O Lord, All My Longing is Before You

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and the perseverance which the Messiah gives.

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

Inner turmoil

Our inner turmoil is the result of the self who was born according to the flesh harassing, oppressing, persecuting the self that is the child of promise, who was born according to the Spirit’s supernatural power, by the will of God.

Ps 38:1-10 –O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs [pants]; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me. (ESV)

Your arrows (words) have sunk into me.
Your arrows: A piercer, a wound, the shaft of a spear.1

Words, Spirit, Life

John 6:63 – It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I [Jesus] have spoken to you are spirit and life. (ESV)

It is the Spirit who gives life.
The flesh is of no avail.
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit.
The words that I have spoken to you are life.
Spirit
Words
Life
Given
Spoken

It seems that David was deeply conscious of the state of his heart and soul and was shattered by that knowledge. In over his head. Helpless. Powerless. Vulnerable. Bowed down. Pressed down. Burning. Prostrate before the Lord God.

Can you identify with David?

I wonder if we can know God, find ourselves by experiencing life as union with God, unless or until we become aware of our utter brokenness as we discover that we’ve been pursuing illusion, trusting what has no substance, and come face to face with our emptiness, powerlessness, and loneliness? It is the Spirit who gives life. Are you intimately familiar with the Spirit of God, the still, small voice within?

David confessed, “There is no health in my bones because of my sin…my iniquities…my foolishness.”

He recognized and owned his vessel of wrath. He freely acknowledged that his flesh is no help. There is no thought he can think, no word he can speak, no act he can perform, no emotion he can feel that can satisfy that deep longing of his soul.

My sin: missing the mark. A path, a lifestyle, or act deviating from that which God has marked out. An offense committed unwittingly, without intending to do it, without knowing it. Guilt associated with missing the mark. Liable to the penalty of an offense.2

My iniquities: To bend or deviate from the way. Characterizes the way of life of those who are without God.3
My foolishness: Silliness. To be perverse.4

David is describing the general state and condition of a vessel of wrath, not necessarily specific immoral deeds, words, thoughts, or intentions that he had personally committed, although those arise from this general condition of being without God, without awareness of God. This general state of being, of unconsciousness, characterizes all of humanity until we’re awakened like David was.

Unconscious state of being

Flesh. Ordinary human body controlled by what is external, human nature with its frailties and passions and addictions.

Without God. Not knowing. Heart hardened. Ears dulled. Eyes blinded.
Deviating from the way that God marked out for us, the way of intimate relationship with him, as demonstrated by the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Many of us are not yet aware of our condition, or maybe we’re just in denial, unable or unwilling to face it. We may feel a general dissatisfaction with life, a hunger for something more, but don’t know the root cause of that longing. We don’t know how to satisfy that longing. We don’t yet know who we really are. Our hearts and souls have not yet had the cover taken off. We have not yet come to understand that we are God’s children. And we often dig ourselves into deep, dark pits in pursuing something else to either try to satisfy ourselves or to cover and deaden the longing within us.

Others of us have become deeply acquainted with the pain of missing the mark, of deviating from the path which God marked out for us. We have been devastated by our inability to restore good as new, what and who our failure has harmed or broken.

“O Lord…” David cries.

Ps 119:130-131 – The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. (ESV)

The unfolding of your words, little by little, syllable by syllable, line by line, precept by precept
The unfolding. The entrance. The opening. The opening wide. The disclosure.
Of your words
Gives light, imparts understanding.
I open my mouth and pant
Because I long for your commandments (your words).
Your words are spirit
Your words are life
Given
Spoken

Your promise gives me life

Ps 119:50 – This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise [word, speech, commandment] gives me life. (ESV)

Ps 119:93 – I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. (ESV)

Your promise, your word, gives me life.
By your word you have given me life.

Have you experienced what David did regarding God’s word?
Do you open your mouth and pant because you long for God’s word? The words through which you are given life.

Have you experienced written words—when read, reflected upon, responded to, and rested in—becoming active, alive and transformative in you?5
Or have you been distracted so that you don’t yet know and experience the Lord God’s words as comfort and life itself?

