September 10 – Words May Change, but the Message Remains

253 – Words May Change, but the Message Remains

#faithbites #faithjourney #concert message

You have all the albums (or for you whipper-snappers, all the downloads). You’ve listened to the songs over and over. You’re prepared to sing along on every song with every word just like it is on the recording. Then it happens, a new word is added or the singer changes the phrasing. Maybe there is a new instrument added to the mix. You are thrown off. The song is different. But has the message changed?

This is how I felt going into the County Crows concert. I have heard almost every song of theirs and know most by heart. I can hit the notes, the inflection, and have perfect phrasing. (Well..at least in my head as we all know I can’t sing). Then at the concert, they changed some of the songs. In one case, he stopped singing in the middle and told a story while the band was playing. I was shocked. That’s not the version of “Round Here” or “Mr. Jones”, I know. For the first second, I was upset. I wanted the version I knew. After all, I was prepared. But then as I listened more the message became deeper and fuller. I had a better appreciation of the song in all of its forms. Now I want to hear the recording and the live version again.

As happens in my life, I started thinking about religion and the Bible. I have had a problem with all the different translations. How could that still be God’s word? Then it hit me, the words may be different but the intention and the message are the same.

Scripture on Message

Numbers 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” ’ – NKJV

OR

“‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’ – NIV

Psalm 51:5

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. – KJV

OR

Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me. – NIV

 

Reflection

These are but two examples of translations. At first, I was troubled by this as I wanted the direct word from God. The benediction in Numbers is used to close every church service. Some pastors use the word favor others use countenance. These mean different things. Countenance is a person’s face or facial expression where favor means approval, support, or liking for someone or something. I personally prefer countenance. The idea that God has given his approval through his face on me is amazing. At the same time, favor isn’t bad. It shows his approval.

The Psalm can actually be translated very differently. The KJV version looks like the act of conception was a sin whereas in the NIV it looks like you are sinful from being born. There is truth in both of them. This is where some people lose the message of the Lord. For me, I think I got it.

We can’t understand God. We don’t have the words for it. Just like in a live concert, the words may be changed to reflect current events or evolved over time as the sing/songwriter has evolved. Does the Bible evolve? No. We just have a better understanding of it.

This may be a bit confusing. In the end, God has given us his word and his word is good. As it says in Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

 

Charge

We may get a message from one source in different words than from another. The same source may even be translated differently. The bottom line though is the message is the same and is the truth. God’s word doesn’t lie. How we interpret it can cause issues. Think about the challenges you have in studying the word. Take time to write down those confusions and look at different translations. Does that help? Maybe there is a pastor or priest who can help you gain clarity.

Lord, help me to always believe in your word. Help me, even when words fail, to understand your message.

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