Course Spotlight: Paul’s Travels

View our map on places that the Apostle Paul traveled to so he could preach the gospel, and click on the brown location symbols to learn more about each city!

Course Spotlight From Acts of the Apostles: (Unit 3) Paul’s Imprisonment

Course Spotlight: Trinity Enigma

Many professing Christians believe that the God family is made up of three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but what is the true nature of God? Who does the Hebrew word ‘Elohim’ refer to? Is the God of the Bible actually this Trinitarian god?

Course Spotlight From The General Epistles: (Part 2) The Letters of John and Jude

Digging Deeper: Open Thy Mouth Wide

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated reading time: 7 min. 19 sec.

Did you know that God offers to fulfill our needs abundantly if only we were so faith-filled as to ask for and expect them?

Sometimes Christians hesitate to ask for the big things, thinking it would be presumptuous or selfish to do so. Nonetheless, God challenges us to think big and pray big! He assures us He will supply our needs according to His will. This Digging Deeper focuses on a verse that has the potential to change our thinking about asking God for large blessings – and expecting to receive them!

Our focus verse in this article is: “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10 KJV). This command is not as strange as it may sound. Joseph S. Exell and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones in their The Pulpit Commentary cite an earlier source: “The figure in the text is explained in Thomson’s ‘Land and the Book.’ ‘It is said to have been a custom in Persia, that when the king wishes to do a visitor especial honour, he desires him to open his mouth wide, and the king then crams it full of sweetmeats, and sometimes even with jewels. And to this day it is a mark of politeness in Orientals to tear off the daintiest bits of meat for a guest, and either lay them before him, or put them in his mouth'” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22).

If they only had obeyed…

As the first part of this verse indicates, reference is made to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt. God laments that His nation had stopped listening to Him; consequently, He gave them up to their sinful desires. How different things would have been if only they had hearkened to and obeyed Him (vv. 11-13). He next explains how enriched their lives would have been if only they had been faithful. God would have defended them from enemies and provided them the choicest wheat and honey to satisfy their desires (vv. 14-16). 

What is notable about the opening of this psalm is that it makes reference to the Feast of Trumpets (v. 3) and probably the Feast of Tabernacles when it refers to “our solemn feast day,” according to The Ultimate Cross References Treasury (e-Sword 12.1). The NIV Study Bible describes this psalm as: “A festival song. It was probably composed for use at both the New Year festival (the first day of the [seventh] month, “New Moon”) and the beginning of Tabernacles (the 15th day of the month, full moon) … As memorials of God’s saving acts, Israel’s annual religious festivals called the nation to celebration, remembrance and recommitment (see Ps 95)” (Tecarta Bible App). These festivals reminded Israel of God’s Torah, i.e., His law (teaching, or instruction) that related to the steps in God’s plan of salvationThe Churches of God will soon be observing the Feast of Tabernacles so this psalm is relevant for our spiritual preparation for this joyous occasion. 

Like Baby Birds

Verse 10 includes a colorful metaphor, as explained by Joseph S. Exell in his The Biblical Illustrator: “The psalmist had probably often noticed how the young birds open their mouths wide for the food which they know the parent bird will give them, and for which, therefore, they wait with such eager expectancy. And he points to this familiar fact, and bids his countrymen in like manner expect blessing from God, for God will not disappoint them” (e-Sword 12.1). Notice that we are to expect God’s blessing! Exell goes on to explain that the condition for receiving from God is: “‘Open thy mouth wide’ … The picture is one of simple dependence and trust. Proud self-sufficiency shuts out the fulness of God. The first step to strength is to realize our own helplessness, simply to ‘open the mouth wide,’ that God may fill it” (Ibid.). These are the prerequisites for such in-filling. 

