May God Make His Face Shine Upon Us

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. A new word, a new commandment, is true in Christ Jesus and in you. Becoming intimately familiar with the tongue of the Righteous One is a key component in our journey in recovering spiritual truth, and rediscovering who we really are.

Ps 19:14 – Let the sayings of my mouth, And the meditation of my heart, Be for a pleasing thing before Thee, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer! (YLT)

The sayings of my mouth.

Expressions that expose what I perceive to be truth and wisdom.

The meditation of my heart.

To earnestly, deeply think and to murmur with tenderness, evoking a strong emotional response.

My soul is cast down. My soul is in turmoil within me. Why?
The oppression of my enemy [hating adversary]. (Ps 42)

Luke 2:34-35 – and Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, ‘Lo, this [one] is set for the falling and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against — (and also thine own soul shall a sword pass through) — that the reasonings of many hearts may be revealed.’ (YLT)

Set. To lie outstretched literally or figuratively. To place in a passive or horizontal posture; utterly prostrate.
Set. That the reasonings of many hearts may be revealed.
Words. Thoughts. Meditations. Heart. Mind. Will. Emotions. Motives.
Revealed. To take the cover off; disclose.

Do you intentionally, regularly schedule time for the reasonings of your heart to be revealed?

Our two selves.

The vessel of wrath. The vessel of mercy.
Place in a passive, utterly prostrate posture. Take the cover off. Revealed.

Eph 2:1-6 – It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. (MSG)

The vessel of wrath:
We’re all in the same boat.
We were mired in that old stagnant life of sin.
Missing the mark
Ensnared by self-interest
Seduced. Persuaded to do something disloyal.
We didn’t know the first thing about living.
Real living.
In a state of simplicity and singleness of devotion to the Lord God.
We looked to the world to tell us how to live.
The world doesn’t know the first thing about living
For help, we look to man, and not to God
For help, we look to flesh, and not to spirit
You are against me [the Lord God],
You are against your helper.

The vessel of wrath:
Appearing to be alive
Breathing
Filling our lungs with polluted unbelief.
Then exhaling disobedience.
You did it.
I did it.
We all did it.

The vessel of mercy:
Filling our lungs with pure belief
Then exhaling single-minded devotion to the Lord God.

Immense in mercy
And with an incredible love,
The Lord God embraced us.
Accepted us. Adopted us.
Encircled us. Surrounded us.
Included us.
In Christ.
He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ.
He did this all on his own, with no help from us!
Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
Holy and blameless before him

This is life that flows from steadfast love and the knowledge of God
This is life, knowing God himself and his desires for us
This is life, receiving the gifts that the Lord God has given to us.

With what breath are you breathing?

With what breath were Adam and Eve breathing when they took and ate the fruit that the Lord God commanded them not to eat? Had they filled their lungs with polluted unbelief then exhaled disobedience? Or had they filled their lungs with the breath of the Almighty that gives understanding then exhaled single-minded devotion to the Lord God?

What were the sayings of Adam and Eve’s mouth, and what was the meditation of their hearts before they took and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Which tongue influenced them?

What are the sayings of your mouth, and what is the meditation of your heart? Are you mindful of them? Whose tongue is presently determining the course of your life?

Prov 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (ESV)

Death is in the power of the tongue.
Life is in the power of the tongue.
Those who love the tongue and its words
Will eat its fruit.
What fruit are you eating?
Do you know?
The fruit of death?
The fruit of life?

Prov 10:20 – The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. (ESV)

The tongue of the righteous
The heart of the wicked
Is there a connection between tongue and heart?

…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matt 12:34b

What is stored in your heart? Are you aware? What beliefs, expectations, experiences are behind your actions and reactions?  What wounds distort truth, beauty, and goodness? What traps you in ego-consciousness rather than God-consciousness?

A soothing tongue versus a broken spirit

Prov 15:4 – A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but when it twists things, it breaks the spirit. (CJB)

A soothing [wholesome] tongue. Curative. A medicine. Deliverance. To mend. Undisturbed. Calm. Quiet. Tranquil.1
A soothing tongue is a tree of life.

But when the tongue twists things: perverseness, distortion, viciousness, to wrench, to subvert.2
A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but when the tongue twists things, it breaks the spirit.

