Psalms 34:19-20 Not One of His Bones will be Broken
Psalms 34:19-20 KJV Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. (20) He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
Psalms 34:19-20 NLTse The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time. (20) For the LORD protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!
Psalms 34:20 KJV+ He keepethH8104 allH3605 his bones:H6106 notH3808 oneH259 of themH4480 H2007 is broken.H7665
BONES H6106 עצם ‛etsem eh’-tsem
From H6105; a bone (as strong); by extension the body; figuratively the substance, that is, (as pronoun) selfsame: – body, bone, X life, (self-) same, strength, X very.
It seems like God’s Spirit is leading us in a new direction again, building on what we’ve learned with a new lesson on how to study our Bibles. Psalm 34:20 is a well known prophecy about Jesus with its fulfillment easily found in John 19. While collecting texts for this study an unusual detail came up. I looked at the New Literal Translation (NLTse) to find this ageless verse translated quite differently than the familiar King James and other versions. I wondered why they felt a need to stray on such a familiar verse.
Its not unusual to see differences like this in translations. This Bible Study lesson will show you how to look into questionable translations. The KJV obviously points to Jesus on the cross and His death before Roman guards broke the legs of the condemned men. There must have been a reason the priests asked them to break their legs. This was another detail of their plan ensuring Jesus would not be an acceptable sacrifice. This shows how God’s Spirit tried to reach the priests. Even though Jesus didn’t fit their concept of their Messiah, something told the priests details in scripture pointing to the Messiah offering the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus pointed them to the right scripture. Some of them must have read those verses and compared them to Jesus. The priests could see the message in scripture, but wouldn’t accept it because scripture didn’t agree with their traditions.
The NLTse presents a different view, pointing to Jesus’ followers called the righteous. It may also refer to Jesus as the righteous in the singular form. How do we solve for this variation? The first step is to look at a direct translation. On this program, E-sword refers to it as the KJV+ translation. Many versions of this translation and some KJV study Bibles use italics to show words which have been inserted to make the English translation flow a bit better. In this case there are no italics, but the original translators inserted the word his in front of bones. Now is when we check the definition of the original Hebrew word by looking at the Hebrew dictionary in the Strong’s Concordance. On a computer program it’s as easy as clicking on the Strong’s number. As we can see the Hebrew word means bone and can be extended to the whole body. On the spiritual level, the body refers to Jesus’ body of believers. Remember the fulfillment of a prophecy is always greater than its symbols.
This lesson deals with looking at the fulfillment of a prophecy on a greater spiritual level while staying within context. To do this we need to look deeper in the text than comparing two texts, which we will do. The first texts to look at is the fulfillment in the New Testament.
John 19:34-37 NLTse One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out. (35) (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe.) (36) These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, “Not one of his bones will be broken,” (37) and “They will look on the one they pierced.”
The first detail a student of the Bible will notice is verse 37 quotes a second prophecy about Jesus. A serious student of the Bible knows the rule, whenever we see Old Testament texts quoted in the New Testament, we need to look at the Old Testament scripture. The Old Testament scripture will always add more details.
Zechariah 12:7-11 NLTse (7) “The LORD will give victory to the rest of Judah first, before Jerusalem, so that the people of Jerusalem and the royal line of David will not have greater honor than the rest of Judah. (8) On that day the LORD will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David! And the royal descendants will be like God, like the angel of the LORD who goes before them! (9) For on that day I will begin to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. (10) “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died. (11) The sorrow and mourning in Jerusalem on that day will be like the great mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddo.
Once we look at the second prophecy John quoted, we see why the NLTse was translated to leave the door open to include Jesus and His followers. Zechariah 12 tells us, “ The LORD will give victory to the rest of Judah first.” This includes more than the interpretation which commonly refers only to Jesus in reference to, “Not one of his bones will be broken” Compare this to the NLTse translation for Psalm 34. “For the LORD protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!”
Looking at this on a spiritual level, we see how God not only saw none of Jesus’ bones would be broken, He also offered protection to Jesus’ followers. One of the rules of Bible study tells us the fulfillment is always greater than the symbol. In this case bones takes on a symbolic form and therefore must be greater than the definition of a physical bone. Zechariah provides a spiritual interpretation that applies to Jesus’ followers at the cross. “On that day the LORD will defend the people of Jerusalem; the weakest among them will be as mighty as King David!” What does it mean to be as mighty as King David?
Looking back on David’s life we see a lot of aspects, growth, levels of faith, mistakes, and sins God forgave. As a young boy, God chose David as king and Samuel anointed him. He grew up in king Saul’s presence playing his musical instrument and singing to ease Saul’s troubled mind. As a youth, David had a spiritual influence on Israel’s leader. The influence David had on Israel’s leader extended to the kingdom. David’s youthful faith defeated Goliath the giant when Israel’s army and king shook in fear. David grew to become a commander in Saul’s army. God was with David as he won victory after victory. Among others, the Philistines were scattered before David. The woman sang of the thousands Saul slayed and the ten thousands David slew. Jealousy engulfed Saul and eliminated the only peace He received through David. Saul conceived a plan to send David out against the Philistines thinking David would never overcome the odds. Saul was so confident in his plan, he promised the hand of his daughter as a reward. Much to Saul’s surprise, David succeeded and became his son-in-law. Having David as a relative should have solved the problem, but not for Saul. Finally David fled for his life.
