glory” connected with the distinctions of the world; the display of wealth; the triumph of genius, of conquest, of arms – but the “glory” of being a friend of God, and of partaking of that which God confers on his people.” (3)

The Brown-Driver-Briggs entry on chosen is helpful:

“[בָּחִיר] noun masculine chosen, construct בְּחִיר 2 Samuel 21:6 (but We Dr ׳בְּהַר י); suffix בְּחִירָיו 1 Chronicles 16:13; Psalm 89:4; Psalm 105:6; Psalm 105:43; Psalm 106:5; Psalm 106:23; Isa3, Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 43:20; Isaiah 45:4; Isaiah 65:9,15,22; always the chosen or elect of Yahweh.” (4)

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible brings the message of the Psalmist home to the heart of God’s people: 

“That I may see the good of thy chosen…. The elect, according to the foreknowledge of God; who are chosen in Christ to holiness and happiness, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth unto salvation by him; the vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory, both of Jews and Gentiles. The “good” of those is not any goodness of their own, for there is none in them naturally; they are by nature no better than others, none are good, nor do good, no, not one: but the goodness of God laid up for them, and bestowed on them; the blessings of goodness with which Christ is preparing for them; all the good things secured for them in a well ordered covenant; which they partake of in time, and to eternity. To “see” these is not to have a superficial, notional, knowledge of them, as hypocrites may have; or a distant view of them, as Balaam, and the rich man in hell; but to have an experience of them, possess them, and enjoy them.

That I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation; all the nations of the world are the Lord’s; but there is a chosen generation, an holy nation, that is peculiarly his; a nation taken out of a nation, nay, taken out of all the nations that are upon earth: and these have a joy peculiar to them, which foreigners know nothing of, and strangers intermeddle not with; a spiritual joy in the Holy Ghost; a rejoicing in Christ Jesus, in his person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, and in hope of the glory of God; and such joy is desirable, a joy unspeakable, and full of glory.

That I may glory with thine inheritance; the same with his chosen people and nation: for the Lord’s people is his portion, and the lot of his inheritance; they are chosen for an inheritance, given to Christ as such, with which he is well pleased, esteeming them a goodly heritage; they are his purchased possession, his jewels and peculiar treasure. These “glory” not in themselves, in their strength and wisdom, their riches and righteousness; but in Christ and in his righteousness, and in what he is made unto them. And the psalmist desires to join with them, and glory in what they did, and in no other; and unite with them in giving glory to God and Christ, now and hereafter, for his salvation, and all good things from him.” (5)

In closing:

If Psalm 106:5 is to be summarized, John Gill, as seen above, perfectly capsulizes the verse.

That I may see the good of thy chosen

That I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation;

That I may glory with thine inheritance;

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


1.      C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. II, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 363.

2.      Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary, Psalms, (Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas Nelson), p. 939.

3.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 5 p. 1658.

4.      The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius, Hebrew English Lexicon, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers), p. 104.

5.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 1233-1234.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com

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What is the glory of the LORD that all flesh shall see?

What is the glory of the LORD that all flesh shall see?                                   by Jack Kettler

“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)

 Focusing on verse 5:

“And the glory (כְּב֣וֹד (kə·ḇō·wḏ) of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 40:5)

 What is this glory that all flesh shall see? Whom is Isaiah pointing to?

 Barnes’ Notes on the Bible answers these two questions:

“And the glory of the Lord – The phrase here means evidently the majesty, power, or honor of Yahweh. He would display his power, and show himself to be a covenant-keeping God, by delivering his people from their bondage, and reconducting them to their own land. This glory and faithfulness would be shown in his delivering them from their captivity in Babylon; and it would be still more illustriously shown in his sending the Messiah to accomplish the deliverance of his people in later days.