Albert Barnes in his Notes on the Bible adds his perspective: “The meaning here is, ‘I can amply supply all your needs. You need not go to other gods – the gods of other lands – as if there were any deficiency in my power or resources; as if I were not able to meet your necessities. All your needs I can meet. Ask what you need – what you will; come to me and make any request with reference to yourselves as individuals or as a nation – to this life or the life to come – and you will find in me all abundant supply for all your needs, and a willingness to bless you commensurate with my resources’” (e-Sword 12.1). Notice that Barnes makes the point that these requested blessings are not just for this life but even for our lives in the world to come. 

Barnes continues in his Notes on the Bible with an application for today: “What is here said of the Hebrews may be said of the people of God at all times. There is not a want of our nature – of our bodies or our souls; a want pertaining to this life or the life to come – to ourselves, to our families, to our friends, to the church, or to our country – which God is not able to meet; and there is not a real necessity in any of these respects which he is not willing to meet” (e-Sword 12.1). Here Barnes expands our requests to include those for loved ones, acquaintances, associates, fellow Christians, and our nation. The nations of the world truly need the prayers of God’s people!

If We Bodly Ask

We need not be shy in asking boldly with anticipation. Adam Clarke in his Commentary on the Bible exhorts: “Let thy desires be ever so extensive, I will gratify them if thou wilt be faithful to me. Thou shalt lack no manner of thing that is good” (e-Sword 12.1). Do we crave God’s truth? This verse shows that the more morally hungry we are the better fed we shall be. Joseph S. Exell’s The Bible Illustrator explains that such a request implies health: “The body without appetite for food is diseased; the intellect without appetite for truth is diseased; and the soul without appetite for righteousness is diseased” (Ibid.). If we do not crave God’s provision, we are unhealthy in some way. We must recognize our needs for God’s intervention and meet God’s requirement. Exell then presents the conditions for such filling: “Proud self-sufficiency shuts out the fulness of God. The first step to strength is to realize our own helplessness, simply to ‘open the mouth wide,’ that God may fill it” (Ibid.). 

In his The Pulpit Commentary Joseph S. Exell notes that some never open their mouths at all, others open their mouths but not wide. He then presents the conditions for being fed by God: “There must be:

1. A mouth to open; that is, power to believe. Now, we all have that, and use it every day about other things.

2. Need of God’s blessing. Unquestionably there is that.

3. Sense of this need. Consciousness of it, and distress because of it. Hunger after God’s blessing.

4. Will to believe. Trust is more a matter of the will than of the reason. ‘I will trust, and not be afraid.’ Refuse to doubt, resolve to believe” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). 

Expecting to be filled

During the autumn festivals, God’s people have the prospect of being very well fed by God through His ministers in sermonettes, sermons, and Bible studies. However, what we have read in this study explains the conditions for such in-filling. We must humbly recognize our need for God’s provision, ask Him in believing prayer for it, and expect that He shall fill it as He has promised, according to His will and timetable. We must open our mouths like baby birds expecting our parents to feed us. However, to be very well fed, we must open them wide!


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Course Spotlight: The Pattern of Private Prayer

We see in Matthew 6 that Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, but what does the passage say about where we should pray? What are the reasons why Christ practiced praying in a secluded place, and instructs us to take the same approach?

Course Spotlight From The Life, Ministry, and Teachings of Jesus Christ: (Unit 2) The Galilean Ministry

Digging Deeper: Good and Pleasant Unity

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 8 min. 21 sec.

Did you know that unity among Christian brethren is described by God in the Book of Psalms as good and pleasant using two colorful similes?

We live at a time in western culture when individualism prevails over community spirit. Regrettably, this has created a yawning chasm difficult to breach when people insist that their way is the only way. This is a comparatively modern social separation. The Ancient Near East in which God developed the nation Israel was much more community-minded. How individuals chose to conduct themselves had consequences for their immediate families, clans, tribes, and nation. This Digging Deeper showcases a short Old Testament psalm about God’s instruction on unity among those who call each other brethren.

