Confession: I didn’t pay attention in high school English and skipped a third of my classes for my university’s English requirement. I winged English composition. I hated diagramming sentences and refused to memorize grammar rules.
Until daily writing became part of my job.
My personal crash course in grammar is a story for another day. My point today is that God created language. And when we look at the God-inspired grammar in the Bible, we get a breathtaking snapshot of His character. Consider Psalm 90:1-2 (BSB):
1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place through all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
That verb tense switching within one paragraph would set an English teacher’s hair on fire. Yet each tense choice is intentional because of what it reveals about God.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. [That’s time as we understand it.]
Before the mountains were brought forth, [before antiquity]
or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, [literally, before You birthed anything in the world, from the infinite past through infinite futurity], You are God.
That last part is for our English-speaking benefit. In Hebrew, it reads, “You God.” What comes before already amply explains that God was, is, and is to come. In other words, God has proved Himself throughout time as we know it and expanses (i.e., eternity) we can’t perceive.
Two other key takeaways are hidden in these verses.
First, the psalm’s author: Moses. (!) How do we know? By the psalm’s title: “A Prayer of Moses the man of God.” Moses lived around 1400 BC, which makes Psalm 90 the oldest psalm and Moses the first composer of sacred hymnody.
Why is that important? Glad you asked.
In Psalm 90:1-2, Moses identifies God in two ways: as “El” and “Elohim.” The first is singular; the second is plural. Multiple plurals exist for “El,” but the use of “Elohim” is notable because it’s a collective plural. Like we use the word “pizza” to indicate one slice or a whole pie, either way, it’s the same entity. The same applies here. Moses knew God is a triune entity—and he paired “Elohim” with a singular verb to drive that point home. It’s the same word as in Genesis 1:1—“In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth.”
What Moses wrote, he most certainly taught; so the early Israelites would have understood this trinitarian concept. That was evident for at least 700 years, as the prophet Isaiah identified God as “Maker”—using the Hebrew plural of that word. Elsewhere, Isaiah clearly said God was Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Isaiah 48:16-17).
Unfortunately, the Israelites gradually fell away from that truth, which explains why their religious leaders became so enraged when Jesus claimed, “I and the Father are One.”
The American Bible Society’s 2023 report states that Bible reading in America has drastically decreased, particularly with people in the “Movable Middle”—those who sporadically or periodically open a Bible for spiritual insight and wisdom but don’t actively apply its truth. All generations said they didn’t have enough time to read the Bible. Notably, only people truly engaged with regular Bible reading said they had “persevering hope.”
God’s fingerprints are visible in every word of His Word. Even in its grammar. We don’t need to look hard to find Him there. But we do need to take the time to look.
What new truth is God showing you in His pages?
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Throughout history, false teachings have challenged the notion of the Trinity. A prevalent one in the 300s AD was Arianism. An articulate priest but false teacher named Arius claimed Jesus couldn’t be fully God. Here’s a short video about St. Basil, who challenged Arianism and defied the emperor in doing so.