Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Psalm 12:6-7 and KJV Onlyism

Psalm 12:6-7 (KJV) reads:

6  The words of the Lord are pure words:
as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
7 Thou shalt keep them, O Lord,
thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Adam Clarke comments:

Verse 6. “The words of the Lord are pure words ” – None of his promises shall fall to the ground; the salvation which he has promised shall be communicated.

Silver tried in a furnace of earth ] A reference to the purification of silver by the cupel. This is a sort of instrument used in the purification of silver. It may be formed out of a strong iron ring or hoop, adjusted in width and depth to the quantum of silver to be purified, and rammed full of well pulverized calcined bone. The metal to be purified must be mingled with lead, and laid on the cupel, and exposed to a strong heat in an air furnace. The impurities of the metal will be partly absorbed, and partly thrown off in fume. The metal will continue in a state of agitation till all the impurities are thrown off; it will then become perfectly still, no more motion appearing, which is the token that the process is completed, or, according to the words of the text, is seven times, that is, perfectly purified.

Verse 7. “Thou shalt keep them-thou shalt preserve them ” – Instead of the pronoun them in these clauses, several MSS., with the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Arabic, have us. The sense is equally good in both readings. God did bring forth the Israelites from Babylon, according to his word; he separated them from that generation. and reinstated them in their own land, according to his word; and most certainly he has preserved them from generation to generation to the present day, in a most remarkable manner.

Puritan Matthew Henry on Psalm 12:7 wrote:

This intimates that, as long as the world stands, there will be a generation of proud and wicked men in it, more or less, who will threaten by their wretched arts to ruin religion, by wearing out the saints of the Most High, Dan. 7:25 . But let God alone to maintain his own interest and to preserve his own people. He will keep them from this generation, (1.) From being debauched by them and drawn away from God, from mingling with them and learning their works. In times of general apostasy the Lord knows those that are his, and they shall be enabled to keep their integrity. (2.) From being destroyed and rooted out by them. The church is built upon a rock, and so well fortified that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. In the worst of times God has his remnant, and in every age will reserve to himself a holy seed and preserve that to his heavenly kingdom.In singing this psalm, and praying it over, we must bewail the general corruption of manners, thank God that things are not worse than they are, but pray and hope that they will be better in God’s due time.

Charles Spurgeon wrote on Psalm 12:6-7:

Verse 6. What a contrast between the vain words of man, and the pure words of Jehovah. Man’s words are yea and nay, but the Lord’s promises are yea and amen. For truth, certainty, holiness, faithfulness, the words of the Lord are pure as well-refined silver. In the original there is an allusion to the most severely-purifying process known to the ancients, through which silver was passed when the greatest possible purity was desired; the dross was all consumed, and only the bright and precious metal remained; so clear and free from all alloy of error or unfaithfulness is the book of the words of the Lord. The Bible has passed through the furnace of persecution, literary criticism, philosophic doubt, and scientific discovery, and has lost nothing but those human interpretations which clung to it as alloy to precious ore. The experience of saints has tried it in every conceivable manner, but not a single doctrine or promise has been consumed in the most excessive heat. What God’s words are, the words of his children should be. If we would be Godlike in conversation, we must watch our language, and maintain the strictest purity of integrity and holiness in all our communications.

Verse 7. To fall into the hands of an evil generation, so as to be baited by their cruelty, or polluted by their influence, is an evil to be dreaded beyond measure; but it is an evil foreseen and provided for in the text. In life many a saint has lived a hundred years before his age, as though he had darted his soul into the brighter future, and escaped the mists of the beclouded present: he has gone to his grave unreverenced and misunderstood, and lo! as generations come and go, upon a sudden the hero is unearthed, and lives in the admiration and love of the excellent of the earth; preserved for ever from the generation which stigmatised him as a sower of sedition, or burned him as a heretic. It should be our daily prayer that we may rise above our age as the mountain-tops above the clouds, and may stand out as heaven-pointing pinnacle high above the mists of ignorance and sin which roll around us. O Eternal Spirit, fulfil in us the faithful saying of this verse! Our faith believes those two assuring words, and cries, “Thou shalt,” “thou shalt.”