Our focus passage will be Psalm 133. The Seventh-day Adventist Commentary, Vol. 3 describes this psalm as “… a short but beautiful poem extolling the blessedness of brotherly unity. Such unity characterized the meetings of the Israelites at the great festivals of Jerusalem. Harmony and brotherly love prevailed on these occasions” (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1977, p. 918). The Churches of God are rapidly approaching God’s sacred fall festival season. This descriptive hymn from Israel’s hymnbook provides some much-needed balm during this stressful time of world history that has strained relations – even among brethren. Let’s take a closer look at a favorite hymn of many to prepare ourselves to celebrate God’s Feasts in the right spirit.

A Hymn for a Special Occasion

Psalm 133 is part of a lengthy section of 15 psalms (120-134) known as the Songs of Degrees, or Ascents. Some commentators suggest that these were hymns sung by the Israelites on their way to celebrate the festivals at Jerusalem. They ascended in elevation through the Judean hills into the city of Jerusalem. Others suggest these 15 psalms in some way corresponded to 15 steps leading up to or into the Temple. The ESV Study Bible notes: “Some traditional Jewish interpreters have suggested that these were songs sung on the ‘steps’ (as the same word can mean, e.g., Exodus 20:26), either in parts of the temple or up from a spring in Jerusalem; others have taken them as geared toward returning to Jerusalem from exile (cf. Ezra 1:3)” (Tecarta Bible App).

The NKJ Study Bible adds further: “As pilgrim families made the arduous journey to the holy city for festive worship, they would use these psalms as encouragement along the way. It is also possible that once they arrived in Jerusalem, they would sing these songs anew as they drew near the temple, reenacting their journey and affirming God’s blessing on their path” (Tecarta Bible App). Whatever their origin, these 15 psalms were a special collection of hymns for such special occasions as God’s festivals. Unity was essential as Israelites from all their tribal allotments gathered in large numbers to worship in Jerusalem. These long and arduous journeys on foot or beast required cooperation and support – fruits of unity.

The theme for this article is verse 1: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”  (Psalm 133:1 KJV). The superscription for this psalm announces that this psalm is “A Song of degrees of David.” It is one of four in this 15-psalm set ascribed to him. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible reports that “As God’s people fill Jerusalem to celebrate the great festivals, this reminds them that unity is good and pleasant. Their pilgrimage is not simply an individualistic act of piety but expresses solidarity with the larger body of God’s people” (Tecarta Bible App). Notice that this stresses solidarity with the larger congregation, not individualism. The NKJ Study Bible notes that “Good and …pleasant may be rephrased as ‘great delight’ or ‘good pleasure.’ There is a sense of serene wonder in these words describing the unity of God’s people” (Ibid.).

Like Oil on a Beard

Verse 2 of Psalm 133 describes this unity by reference to the simile of anointing oil as explained by the ESV Study Bible: “The first simile is the ordination oil on the head of Aaron and his descendants (cf. Exodus 30:22–33). This oil made the priests ‘holy,’ consecrated to God’s purpose. The image means that when Israel is true to its ideal, it is displaying genuine consecration and carrying out its calling in the world” (Tecarta Bible App). What the oil represented is explained by the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: “Anointing with oil was used to symbolize God’s authorization and empowerment of a king (see notes on 1 Samuel 2:10; 10:1) or other representative, such as a priest, for divine service … The ritual that set apart Aaron and his sons for priestly service involved pouring oil on their heads and garments (Exodus 29:1, 7, 21, 29; Leviticus 8:2, 12). This ‘sacred anointing oil’ (Exodus 30:25) consisted of a mixture of oil and four spices (myrrh, cinnamon, calamus and cassia [Exodus 30:23–24]) uniquely combined by the special skills of a perfumer (Exodus 31:1–3, 11; 37:29; 1 Samuel 8:13)” (Ibid.).

