Word Study: Heals All
Ps 103:3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
I am gradually making a clean breast of it all and telling people I have Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s is a form of Autism, on the higher spectrum of Autism where you are functional. But still I have many of the dysfunctions of Autism. I don’t like being touched or hugged, I easily go into sensory overload from fluorescent lights and regularly fail the Walmart test. Walmart is the ultimate Aspie nightmare. It has the lights, the crowds, the confusion etc. All the things that send an Aspie into a meltdown. Asperger’s Syndrome is listed on the higher spectrum of Autism. I grew up being called shy, antisocial, stuck up, arrogant etc. I’m in good company, they say Thomas Edison, Nickola Tesla, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Einstein and the list goes on of many who accomplished great things yet demonstrated symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. They are called high achievers and geniuses and perhaps many are genius but for the most part, like me, Aspie’s appear to be very brilliant (we’re really not) because they have this ability to focus like a laser beam in one area and they become obsessed with something they don’t understand until they understand it. Fortunately for me my area of focus is on Biblical languages, however that becomes all I talk about and think about and I quickly bore people to death.
Someone said that I suffer from Asperger’s disease. Those are fighting words to any charismatic. The first they want to do is lay hands on you to be healed. First rule, “Don’t touch the Aspie.” Laying on of hands is touching. Second rule, Asperger’s is a syndrome, not a disease. I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where God promised to heal us of all our syndromes. I know, I’m splitting hairs, but I am desperate. I don’t want to be healed of Asperger’s, this is the way God made me and I am happy with the way I am made.
I have heard of people with cancer, mental illness, and other dysfunctions of their physical bodies who had to leave a fellowship because God didn’t heal them and when they needed a loving fellowship the most they were ostracized. Jesus did not heal everyone when He was on earth. In fact He would ask the person if they wanted to be healed. Plato told the story of a blind man who fell in love with a woman who spent time with him, sharing her dreams, sharing her heart. She would explain what the world looked like to her blind friend. Then a healer came and the man healed and received his sight. Turns out the woman he fell in love with suffered terrible, disfiguring burns as a child. The former blind man could not look at her and discontinued the relationship and began searching for a new relationship which never panned out. Finally, he went back to the healer and begged the healer to make him blind again so he could be with this woman he loved but could not look upon.
I know most people who suffer from something that brings pain or makes them unlike others or are suffer terminating illness would quickly give a yes if asked if they want to be healed. But what is God promising here when he promises to heal all our diseases?
So what is a disease anyways? Webster’s definition of disease, is an illness, sickness or any disorder of the body. I find no way around it, this verse is just not true, God does not heal all our diseases. Some will say that in heaven all our diseases will be healed. That is really stretching out for an answer. I mean you can find an answer to any question if you apply enough creativity and I have heard many creative answers.
I claim no definitive answer to that question, but I will share with you something from the Hebrew. Perhaps disease is not the best English word to use here. The word that is rendered as disease in Hebrew is tachaluw which remotely can mean sickness and disease. However, it is also a common idiom of that day for something that is grievous. Perhaps The Psalmist is saying God heals all that grieves us.
But let’s trace this word back to its Semitic origins which is chala’ and was used for the rust that forms on metal. Something that rust eventually becomes useless. In ancient times rust was viewed as something that eats away at metal, corrupts it and deteriorates it. This eventually took on the meaning of disease because that is what a disease does, it corrupts the body and begins to cause the body to deteriorate. However, this can also be spiritual. There many things that can corrupt and deteriorate our spirit.
Rabbi Samson Hirsch the 19th century Hebrew master and linguist said that chala’ is closely related to the word kalah which means destruction and bride. When a man takes a bride there is a destruction that takes place. There is a destruction to his will, his lifestyle. He is no longer free to do as he pleases, he must consider another. There are many things that are destroyed when you take a mate, because you are no longer a person to yourself but someone else is sharing your life. This destruction is not so much a physical destruction but a destruction of the self centerness of one’s mind and heart,
Thus, this word chala’ is much broader than our English word disease. Disease is not the only possible definition of that word. This word could also mean something that is corrupting and causing a deterioration not only physically, but spiritually as well. I believe in this context the Psalmist is just talking about a spiritual corruption and not a physical one. That is, of course, my own opinion and I do not claim to be right about that. But I feel right in my own heart about it and that is good enough for me personally. God promises to heal all our spiritual corruption, chala’ or spiritual diseases.
A squirrel ran by my disability bus this afternoon as I was parked waiting for my next pickup. He stopped right in front of my bus, twitched his nose as if to say: “No time to talk, I have to prepare for winter.” I said; “Wait!” He paused (Don’t ask, it’s an Aspie thing) I said; “Winter just ended, enjoy yourself, have fun?” He twitched his nose and I felt him say; “I have to prepare for winter.” Then he scurried off. My little friend was focused on what was most important, surviving the winter.
Maybe the reason God doesn’t heal all our diseases is that we don’t realize He does. We are too focused on what we think needs to be healed in the physical when God is focused on the most important. Matthew 18:9: “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.” Our focus is to prepare for eternity. That requires chala’ a spiritual healing. God promises to heal all our spiritual disabilities which will have an eternal effect and value.