And all flesh – All human beings. The word ‘flesh’ is often used to denote human nature, or mankind in general Genesis 6:12; Psalm 65:3; Psalm 145:21. The idea is, that the deliverance of his people would be such a display of the divine interposition, so that all nations would discern the evidences of his power and glory. But there is a fullness and a richness in the language which allows that it is not to be confined to that event. It is more strikingly applicable to the advent of the Messiah – and to the fact that through him the glory of Yahweh would be manifest to all nations. Rosenmuller supposes that this should be translated,

And all flesh shall see together

That the mouth of Yahweh hath spoken it.

The Hebrew will bear this construction, but there is no necessity for departing from the translation in the common version. The Septuagint adds here the words ‘salvation of God’ so as to read it, ‘and all flesh shall see the salvation of God,’ and this reading has been adopted in Luke 3:6; or it may be more probable that Luke Luk 3:4-6 has quoted from different parts of Isaiah, and that he intended to quote that part, not from the version of the Septuagint, but from Isaiah 52:10. Lowth, on the authority of the Septuagint, proposes to restore these words to the Hebrew text. But the authority is insufficient. The Vulgate, the Chaldee, the Syriac, and the Hebrew manuscripts concur in the reading of the present Hebrew text, and the authority of the Septuagint is altogether insufficient to justify a change.

For the mouth of the Lord – The strongest possible confirmation that it would be fulfilled (see the note at Isaiah 34:16). The idea is, that God had certainly promised their deliverance from bondage; and that his interposition, in a manner which should attract the attention of all nations, was certainly purposed by him. Few events have ever more impressively manifested the glory of God than the redemption of his people from Babylon; none has occurred, or will ever occur, that will more impressively demonstrate his glory, wisdom, and faithfulness, than the redemption of the world by the Messiah.” (1) (highlighting emphasis mine)

New Testament help in answering the starting question:

“Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:1-6)

 Focusing on verse 6: 

“And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:6)

 Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Luke 3:6

“6. all flesh, &c.— (quoted literally from the Septuagint of Isa 40:5). The idea is that every obstruction shall be so removed as to reveal to the whole world the Salvation of God in Him whose name is the “Saviour” (compare Ps 98:3; Isa 11:10; 49:6; 52:10; Lu 2:31, 32; Ac 13:47).” (2)

 The passage in Luke 3:1-6 quotes is Isaiah 40:3-5. In Luke, verse 6 is Isaiah 40:5, “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

 Luke connects the “glory of the Lord” with “the salvation of God.”

 “The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:10)

 As Barnes’ Notes indicates, perhaps Luke had Isaiah 52:10 in mind in Luke 3:6.

 From the commentator William Hendriksen:

“Luke 4–6. as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

A voice of one crying in the wilderness:

 Make ready the way of the Lord,

 Make straight his paths.

 Every valley shall be filled up,

 And every mountain and hill leveled down;

 The crooked roads shall become straight,

 And the rough ways smooth.

 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

      The reference is, of course, to Isa. 40:3 f. Matthew (3:3) and Mark (1:3) quote only Isa. 40:3. Luke also quotes verse 4 and to a certain extent even reproduces part of verse 5. The last five lines, therefore, of Luke’s quotation—hence, the lines beginning with “every valley” and ending with “the salvation of God”—are in the New Testament found only in Luke.

  In addition to a minor difference (between the Greek text and the Hebrew original) in the beginning, for which see the footnote, and a few other small differences farther on, the main variation concerns the close of the quotation. Here the Hebrew text (Isa. 40:5) has:

      and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

     The Septuagint has:

and the glory of the Lord shall he seen [or: revealed], and all flesh shall see the salvation of God; for the Lord has spoken.

      Luke (3:6) omits “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,” but has retained “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

  If it be borne in mind that God’s, hence also Christ’s, glory is revealed most marvelously in the work of salvation (John 12:23, 31, 32; 17:4, 5), it will be clear that there is no essential difference between these three representations.