This anointing was not “a little dab will do you” as clarified by the NIV Study Bible: “The oil of Aaron’s anointing (Exodus 29:7; Lev 21:10) saturated all the hair of his beard and ran down on his priestly robe, signifying his total consecration to holy service. Similarly, communal harmony sanctifies God’s people” (Tecarta Bible App). God’s people are to be set apart from others through their unity and love. Additionally, the NKJ Study Bible notes: “This psalm pictures the oil in such large quantity that it flows from the head to the beard to the garment of Aaron, who represented the priests of God. When God’s people live together in unity, they experience God’s blessing” (Ibid.). This second verse teaches us that unity is expected by God and that it sanctifies and empowers His people for service.

Like Dew on a Mountain

The third verse, concluding Psalm 133, mentions a second simile: dew on Hermon. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible pinpoints this mountain: “One of the highest peaks in Israel’s northern mountain region, it was well watered by rain, snow and dew, making it cool and lush (Jeremiah 18:14). Vegetation in the dryer regions of southern Israel, where Jerusalem and Mount Zion were located, depended on dew and what little rain it received. Thus, for the temple mount (Mount Zion) to experience the dew of Mount Hermon pictures conditions of refreshment” (Tecarta Bible App). Mount Hermon’s dew was vital for productivity. The ESV Study Bible further explains:”…the dew is crucial for the vegetation during the dry season (Genesis 27:28; Deuteronomy. 33:28; 2 Samuel 1:21; 1 Kings 17:1; Proverbs 3:20; 19:12; Hosea 14:5; Haggai 1:10; Zechariah 8:12), and the image conveys the thought of a fruitful land. This too was part of the covenantal ideal (cf. Deuteronomy 28:1–14)” (Ibid.). Unity is the model that adds refreshment and fruitfulness to brotherly harmony and love.

Concerning the second and third verses, the NIV Study Bible notes: “The two similes (vv. 2–3) are well chosen: God’s blessings flowed to Israel through the priestly ministrations at the sanctuary (Exodus 29:44–46; Leviticus 9:22–24; Numbers 6:24–26)—epitomizing God’s redemptive mercies—and through heaven’s dew that sustained life in the fields—epitomizing God’s providential mercies in the creation order” (Tecarta Bible App). God’s redemptive and providential mercies should be the causes of brethren uniting together in combined worship.

A Portrait of the Kingdom

One wonders if the ancient Israelites ever fully achieved such incomparable unity. The NKJ Study Bible answers: “The intent of God is for the good of His people in this life and in the life to come. The people of Israel rarely achieved the level of unity—or the level of blessing—that the poem describes. Ultimately, this is a portrait of the kingdom of God. One day there will be the spiritual unity of God’s people that this poem describes” (Tecarta Bible App). Though we may never fully achieve the unity so described by these verses, God’s people need to strive for such a goal more and more unto the perfect day.

To bring together the meaning of these three verses, the ESV Study Bible notes: “Since this is a Song of Ascents, the ‘brothers dwelling in unity’ would be the fellow Israelite pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem, abiding in peace with one another. The ideal Israel is a community of true brotherhood, where the members practice mutual concern for one another; if this were achieved, it would indeed be good and pleasant. This should be the goal of church life (John 17:20–23)” (Tecarta Bible App).

As we gather together during God’s festivals, unity is an essential ingredient as explained by the NIV Zondervan Study Bible: “Their pilgrimage is not simply an individualistic act of piety but expresses solidarity with the larger body of God’s people” (Tecarta Bible App). Unity among brethren is an anointing that consecrates our relationships, provides refreshment, and promotes growth. Our festival observance must not be solely for one’s private devotion and service of God. In the family of God, no one is an island. Adapting our behavior required during a pandemic, we are to safely join ourselves to other members of God’s earthly family to enjoy a brief foretaste of the coming good and pleasant kingdom of God.


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Feast of Trumpets – The Sound of the Shofar

As we approach the Feast of Trumpets, take a few moments to review our special segment featuring Dylan King explaining how different trumpets were used in history!

Course Spotlight From God’s Feast Days: Trumpets

Digging Deeper: In Awe of Thy Word

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty of Theology, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes, 34 seconds

Did you know that when you read the Bible with due respect and attention you will experience a sense of awe about this supernatural book?