David faced his greatest trials, learning experience and faith while he was on the run avoiding Saul’s pursuit. Taking a close look at the circumstances Saul wasted a great deal of tax money trying to put down a perceived threat he couldn’t do a whole lot about. Samuel told Saul he would loose the kingdom. Saul knew he was fighting against God’s will. Often times Saul left his kingdom unprotected. Spending tax money in an attempt to achieve his selfish goals, Saul left the people he was supposed to serve to pursue what he wanted. Saul was a king, but without a country or God. It was a lesson David should have learned and one we should pay attention to. During his flight David wrote some of the most emotional Psalms begging for help and praising God for His protection. David’s flight began with the death of many priests. Saul had them slain in the hope one of them would reveal David’s location. Each priest valiantly gave his life to protect God’s anointed – a spiritual lesson future generations of priests should all learn from. One of the priests escaped taking the breastplate of righteousness with the Urim and Thummim, stones God used to direct David. As David was directed from mountain side to woods, to caves and valleys, his faith in God grew. God watched David endure trial after trial knowing each one was making David a stronger leader. Finally Saul and his sons died in battle on the same day and David took his role as king.
Before taking control of the kingdom, David acquired a number of wives. When he found fault with his first wife, Saul’s daughter, he put her away, but didn’t divorce her. David continued to acquire wives and house prostitutes in his palace. Some overlook this as tradition. This shows how dangerous tradition can be. David’s multitude of marriages were his downfall. One compromise led to another until David’s lust led him to murder one of his most trusted friends and commanders, Uriah, listed as one of David’s most valiant warriors. To punish and warn David, God sent the prophet Nathan to tell him the baby would die. There was noting David could do. He accepted God’s judgment praying until the last minute.
Having so many wives and children made David a weak husband and father. One of his eldest sons Absalom rebelled against his father and kingdom costing a number of lives, including his own. In his old age, another of David’s sons tried taking the kingdom. Nathan the prophet joined forces with one of his wives, Bathsheba to trick David into appointing Solomon king. It seems David forgot how he was chosen by God and how God sent his prophet Samuel to anoint him. With everything David went through, it seems he forgot a lot of lessons. Although David made one mistake after another, God still loved him, giving him many opportunities to learn and remember lessons. One we need to pay attention to is how God reacted to David’s mistakes. “The weakest among them will be as mighty as King David!” When we look back on David’s life, we see the why God arranged the prophecy to include the weakest and greatest. Look at the lesson God taught when He chose David, who was the youngest of Jesse’s sons and Samuel’s last choice. Maybe we’re the last choice when it comes to how people view us while being first in God’s eyes. “The weakest among them will be as mighty as King David!” Some of the people we view as last are actually first in God’s eyes. Now the spiritual lessons in these prophecies is beginning to reveal itself.
What aspect of David’s life do you see yourself in? Are you the young David full of faith, willing and able to slay giants? Are you more like David in his youth respecting and serving someone who views you as an enemy? Are you like David the young man facing trials that grow faith in God. Do you know how to listen to God’s voice? Will you make the same mistake as David – straying from God’s guidance? Will you use David as an example – make the same mistake he made and say, “compared to David, I’m not so bad.” Will you have rebellious sons like David, or will you send time to teach them God’s laws and commandments like Moses instructed? Where do you imagine your life in regards to the examples David set? Where does that compare to where you want to be? Another aspect of this lesson is God’s respect for David no matter where he was in his walk. We need to foster the same respect for others. Throughout his journey David recorded his Psalms. They were more than prayers. They were prophecies God gave to David to record. David had a unique relationship with God. We have to not only consider God’s patience with David, but imitate it, making His patience a piece of our lives.
The addition of David’s attributes is another step in the lessons God’s Bible reveals. It shows how the prophecies He wrote are linked in a way that they explain one another and establish the context God intended. This should be a lesson you begin using and building on. When we see a series of Old Testament prophecies quoted by a New Testament writer, we have to look up the original texts. The Old Testament scripture will be connected with related texts in the chapter which will show us God’s explanation of the spiritual side of the subject. We can’t guess at spiritual interpretations. We can’t expect to interpret them with our own wisdom. Any of those attempts will do nothing but deny the existence of God’s Spirit, taking the glory off God while trying to place it on themselves. To let God’s Word explain itself, we have to follow general Bible Study rules by comparing the introduction of the chapter containing the prophecy with the chapter explaining its fulfillment.
Psalms 34:1-5 NLTse I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. (2) I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. (3) Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. (4) I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. (5) Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
John 19:1-7 NLTse Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. (2) The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. (3) “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face. (4) Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” (5) Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!” (6) When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.” (7) The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.”