Breaks: a fracture, ruin, breach, affliction, vexation, crush, quench.3

How the words of the cunning serpent twisted and perverted truth and reality! How the spirit was broken and quenched in Adam and Eve when they accepted and surrendered to the power of the tongue that contradicted and distorted the words spoken by the Lord God when the serpent said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Gen 3:4-5 (ESV)

Prov 10:20 – The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. (ESV)

Who is righteous?

Rom 3:10-18 – as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (ESV)

Who is righteous?
None is righteous. No one understands. No one seeks for God.
The way of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
They use their tongues to deceive. Their mouth is full of curses. Bitterness.

Have you unwittingly adopted the words of your adversary as the sayings of your mouth and the meditation of your heart?  Are you eating its fruit? Are you reaping the consequences?

No one seeks for God.
They have not known. They have not understood.
No one.

Seek after: to search out carefully and diligently, investigate, crave, demand, ask for boldly and urgently, to call for as necessary, enquire, worship.4

What is righteousness?

Righteousness: Loyalty as a servant to God. Demonstrations of mercy. Righteousness is a legal term which involves the whole process of justice. The word has elements of both a dynamic [in motion, tending toward change] and static [at rest] sense. The NEB exhibits this tension between dynamic and static in the translation of tsedeq: “My victory [instead of righteousness] is near, my deliverance has gone forth and my arm shall rule the nations; for me coasts and islands shall wait and they shall look to me for protection” Isa 51:5. …Job’s ultimate hope was in God’s declaration of justification. The Old Testament is in agreement with this hope. When injustice prevails, God is the One who “justifies.” The righteous person followed God’s example. The psalmist exhorts his people to change their judicial system: “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy” Ps 82:3.5

Who is righteous?
None is righteous. No one understands. No one seeks for God.
They have not known. They have not understood.
No one.

James 3:2-9 – For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect [complete] man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by [agency, means] hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil [intrinsically worthless], full of deadly poison [venom]. (ESV)

If anyone does not stumble in what s/he says, s/he is a perfect [complete] human being.
No human being can tame the tongue.
It is a restless evil [intrinsically worthless].

So, if no human being can tame the tongue, how is the tongue tamed? How is a world of unrighteousness cultivated, subdued, made easy to control? How is the fire by hell extinguished and made powerless? How is the vessel of wrath discarded as the intrinsically worthless thing that it is?

Dynamic and static elements of righteousness

The tongue is tamed in the process of discovering and living according to both the dynamic and static elements of righteousness. The vessel of wrath is destroyed and discarded in the process of actively seeking the Lord God even while resting, waiting and looking to the Lord God to justify us. Righteousness is understanding that power to enlighten and heal rests with the Lord God, even as we actively engage in working to change the world’s judicial system, to defend the poor and fatherless; to do justice to the afflicted and needy as the Spirit of God enlightens, empowers and directs us.

Job 32:8 – But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. (ESV)

1 Cor 2:14 – …Spirit can be known only by spirit — God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. (MSG)

Righteousness: loyalty as a servant to God, who is Spirit. Demonstrating mercy.

What did David and other psalmists do about their tongues and their neighbor’s tongues that were set on fire by hell?

Ps 12:3-4 – May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?” (ESV)

Ps 120:1-2 – In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. (ESV)

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips.
May the Lord cut off the tongue that makes great boasts.
Deliver me, snatch me away, rescue me, rid me, strip me, take out, O Lord, my lying lips and deceitful tongue.

Cut off: to destroy or consume; specifically, to covenant, i.e. make an alliance or bargain, originally by cutting flesh and passing between the pieces (see Gen 15:9-17). “Covenant” corresponds to the Hebrew words, “word,” “statute,” “precepts,” “testimony,” “law,” and “lovingkindness,” emphasizing the authority and grace of God in making and keeping the “covenant,” and the specific responsibility of man under the covenant, to be joined to God in loving service and know eternal fellowship with him through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.6

Cut off, destroy, consume, to covenant, to make an alliance, to bargain.
Covenant. Word. Statute. Precepts. Testimony. Law. Lovingkindness.
Joined to God in loving service.
Joined to God in knowing eternal fellowship with him.

Covenant

Covenant. Joined to God.
Cut.
Word.
Passing between pieces of flesh.
Grace of God.
Joined to God in loving service
Knowing eternal fellowship with him.

Ps 141:3 – Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! (ESV)

Covenant. Word. Law. Cutting flesh and passing between the pieces.