  Isa. 40:3–5 symbolically pictures the approach of Jehovah for the purpose of leading the procession of Jews who will be returning joyfully to their homeland after long years of captivity. In the Syrian desert, between Babylonia and Palestine, the way must be prepared for the Lord’s coming. So, a herald cries out to the people,

     In the wilderness make ready the way of the Lord,

 Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

      This figure of the herald is in the Gospels applied to John, as Christ’s herald. The Baptist, by saying, “I am the voice …” shows that he agrees with this interpretation (John 1:23). So does Jesus himself (Matt. 11:10). This shows that the deliverance granted to the Jews when, in the latter part of the sixth century b.c. and afterward, they returned to their own country was but a type of that far more glorious liberation in store for all who accept Christ as their Savior and Lord. In other words, Isaiah’s prophecy regarding the voice that cried out lacked total fulfilment until both Messiah’s forerunner and also the Lord himself had arrived on the scene.

  The appropriate application of Isa. 40:3 to John the Baptist is evident from the following: (a) John was preaching in the wilderness (Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4); and (b) the task assigned to him from the days of his infancy (Luke 1:76, 77), yes even earlier (Luke 1:17; Mal. 3:1), was exactly this, namely, to be Messiah’s herald or way-preparer. He was to be the Lord’s “voice” to the people, all of that but not more than that (cf. John 3:22–30). As such he must not only announce Christ’s approach and presence but also urge the people to prepare the way of the Lord, that is, by God’s grace and power to effect a complete change of mind and heart. This implies that they must make straight his paths, meaning that they must provide the Lord with a ready access into their hearts and lives. They must make straight whatever was crooked, not in line with God’s holy will. They must clear away all the obstacles which they had thrown into his path; such obstructions as self-righteousness and smug complacency (“We have Abraham as our father,” Matt. 3:9), greed, cruelty, slander, etc. (Luke 3:13, 14).

  It is evident that both in Isaiah’s and in John’s preaching as recorded by the Gospel writers “the wilderness” through which a path must be made ready for the Lord is in the final analysis the people’s heart, by nature inclined to all evil. Though the literal meaning is not absent, it is subsumed into the figurative. The underlying idea is indeed the actual wilderness. But the very sight of this dreary region must have impressed those who listened to John’s preaching with the fact that they themselves were spiritually “wandering in a desert land where all the streams are dry.”

  It is always difficult to determine exactly to what extent Isaiah’s language, as quoted here by Luke, is to be explained figuratively. A thorough-going symbolical interpretation is detailed in the chart below.

      Symbolical Interpretation of Luke 3:4b–6

    The Words of Luke 3:4b–6, A Possible (?) Interpretation

    A voice of one crying in the wilderness:

   The message of John the Baptist, shouting in the wilderness:

 Make ready the way of the Lord, Make straight his paths.

   By means of genuine conversion (Jer. 31:18) make it possible for the Lord to make a straight path to your heart with his salvation.

  Every valley shall be filled up, And every mountain and hill leveled down;

   Every manifestation of feigned humility as well as every attitude of pride and arrogance will be and must be removed.

    The crooked roads shall become straight,

   Sly, perverse, deceitful habits must be and will be broken.

    And the rough ways smooth.

   Indifference, unconcern, and waywardness must and will make way for genuine interest and accessibility.

    And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

   Then people of every clime and nation, viewed in their weakness and need, will experience the salvation provided by God. Cf. Luke 2:32.

      But it is also possible that such expressions as “every valley.” “every mountain and hill,” “the rough ways,” etc., pertain only to the underlying figure of an approaching King, and have no further significance. The meaning then would simply be, “By God’s grace remove every obstacle in the way of the entrance of the Lord into your hearts and lives. Be converted.” And is not that the central meaning in either case?” (3)

 For more study on this, see Easton’s Bible Dictionary on the Hebrew and Greek word for glory:

“(Hebrew kabhod; Greek doxa).

