Skip to main content

Don't Try Back Handsprings Without Training

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. (Proverbs 19:2 ESV)

This Proverb really struck me today, firstly because its meaning isn't as obvious as other Proverbs (it isn't for me, anyway). In other translations the Hebrew word for "desire" is instead rendered "soul." After looking more closely, I noticed that the Hebrew word is actually nephesh, which is one of the most basic words in the Hebrew vocabulary and often used to define the total summation of an individual's will, desires, appetites--everything within them that drives and leads a person to be who he is and make the decisions that he makes. To give a little context, this is the same word used in Genesis where the creation of man is described: "then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." (Genesis 2:7 ESV) The word "creature" here is also translated from nephesh. Interestingly, the KJV version translates nephesh as "soul." English translations seem to differ in their conclusions about whether nephesh should translate to "soul" or "creature," depending on the context. Either way, nephesh is clearly used to describe the will and desires that motivate living things to do the things they do. So if you asked me, what is my nephesh, I would describe to you my beliefs, hopes, dreams, appetites, preferences, and desires. Then after hearing my description, you would be able to predict, at least in part, the kinds of things I might do. Perhaps no better illustration of this truth is the famous verse in Deuteronomy 6:5,
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV)

I highlight "soul" here because that is the same Hebrew word nephesh which is also used in the Proverbs and Genesis verses. But the Deuteronomy passage is even more emphatic because there is a common prepositional phrase there (b-col) which is translated "in (or with) all." "Heart" means "innermost being" and "might" means "abundantly and exceedingly." So the literal translation of this verse is "... love the LORD your God with absolutely everything in your innermost being and absolutely everything that defines who you are, your will, and your desires, and do this exceedingly, abundantly, and mightily." Understanding the verse this way is deeply convicting to me. It is very unfortunate that this verse has lost so much of its force in English due to the cheapening definitions of "heart" and "soul" in our language today. But to the Hebrews, this passage would have been unquestionably clear to them that God desired the complete and total submission to Him of every thought, word, and deed.

So in linking nephesh back to the verse in Proverbs, I think the author is saying that if one's nephesh is not influenced and shaped by knowledge, then in his haste to accomplish his goal, he will fail. It's like someone who has strong ambitions to be a surgeon but doesn't want to learn the knowledge required to be successful in that role, then as a result causes harm to his patients. Or it's like a child who has a strong desire to ride a bicycle but stubbornly refuses the knowledge and instruction of his parents, then promptly proceeds to crash into the wall. Or maybe it's like when I was about eight or nine years old, after being amazed by Olympic gymnasts on television, I promptly attempted a back handspring and nearly broke my neck. Hastily exercised desire without knowledge was certainly a painful experience for me on that day, and for the rest of the week!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Historical and Biblical Evidence for Elder Led Congregationalism

Historical evidence
    Historical evidence carries absolutely no weight unless Scripture confirms it. That said, however, it is wise to consider those who have traveled the path before us to see if we might profit from their experiences and insight, as recommended by Proverbs 24:6, "in abundance of counselors there is victory."     Working from present-day to Early Church history, it seems best to begin with some of the prominent and well-respected evangelical Christian thinkers of our day. In support of elder-led congregationalism, Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, member of the Together for the Gospel group, speaker at the Shepherd's Conference, and author of Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, states:
Jesus taught His followers in Matthew 18 that the final court for matters of disputes between brothers was the congregation. So we read in Matt. 18:15-17 that the final step is to “tell it” he said, not to the elders . . . but to the ekklesia, that’s th…

A Baptist rebuttal to Dr. R. Scott Clark's 117-word explanation of paedobaptism

Dr. Clark's statement:

The Abrahamic covenant is still in force. The administration of the Abrahamic covenant involved believers and their children (Gen 17). That’s why Peter said, “For the promise to you and to your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). That’s a New Testament re-statement of the Abrahamic promise of Genesis 17 and in the minor prophets (e.g., Joel 2). Only believers have ever actually inherited, by grace alone, through faith alone, the substance of the promise (Christ and salvation) but the signs and seals of the promise have always been administered to believers and their children. It’s both/and not either/or.
Answer: Correct, the Abrahamic covenant is still in force, but what exactly is the Abrahamic covenant, and what do physical children have to do with it? Are there any benefits merely for being born into a family of believing parents? To answer that, let's look at how Paul explains the nature and pu…

Who the Christian is in Christ

In Christ by His mercy and grace.... ...I am accepted: I am God’s child (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)
I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am united with the Lord and one with Him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17)
I have been bought with a price—I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20)
I am a member of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:27)
I am a saint (Ephesians 1:1)
I have been adopted as God’s child (Ephesians 1:5)
I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18)
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins (Colossians 1:14)
I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)
...I am secure: I am free from condemnation (Romans 8:1,2)
I am assured that all things work together for good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28)
I am free from any condemning charges against me (Romans 8:31-34)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35-
I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21,22)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3…