Heb 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (ESV)

The word of God is living.
The word of God is active.
Covenant.

Cut off my flattering lips, cut off my tongue that makes great boasts, cut off my lying lips, cut off my deceitful tongue.
Cut them off with your word, Lord God.
Your word is living and active.
Sharp.
Piercing.
Dividing soul and spirit
Dividing joints and marrow
Discerning thoughts
Discerning intentions of the heart.
Cut off my flattering lips, my tongue that makes great boasts, my lying lips, and my deceitful tongue, O Word of God.

Let the sayings of my mouth, And the meditation of my heart, Be for a pleasing thing before Thee, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer!

Ps 32:9-10 – Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. (ESV)

Our two selves. Vessel of wrath. Vessel of mercy.

Without understanding

Be not like a horse or mule
Without understanding
It is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand
Be not like a horse or mule
Which must be restrained and subdued with bit or bridle, or it will not stay near
This is the vessel of wrath. Many sorrows.

But steadfast love
Surrounds
The one who trusts in the Lord,
The one who is confident and sure of the Lord.
It is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand
This is the vessel of mercy.

How do we get understanding? How do we develop trust in the Lord? How do we become acquainted with the vessel of mercy?

James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist [stand up against] the devil, and he will flee from you. (ESV)

Hos 6:6-7 – For I [Lord God] desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me. (ESV) 

Submit yourself. Subject yourself to God. Steadfast love. The knowledge of God. A state of simplicity and singleness of devotion to the Lord God.

Perhaps we begin to get understanding when we let go the sayings of our mouth and the meditation of our heart that are like sword thrusts and full of poisonous bitterness! Maybe we stop covering and hiding ourselves behind arrogant boasting and begin to use our tongues to acknowledge that we are wrong, and God is right.

When we begin to seek after God. To search him out carefully and diligently, to investigate, to crave, to demand, to ask for boldly and urgently, to call for as necessary, to worship, we begin to get understanding.

Ps 32:3-5 – When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone — my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. (MSG)

The tongue. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Death: when I am arrogant and boastful, when I am independent and self-reliant, when I keep silent, when I hide all my failures inside. Life: when I open myself up and let it all out, admitting to God all my failures, and receive forgiveness. Then my guilt is dissolved. My sin nonexistent.

Two courses of life and two kinds of knowing. One driven by a lost, dead soul having settled for the knowledge of good and evil. Through a mind ruined by duplicity of self-interest, filling our lungs with polluted unbelief then exhaling disobedience.

The second course is life rediscovered through knowing God and finding ourselves, who we really are. Life, wholeness, completeness flows as we fill our lungs with belief by entrusting our soul to God, understanding that it is the spirit, the breath of the Almighty, that makes us understand and gives us life.

The Word within

1 John 2:7-8 – Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. (ESV)

The word.
The word that you had from the beginning.
The word.
The word that you have heard.
The word.
The word.
No new commandment.
An old commandment.
At the same time,
It is a new commandment.
The new commandment
The word
The word is true in him.
The word.
Active. Living.
The word is true in you.

2 Cor 3:5-6 – It is not that we are competent in ourselves to count anything as having come from us; on the contrary, our competence is from God. He has even made us competent to be workers serving a New Covenant, the essence of which is not a written text but the Spirit. For the written text brings death, but the Spirit gives life. (CJB)

Knowing good and evil through a corrupted mind. Knowing God himself, knowing what God knows, understanding through the breath of the Almighty. Flesh. Spirit. Vessel of wrath. Vessel of mercy.

The darkness of death’s shroud is passing away. The true light is already shining. In him and in you.

Adopt the words of the Lord God as the sayings of your mouth and the meditation of your heart. Let them live in you. Let them be true in you. The active, living Word of God in you.

Intentionally, regularly schedule time for the reasonings of your heart to be revealed. Place yourself, mind, body and soul, in a position to become aware of the ministrations of the active, living Word of God in you.

Ps 71:8 – My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. (ESV)

Ps 67:1-3 – May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah [pause, breathe, reflect] that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! (ESV)

May God be gracious to us.
May God be merciful to us.
May God stoop in kindness to us.
May God favor us.
May God implore us.
May God move us to favor by petition.
May God bless us.
May God cause us to kneel and adore him.
May God make his face to shine upon us.
To make glorious
To set on fire
To enlighten
That your way, Lord God, may be known
That your way, Lord God, may be known on earth
That your saving power,
Your deliverance,
Your aid,
Your victory,
Your prosperity,
Your salvation, Lord God, may be known among all nations.