Ps 119:36-37 – Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways [manner of action]. (ESV)

Incline my heart, give me a preference to listen willingly to your word, O Lord.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things
Turn away my eyes: to cross over; transition; specifically, to cover (in copulation), joining together, unite.6
Turn away my eyes
To cross over, transition from worthless things
To life, joining together with you, Lord God, united,
And give me life in your manner of action.

Born
To regenerate, bring forth, be delivered of, spring7
Born
Not of blood
Not of the will of the flesh
Not of the will of man
But born
Of God
Made to be our true selves.

His commandment is eternal life

John 12:49-50 – For I [Jesus] have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (ESV)

James 1:17-18 – Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father who made the heavenly lights; with him there is neither variation nor darkness caused by turning. Having made his decision, he gave birth to us through a Word that can be relied upon, in order that we should be a kind of firstfruits of all that he created. (CJB)

“O Lord…”
Incline my heart, give me a preference to listen willingly to your word, O Lord.
Turn away my eyes
To cross over, transition from worthless things
To life, joining together with you, Lord God, united.
Give me life in your manner of action.
Giving
Receiving.
Every good act of giving
Every perfect gift
Comes down from the Father.
Having made his decision
He gave birth to us
Birth through a Word that can be relied upon.

Have you experienced this birth that comes through a Word that can be relied upon?

God’s displeasure with sin

O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation.

Indignation. Fury.
God’s displeasure with sin.

Rom 9:22-25 – What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (ESV)

What if God, desiring to show [by word or act] his wrath… his displeasure with sin

Wrath. Desire, as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind, i.e. by analogy, violent passion; by implication punishment. To stretch oneself, i.e. reach out after, long for.8

God’s wrath. Mystery. Paradox. Implication of punishment on the one hand and at the same time passion, to stretch oneself, to reach out after, long for.
This child [Christ Jesus] is set: to lie outstretched literally or figuratively. To place in a passive or horizontal posture; utterly prostrate.
What if God, desiring to make known his power [to be able or possible]
Has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction…
In order to make known
In order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy
Which he has prepared beforehand for glory…

It seems that we vessels of mercy were prepared for glory before we vessels of wrath prepared for destruction came into being. Yet, it is the vessels of wrath that we are familiar with long before we (some of us, anyway) even become aware that we are really a vessel of mercy!

1 Cor 15:44 – When sown, it is an ordinary human body; when raised, it will be a body controlled by the Spirit. If there is an ordinary human body, there is also a body controlled by the Spirit. (CJB)

A body controlled by the Spirit

The riches of his glory
A body controlled by the Spirit

During those decades when I accused God of rejecting and abandoning me and not caring about me or the world at large, I didn’t know what David knew! I didn’t know that I was experiencing God’s rebuke and discipline because his steadfast love endures forever. I didn’t know that rather than abandoning me, he was letting me discover that life is painful and meaningless and lonely if I’m not aligned with him and his words and ways. I didn’t know that God was in the process of uncovering my soul.

I didn’t know that God was not destroying me, who I truly am, but only the vessel of wrath that I thought I was. How patiently the Lord God has endured the vessel of wrath prepared for destruction that is me, or rather, the me who I thought I was until I discovered that I am so much more because he gave birth to me through a Word that can be relied on!

I didn’t know the violent passion with which God longs for me, the real me, the vessel of mercy. I didn’t know that God had far more grandiose plans for me than I had for myself!

2 Cor 5:1-2 – For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling (ESV)

In this tent we groan
Longing
To put on our heavenly dwelling.

I was trying valiantly to hang on to and improve the tent, my earthly home, the vessel of wrath, the ordinary human body controlled by what is external, human nature with its frailties and passions in which I groaned with longing. When God didn’t appear to help me with my project and dreams, I rejected him.

I had no idea that what my soul was really longing for was to put on my heavenly dwelling, the vessel of mercy, a body controlled by the Spirit. But the Lord God knew! What was he willing to do to reveal the illogical reasonings of my heart, let me experience the consequences of rejecting him, and then reveal who I really am?

Ezek 39:23-24 – And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with me [Lord God] that I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions, and hid my face from them. (ESV)

Isa 54:8 – In overflowing anger for a moment I [Lord God] hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer. (ESV)

In overflowing anger…
Anger: a splinter (as chipped off); figuratively, rage or strife.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you, I covered my face for a moment,
But
But with everlasting love
I will have compassion on you.