(1.) Abundance, wealth, treasure, and hence honour (Psalm 49:12); glory (Genesis 31:1; Matthew 4:8; Revelation 21:24, 26).

(2.) Honour, dignity (1 Kings 3:13; Hebrews 2:7 1 Peter 1:24); of God (Psalm 19:1; 29:1); of the mind or heart (Genesis 49:6; Psalm 7:5; Acts 2:46).

(3.) Splendour, brightness, majesty (Genesis 45:13; Isaiah 4:5; Acts 22:11; 2 Corinthians 3:7); of Jehovah (Isaiah 59:19; 60:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).

(4.) The glorious moral attributes, the infinite perfections of God (Isaiah 40:5; Acts 7:2; Romans 1:23; 9:23; Ephesians 1:12). Jesus is the “brightness of the Father’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3; John 1:14; 2:11).

(5.) The bliss of heaven (Romans 2:7, 10; 5:2; 8:18; Hebrews 2:10; 1 Peter 5:1, 10).

(6.) The phrase “Give glory to God” (Joshua 7:19; Jeremiah 13:16) is a Hebrew idiom meaning, “Confess your sins.” The words of the Jews to the blind man, “Give God the praise” (John 9:24), are an adjuration to confess. They are equivalent to, “Confess that you are an impostor,” “Give God the glory by speaking the truth;” for they denied that a miracle had been wrought.” (4)

In closing:

 As noted in the Easton citation, the Biblical Hebrew word for ‘glory’ (כבודkavod) was translated by the Greek Septuagint as doxa.

 Also, of interest is the Greek Septuagint adds the words ‘salvation of God’ so as to read it, ‘and all flesh shall see the salvation of God’ in Isaiah 40:5. Indeed, Isaiah 40:5 and Isaiah 52:10 point to the Lord Jesus Christ as the salvation that has been revealed. A magnificent glorification of Christ.

 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


1.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 7 p. 926-927.

2.      Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1977) p. 995.

3.      William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Luke, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1984), pp. 201-204.

4.      M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com

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What are the “paths of the seas”?

What are the “paths of the seas”?                                                       by Jack Kettler

“O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.” (Psalm 8:1-9)

“The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.” (Psalm 8:8)

 What do the paths of the seas mean? First, it will be helpful to survey two classic commentary entries.

 Consider Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

“The fowl of the air – Genesis 1:26, “Over the fowl of the air.” Genesis 9:2, “upon every fowl of the air.” This dominion is the more remarkable because the birds of the air seem to be beyond the reach of man; and yet, equally with the beasts of the field, they are subject to his control. Man captures and destroys them; he prevents their multiplication and their ravages. Numerous as they are, and rapid as is their flight, and strong as many of them are, they have never succeeded in making man subject to them, or in disturbing the purposes of man. See the notes at James 3:7.

And the fish of the sea – Genesis 1:26, “Over the fish of the sea.” Genesis 9:2, “upon all the fishes of the sea.” This must be understood in a general sense, and this is perhaps still more remarkable than the dominion over the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, for the fishes that swim in the ocean seem to be placed still farther from the control of man. Yet, so far as is necessary for his use and for safety, they are, in fact, put under the control of man, and he makes them minister to his profit. Not a little of that which contributes to the support the comfort, and the luxury of man, comes from the ocean. From the mighty whale to the shellfish that furnished the Tyrian dye, or to that which furnishes the beautiful pearl, man has shown his power to make the dwellers in the deep subservient to his will.

And whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas – Everything, in general, that passes through the paths of the sea, as if the ocean was formed with paths or highways for them to pass over. Some have referred this to man, as passing over the sea and subduing its inhabitants; some, to the fishes before spoken of; but the most natural construction is that which is adopted in our received version, as referring to everything which moves in the waters. The idea is that man has a wide and universal dominion – a dominion so wide as to excite amazement, wonder, and gratitude, that it has been conceded to one so feeble as he is.” (1)

 Barnes’ is correct in his approach to the text when he mentions “the ocean was formed with paths or highways.”