Known
Ascertained by seeing
Discerning
Discovering
Acknowledging
Experiencing
Understanding.
Let all the peoples, Lord God, praise you!
May God be gracious to us,
May God be merciful to us
May God cause us to kneel and adore him
May God bless us,
May God make his face to shine upon us.

Intentionally, regularly place yourself, mind, body and soul, in a position to become aware and to receive the Lord God’s grace and mercy.

Then live, love, obey through the breath of the Almighty, the spirit that is in you, that makes you understand.

Interact with the words of Scripture through deep, careful study.

Then move beyond logic and reason; move from head to heart to spirit. Anticipate unifying of body, mind and spirit to mirror and imitate the mind and life of Jesus.

Meditate. Experience the word of Scripture bodily by moaning, growling, uttering, speaking aloud each word, syllable by syllable. Experience the words of Scripture expressing the longing and desire and hope in the depth of your own soul. Become acquainted with your longing. Anticipate that your soul’s longing will be satisfied, its hunger will be filled with good things, and it will be healed and made complete again. Let the inspired word of God arouse feelings of awe.

2 Cor 13:14 – the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, [is] with you all! Amen. (YLT)

Contemplate. Sit quietly without thinking, without murmuring. Simply be. Become conscious of your companions.

Stay in this place of rest and fellowship for as long as you can.

When finished, select just one word or phrase and carry it with you all day, thinking about it, murmuring it, holding it, treasuring it. Let it soak deep into your soul. Tomorrow, meditate on the entire text again. Select the same word or phrase or a different one to carry with you all day, thinking about it, murmuring it, holding it, treasuring it. Do this practice every day. Let God’s Word begin to fill your soul with good things.

I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it. (Ps 119:15-16 MSG)

 

But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. (Job 32:8)

I encourage you to look for ways and practices to help you become aware of Holy Spirit and to relinquish all that you have and all that you are to Holy Spirit’s convicting, enlightening, restorative ministrations.

A practice that has been life-changing for me comes from Psalm 46:10.

Ps 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (ESV)

Be still.
It’s a paradox.
Be still. A state of being. Am. Is. Stay, remain as in was, were.
It’s a process of letting go in order to rediscover Life that was forfeited.
It’s a process of ceasing, stopping, to be destroyed, and dying in order to be redeemed.
It’s a process of abandoning and neglecting in order to be healed and made whole.

It’s a process of opposing, contending, and striving in order to give up, renounce, leave, and abandon self-interest that is death, forfeiture of Life.

It’s a process of becoming weak, feeble, to be wept over in order to return to the original Life that was forfeited, but is bought back by the only One who has Life in himself.

Be still, consequently
Know

Know, not in the sense of accumulating facts and figures, receiving answers about what to do to get a good life, but know as in relationship. Know as in Being. Awareness, consciousness, discernment, recognition, acquaintance, familiar friend, feel, perceive, have respect, have understanding, instruction, presence, fellowship.

Be still.

Letting the vessel of wrath prepared for destruction go in order to know the riches of God’s glory for vessels of mercy.

2 Peter 3:18 – But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (ESV)

*****

Resources/For deeper study:

1OT:4832 <START HEBREW>aP@r=m^<END HEBREW> marpe’ (mar-pay’); from OT:7495; properly, curative, i.e. literally (concretely) a medicine, or (abstractly) a cure; figuratively (concretely) deliverance, or (abstractly) placidity:

OT:7495 <START HEBREW>ap*r*<END HEBREW> rapha’ (raw-faw’); or raphah (raw-faw’); a primitive root; properly, to mend (by stitching), i.e. (figuratively) to cure: (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

2Twists things [perverseness within]: OT:5558 <START HEBREW>[l#s#<END HEBREW> celeph (seh’-lef); from OT:5557; distortion, i.e. (figuratively) viciousness:

OT:5557 <START HEBREW>[l^s*<END HEBREW> calaph (saw-laf’); a primitive root; properly, to wrench, i.e. (figuratively) to subvert: (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

3Breaks [breach]: (shay’-ber); from OT:7665; a fracture, figuratively, ruin; specifically, a solution (of a dream): KJV – affliction, breach, breaking, broken [-footed, -handed], bruise, crashing, destruction, hurt, interpretation, vexation.