We ended the last Digging Deeper with a verse admonishing us to love God’s word. Along with love will come a sense of awe. Many today treat the Bible like any other book. Some critics consider it merely a work of men framed by the evolution of religion. Some do not even treat their printed copy with due respect, instead, using it in a stack of books to raise something on one’s desk, or as a doorstop. Others cast it about recklessly, even laying it on the floor.

By contrast, others would not even think of doing such a thing due to their awe for the word of God. The verse we will study in this Digging Deeper may be part of the reason for such devout respect. This will be the last article of our recent trilogy including “The Book Unlike Any Other” and “Every Word of God is Pure.”

The heart that stands in awe

Our focus will be on this verse: “Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word”  (Psalm 119:161 KJV). 

In the history of Bible printing through the centuries, humorous mistakes have occurred that were later recognized and corrected. This is one of them. “Princes” was mistakenly printed as “Printers” giving us the “Printers Bible.”

Mark Cambron, in his Mastering the Bible, lists others that have raised an eyebrow through the years: “We have the ‘Adulterous Bible’, where in the seventh commandment, the word ‘not’ is omitted…The word ‘murderers’ was printed for ‘murmurers’, causing us to have the ‘Murderers Bible’…In Luke 14:26 we have the word ‘wife’ used instead of ‘life’, thus we have the ‘Wife-Hater Bible’…There are these mistakes in printing. No one can blame God for that. God says what He means, and means what He says” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). 

Our focus text records a bold statement from a true worshiper who has been persecuted for no good reason. Perhaps his tormentors attempted to pressure him to go contrary to God’s word. Instead, he stood firm because of his awe for what God has said. He could have given in to political pressure and threats to submit to the princes instead of to the word of the Almighty.

Long before the New Testament was composed, this person understood the principle of Acts 5:29: “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible elaborates this verse: “We ought to obey God rather than men, and to make sure of God’s favour, though we throw ourselves under the frowns of all the world, Luke 12:4, Luke 12:5. The heart that stands in awe of God’s word is armed against the temptations that arise from persecution” (e-Sword 12.1). 

This verse from the Book of Psalms was quoted by Jesus to explain the vitriol He experienced from some of the Jewish rulers during His trials. Notice John 15:25 (KJV) “But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” This verse was one of scores of Old Testament Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming. Many were fulfilled during His last week before His death and resurrection including several on the day of His death. Many others await fulfillment at His Second Coming. 

The meaning of “awe”

To stand in awe is defined by Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, 1913 as “to fear greatly; to reverence profoundly” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). It also defines it as “reverential fear, or solemn wonder; profound reverence.” The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary explains this healthy respect: “Not slavish, but reverential fear. It was accompanied with faith and hope (Psalm 119:120; Psalm 119:147), such as Josiah felt, his ‘heart being tender, so that he humbled himself before the Lord,’ when the words of God’s book of promises and threatenings were read to him (2 Kings 22:10-11; 2 Kings 22:19). He who fears God’s Word need not fear the word of man (Isaiah 8:12-13; Matthew 10:28; 1 Peter 3:14-15; Luke 12:5).” 

The Pulpit Commentary edited by Joseph S. Exell and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones characterizes this awe: 

Here we have THE TRUE DREAD [AWE]. (Ver. 161) 1. Not the displeasure or the opposition of man; though this may be incurred without cause, and we may feel that the suspicion, or the ill feeling, or the attack is altogether wanton and unprovoked. 2. But the displeasure of God. Undisturbed by human ill will or intrigue, we ‘stand in awe’ of Divine disapproval; we shrink from thinking the thought, cherishing the feeling, taking the course, which Christ would condemn; we are afraid of leaving undone or unattempted that to which he is calling us with his sovereign voice.  (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22)

The word awe appears three times in our King James Version of the Bible. The two other references are below. Notice that the entire earth is admonished to stand in awe of God’s word. Doing so will keep us from sinning.