How to respond to the helpless state of our soul

Read the Lord God’s words. Slowly. Reflectively. Let his words sink in. Ruminate upon his words. Take from them what he wants to give to you. Respond by setting your thoughts aside and let your heart speak to God without words. Now simply rest in God’s words. Listen to God at the deepest level of your being. Listen as he speaks with a still small voice that moves you to silence and an ever-deepening listening in which the Word becomes active and alive in you, gradually transforming you from within.5

David responded to the Lord God very differently than I did regarding the helpless state of his soul.

He acknowledged his state of utter helplessness and described in detail his pain and fear and the unwholesomeness of his body of flesh, his tent, his vessel of wrath, wrapped, veiled in death’s shroud. He pleaded for God’s mercy. He seemed to know that he longed to put on his heavenly dwelling, but he could not do it. He did not turn away or look to another to help him.

David cried out, “O Lord, all my longing, all my desire, is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.”

All my longing, all my desire is before you, O Lord. What did David mean by that?
Before you: a front, a part opposite; specifically, a counterpart, or mate. Stand boldly out opposite; to expose, predict, explain, praise.9

O Lord, all my longing, all my desire… is you! Only you! My counterpart. My mate. You stand boldly out opposite to expose the reasonings of my heart, predict the demise of my vessel of wrath, explain that I am really a vessel of mercy, and draw forth praise as I discover who I really am in you, Lord Jesus.

Ps 73:25 – Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. (ESV)

Ps 89:6-8 – For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you? (ESV)

Are you aware of a great need in the depth of your soul? Have you discovered that only the Lord God can satisfy it? Do you know him? Do you know his name? Do you know his character? Do you know his authority? Know, as in intimate, joined, united experience? Do you cry out to him to fill your extreme want? Have you found him to be greatly feared, revered, mighty and faithful in your communion with him?

The Apostle Paul did.

Phil 3:7-12 – But the things that used to be advantages for me, I [Apostle Paul] have, because of the Messiah, come to consider a disadvantage. Not only that, but I consider everything a disadvantage in comparison with the supreme value of knowing the Messiah Yeshua [Jesus] as my Lord. It was because of him that I gave up everything and regard it all as garbage, in order to gain the Messiah and be found in union with him, not having any righteousness of my own based on legalism, but having that righteousness which comes through the Messiah’s faithfulness, the righteousness from God based on trust. Yes, I gave it all up in order to know him, that is, to know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings as I am being conformed to his death, so that somehow I might arrive at being resurrected from the dead. It is not that I have already obtained it or already reached the goal — no, I keep pursuing it in the hope of taking hold of that for which the Messiah Yeshua [Jesus] took hold of me. (CJB)

Identity.
The condition or fact of being the same or exactly alike; sameness; oneness.
Trusting God and his way,
I consider everything a disadvantage in comparison to the supreme value of knowing the Messiah Jesus as my Lord
Trusting God and his way,
I gave up everything in order to gain the Messiah
Trusting God and his way,
I gave up everything in order to be found in union with him
I gave up everything to have that righteousness which comes through the Messiah’s faithfulness
The righteousness from God based on trust.
Trusting God and his way,
I gave it all up in order to know him
Trusting God and his way,
I gave it all up to know the power of his resurrection
Trusting God and his way,
I gave it all up to know the fellowship of his sufferings as I am being conformed to his death
So that somehow I might arrive at being resurrected from the dead
Trusting God and his way,
I keep pursuing it in the hope of taking hold
Of that for which the Messiah Jesus took hold of me.

Your helper

Your counterpart, your mate, your helper, standing boldly opposite you to expose, predict, explain, praise. Your falling and rising again. Your dying and your resurrection! Your identity.

John 17:23 – I [the Lord Jesus Christ] in them and you [Father God] in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (ESV)

Do you realize that Grace, Love and Fellowship are in continuous action, even in this present moment, to get you to see and work in harmony with them rather than opposed to them and their words, thoughts, ways, plans and purposes for you?

Are you aware that all your longing is before the Lord God? Uncovered. Exposed. Are you aware that he alone can satisfy all your needs and longings?