Burst (literally or figuratively): OT:7665: KJV – break (down, off, in pieces, up), broken ([-hearted]), bring to the birth, crush, destroy, hurt, quench,  quite, tear, view [by mistake for OT:7663]. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

4Seek after: NT:1567 <START GREEK>e)kzhte/w <END GREEK> ekzeteo (ek-zay-teh’-o); from NT:1537 and NT:2212; to search out, i.e. (figuratively) investigate, crave, demand, (by Hebraism) worship: KJV – enre-) quire, seek after (carefully, diligently). (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

5RIGHTEOUS

  1. Verb. tsadaq OT:6663, “to be righteous, be in the right, be justified, be just.” This verb, which occurs fewer than 40 times in biblical Hebrew, is derived from the noun tsedeq. Nowhere is the issue of righteousness more appropriate than in the problem of the suffering of the righteous presented to us in Job, where the verb occurs 17 times. Apart from the Book of Job the frequency of tsadaq in the various books is small. The first occurrence of the verb is in Gen 38:26, where Judah admits that Tamar was just in her demands: “She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son.”

The basic meaning of tsadaq is “to be righteous.” It is a legal term which involves the whole process of justice. God “is righteous” in all of His relations, and in comparison with Him man is not righteous: “Shall mortal man be more just [righteous] than God?” Job 4:17. In a derived sense, the case presented may be characterized as a just cause in that all facts indicate that the person is to be cleared of all charges. Isaiah called upon the nations to produce witnesses who might testify that their case was right: “Let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth” 43:9. Job was concerned about his case and defended it before his friends: “…though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge” 9:15. Tsadaq may also be used to signify the outcome of the verdict, when a man is pronounced “just” and is judicially cleared of all charges. Job believed that the Lord would ultimately vindicate him against his opponents Job 13:18.

In its causative pattern, the meaning of the verb brings out more clearly the sense of a judicial pronouncement of innocence: “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify [tsadaq] the righteous [tsaddiq], and condemn the wicked” Deut 25:1. The Israelites were charged with upholding righteousness in all areas of life. When the court system failed became of corruption, the wicked were falsely “justified” and the poor were robbed of justice because of trumped-up charges. Absalom, thus, gained a large following by promising justice to the landowner 2 Sam 15:4. God, however, assured Israel that justice would be done in the end: “Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked” Ex 23:6-7. The righteous person followed God’s example. The psalmist exhorts his people to change their judicial system: “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy” Ps 82:3.

Job’s ultimate hope was in God’s declaration of justification. The Old Testament is in agreement with this hope. When injustice prevails, God is the One who “justifies.”

The Septuagint translates the verb by dikaiao  (“to do justice, justly, to vindicate”). In the English versions a frequent translation is “to justify” (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV); modern versions also give the additional translations “to be vindicated (RSV, NASB, NIV) and “to acquit” (RSV, NIV).

  1. Nouns. tsedeq OT:6664; tsedaqah OT:6666, “righteousness.” These nouns come from a Semitic root which occurs in Hebrew, Phoenician, and Aramaic with a juristic sense. In Phoenician and Old Aramaic it carries the sense of “loyalty” demonstrated by a king or priest as a servant of his own god. In these languages a form of the root is combined with other words or names, particularly with the name of a deity, in royal names. In the Old Testament we meet the name Melchizedek (“king of righteousness”). A more limited meaning of the root is found in Arabic (a South Semitic language): “truthfulness” (of propositions). In rabbinic Hebrew the noun tsedaqah signifies “alms” or “demonstrations of mercy.”

The word tsedaqah, which occurs 157 times, is found throughout the Old Testament (except for Exodus, Leviticus, 2 Kings, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Habbakuk, and Zephaniah). Tsedeq, which occurs 119 times, is found mainly in poetic literature. The first usage of sedeq is: “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor” Lev 19:15; and of tsedaqah is: “[Abram] believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” Gen 15:6.

Translators have found it difficult to translate these two words. The older translations base their understanding on the Septuagint with the translation dikaiosune (“righteousness”) and on the Vulgate iustitia (“justice”). In these translations the legal relationship of humans is transferred to God in an absolute sense as the Lawgiver and with the perfections of justice and “righteousness.”

