Psalm 68 is one of David’s most critically acclaimed psalms. It is beautifully written, and it is full of truth, praise, and prophetic words.
As I read Psalm 68 I can see that it is a powerful piece of poetry. However, sometimes when I read Scripture I wonder how much of it I am not understanding. First because of cultural context and second because of the translation. No matter how good of a translation of the Bible we’re reading, we are limited by the English language. For example, in the New Testament there are 4 different Greek words for different types of love, but in English we just have 1. In Psalm 68 we run into this translation issue with the names of God. R. H. Ryland explains:
“In this Psalm we have especial reason to condemn or to admire the timidity, or the caution and delicacy, of our translators, whichever it may be considered, for the manner in which they have rendered the names of the Almighty. They almost universally translate them “God” or “Lord;” whereas, it has been observed that, almost all the remarkable titles of the Deity are employed in describing and praising the person addressed here. He is called “Elohim” in Psa 68:2; “Adonai,” Psa 68:12; “Shaddai,” Psa 68:15; “Jehovah,” Psa 68:17; “Jah,” Psa 68:19; and “Al,” Psa 68:20. The Hebrew names of God have, each of them, a distinct and peculiar meaning. No one word will suffice for them all. The vague use of the terms “God” and “Lord” in our translation can never convey to the reader’s mind the important ideas which the original expression, if properly translated, would bear, and we have lost a strong additional confirmation of the deity of Messiah, by abandoning the testimony which the ascription to him of God’s peculiar titles would give to this great truth.”
I don’t mean to stress the limitations of our English translation of the Scriptures in order to make you feel hopeless, but rather, I want us to be mindful of these limitations as we study the Bible. If something piques your interest or seems wonky to you, do some digging to find out what the word really means in the original text. This will provide you with a more accurate interpretation of what God was trying to convey!
It can also be really fun to start digging into Scripture this way because it’s almost like a treasure hunt. So take a seat and dig in!
Studying the Bible is an essential part of our faith journey because it provides us with hope and wisdom. If you want to begin strengthening your own faith through Bible study, join us in the Study Nook Group today!