This quote from Psalms was engraved in stone over the entrance to St. Bede hall at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana.
It says “I will bless the lord, who hath given to me understanding.” – Psalm 15.7
I like reading Bible quotes in context, so I went to look this up. However, there was a problem.
There is no Psalm 15:7. Psalm 15 stops at verse 5. So it isn’t even a numbering issue. Christians often number the Psalms differently, as well as change up the order of the books of the Bible from what is in the Hebrew Scriptures. Why this is done is a topic for another post, another day. But this wasn’t the issue in this case.
It reference has to be to Psalms 16:7, but only one translation says “understanding” – most say “counsel”.
It was the Douay-Rhiems translation that said “understanding”. No other one has that word, so I don’t think it is accurate. I did more research.
According to Wikipedia, “The Douay–Rheims Bible is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the English College, Douai, in the service of the Catholic Church.” It dates from 1582.
The translation is from a translation – so it is already suspect. You want to go to the original. You’ll always lose something in translation – especially from Hebrew which has so many layers.
So the only thing wrong on this is the citation, in terms of the stonecarver. I’m sure he was going by what he knew to be correct. It – however, is wrong. Should I tell them? I have a strong suspicion that they wouldn’t care what a non-Catholic, and especially a woman, has to say about this.
This discovery calls the phrase “written in stone” into question. It implies that something is permanent and trustworthy. And yet we see here that nothing should be left without examination. We cheat ourselves when we accept everything at face value. We need to use the minds that God gave us to dig deeply and learn truth.
I didn’t have a copy of the Psalms in Hebrew, so I looked up the word “counsel” in my Hebrew dictionary. The word is a verb and a noun, and has a slightly different form for each. I went with the verb, as that is how it is used in all of the other translations. I would look up “understanding” if I didn’t get anywhere with “counsel”.
Strong’s says the word is used in Psalm 16:7, so I could stop there.
The Lord gives us counsel, not understanding. We are not ever able to truly understand anything, being limited as we are as mortal beings. “Counsel” makes far more sense as a word, as Jesus tells his disciples that he will send the Counselor (also known as the Holy Spirit) to them, to instruct them in new ways. There were things he wanted to tell them that they were not ready to hear at that time. He wanted to make sure that they would be guided into truth after he was no longer with them.
5 “But now I am going away to Him who sent Me, and not one of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 Yet, because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you.8 When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;…
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Here are some various translations from Psalm 16:7, copied from Bible Hub – –
New International Version
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
New Living Translation
I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.
English Standard Version
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
New American Standard Bible
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
King James Bible
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
I will praise the LORD who counsels me– even at night my conscience instructs me.
International Standard Version
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; indeed, my conscience instructs me during the night.
I will praise the LORD who guides me; yes, during the night I reflect and learn.
New Heart English Bible
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel. Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
I shall bless Lord Jehovah who counsels me and my kidneys teach me in the nights.
GOD’S WORD® Translation
I will praise the LORD, who advises me. My conscience warns me at night.
JPS Tanakh 1917
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel; Yea, in the night seasons my reins instruct me.
New American Standard 1977
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
Jubilee Bible 2000
I will bless the LORD, who gives me counsel: my kidneys also instruct me in the night seasons.
King James 2000 Bible
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel: my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
American King James Version
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
American Standard Version
I will bless Jehovah, who hath given me counsel; Yea, my heart instructeth me in the night seasons.
I will bless the Lord, who hath given me understanding: moreover my reins also have corrected me even till night.
Darby Bible Translation
I will bless Jehovah, who giveth me counsel; even in the nights my reins instruct me.
English Revised Version
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: yea, my reins instruct me in the night seasons.
Webster’s Bible Translation
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night season.
World English Bible
I will bless Yahweh, who has given me counsel. Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.
Young’s Literal Translation
I bless Jehovah who hath counselled me; Also in the nights my reins instruct me.
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