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Psalm 18:26 - God shows Himself astute?

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  • Psalm 18:26 - God shows Himself astute?

    While reading the Bible yesterday, I came across the following Scripture (taken from the NASB):

    25With the kind You show Yourself kind;
    With the blameless You show Yourself blameless;
    26With the pure You show Yourself pure,
    And with the crooked You show Yourself astute.

    At first glance, this Scripture tells me that God repays us with whatever we have sown. Since the previous verses speak of how God has recompensed David for his righteousness, these verses are a logical continuation of the Psalm. To the kind, God reveals Himself as a kind God; to the blameless as a blameless God; to the pure as a pure God. So far, I can follow David completely.

    Then comes the latter part of verse 26, where he states that God reveals Himself as astute to the crooked. The notes with the NASB say that another reading is 'twisted'. In any case, I decided to look 'astute' up on dictionary.com:

    1. of keen penetration or discernment; sagacious: an astute analysis.
    2. clever; cunning; ingenious; shrewd: an astute merchandising program; an astute manipulation of facts.

    Okay, so astute means clever or discerning - with the crooked, God reveals Himself as clever. This didn't help me out very much, so I decided to check some other translations. My goodness, I've seldom found a word translated into so many different ways! Take a look:

    NIV: shrewd
    Amplified: contrary
    New Living: hostile
    KJV: froward
    ESV: tortuous
    Young's Literal: a wrestler
    The Message: "bad ones can't figure you out
    "

    Contrary, hostile, tortuous, and 'wrestler' all seem to point in the same general direction, but I still wasn't satisfied. I still didn't quite understand what David meant. How does God show Himself to the crooked?
    Though I am no Hebrew expert, I decided to look up the simple meaning of the Hebrew word used here. The result was interesting:

    6617 pathal paw-thal' a primitive root; to twine, i.e. (literally) to struggle or (figuratively) be (morally) tortuous.

    To be on the safe side, I looked up the meaning of 'tortuous':
    1. full of twists, turns, or bends; twisting, winding, or crooked: a tortuous path.
    2. not direct or straightforward, as in procedure or speech; intricate; circuitous: tortuous negotiations lasting for months.
    3. deceitfully indirect or morally crooked, as proceedings, methods, or policy; devious.


    So all of this studying leads me to the following question: what does David mean here? Is he simply saying that God shows Himself as a wrestler to those who are crooked? Literally, I read that God reveals Himself as twisted to those who are twisted. But what does that mean? Do the crooked see God as twisted because that is who they are - just like the pure see God as pure because they themselves are pure? Is David implying that whatever is in our heart will reflect on how God reveals Himself to us, will define how we see God?

    What are your thoughts and insights?
    Who have I in heaven but You oh God? Besides You, I desire nothing here on earth. My heart and my flesh may fail me, but God will be the strength of my heart and my portion forever...as for me, the nearness of God is my good - Psalm 73:25-26, 28a

    Check out my new blog at pilgrimtozion.blogspot.com

  • #2
    Originally posted by Pilgrimtozion View Post
    While reading the Bible yesterday, I came across the following Scripture (taken from the NASB):

    25With the kind You show Yourself kind;
    With the blameless You show Yourself blameless;
    26With the pure You show Yourself pure,
    And with the crooked You show Yourself astute.

    At first glance, this Scripture tells me that God repays us with whatever we have sown. Since the previous verses speak of how God has recompensed David for his righteousness, these verses are a logical continuation of the Psalm. To the kind, God reveals Himself as a kind God; to the blameless as a blameless God; to the pure as a pure God. So far, I can follow David completely.

    Then comes the latter part of verse 26, where he states that God reveals Himself as astute to the crooked. The notes with the NASB say that another reading is 'twisted'. In any case, I decided to look 'astute' up on dictionary.com:

    1. of keen penetration or discernment; sagacious: an astute analysis.
    2. clever; cunning; ingenious; shrewd: an astute merchandising program; an astute manipulation of facts.

    Okay, so astute means clever or discerning - with the crooked, God reveals Himself as clever. This didn't help me out very much, so I decided to check some other translations. My goodness, I've seldom found a word translated into so many different ways! Take a look:

    NIV: shrewd
    Amplified: contrary
    New Living: hostile
    KJV: froward
    ESV: tortuous
    Young's Literal: a wrestler
    The Message: "bad ones can't figure you out"

    Contrary, hostile, tortuous, and 'wrestler' all seem to point in the same general direction, but I still wasn't satisfied. I still didn't quite understand what David meant. How does God show Himself to the crooked?
    Though I am no Hebrew expert, I decided to look up the simple meaning of the Hebrew word used here. The result was interesting:

    6617 pathal paw-thal' a primitive root; to twine, i.e. (literally) to struggle or (figuratively) be (morally) tortuous.

    To be on the safe side, I looked up the meaning of 'tortuous':
    1. full of twists, turns, or bends; twisting, winding, or crooked: a tortuous path.
    2. not direct or straightforward, as in procedure or speech; intricate; circuitous: tortuous negotiations lasting for months.
    3. deceitfully indirect or morally crooked, as proceedings, methods, or policy; devious.

    So all of this studying leads me to the following question: what does David mean here? Is he simply saying that God shows Himself as a wrestler to those who are crooked? Literally, I read that God reveals Himself as twisted to those who are twisted. But what does that mean? Do the crooked see God as twisted because that is who they are - just like the pure see God as pure because they themselves are pure? Is David implying that whatever is in our heart will reflect on how God reveals Himself to us, will define how we see God?

    What are your thoughts and insights?
    Greetings Pilgrim

    I think you've come to pretty good understanding of the passage. There is a similar passage to draw from.

    Le 26:21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
    Le 26:22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.
    Le 26:23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;
    Le 26:24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.

    "and if ye walk contrary unto (or perversely with) me, then I will also walk contrary unto (or perversely, or roughly, or at random with) you."

    I don't think it is so much that God will reveal Himself to the ungodly in the same manner they behave. Rather God is promising that if they continue to walk perversely with Him, there will be consquences through wrath and punishment.

    I'm using the KJV and I found the Hebrew word translated twice as "froward" is two different Hebrew words. I don't know anything about the Hebrew, but this seemed interesting. The first froward means distorted, crooked, false, perverse, but the second means to twine or struggle, tortuous, wrestle. Do you have any ideas?

    Ps 18:26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.

    Many Blessings,
    RW

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    • #3
      Thanks for your thoughts, Roger. I saw the cross-reference to Leviticus. The main reason I didn't refer to it is because it leaves out the one element I find so interesting in Psalm 18:25-26 - the phrase 'will show Himself'. When I read it, there seems more involved than just bad actions recompensed with punishment, as Leviticus shows us. There is something deeper going on in this passage, a revealing of God to man related to whether a person is blameless, pure, or crooked. All the more reason that the passage is so interesting.
      Who have I in heaven but You oh God? Besides You, I desire nothing here on earth. My heart and my flesh may fail me, but God will be the strength of my heart and my portion forever...as for me, the nearness of God is my good - Psalm 73:25-26, 28a

      Check out my new blog at pilgrimtozion.blogspot.com

      Comment

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