|Vol. 13 No. 11 November 2011||
Usually when one considers the term “murmur,” we immediately think of complaints or one who complains. However, the term “murmur” has a slightly different meaning. The second definition of an English dictionary gives the following definition for the word murmur, “a mumbled or private expression of discontent.” While murmuring is complaining, it is done quietly and often privately, thereby causing an undertow of discontent among those influenced by the murmurer. Vine’s Dictionary gives the following definitions for the Greek words meaning murmur or murmuring:
A. Verbs 1. gonguzo, “to mutter, murmur, grumble, say anything in a low tone”…the word “murmur” itself, is used of the laborers in the parable of the householder, Matt 20:11; of the scribes and Pharisees, against Christ, Luke 5:30; of the Jews, John 6:41,43, of the disciples, 6:61; of the people, 7:32 (of debating secretly); of the Israelites, 1 Cor 10:10 (twice), where it is also used in a warning to believers. (Moulton and Milligan, Vocab.).
2. diagonguzo, lit., “to murmur through” (dia, i.e., “through a whole crowd,” or “among themselves”), is always used of indignant complaining, Luke 15:2; 19:7.
3. embrimaomai is rendered “murmured against” in Mark 14:5; it expresses indignant displeasure.
Note: For stenazo, James 5:9, RV, “murmur,” see GRIEVE, No. 3.
B. Noun. gongusmos, “a murmuring, muttering” (akin to A, No. 1), is used (a) in the sense of secret debate among people, John 7:12 (as with the verb in v. 32); (b) of displeasure or complaining (more privately than in public), said of Grecian Jewish converts against Hebrews, Acts 6:1; in general admonitions, Phil 2:14; 1 Peter 4:9, RV, “murmuring” (KJV “grudging”).
The English and Greek definitions are the same for the word murmur: one who grumbles and complains quietly in a private manner. The Israelites were noted for their continual murmuring. Moses led a group of rebellious, murmuring individuals from Egypt to the Promised Land. Consider the following examples:
A study of the Israelite nation and God’s reaction toward those who murmured clearly shows that God views murmuring as a sinful activity. Psalm 106 gives an overview of the rebellious nation of Israel, God’s anger toward them and His mercy upon them when they repented.
The New Testament also gives examples of God’s people murmuring. In Acts 6:1 while the church was in its infancy, the Greeks murmured against the Hebrews about the neglect of the Greek widows. Although God did not swiftly punish the murmurers, the apostles were quick to resolve the problem.
Paul and Peter admonished Christians not to murmur. Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” In 1 Corinthians 10:1-11, Paul gave an overview of the Israelite wanderings. He explained that these events were recorded as an example for us, so that we can learn from their mistakes. Included in the list of sins for which the Israelites were punished is murmuring. Peter commanded Christians to show hospitality to others and do so without murmuring (1 Peter 4:9).
Satan will use murmuring individuals to destroy the good works being accomplished within a congregation. One murmuring individual can stir several individuals into discontent, and then the Lord’s work falters and fails if the problem is not quickly resolved. I have seen this happen! Do not be a tool in Satan’s hand destroying the Lord’s church and all its good works. Precious souls are lost because Christians murmur and complain about other Christians, and non-Christians want no part of the Lord’s Church. Murmuring and complaining is a sin for which we will be held accountable on Judgment Day.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words. CD-ROM. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1985.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Betty Burton Choate
“That’s just a figure of speech. Of course, we cannot pray all the time!”
My father and I liked to build things together. He was the lead, and I was the helper. I thought I was going right up that ladder of competency until he passed away, and then I discovered that I was a very good follower, bereft of my leader, but we made a good team. Of course we did a lot of talking and serious planning about our projects before we started, and then, as we worked, we discussed the suitableness of the materials, we checked measurements, we did the cuts, the gluing, the nailing, the sanding, varnishing – the whole works, and then we sat back and admired the finished product. It was a good feeling of accomplishment, shared between our hearts.
As we worked, though, sometimes we talked, sometimes we discussed the project or a problem, sometimes we worked in silence. However, always our thoughts were together, and always we were conscious of the other’s presence and of what the other was doing, as well as what we were doing together. To me, that is what that beautiful verse has come to mean, as I have puzzled over it and have gone deeper into what it is saying about our relationship with our spiritual Father.
God and I are in a great building project together. He is the lead, and I am the helper. He talks to me through His Word. I talk to Him through my thoughts (prayers). No, they are not always formal prayers, on my knees. They are a continual sense of His presence and involvement in whatever we are doing together, whether it is parenting, doing physical work or spiritual work, studying with someone or just driving down the road. His ‘divine nature’ (2 Peter 1:4) permeates my attitude and my response to the events of the moment; appropriate directives from His Word come to mind as I am working through a project or a problem; my thoughts to Him are real and essential communication in all that we are doing together. At night, usually I fall asleep praying. I used to feel guilty about that, but I cannot believe God would be unhappy if our last thoughts of the day are with Him.