Learning from the Hebrew! I AM

Once again I discovered this morning why it is critical to use all the resources available to the post-modern Christian to study his Bible. (This includes other translations and websites like www.blueletterbible.org.)

I am writing to those who believe that the KJV is all they need to prepare sermons, etc. and also to those who want to understand the Word more.


I am writing to those who insist that the KJV has some special status above other diligent word for word translations like the NKJV or NASB or ESV. Look at Psalm 50:21 with me.

These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

The words “that I was altogether” are translated from one Hebrew word, the word hayah (Strong’s H1961). This Hebrew word can mean “to be,” “to exist,” and to “be in existence.”

What makes this word so special and what provides so much more depth of understanding concerning the truth in Psalm 50:21 is the fact that the same word is found twice in Exodus 3:14.

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Hayah hayah is translated “I AM THAT I AM” in Exodus 3.14. Perhaps you will recall this is the name that God told Moses to tell Israel when they asked the name of the One who sent him. (This is when Israel was begging God to deliver them from Egypt.)

The English Standard Version (ESV) adds a footnote to Psalm 50:21 indicating that an alternate translation could read “you thought that I AM was one like yourself.”

This makes the pronoun “I” so much more specific. These Jews, who are described as wicked in verse 16, thought that I AM that I AM was like themselves. This is why their thinking was so upside down and why they were being judged so severely.

Thinking that the self-existing God of the Israel is altogether like thyself is disastrous. Having the wrong view of God sets the conditions for wickedness. You may ask, “How so?”

The answer is found in this people’s lack of fear of God. They are not concerned that I AM that I AM is going to "tear them apart," and there will not be anyone who can deliver them from his hand (vs. 22) because they think he is altogether like them (v. 21).

You will recall that I AM that I AM demonstrated His great power in the exodus of Israel from Egypt. Ten plagues all proved the power of God. The horse and rider drowning in the Red Sea while Israel walked over on dry ground were miracles designed to demonstrate God’s great power to execute judgment!

Establishing the Hebrew linkage between hayah (H1961) (found only once in all the Psalms) and Exodus 3:14 is only possible through the study of the original languages.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a Hebrew scholar to gain this level of depth. Instead, you must be willing to read footnotes, use a reference like a Strong’s Concordance, or a website tool like www.blueletterbible.org.

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