If you have read much of my writing, you know I get really bothered when Bible translators apparently change wording or words that mess with the meaning of what is written. Today, in studying Psalm 139 for my upcoming visit with Ruth Tatton Coghill on her radio program, Words to Inspire, I found another of those bothersome interferences with scripture. This one really shocked me, because after I researched the words, or tried to, I realized that what I had always thought it said wasn’t so!
The psalm is pretty familiar.
“O Lord thou hast searched me and known me…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…all the days ordained for me were written in thy book before ever one of them came to be…”
Now there’s the problem. I guess I’ve heard that so often, I thought the psalmist must actually have believed that, and was either telling me God had planned how many days I would live or even that he had planned how my days would go, before ever one of them came to be.
So here I was today, looking up words like substance (vs 15, 16. They don’t mean the same thing!) and noticed that in one version the word “days” (vs 16) was translated “members” in another version. The King James and Dakes say “members” while the Amplified, NAS, and NI say “days”.
Now that’s problematic, because the meanings of the words, and therefore the thought offered in the context, are vastly different!
When I looked for the Hebrew word meanings, expecting that the word could have different definitions, I found there was no Hebrew word there! That it actually said, “My frame, (my developed bones, sinews, skin,etc,) was not hid from thee … thine eyes did see my substance (my undeveloped embryo), yet being unperfect, and all were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was not one of them.”
Unless there is something missing in my concordance, and there really is a word for “days” or “members” in that verse, I have to recognize that the verse is saying something far different from what I have thought. Rather than telling us that every little thing in our days was planned by God before we ever got here, it is really still talking about the miracle of birth and the amazing value we have in his eyes.
It tells me that our little Olivia, our brand new grandbaby, still so small and vulnerable, is of immeasureable value to God. And just as the plan for getting her (and the rest of us) here was beautifully and wisely designed (and watched over while it happened), so his plan for her destiny, her calling, is something that he is able to work out as she follows his path, one step at a time. Wonderful!
“I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knows right well” (Psalm 139:14).