Have you discovered a way to interact with your counterpart, your mate, your helper, who stands boldly opposite you to expose, predict, explain, praise?

Heb 10:4-7 – For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'” (ESV)

Christ was Spirit before he came into the world. He received a body when he came into the world. Spirit was housed, contained within matter, within flesh. Our counterpart. We have a body. Often, we are not aware that Spirit is housed, contained within our body, our flesh. It’s when we discover the Spirit within that we can say along with Christ Jesus, “I have come to do your will, O God.”

Ps 16:11 – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (ESV)

You, Lord God,
You alone
Make known to me the path of life
In your presence, Lord God,
In your presence alone
There is fullness
Fullness of joy.
Why do I not trust your word?
Why do I not know through experience that you gave birth to us through a Word that can be relied on?
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

May the Lord direct your hearts

2 Thess 3:5 – May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and the perseverance which the Messiah gives. (CJB)

May the Lord
May the Lord direct, straighten fully, guide, steer
May the Lord direct your heart, thoughts, feelings,
May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love, affection, benevolence
May the Lord
May the Lord direct your heart
Into the perseverance, cheerful, hopeful, patient waiting,
Which the Messiah gives
To discover that his Spirit resides in us
His Spirit in us enables us to do his will.

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

Then move beyond logic and reason; move from head to heart.

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.

Patient waiting.
Perseverance.
Cheerful.
Hopeful.
Trusting.

Birth.
Through a Word
That can be relied upon.

Turn away my eyes
To transition
To cover in copulation
Joining together
Unite.

Patient waiting.
Perseverance.
Cheerful.
Hopeful.
Trusting.

Birth
A body controlled by the Spirit
Having made his decision
The Lord God gave birth to us
Through a Word
That can be relied upon

Read the Lord God’s words. Slowly. Reflectively. Let his words sink in.

Reflect. Meditate. Ruminate upon his words. Take from them what he wants to give to you.

Respond by setting your thoughts aside and let your heart speak to God without words. The natural movement of this prayer is towards greater simplicity, with less and less talking and more and more listening.

Contemplate. Simply rest in God’s words. Let go your own ideas, plans, meditations, holy words, thoughts. Listen to God at the deepest level of your being. Listen as God speaks with a still small voice that moves you to silence and an ever-deepening listening in which the Word becomes active and alive in you, gradually transforming you from within, effecting how you live.

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:

1Arrows: OT:2671 <START HEBREW>Jj@ <END HEBREW> chets (khayts); from OT:2686; properly, a piercer, i.e. an arrow; by implication, a wound; figuratively, (of God) thunder-bolt; (by interchange for OT:6086) the shaft of a spear: (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.)

2Sin: chatta°t OT:2403, “sin; sin-guilt; sinpurification; sin offering.” The noun chatta°t appears about 293 times and in all periods of biblical literature.

The basic nuance of this word is “sin” conceived as missing the road or mark (155 times). Chatta°t can refer to an offense against a man: “And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass [pesha±]? what is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?” Gen 31:36. It is such passages which prove that chatta±t is not simply a general word for “sin”; since Jacob used two different words, he probably intended two different nuances. In addition, a full word study shows basic differences between chatta±t and other words rendered “sin.”

For the most part this word represents a sin against God Lev 4:14. Men are to return from “sin,” which is a path, a life-style, or act deviating from that which God has marked out 1 Kings 8:35. They should depart from “sin” 2 Kings 10:31, be concerned about it Ps 38:18, and confess it Num 5:7. The noun first appears in Gen 4:7, where Cain is warned that “sin lieth at the door.” This citation may introduce a second nuance of the word — ” sin” in general. Certainly such an emphasis appears in Ps 25:7, where the noun represents rebellious sin (usually indicated by pasha±): “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions….”

In a few passages the term connotes the guilt or condition of sin: “…the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and… their sin is very grievous” Gen 18:20.

The word means “purification from sin” in two passages: “And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them…” Num 8:7; cf. 19:9.

Chatta°t means “sin offering” (135 times). The law of the “sin offering” is recorded in Lev 4:1-5:13; 6:24-30. This was an offering for some specific “sin” committed unwittingly, without intending to do it and perhaps even without knowing it at the time Lev 4:2; 5:15.

