Pride Translated Into Praise

As I’ve been reading my Old Testament lately, I’ve been doing a little mental exercise. At first, it was a form or rebellion and then it turned into something better.

When you read in the Old Testament “the LORD” what you’re seeing is God’s covenant name “Yahweh” with the vowel dots for “Adoni” or “Lord”. The Masorite Jews did this in the 12th century when the included the vowel dots in the Hebrew manuscripts because traditionally the Jews would see YHWH and say “Adoni” so as to not violate the Third Commandment, “You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.” An admirable effort but not really what is intended there. It would easy to never say “Yahweh” and yet profane his name in any other number of ways.

Also, this convention winds up running into some translation issues. For one example (and there are many more) in 1 Kings 2:26 it says “because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before David…” Literally it is “adoni Yahweh” and here Yahweh is translated as “GOD” because to follow the normal convention, it would read “of the Lord the LORD” which is a bit weird.

So my act of rebellion was to see “the LORD” and read it as “Yahweh” every time. After a bit I got worried that I was just being proud and clever; never a good thing. But then I thought about how the New Testament handles this. There the word “Lord” is used quite often in the context of Yahweh in the Old Testament. It is also used in a more familiar manner such as we might say “sir” today. Then another fashion it is used is as an act of political rebellion when the church affirmed that “Jesus is Lord” instead of Caesar.

And that’s when it came together. What I was actually doing was what the church had been doing. Seeing “Yahweh” and thinking/saying “Lord” for whatever reason; theological persnickety-ness or honoring God. But in the New Testament “Lord” is applied to Jesus. So when I read in the New Testament “Jesus is Lord” and hear in my head that habit from reading “Lord” in my Old Testament as “Yahweh” I’m actually doing the right thing! Jesus is Yahweh! Amazing how God turned my cleverness on its head and brought me to honor him even more through an translation oddity. I love him.

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