 Next, Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible provides a fairly typical analysis of the text:

“The fowl of the air, …. These he rained about the tents of the Israelites for their relief, Psalm 78:27, and can command them to feed his people, as the ravens did Elijah, 1 Kings 17:4; or to destroy his enemies, Jeremiah 15:3; see Psalm 50:10;

and the fish of the sea: instances of Christ’s power over them, and of their being at his command, and for his service, may be seen in Matthew 17:27; and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas: some (k) understand this of ships, made by the wisdom and art of men, in which they pass through the paths of the sea, and fish in the midst of it. The Targum paraphrases it, “and leviathan, which passes through the paths of the sea”. Compare with this Isaiah 27:1. Some interpret all these things in a figurative and allegorical way; and some of the ancients by “sheep” understood believers among the Gentiles; by “oxen”, the Jews; by “the beasts of the field”, idolaters and profane persons; “by the fowls of the air”, angels; and by “the fish of the sea”, devils: but these are much better explained by Cocceius, who, by “sheep”, understands common members of the churches; by “oxen”, those that labour in the word and doctrine; by “the beasts of the field”, aliens from the city and kingdom of God; men fierce and cruel, Isaiah 11:6; by “the fowl of the air”, such as are tilted up with pride and vanity; and by “the fish of the sea”, such as are immersed in worldly pleasures. But it is best to interpret the whole literally; from whence may be observed, that what was lost by the first Adam is restored by the second; and that believers have a free use of all the creatures through Christ: and not only the things here mentioned are subject to him, but everything else; there is nothing left that is not put under him, only he is excepted that put all things under him, Hebrews 2:8. (k) Aben Ezra & Kimchi in loc.” (2)

 Gill notes that some take a figurative or allegorical approach to the text. After wisely not endorsing an allegorical approach chooses to see the text as a “whole literally” and understands the text as completion in Christ what was lost by Adam.

 However, the two following entries shed additional light on the text and is more satisfying.  

 Matthew Maury’s Paths of the Sea



“Today’s oceanography and meteorology owe a great debt to Matthew Maury. He exemplified the biblical principle that whatever we do, we should do it “to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Maury’s scientific research revered God’s Creatorship while benefiting his fellowman.1

On a monument erected by the state of Virginia to his memory is found a plaque that reads as follows: “Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Seas, the genius who first snatched from the oceans and atmosphere the secret of their laws. His inspiration, Holy Writ, Psalm 8:8; Ecclesiastes 1:6.”2

Genius indeed! Maury epitomizes the godly investigator whose creation science begins with the Creator’s written revelation—the Bible.3

I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes, and is therefore no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible IS authority for everything it touches.1

As a child, Maury was taught the Psalms at home, and that divine book of praises imprinted upon his intelligent, investigative mind. Decades later Maury would live out his lifelong commitment to doxological creation science.4 Maury recognized the Holy Bible as perfect in whatever it taught, including being authoritatively relevant and accurate in scientific matters.1,4 Among the insights he gleaned are:

1.      The Gulf Stream washes nutrients from the Gulf of Mexico into the North Atlantic, benefiting whales, seabirds, and other oceanic creatures. This illustrates the scriptural principle of God’s providential care for animals (Job 38:41; Psalm 147:9; Matthew 10:29; Luke 12:6).

2.      The general system of atmospherical circulation is referred to in Ecclesiastes 1:6.

3.      The water cycle matches Ecclesiastes 1:7.

4.      Atmospheric pressure is a geophysical reality mentioned in Job 28:25 as the “weight for the wind.”

5.      Maury’s most famous Scripture-based insight is that the oceans have subsurface currents with regular circulation patterns—the “paths of the seas” in Psalm 8:8.5

Maury trembled at the privilege of uncovering the logic God carefully built into His creation, noting that scientific discovery is discovering God’s own mind.