Also derived from the verb chata° is the noun chet°, which occurs 33 times in biblical Hebrew. This word means “sin” in the sense of missing the mark or the path. This may be sin against either a man Gen 41:9 — the first occurrence of the word or God Deut 9:18. Second, it connotes the “guilt” of such an act Num 27:3. The psalmist confessed that his mother was in the condition of sin and guilt (cf. Rom 5:12) when he was conceived Ps 51:5. Finally, several passages use this word for the idea of “punishment for sin” Lev 20:20.

The noun chatta°t, with the form reserved for those who are typified with the characteristic represented by the root, is used both as an adjective (emphatic) and as a noun. The word occurs 19 times. Men are described as “sinners” 1 Sam 15:18 and as those who are liable to the penalty of an offense 1 Kings 1:21. The first occurrence of the word is in Gen 13:13: “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.” (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

3Iniquity: A. Verb. ±awah OT:5753, “to do iniquity.” This verb appears in the Bible 17 times. In Arabic this verb appears with the meaning “to bend” or “to deviate from the way.” ±Awah is often used as a synonym of chata°, “to sin,” as in Ps 106:6: “We have sinned [chata° with our fathers, we have committed iniquity [±awah], we have done wickedly [rasha±].”

  1. Nouns. ±awon OT:5771, “iniquity; guilt; punishment.” This noun, which appears 231 times in the Old Testament, is limited to Hebrew and biblical Aramaic. The prophetic and poetic books employ ±awon with frequency. The Pentateuch as a whole employs the word about 50 times. In addition to these, the historical books infrequently use ±awon. The first use of ±awon comes from Cain’s lips, where the word takes the special meaning of “punishment”: “And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear” Gen 4:13.

The most basic meaning of ±awon is “iniquity.” The word signifies an offense, intentional or not, against God’s law. This meaning is also most basic to the word chatta°t, “sin,” in the Old Testament, and for this reason the words chatta°t and ±awon are virtually synonymous; “Lo, this [the live coal] hath touched thy [Isaiah’s] lips; and thine iniquity [±awon] is taken away, and thy sin [chatta°t] purged” Isa 6:7.

“Iniquity” as an offense to God’s holiness is punishable. The individual is warned that the Lord punishes man’s transgression: “But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge” Jer 31:30. There is also a collective sense in that the one is responsible for the many: “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” Ex 20:5. No generation, however, was to think that it bore God’s judgment for the “iniquity” of another generation: “Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” Ezek 18:19-20.

Israel went into captivity for the sin of their fathers and for their own sins: “And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword” Ezek 39:23.

Serious as “iniquity” is in the covenantal relationship between the Lord and His people, the people are reminded that He is a living God who willingly forgives “iniquity”: “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation” Ex 34:7. God expects confession of sin: “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” Ps 32:5, and a trusting, believing heart which expresses the humble prayer: “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” Ps 51:2.

Isa 53 teaches that God put upon Jesus Christ our “iniquities” v. 6, that He having been bruised for our “iniquities” v. 5 might justify those who believe on Him: “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” Isa 53:11.

The usage of ±awon includes the whole area of sin, judgment, and “punishment” for sin. The Old Testament teaches that God’s forgiveness of “iniquity” extends to the actual sin, the guilt of sin, God’s judgment upon that sin, and God’s punishment of the sin. “Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” Ps 32:2.

In the Septuagint the word has the following renderings: adikia (“wrongdoing; unrighteousness; wickedness”); hamartia (“sin; error”); and anomia (“lawlessness”). In the English versions the translation “iniquity” is fairly uniform. The RSV and NIV give at a few places the more specialized rendering “guilt” or the more general translation “sin.”

°awen OT:205, “iniquity; misfortune.” This noun is derived from a root meaning “to be strong,” found only in the Northwest Semitic languages. The word occurs about 80 times and almost exclusively in poetic-prophetic language. The usage is particularly frequent in the poetical books. Isaiah’s use stands out among the prophets. The first occurrence is in Num 23:21: “He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.”