Psalm 4:4 

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. 

Psalm 33:8 

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 

A tool to overcome sin

The way to combat and overcome sin is to stand in awe of and meditate upon the word of God. It reveals to us the way of blessing and hope for a better world. Our present world is corrupted by sin. By and large, it does not stand in awe of God’s word. At times, its rulers try to force citizens to yield to their sinful demands. Our key verse reveals one such person who would not buckle. This is a lesson for all of us as we face increasingly dangerous conditions in these very end times. 

The book Handfuls On Purpose, Vol. 7 by James Smith and Robert Lee gives this commentary on our key verse: “Stop, before you go any further in sinful unbelief, and consider where, and what you are. Stand in awe at the thought of disobeying God’s Word (Psalm 119:161). Stand in awe at the thought of the wages of sin (Romans 6:23). Stand in awe at the thought of opportunities lost, the uncertainty of life, and the certainty of judgment. Stand in awe as you think of the infinite love and mercy of God towards sinners, in the sufferings and death of His Son. Stand in awe, lest ye should resist the gracious stirrings of His Holy Spirit and die in your sin” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). 

Psalm 119 provides us much understanding about the different terms for God’s word and what should be our approach to it. Joseph S. Exell’s Biblical Illustrator explains how our primary verse reveals a rare experience as amplified by nearby verses: 

  1. Reverence for God’s Word. The meaning of this, perhaps, is, I have a greater dread of violating Thy law than I have of all the persecuting powers of princes or potentates. This is right, this is sublimely noble.
  2. Delight in God’s Word (verse 162).
  3. Loyalty to God’s Word (verse 163).
  4. Gratitude for God’s Word (verse 164). (Homilist.) (e-Sword 12.1)

It must be genuine

Reverence for God’s word will naturally produce delight, loyalty, and gratitude that God has preserved His Holy Bible for us – therefore, do we love it (Psalm 119:140). One of the outstanding cross-references for our focus text is “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word”  (Isaiah 66:2KJV). 

Godly awe moves one to tremble at God’s word. How many are so moved by God’s Holy Bible today that they tremble at it? This feeling cannot be contrived but must be a genuine sense of the seriousness of our charge to serve God and Him alone. Standing in awe of His word will guide us to do just that. 


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Every Word of God is Pure

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated Reading Time: 7 min., 41 sec

Did you know that God says every one of His words is pure?

Some question the Bible today, considering it only another one of many religious books that humans have produced over the millennia. They say it may have some truths in it but it also contains much to be discarded as unscientific, antiquated, or irrelevant. Critics and doubters assert that various myths and inaccuracies have crept into it. What is a Christian to make of all of this? Does the Bible attest to its purity? What internal evidence affirms the accuracy and dependability of God’s word? We tackle this fundamental issue in this edition of Digging Deeper.

Our main text is: “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him”  (Proverbs 30:5 KJV). God affirms that every word of His is pure. At this point, we will zoom in on the original word translated here as “pure.” The Hebrew word is tsawraf. This word relates to the smelting of precious metals. It occurs 33 times in the Hebrew Bible and is translated by different words depending on the context. The NET Bible explains its use in this verse: “The text here uses an implied comparison (a figure of speech known as hypocatastasis): It compares the perfection of every word from God with some precious metal that has been refined and purified (e.g., Psalm 12:6). The point is that God’s word is trustworthy; it has no defects and flaws, nothing false or misleading. The second half of the verse explains the significance of this point – it is safe to trust the LORD” (e-Sword 12.1). God’s words have passed through a spiritual furnace to remove all impurities, leaving behind only the purest elements.

