Sum Truth – Part 1

Look upon my affliction and rescue me,

For I do not forget Your law.

Plead my cause and redeem me;

Revive me according to Your word.

Salvation is far from the wicked,

For they do not seek Your statutes.

Great are Your mercies, O Lord;

Revive me according to Your ordinances.

Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,

Yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.

I behold the treacherous and loathe them,

Because they do not keep Your word.

Consider how I love Your precepts;

Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.

The sum of Your word is truth,

And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting. Psalm 119:153-160 NASB

In this post, I want to highlight the last verse of this passage, Psalm 119:160.  It deserves attention as we reason through the principles it contains.

The Whole Truth

The sum of Your word is truth,

And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting. Psalm 119:160

Some translations will render the word here translated sum, as beginning. While it’s true that this word can be translated as beginning, that translation doesn’t make sense here. Translating the Hebrew word, ro’sh as sum fits perfectly.

For reasons too numerous to list here, I believe sum is the best and right translation. Let’s take a look at a single argument for this translation. If we were to read it beginning, you can see the issue. If only the beginning of God’s word is true, then what is the rest of it?

But even for translations that use beginning instead of sum, the second half of the verse will fill in our gap by coming in defense of our subject when it says, “…every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting. Every single one. That’s beginning, end, and everything in between.

I want to focus on this idea of, “the sum of God’s word is truth.” When we consider—when we understand—the entirety of God’s word, we have truth. Does this mean that there are parts in the sum that are not true? No. It means that all of the parts are true, and that the sum total is true.

The sum of God's word is truth. #biblestudy Click To Tweet

Doctrine Differences & Half Truths

This is one of my favorite principles in the Bible because it helps us understand God’s word in its fullness. It also settles critical doctrine issues that happen between different denominations in the Church, one being ideas around the character of God.

In Hebrews 13:8, we see the text say that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Let’s think about this. Is Jesus ever changing? No. Never. With this truth cemented in our minds, let’s look back at Psalm 7:11. We read in this verse that God is a righteous judge who has indignation every day. This is a hard pill for some to swallow when they’ve been taught half the truth instead of the sum.

Within our culture today, we have a somewhat soft Jesus. One who wouldn’t burn in anger or indignation, but that’s simply an inaccurate representation of God. Let’s also look at Exodus 34 14, which tells us that we shall not worship any other God because our God is a jealous God. This verse actually tells us that God’s name is Jealous. Probably not a point that you’ve heard taught on often.

There are many names for God in Scripture. He is the Bright and Morning Star. He’s the Wonderful Counselor. He’s the Prince of Peace. All of these are more favorable (in our minds) than Jealous. But when we consider the sum of God’s word, we realize that his name is also Jealous.

Some may say, “Yes, his name is Jealous but his essence is Love.” Here’s what we miss: God’s name depicts his essence. In Exodus 34:14, we see that God is a jealous God. However, this doesn’t negate that he is also love (see 1 John 4:8). Now, if we look at all parts of this equation, we arrive at the sum. God is jealous, he is also love. He’s angry, he’s also patient.

Consider the story of Jonah. When Jonah is sent to minister to the Ninevites, he is given a message of deliverance if they repent. When the people of Nineveh do repent, God relents from the calamity he had promised. What does Jonah do when he witnesses God’s graciousness to the people of Nineveh?

He gets mad. Jonah wanted the Ninevites to pay for their sin, and in his anger he communicates a truth about God to us. In Jonah 4:2, the prophet rails against God with, “I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.”

God has many names: Bright and Morning Star, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace. All of these are more favorable (in our minds) than Jealous. Click To Tweet

God’s Character

What have we looked at so far? First in Psalms we see that God is indignant with wickedness every day. In 1 John we see he is love. In Jonah we see he is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness. These ideas can seem to be contradictory, so let’s bring them together.

In 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

On one hand we have an angry God who burns with indignation, whose very name is Jealous. But, on the other hand we see that he is compassionate and patient. Do you see how the sum of God’s word points us toward clarity?

Sum Truth about Us

This passage in 2 Peter is powerful but we kind of miss the point of the passage. We read, “The Lord is not slow about his promises,” and we only think about promises that seem to be delayed. But we miss the whole reason they are delayed. This verse is telling us that God’s promise seem slow only because he is delaying in compassion. He doesn’t want any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.

We, in our humanness, are impatient for fulfillment but God in his graciousness delays to save. He delays because he is patient toward us. He delays because he is abundant in lovingkindness. The only person who is slow in this verse is me, is you. We are slow to repent. Peter is writing this to Christians, not to the world. We—God’s people—are slow to repent.

This is a message we need to ruminate on. God is convicting and calling us to repentance. He is calling us to walk in holiness, righteousness, and purity but we are stubborn. We want our sin. We love our sin. And yet God remains patient with us.

We, in our humanness, are impatient for fulfillment, but God in his graciousness delays to save. 2 Peter 3:9 #biblestudy Click To Tweet

All Parts of the Whole

Dr. Michael Heiser compared the Bible to a theological and literary mosaic. As a whole, the pieces communicate something very beautiful. Up close, the pattern isn’t always clear. Sometimes, it may appear to be a random assemblage of pieces. But when we step back (when we look at its sum), we can see the wondrous whole.

Let’s Talk

In the next post, we will dive into another example of sum truth. That example will deal with how we interpret the word of God. Until then, I’d love to hear your thought. Comment below or email me at nathan@nathanfranckhauser.com.

1 thought on “Sum Truth – Part 1”

  1. Pingback: Anatomy of a Prayer - Part 1 | Rebuilding

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