Jump Start # 2753
Psalms 50:3 “May Our God come and not keep silence; fire devours before Him, and it is very tempestuous around Him.”
On Sundays, as our worship begins, one of the preachers reads from Psalms. Recently, it was my turn and the chapter of the day was Psalm 50. Here in our verse today, taken from the New American Standard, we find the word “tempestuous.” Borrowing from the movie, “Elf,” that is a FUN word to say.
- Older versions of the New American Standard uses the expression: a storm is violently raging around Him.
- ESV: a mighty tempest
Tempestuous is defined as strong, turbulent, even damaging. It can refer to a storm and it can refer to one’s emotions. Around God, it was tempestuous. It was this way, contextually, because of His judgment upon those who would not believe.
However, taking a step back even further, there is even a greater lesson for us that we often just take for granted. Tempestuous is not a word that we hear every day. I expect one could read a weeks worth of newspapers and not come across this word, not even once. I expect one could read a dozen books and not find this word. It’s not a word that is used very often. And, that takes us to the reading of our English Bibles. Our Bibles are built upon the languages originally used to write God’s word, mostly Hebrew and Greek.
And, what one finds as he reads the Bible is that God rarely uses big words. Tempestuous caught my eye and my attention. This word stands apart from most of the Bible words we find. God’s word is written in such a way that all of us can read it and understand it. It doesn’t take a dictionary in your other hand to understand God’s word. Jesus spoke the language of the people and not just the common language but in words that the common person would understand. It does little good to hear a sermon and then leave not understanding what was said. I knew a preacher that loved to push the limits of big words. He was a wonderful speaker but as I looked at others as he was preaching, you could see puzzled expressions upon their faces. When Ezra read the law of God, they explained and gave meaning so all could understand.
The difficulty with God’s word is not in the understanding part, but in the doing part. It’s one thing to know what God says, but putting that into action, that’s the hard part. And, for most us, we know what God says. We struggle with doing what God says. We know that we could be more spiritual than we are. We know that we could step up our game. We know that we get bothered too much by worry. We know that worldly thinking isn’t doing us any good. Yes, we know. It’s just the matter of doing these things.
Here is another thing to consider. God knows every language, all of them. Languages that have been lost to history, God knows. Not only that, God knows every word in every language. God could have written the Bible in such a way that only a few of us would ever know the meaning. God could have impressed us all with His knowledge, by writing each page in a different language. But, He didn’t. That wasn’t the point. He wasn’t trying to impress us. He was trying to transform us. And, what a great lesson for all of us that preach, teach and lead others. The attention isn’t upon us, but on improving the lives of others. Speak in such a way that people will understand and know. Speak clearly. Speak specifically. Speak in such a way that people do not have to play guessing games at what you are trying to say. Speak pointedly so people will not be able to play spiritual dodge ball with you, hiding behind generalities and vague meanings.
When someone leaves our worship services, they ought to leave with a clear picture of what we are about and what is important to us. The message, through the songs, the prayers and the sermon, ought to point to God. A visitor ought to understand that we are serious about the Lord and His word.
And, in speaking a clear message, we must also put ourselves in the shoes of someone who hasn’t been around us very much. We use some “in house” expressions, that we all know, but someone visiting may not. Making things clear, understandable and in a way that all can perceive it is essential. We know the order of worship, a visitor doesn’t. We know what to expect, a visitor doesn’t. The more that is explained, the more comfortable a person becomes and the more ready that person is to hear, listen and even become.
Tempestuous—a great word, and a great reminder to make sure everyone understands what we are saying.