The ESV Study Bible elaborates on this verse: “…the implication is that God’s words are a proven foundation for one’s life. The proverb’s emphasis on every ‘word’ (Hb. ’imrah) underscores the truthfulness, trustworthiness, and reliability of the Bible, not just in its overall message but also of every detail. This verse supplies support for the doctrine of the ‘plenary’ (full, complete) inspiration of Scripture, extending even to ‘every word'” (Tecarta Bible App). Ethelbert Bullinger in his Companion Bible informs us that the Hebrew for “word” (imrah) occurs only here in the Book of Proverbs; additionally, the Hebrew word for “God” (Eloah) as a title for God is used only here in Proverbs (e-Sword 12.1). Standing alone in the entire Book of Proverbs, these words stress the importance of this admonition. 

Not only are we assured God’s word is refined and purified, but it also asserts that it has been purified numerous times: “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6 KJV). The number seven symbolizes completion, perfection, and frequency. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains its meaning: “The idea here would seem to be that the process was repeated until the silver became entirely pure. The sense is, that the words of the Lord are ‘perfectly pure.’ There is no admixture of falsehood in his statements; there is no deception in his promises; there is no flattery in what he says. This was the ground of confidence on the part of the psalmist – that while men (even those who professed to be good men) so failed that no reliance could be placed on their statements, the most perfect trust could be reposed on all the statements of God” (e-Sword 12.1). As a result, we can fully rely on them as John Gill explains in his Exposition of the Bible: “The Scriptures are the words of God; and they are pure and holy, free from all human mixtures, and from all fraud and deceit; they are the Scriptures of truth. The promises are the words of God, and they are firm and stable, and always to be depended on, and are ever fulfilled, being yea and amen in Christ Jesus” (Ibid.).

Various explanations have been offered through the years about these seven stages of purification. The Common Man’s Reference Bible has one such explanation: “The earthly purification process of the words of God involved seven languages: Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Old Syriac, Old Latin, Old German, and the King’s English”. Other authors have suggested seven historic stages of the English Bible leading to the King James Version. Whichever it was, we can be sure God has safely guarded His word through the centuries. Let’s notice these cross-references, “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him”  (2 Samuel  22:31 KJV). Not only is it tried (tested, proven), it is also settled: “Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven”  (Psalm 119:89 KJV). We do not have to be concerned about whether the Bible contains all that God intended us to have. Additionally, notice that “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160 KJV). Some of the greatest attacks today are leveled against the first 11 chapters of Genesis. This verse tells us that everything in it, starting with Genesis, is trustworthy.   

Not only are we assured God has purified his word, but notice this promise: “Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever (Psalm 12:7 KJV). Timothy Morton in his book Which Translation Should You Trust? provides this conclusion: “That God has promised to preserve His word should be obvious to the most casual reader of the Bible. He not only loved man enough to give him His word in the first place, but He also promised to keep it pure, somewhere, for every generation” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). Not only did God originally inspire the very words of Scripture but then He preserved this word through the millennia so that we have a trustworthy Holy Book today even though we depend on translations. The very Bibles we hold and read are God’s witness to us. We stake our eternal lives on this Book. Do you know where that preserved word is? Have you demonstrated to your satisfaction that the Holy Bible is His word? If you haven’t already done so, you need to do the work to settle this in your mind once and for all.

Bible scholars and commentators through the centuries have realized their limitations in attempting to expound the pure word of God. We can admire their devotion and diligent effort working many years to provide Bible study resources. They share with us many things that the average Bible reader might miss. We learn from them as did the Ethiopian Eunuch from Philip. Nonetheless, those who have studied it over many years recognize that there is so much more they cannot fully fathom. There are limitless levels of understanding of the richness of Scripture. Notice this comment from Joseph Benson in his Commentary on the Old and New Testaments: “You must not expect the full knowledge of divine mysteries from me, nor from any man, but from the word of God, which is a certain rule, both for your faith and practice, because every part of it is holy, and true, and good, and there is not the least mixture of falsehood or folly in it, as there is in all the words and writings of men” (e-Sword 12.1). 

