Remember when God contradicted a dozen or more other bits of scripture by calling a fortuneteller a man after his own heart? No? That’s funny; that’s not how I recall it either. Now how did we … oh, right. We’re listening to Joe Biden’s version of scripture – and that, my friends, is a terrible idea.
All jokes aside, many in the media would say that this little goof is no big deal. Well, if they weren’t ignoring it entirely, that is. When Donald Trump made a scriptural “gaffe” of his own, the media didn’t hold back. The use of the word gaffe is a bit sarcastic because rather than mispronounce a book of the Bible, Trump said “two Corinthians” instead of “second Corinthians.” That’s not so much a mispronunciation as choosing the less common of two accepted ways of saying it. Many people – especially outside the United States – say “two” rather than “second,” and because Trump’s mother came from Scotland, it’s entirely possible he grew up hearing it said that way.
Or maybe he just goofed. It happens. Perhaps he revealed his own lack of scriptural knowledge. When it comes to politicians hoping for the evangelical vote, that also happens – quite often, in fact.
Still, the left-leaning media lambasted Trump for his “mistake” and, so far, have ignored Biden’s. There are a few good lessons to be learned here. One is that the establishment media seem to have completely different standards for Biden and Trump. Another might be that we shouldn’t look to our elected politicians for scriptural guidance. Yet another might be that Biden isn’t nearly as devoted – or as knowledgeable – a Christian as he would have us believe. So, let’s take a look at what the former vice president actually said during his Thanksgiving speech:
“If we care for one another, if we open our arms rather than brandishing our fists, we can with the help of God heal. And if we do – and I’m sure we can – we can pris – claim the palmist, what the palmist who wrote, these following words: ‘The LORD is my strength and my shield, and with my song I give thanks to him.’”
The obvious – and hilarious – oopsie is that Biden wants us to pris-claim, presumably proclaim, the palmist. Now, a palmist claims to tell fortunes by reading palms. There are many passages in the Old Testament and a few in the New that warn God’s people to stay away from sorcery, wizardry, divination (like fortunetelling), and other forms of magic and idolatry. In fact, God felt quite strongly about it, according to scripture. Leviticus 20:27 (ESV) says, “A man or woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.” Deuteronomy 18:10 warns, “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer.”
With such strong feelings against divination, it seems quite unlikely that any palmist would see his writings gathered and preserved as holy scripture – let alone be declared by God to be a man after His own heart.
David is called the psalmist, as he wrote many psalms – or songs – that have been collected in the Bible. He wasn’t perfect, by any means, but he was (most of the time) God’s servant. There was that whole Bathsheba affair, but when his sin was pointed out to him by the prophet Nathan, David was repentant. God forgave him, as He does everyone who sincerely seeks grace. Despite his flaws, David was referred to as a man after God’s own heart.
Biden seemed to be quoting Psalm 28:7 as it is translated in the English Standard Version Bible (ESV), though his rendition still isn’t quite right: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Other versions are worded differently, but all include the middle part Biden left out.
If you’re familiar enough with scripture to know what has been explained thus far – and that certainly doesn’t take much – then you may be wondering why it’s such a big deal. After all, if you knew what Biden meant, surely everyone else did, too? Imagine for a moment you’re talking to someone who has never read the Bible or attended church. What if the only time this person ever heard the name Jesus Christ was when someone yelled it out as an expletive?
Why would anyone without sufficient scriptural background have any idea who the psalmist is? There’s a palmist near the corner of Central and Grand in the city of Hot Springs, AR, the boyhood home of former President Bill Clinton. Is that who Biden meant? Or was it some other? A quick internet search for “palm readers in Scranton, PA” turns up 11 palmists to choose from in Biden’s hometown. So, did one of those provide him that quote?
The danger of misquoting or misrepresenting scripture is that it often misleads those most in need of answers. Still, perhaps it’s silly to point out that those who don’t know any better could be confused by the former vice president’s mix-up. After all, we’ve already covered the point that politicians aren’t the best people to look to for spiritual guidance. But that doesn’t change the fact that Biden didn’t know which letter in Psalms is silent. Did you? How much thought do you think the allegedly devout Biden has devoted to scripture in his life if he can’t even figure that one out?
Read more from James Fite.
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