Exegetes have spilled much ink in an attempt to understand contextually the words tsedeq and tsedaqah. The conclusions of the researchers indicate a twofold significance. On the one hand, the relationships among people and of a man to his God can be described as tsedeq, supposing the parties are faithful to each other’s expectations. It is a relational word. In Jacob’s proposal to Laban, Jacob used the word tsedaqah to indicate the relationship. The KJV gives the following translation of tsedaqah: “So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face…” Gen 30:33. The NASB gives the word “righteousness” in a marginal note, but prefers the word “honesty” in the text itself. The NEB reads “fair offer” instead. Finally, the NIV has: “And my honesty [tsedaqah] will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me.” On the other hand, “righteousness” as an abstract or as the legal status of a relationship is also present in the Old Testament. The locus classicus is Gen 15:6: “…and he [the Lord] counted it to him [Abraham] for righteousness.”

Regrettably, in a discussion of the dynamic versus the static sense of the word, one or the other wins out, though both elements are present. The books of Psalms and of the prophets particularly use the sense of “righteousness” as a state; cf. “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged” Isa 51:1; and “My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust” Isa 51:5. The NEB exhibits this tension between dynamic and static in the translation of tsedeq: “My victory [instead of righteousness] is near, my deliverance has gone forth and my arm shall rule the nations; for me coasts and islands shall wait and they shall look to me for protection” Isa 51:5. Thus, in the discussion of the two nouns below, the meanings lie between the dynamic and the static.

Tsedeq and tsedaqah are legal terms signifying justice in conformity with the legal corpus (the Law; Deut 16:20), the judicial process Jer 22:3, the justice of the king as judge 1 Kings 10:9; Ps 119:121; Prov 8:15, and also the source of justice, God Himself: “Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me…. And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long” Ps 35:24,28.

The word “righteousness” also embodies all that God expects of His people. The verbs associated with “righteousness” indicate the practicality of this concept. One judges, deals, sacrifices, and speaks righteously; and one learns, teaches, and pursues after righteousness. Based upon a special relationship with God, the Old Testament saint asked God to deal righteously with him: “Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son” Ps 72:1.

The Septuagint gives the following translations: dikaios (“those who are upright, just, righteous, conforming to God’s laws”); Dikalosune (“righteousness; uprightness”); and eleemosune  (“land deed; alms; charitable giving”). The KJV gives the senses “righteousness; justice.”

  1. Adjective. tsaddiq OT:6662, “righteous; just.” This adjectival form occurs 206 times in biblical Hebrew. In Old Aramaic the adjective signifies “loyalty” of a king or high priest to his personal god, often represented by a gift to the god. Similarly in Phoenician, the noun and adjective apply to the loyal relationship of the king before the gods. The word is used of God in Ex 9:27: “I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.” Tsaddiq is used of a nation in Gen 20:4: “…and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?” (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

6Cut off: OT:3772 <START HEBREW>tr^K*<END HEBREW> karath (kaw-rath’); a primitive root; to cut (off, down or asunder); by implication, to destroy or consume; specifically, to covenant (i.e. make an alliance or bargain, originally by cutting flesh and passing between the pieces): (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

Covenant: …The most common verb is “to cut [karat] a covenant,” which is always translated as in Gen 15:18: “The Lord made a covenant with Abram.” This use apparently comes from the ceremony described in Gen 15:9-17 (cf. Jer 34:18), in which God appeared as “a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp [flaming torch] that passed between those pieces” Gen 15:17. …God takes the sole initiative in covenant making and fulfillment…”Covenant” is parallel or equivalent to the Hebrew words dabar (“word”), hoq (“statute”), piqqud (“precepts” — Ps. 103:18>, NASB), ±edah (“testimony” — Ps. 25:10>), torah (“law” — Ps. 78:10>), and checed (“lovingkindness” — Deut. 7:9>, NASB). These words emphasize the authority and grace of God in making and keeping the “covenant,” and the specific responsibility of man under the covenant…The use of “Old Testament” and “New Testament” as the names for the two sections of the Bible indicates that God’s “covenant” is central to the entire book. The Bible relates God’s “covenant” purpose, that man be joined to Him in loving service and know eternal fellowship with Him through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

1 thought on “May God Make His Face Shine Upon Us

  1. Herbert C Young June 2, 2019 — 9:22 am

    “By turning your eyes on God in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with God. Begin all your prayers in the presence of God.” St. Francis de Sale

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