I love looking into words when studying the scriptures, and you will see that as a recurring theme in these Coffee Break articles. I like looking at single words and phrases mostly because it helps me to understand true biblical language in its proper context. I believe we must look to the Bible as our primary text, and understand it as a whole rather than understand it by our prejudices or by what we have been taught. As we look into this topic I hope to show you how scripture defines scripture and how we can apply that to our lives.
We will be looking at the word ‘quicken’ in the Old Testament, especially as used in Psalm 119.
What is quicken?
(There are affiliate links here, they cost you nothing but may provide support for this site)
As we look into a specific word, something I personally find helpful (though entirely unnecessary) is to look at how and where the word is translated from the Hebrew into other words in English or the same word. I use a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance for this task. You could also use E-Sword, Blue Letter Bible, or a general search engine. We see that the Hebrew word for ‘quicken’ (h2421 haya) is used in Psalm 119 eleven times! It’s also translated as ‘live’ in its various forms in other verses. Most notably to me for the purpose of this writing is that it is translated ‘live’ in Habakkuk 2:4
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.Habakkuk 2:4
How do we use the word?
Moving on to Psalm 119, we can take note of the context in which ‘quicken’ is used. Seeing as this is literally the longest chapter of the Bible I will not post it in its entirety but will put the relevant verses here for you to see.
25 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in the way.
40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word quickened me.
88 Quicken me after thy lovingkindness: so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.
93 I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
107 I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.
149 Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O Lord, quicken me according to thy judgment.
154 Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.
156 Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord; quicken me according to thy judgments.
159 Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O Lord, according to thy lovingkindness.Psalm 119
Quickened from what?
What did this man need quickening from? Throughout Psalm 119 the author speaks of a great affliction. He speaks of being near death, persecuted, and tempted. From the majority of the chapter we can observe a spiritual sense of his need for quickening, but we can also see his actual physical need for life preserving salvation as well! For some, these go hand in hand. We may at various times ourselves experience spiritual and physical affliction. It’s important to note, not every affliction is unto death but every affliction has a way out.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.1 Corinthians 10:13
We can gather from this verse in Corinthians that temptation is common, even the temptation you are experiencing. We can often feel alone in our temptation or affliction but from the Bible we can see that 1. It’s common 2. God has a way of escape (a quickening if you will).
How might we be quickened?
How can we be quickened? In these same verses that show what the struggle is, we see the path to salvation from it:
- vs. 25, 50, 107, 154: from death and affliction , quickened to life, comfort, and deliverance by God’s Word
- vs 37: from vanity to/by God’s way
- vs. 39-40, 92-93 from reproach to righteousness And from death to life by God’s precepts
- vs.87-88, 159: from death and affliction to life by God’s lovingkindness
- vs. 153-156: from affliction to mercy by God’s judgements.
By reading and receiving God’s word we can receive (be quickened unto) deliverance, comfort, and life. This is supported by many other scriptures including Matthew 4:4
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.Matthew 4:4
As we live in God’s way, we are quickened from vanity Ephesians 4:17-18
This I say therefore,and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:Ephesians 4:17-18
Precepts are commandments. In this chapter alone the word is used 21 times, and shows how God’s precepts give life and deliverance. Proverbs 2:7 also shows an agreement that the keeping of God’s commandments give life!
Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.Proverbs 2:7
We can see other places as well that God’s judgements and lovingkindness delivers us from death unto life and from affliction to mercy.
So what should we do?
So we see repeatedly that the ‘quickening’ or life giving comes only from God. Through God’s word, mercy, lovingkindness, and righteousness we can be quickened. We can be quickened from spiritual and physical death. Spiritual death is to be dead in your sins:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sinsEphesians 2:1
And spiritual life is to be living in faith and obedience to Christ. Remember Habakkuk 2:4 where the same word ‘quicken’ was also translated ‘life’? We see it again in the New Testament quoted here:
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written,The just shall live by faith.Romans 1:17
We’ve now seen that to be quickened is to be made alive, or saved. We need quickening from death to life, and from sin to salvation, and from affliction to comfort. We must be quickened by God, and through his means. We may be quickened through obedience (to his commandments, precepts), through studying the word of God (the Bible), but always by his lovingkindness and mercy. And so if you are afflicted, seek God’s quickening, salvation, and comfort! No matter how great or small your affliction is, take it to the Lord, seek his face, and ask him to show you the way of escape and deliver you.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.Philippians 4:1