Purifying God’s word seven times has produced a perfect witness. Notice: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple”  (Psalm 19:7 KJV). Lest we should be tempted to think that His word may have disappeared, notice: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8 KJV). Verses like those we have read should assure us that we can depend on this Book and live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4). Notice these words from our Savior: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35 KJV). We need to know where these words are. Once we do, we are thus admonished: “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it (Psalm 119:140 KJV)”. 


Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Latest Poll Results – Tools for Christian Growth: Prayer

Those enrolled in our Tools for Christian Growth: Prayer course were able to answer a poll on the question:

What is the biggest challenge you face in maintaining regular, consistent prayer?

They said…

Results From Sept 1, 2020

Submit your own poll answer in the ‘Before you Begin’ section of our course Tools for Christian Growth: Prayer!

Student Answers – Why do you Pray?

We asked students the question “Why do you pray?” in our course Tools for Christian Growth: Prayer. Here are the a few of their reasons:

“To keep my mind on the things of God:  praising, praying, and thanking Him throughout the day (Col. 3:1-4; I Thess. 5:16-18).  These passages and a few others help me to have a good mindset and attitude throughout the day.” –SK


“I pray 3 times a day and I used to wonder if prayer worked. Then one day it dawned on me that my life was changing for the better. All the things, well most, had happened already. It just proved to me that God is listening and in His time, not mine, He answered my prayers. I feel Father is working in my life day by day. I am a much better person today than I was a few years ago, and I feel God is working on preparing me for His family.” –CVB


“We are in great times of stress and pain, yet the promises of God’s intervention of peace are clearly in His Bible and are stated over and over. Christ is returning and He has shown His saints those who know Him the clear picture we will be a part of a great work/Government coming to this earth…

– A.S.W.

“We are in great times of stress and pain, yet the promises of God’s intervention of peace are clearly in His Bible and are stated over and over. Christ is returning and He has shown His saints those who know Him the clear picture we will be a part of a great work/Government coming to this earth.  

How do we know someone? We call them, we talk, we share our experiences, our dreams and pain. Christ commissioned men to pass on His thoughts to those who would carry on this end time work.  Now He has asked us to share our thoughts and plans with Him. To be in His family. So many don’t have a good example of a good Father figure. They could have never really known them. Or had an abusive Dad.That can be a stumbling block to some. We are asked to get to know and be in the presence of Our Dear Father through prayer. The God family doesn’t ask much of us. This time on our knees is such a precious tool/gift that He has given us. When we have a bible study and read His words it is easier to carry on the conversation. Put your name in the verses. This is written to us.    

There is a time we are looking forward to. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there:They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:3-5  The simple answer of why I pray, is to be in His marvelous Kingdom that He has promised is coming Soon.” –ASW


“One major reason I pray to God is for His divine protection; not only for myself, but for my husband, son and others. Because our world is so violent and there are people who love to take advantage of others, and accidents do happen, I pray and rely on God’s protection. And, He has! (Psalm 91)” –LRM


“Strength to do God’s will when it humanly feels impossible to do – Matthew 17:20” – J. W.

“We pray to God to develop a relationship with Him. God already knows what we need before we ask Him (Matt 6:8). So He wants us to tell Him our needs because that is part of how we build a relationship with Him. He describes Himself as our Father. As most human fathers want a relationship with their children beyond merely transacting physical needs, so God wants a relationship with us. And that relationship provides us with a lot of emotional comfort as well– His special peace is accessible as we seek Him in prayer (Phil 4:6-7).” -SRS


“I pray to draw closer to God for a deeper, more personal relationship with Him because as I do so, He seems more real to me (James 4:8). My daily contact with God through prayer is the most honest relationship in my life because He already knows the thoughts and intents of my heart and my mind, for I am laid bare to Him (Hebrews 4:12-13). There is so much comfort in knowing that nothing can be hidden from Him and so I willingly and gratefully confess and repent of my sins, share my victories and thank Him for all of my many daily blessings.” -JS


Let us know your reasons by visiting our latest course “Tools for Christian Growth: Prayer”