Psalm 34 and John 19 contain a simple contrast. We see David’s typical style of writing which is to praise God at the beginning of his prayer. David draws attention to his reverence to God by using the related words, praise, speak, boast, tell, and exalt. David’s introduction shows the importance of sharing God’s love. John’s introduction to chapter 19 shows us how the Roman guard mocked Jesus. They put a crown a thorns on His head and dressed Him in a purple robe. The Roman guard was following Pilate’s lead. Pilate referred to Jesus as the King of the Jews. When the guards took Jesus away to whip Him, they played their game of dressing Him like a king then mocking Him. Quite a contrast to David, king of Israel who praised God. “Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.” The priests looked on Jesus and shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “Take him yourselves and crucify him.” David the king praises God while Pilate, a subject of the Roman emperor and his guards mock Jesus. Pilate proclaims Jesus innocence but does little to uphold justice. Comparing this to the prophecy in Zechariah 12, we can see how the weakest of Jesus’ followers were far greater than Pilate. Now we understand the comparison to David. Each of Jesus’ followers present at the cross were about to fulfill David’s prophecy of praising God and Jesus by telling people about the cross and their new understanding of God’s plan of salvation. We can see by the contrast, the story goes much deeper. One group will understand and praise God by spreading the message about Jesus. The other group will continue to mock and discredit God’s Son. The summary to David’s prophecy confirms the contrast.
Psalms 34:21-22 NLTse Calamity will surely overtake the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. (22) But the LORD will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
John 19:38-42 NLTse Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus‘ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. (39) With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. (40) Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus‘ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. (41) The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. (42) And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
Psalm 34 closes with a contrast between people who hate the righteous and those who serve God. Psalm 34 appears to lack information describing what made them wicked. When we see a lack of information, our first question is, where do we find the answer? Learning to reply on God’s Spirit leads us to the answer, in the parallel chapter. In this case we’ve already identified John chapter 19 which describes how Pilate, his guards, religious leaders, and other people mistreated Jesus. This of course is an extreme example, but we need to keep in mind, the fulfillment is always much greater than the symbol. In keeping with His own rules, God shows a much greater fulfillment than the prophecy itself.
There’s another lesson seen in the summations. In Psalm 34 we see, “But the LORD will redeem those who serve him. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.” How does this compare to John 19 where Joseph buried Jesus’ body in his tomb? This is where we learn lessons on paying attention and knowing a bit about the history and society the story took place. In Jesus’ time all the religious leaders prepared a tomb for their burial. They didn’t leave details to family or friends, they planned everything themselves. When we look at the crowd gathered at the cross, there were dozens, maybe a hundred of more people with empty tombs at their disposal. Only one of them along with his friend Nicodemus stepped forward to offer his personal tomb and the respect Jesus needed at the moment. We can see how this relates to today’s Christian movement. People sit around – they look up and see Jesus, but there’s no compassion, no desire to give or serve. Joseph is one of the few examples of unconditional love in the Gospels. He gave his tomb to Jesus expecting nothing in return. Although Joseph still believed widely acceptable concepts on the Messiah and didn’t understand Jesus’ ministry or the prophecies He fulfilled, God accepted his gift. Once again we see God using an interesting contrast to teach a lesson. Jesus was surrounded by almost every religious leader in Jerusalem and regions near and far. Many of them wanted to see Jesus’ body cast into the dump to be devoured by wild dogs, pigs, and scavenger birds. Every one of those religious leaders spent time and money on elaborate tombs to guarantee the world would not forget them. Today no one remembers many of their names, but the one who gave up his tomb is remembered across the world. God’s plan of salvation is more detailed than we can ever perceive on our own. God’s plan included a way for each of us to make a mark on eternity. Joseph gave up something no one expected him to give. Joseph also put in physical effort to fulfill spiritual aspects of a prophecy. Look at how many people had to act their parts at the proper time in God’s plan of salvation. It’s actually an amazing feat when you think of it. God’s plan is still in the making. Most people are looking at prophecy as gloom and dome, persecution, trials, and of course the endless list of conspiracy factors. People today are looking at future prophecies the same misguided way the religious leaders did in Jesus’ day. They’re also missing prophecies being fulfilled because they’re acting just like the Pharisees, relying on themselves. There’s little anyone can do about it. People will argue their beliefs with their last dying breath. Human nature today is no different than is was on the day Jesus died. People will either be willing to look with their eyes, listen with their ears, and understand with their hearts – or shut off understanding because they want to think they know everything. That’s one of the elaborate tombs people build for themselves so people will remember them for their whit and imagination. Other people build up tombs around themselves with every item that catches their fancy. Big houses, cars, and fancy clothes to impress people and this life and beyond. Do they really think of fellow Christians around the world as they flock to stores and malls, shop online, buy they latest cell phone, or sit and stare at a screen pushing buttons while in a group of people? So many ways to serve. So much work to do – in their minds there seems to be so little time, money or skills to finish God’s plan of salvation. What’s the problems here? Have they been convinced a small donation once a week puts the job in the hands of so called professionals? Where do we find proof only trained, paid professionals should spread God’s Word? There is no so called professional training in the Bible. Paul disclosed his training in Galatians chapter 2. Paul learned at Jesus’ feet. Don’t rely on anyone but Jesus who trusted His Father all the way to the cross and beyond.