As a student of physical geography, I regard earth, sea, air, and water as parts of a machine, pieces of mechanism, not made with hands…. And when, after patient research, I am led to the discovery of one of these [mechanisms], I feel, with the astronomer of old [Johannes Kepler], “as though I had thought one of God’s thoughts,” and tremble. Thus, as we progress with our science, we are permitted now and then to point out here and there in the physical machinery of the earth a design of the Great Architect when He planned it all.6

Virginia’s monument to Matthew Maury reminds us of his historic testimony and scientific achievements. The more important “monument” to his godly work is the ongoing impact of Maury’s life of reverent research in God’s service, which has secured for him “treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-21).


1.      Major, T. J. 1995. Honor to Whom Honor…Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873). Creation Research Society Quarterly. 32 (2): 82-87, quote from page 83.

2.      Gish, D. Paths of the Seas. Days of Praise, October 6, 1993. “One day, while reading Psalm 8, [Maury] was struck by an important truth in the 8th verse… ‘the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.’ He immediately saw the great practical significance of that verse, recognizing that there must be currents of water in the oceans, just like vast rivers, as well as in the atmosphere (Ecclesiastes 1:6).”

3.      Maury, M. F. 1855. The Physical Geography of the Sea and Its Meteorology. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc.

4.      Johnson, J. J. S. An Oceanographer’s Insight, for Researching and Analyzing Oceanic and Littoral Ecosystem Dynamics, Guided by ‘High-Definition’ Biblical Philology, presented at the Creation Research Society Conference, Dallas, Texas, July 31, 2015, especially pages 3-13 and 17.

5.      Adapted from Major, Honor to Whom Honor, 85.

6.      Meyer, J. R. 1982. The Life and Philosophy of Matthew Fontaine Maury, Pathfinder of the Sea. Creation Research Society Quarterly. 19 (2): 91-100, quoting from page 95 (from Maury’s keynote address “at the laying of the corner-stone for the University of the South in the Sewanee Mountains in East Tennessee on Nov. 30, 1860”). * Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.” (3)

By Wayne Jackson from the Christian Courier:

“In Psalm 8, David extols the glory of Jehovah, and he marvels that God has been so mindful of man as to place the creation under his dominion. The context stresses man’s responsibility over the earth.

In discussing some of earth’s creatures, of which man is in charge, the writer mentions “whatsoever passes through the paths of the seas” (Psalms 8:8). This expression is interesting because the phrase contains a precise fact about the seas that David, whose experience was limited to a tiny country on the Mediterranean coast, could never have known from firsthand information

It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that the connection was made regarding currents (literally “paths”) in the sea and the statement from the Psalms a thousand years before Christ. In 1860, a pioneer in oceanography, Matthew Fontaine Maury, called attention to the fact that the ocean was a circulating system. His book on physical oceanography is still a highly regarded source of information on this science.

Consider, for example, the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream flows from the east coast of North America toward Europe. It is about 50 miles wide and 3,000 feet deep. Its rate of flow, measured in volume per second, is about 1,000 times greater than the Mississippi River. Many ocean vessels “ride” this current in order to save valuable shipping time.

Underline the expression “paths of the sea” in Psalm 8, and in your margin write: Confirmed by Matthew Maury in 1860. God’s word is accurate!” (4)

 In closing:

 Matthew Maury’s approach could be called a seafarer’s insight into the text, similar to W. Phillip Keller’s A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.

 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)


1.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Psalms, Vol. 5 p. 177-178.

2.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Psalms, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 87.

3.      James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. 2020. Matthew Maury’s Paths of the Sea. Acts & Facts. 49 (9).

4.      Jackson, Wayne. “Psalms 8:8 – The Paths of the Sea.” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: May 23, 2022. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1063-psalms-8-8-the-paths-of-the-sea

 Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com

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