|Volume 22 Number 10 October 2020||
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34 NKJV). “Be anxious for nothing…” (Philippians 4:6). A word from one who has trouble practicing these Scriptures, be thankful they are there.
Awareness of evil in the world generally increases with age. Some precious children are exposed to humanity’s injustices earlier than are some pampered adults. Still, the more one knows about the world, the more one knows people mistreat people, the relatively innocent suffer at the hands of the oppressors (Ecclesiastes 4:1), and the privileged and powerful exalt themselves at the expense of the lowly (Matthew 23:14; 2 Timothy 3:6; James 5:5-6). This wicked phenomenon even happens within the Lord’s church (3 John 9-10). It is enough to depress one’s spirit beyond recovery, if it were not for the Word of God. The multiple exhortations of divinely offered comfort include: “Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity” (Psalm 37:1). “And why not?” the persecuted might object. “Evil people seem to be getting their way! Their riches increase! People believe their slanderous lies!” (Job 21:7-16; 12:6; Jeremiah 12:1; Psalm 109:1-5).
Why not fret? Because God who had the power to create and to uphold the world with His Word (Psalm 33:6; Hebrews 1:3) is the One who has power to deal in His own good time with the wicked. “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb” (Psalm 37:2). Rejoice, O soul, for the judgment of the Lord is nearer than one might think (James 1:9-11; 5:1-8).
That powerful and living (Hebrews 4:12), creative and judging (Hebrews 11:3; John 12:48) Word of God is also renewing (1 Peter 1:22-25) and sustaining (Psalm 119:49-50) to the downcast human spirit. Here is a reminder from an inspired man who knew suffering and eventual exoneration.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. (Psalm 37:3-6)
More on Solemnized Pronouns
C. Philip Slate
Regarding solemnized pronouns, it is worth noticing that words tend to undergo meaning changes over time and space. I have known and know of fine Christian people in the former British colonies (India and Nigeria) who used words that were naughty back in England, but the colonials did not know that when they picked up the English language.
Further, words change meanings within the same country over time. Words have meanings as used, and often that use bears little relationship to their root or original meanings. This change has occurred with the use of the pronouns “thee,” “thou” and “thine.” It is the transition in meanings that causes confusion. In neither the Hebrew Old Testament nor the Greek New Testament are there two sets of pronouns — common and solemn. That point is well made in citing God’s speaking to Satan (Genesis 3:15 KJV) and Christ’s speaking to the devil (Luke 4:8 KJV); neither the Father nor the Son were acknowledging Satan as deity by the use of “thee” and “thy.” Scripture uses the same pronouns for humans and for deity. In German and at least one Scandinavian language there are more and less formal pronouns but not in Scripture.
The common use of “thee” and “thou” is found in the writings of Shakespeare and other writers of the Elizabethan period. When Shakespeare wrote, “Go, prick thy face, and over-red thy fear, Thou lily-livere’d boy” (Macbeth, 5.317-18), he was neither being reverent nor respectful. In his day, being “lily-livered” was to be cowardly. Nor was he being reverent in the lines, “If thou neglect’st or dost unwillingly what I command, I’ll rack thee with old cramps, fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar that beasts shall tremble at thy din” (The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2). Those pronouns were used in common relationships, and that is the usage reflected in the King James Version (1611) of the same era.
I lived and worked in England during the decade of the 1960s. Gradually, I learned about the marked regional differences in accents and vocabulary. During that time, I witnessed one incident and heard about another, both in Yorkshire, that illustrate the changes.
Ralph Limb told me about a time (perhaps the late 1940s or early 1950s) he and another preaching brother were working as evangelists in the Morley area. For their tea break, they went to the home of Donald Hardy, which was in the back of his general provisions shop. The two preachers thought it was fun to wait on the customers, as far as they could. During tea break one day, Ralph said the shop door opened and he said, “My turn.” He arose, walked into the shop area but saw no one. When he heard a faint sound, he leaned over the counter and saw what he described as a “grubby little urchin.” Ralph said to him, “Yes, sonny, what do you want?” In a surprisingly deep voice the little fellow said, “Thou knows.” He had been in the shop earlier, had insufficient money to pay for the item and went back home to get more funds. So, his “Thou knows” meant, “I was in earlier and now I have the money. You know what I want.” In that area, people from the lower economic classes were still using “thee” and “thou” in everyday speech. There was nothing sacred about it.
The other incident occurred perhaps a couple of decades later, oddly enough in the same Donald Hardy’s home. A couple of his wife’s elderly aunties and a gruff uncle were also there. The uncle did not stay long, but while there, he used “Thou” and “Thee” a few times in conversation. He spoke stiff Yorkshire. In one sentence he referred to “t’ larum clock” (the alarm clock). After he left, I remarked to his sisters, both faithful Christians, “I noticed your brother’s using ‘thee’ and ‘thou.’ Under what circumstances do people use those words?” One sister answered, “Ah, brother Slate, only country bumpkins such as brother say that. In fact, when I hear brethren at church using those words in prayer, it sounds a bit irreverent.” The sweet lady was referring to the confusion she felt during the transitional use of those pronouns in prayer.
Of course, those old pronouns are preserved in many of the older hymns we sing, but even there, they are not used exclusively for deity. Francis Havergal’s 1858, “I Gave My Life for Thee,” is a case in point. “I gave, I gave My life for thee: What hast thou giv’n for Me?” John M. Neale’s 1862 translation of the 9th century words by Stephen the Sabvaite is another case. “Art thou weary, art thou languid; Art thou sore distressed? ‘Come to me,’ saith One, ‘and coming, Be at rest.’” The KJV was still “the Bible” of the English-speaking world when those hymns were penned.
When the RSV appeared (1948, ‘52) the translators preserved the old pronouns for what they called the liturgical texts, meaning prayers and the Psalms. There was no basis in the Hebrew or the Greek languages for that decision. It was in deference to common usage in some “church” situations. Thus, for some, the transition continues. Oddly enough, though, in German and at least one Scandinavian language, there are levels of formality in pronouns. In German, the Christians use the familiar “du” rather than the formal “Sie” when praying to God — the opposite of some pronominal usage in the USA. “Why?” I asked a German-speaking Swiss brother, “do you use the familiar in prayer to God?” “Because He is our Father,” he said. By usage, one can argue the case both ways — solemnized pronouns as an act of reverence or ordinary pronouns regarding a familial relationship to our Father. So, it is important for us to be understanding with each other during this long transition. God knows our hearts, whether we address Him as “Thou” or “You.”