The meaning of “misfortune” comes to expression in the devices of the wicked against the righteous. The psalmist expected “misfortune” to come upon him: “And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it” Ps 41:6. °Awen in this sense is synonymous with °ed, “disaster” Job 18:12. In a real sense °awen is part of human existence, and as such the word is identical with ±amal, “toil,” as in Ps 90:10: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

°Awen in a deeper sense characterizes the way of life of those who are without God: “For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail” Isa 32:6. The being of man is corrupted by “iniquity.” Though all of mankind is subject to °awen (“toil”), there are those who delight in causing difficulties and “misfortunes” for others by scheming, lying, and acting deceptively. The psalmist puts internalized wickedness this way: “Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood” Ps 7:14; cf. Job 15:35.

Those who are involved in the ways of darkness are the “workers of iniquity,” the doers of evil or the creators of “misfortune” and disaster. Synonyms for °awen with this sense are ra±, “evil,” and rasha±, “wicked,” opposed to “righteousness” and “justice.” They seek the downfall of the just Ps 141:9. Between Ps 5:5 and 141:9 there are as many as 16 references to the workers of evil (cf. “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” — Ps. 5:5>). In the context of Ps 5, the evil spoken of is falsehood, bloodshed, and deceit v. 6. The qualitative aspect of the word comes to the best expression in the verbs with °awen. The wicked work, speak, beget, think, devise, gather, reap, and plow °awen, and it is revealed (“comes forth”) by the misfortune that comes upon the righteous. Ultimately when Israel’s religious festivals Isa 1:13 and legislation Isa 10:1 were affected by their apostate way of life, they had reduced themselves to the Gentile practices and way of life. The prophetic hope lay in the period after the purification of Israel, when the messianic king would introduce a period of justice and righteousness Isa 32 and the evil men would be shown up for their folly and ungodliness.

The Septuagint has several translations: anomia (“lawlessness”); kopos (“work; labor; toil”); mataios (“empty; fruitless; useless; powerless”); pomeria (“wickedness; maliciousness; sinfulness”); and adikia (“unrighteousness; wickedness; injustice”). The KJV has these translations: “iniquity; vanity; wickedness.” (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

4Foolishness: OT:200 <START HEBREW>tl#W#a!<END HEBREW> ‘ivveleth (iv-veh’-leth); from the same as OT:191; silliness:

OT:191 <START HEBREW>lyw!a$ <END HEBREW> ‘eviyl (ev-eel’); from an unused root (meaning to be perverse); (figuratively) silly: (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.)

5Lectio Divina as described by the 12th century Carthusian monk called Guigo. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guigo_II

6Turn away: OT:5674 <START HEBREW>rb^u*<END HEBREW> `abar (aw-bar’); a primitive root; to cross over; used very widely of any transition (literal or figurative; transitive, intransitive, intensive, causative); specifically, to cover (in copulation): (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.)

7Born: NT:1080 <START GREEK>genna/w<END GREEK> gennao (ghen-nah’-o); from a variation of NT:1085; to procreate (properly, of the father, but by extension of the mother); figuratively, to regenerate: KJV – bear, beget, be born, bring forth, conceive, be delivered of, gender, make, spring. (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.)

8Wrath: NT:3709 <START GREEK>o)rgh/<END GREEK> orge (or-gay’); from NT:3713; properly, desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind), i.e. (by analogy,) violent passion (ire, or [justifiable] abhorrence); by implication punishment:

NT:3713 <START GREEK>o)re/gomai <END GREEK> oregomai (or-eg’-om-ahee); middle voice of apparently a prolonged form of an obsolete primary [compare NT:3735]; to stretch oneself, i.e. reach out after (long for):

NT:3735 <START GREEK>o&ro$ <END GREEK> oros (or’-os); probably from an obsolete oro (to rise or “rear”; perhaps akin to NT:142; compare NT:3733); a mountain (as lifting itself above the plain):

(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.)

9Before you: OT:5048 <START HEBREW>dg#n# <END HEBREW> neged (neh’-ghed); from OT:5046; a front, i.e. part opposite; specifically a counterpart, or mate; usually (adverbial, especially with preposition) over against or before:

OT:5046 <START HEBREW>dg^n* <END HEBREW> nagad (naw-gad’); a primitive root; properly, to front, i.e. stand boldly out opposite; by implication (causatively), to manifest; figuratively, to announce (always by word of mouth to one present); specifically, to expose, predict, explain, praise: (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.)

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