The trend above is that Psalm 12:7 is not promising that God would give us an inspired, preserved Bible translation.  Yet KJV only believers believe that Psalm 12:7 is referring to the preservation of Scripture.  One KJV only site stated it as thus:

Psalm 12:6-7 teaches us that God has preserved His perfect Word perfectly for His people. God inspired His Word perfectly, inerrant, infallible and He also preserved the same Word for His people throughout the ages so that every generation can assuredly say, “Thus saith the LORD!” with absolute confidence.

KJV Only Logic At Work

Since KJV only believers believe that Psalm 12:7 promises that God would preserve His Word and they believe that He has done this in the King James Version of the Bible, they make some strange claims about the KJV.  One KJV only teacher said that there were seven English translations before the KJV.  The KJV was the seventh in the line and thus fulfilled Psalm 12:6.  Further, there have now been seven revisions of the KJV with the last being in 1769.  He writes that the 1769 edition is the final, inerrant, infallible Word of God that was prophesied about in Psalm 12:6-7.

What the writer above failed to mention was that the 1769 edition has various editions in it.  The Oxford edition is different from the Cambridge edition and the Cambridge edition is different from the Zondervan edition.  Dr. James Price writes about this problem:

“The differences that exist among current editions of the King James Version are much like the differences that exist between the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Scripture.  The differences among the King James editions are not as numerous as those in the Hebrew and Greek texts, but they are of the same kind.  Those who place final authority in the English words of the Authorized Version do so to avoid the problem of variant readings in the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible.  To them, any degree of uncertainty is intolerable – a Bible with flaws is no Bible at all.  But they have the same problem with variant readings in the current editions of the Authorized Version.  They still must ask what English variant is the authentic one, but they do not have a flawless Standard English text of the King James Version to which they can appeal for final authority.  To resolve the differences, they still must appeal to the Hebrew and Greek texts to determine which English words are authentic.  Their retreat to a preserved, authoritative translation has solved nothing; they still have the uncertainty inherent in variant readings in the English texts, and the problem cannot be blindly ignored.”

There are currently 689 variant readings among the major KJV Bible editions.  The variants are not simply different spellings either.  The Oxford edition of the KJV at Matthew 4:1 reads, “Jesus was led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  This lack of capitalization suggests that Jesus was led by His human spirit and not by the Holy Spirit as seen in Matthew 4:1 in the ESV.  The Oxford edition also has Psalm 51:11 which is normally translated in such translations such as the ESV as “Holy Spirit” as referring to the Person of the Holy Spirit but the Oxford edition of the KJV has it translated as “Take not thy holy spirit from me.”  By the way, the New World Translation (the JW’s Bible) does the same as the Oxford edition.

So which KJV edition is correct about Matthew 4:1 or Psalm 51:11?  If the Oxford is not then how can the KJV onlyist point to Psalm 12:6-7 and assure us that their edition of the KJV is the “preserved Word of God”?

Further, what was the preserved Word of God when David wrote Psalm 12:6-7 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? What was the preserved Word of God during the time of Jesus?  What was the preserved Word of God in 500 AD?  If the KJV only logic is true and God has to purify His Word seven times to finally get to the KJV and then He had to purify the KJV seven times to give us a perfect English translation, does this not mean that He did not keep His words as David promised when he wrote Psalm 12:7 if the KJV only view is true?  The Lord did not keep His Word if in fact it was so corrupted that He needed to purify it with seven English editions before the finality of the King James Version.

Lastly, what final authority did the KJV translators appeal to?  Was it an English edition before theirs or was it the Hebrew and Greek texts?  Miles Smith, one of the executive editors of the KJV wrote:

“The Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New are the two golden pipes, or rather conduits, through which the olive branches empty themselves into the golden bowl.  If truth is to be tried by these tongues, then whence should a translation be made out of them?  These tongues therefore, we should say Scriptures in those tongues, we set before us to translate, being the tongues in which God was pleased to speak to his Church by his Prophets and Apostles.”

The KJV translators did not have many copies of the Hebrew or Greek texts but they used what they had and at times placed their own words into the text despite no such readings in the Hebrew or Greek texts.  The KJV translators did do textual criticism (despite the claims of KJV onlyist to the otherwise) but also compared their translation with other English editions to determine what was the better readings.  They also relied heavily upon the works of William Tyndale to help them translate the texts.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/11/2013 at 10:00 AM

%d bloggers like this: