Word Study: Ashamed בושׁ



Psalms 25:2 “O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.”

When I see the word “ashamed” I think of being embarrassed. You may be embarrassed over losing a job and feel ashamed as well as what will follow that loss, late payment on bills, falling behind on a mortgage, a car being repossessed, all will make you feel ashamed or embarrassed. Sometimes circumstances in life get so desperate that you really can’t afford the luxury of being ashamed or embarrassed. You reach a point where that no longer matters. You reach a point where your pride begins to take second place to just surviving. You reach a point of no concern.

I find it hard to believe that David is pleading with God to keep him from being embarrassed or humiliated. In the same verse he is pleading with God to prevent his enemies from triumphing over him. If this is typical of David’s style of writing, then enemies triumphing over him is somehow related to being humiliated.

Every translation I have read renders the word bosh as ashamed. Perhaps ashamed would fit bosh but it is stretching it. The word bosh comes from and old Canaanite word meaning to be disappointed, confused or perplexed. The word is spelled Beth, Vav and Shin. These letters suggest that this confusion flows from the heart being joined and consumed by flames of passion. This passion could be lust, anger, or fear.

Seven hundred years after the birth of Christ a group of Jewish scribes known as the Masoretes began inserting vowels into words. Up to that time words only had consonants. Try pronouncing a word without a,e,i,o or u. In doing this they also started developing a more precise grammar. They did follow tradition in how to develop this grammar, but they were not inspired. So even though the Masoretes presented this word as in a cohorative form (permissive using the word let) I, like many rabbis, take issue with their conclusions. To be fair they followed a tradition interpretation so the majority felt this was permission, let me not be ashamed. However, there is some dissention and some feel it should be read: “Oh my God, I trust in you therefore I am not consumed by fear.”

As I ponder the grammatical structure of this verse, I find the syntax to be ambiguous (as it usually is in Hebrew). So there are a couple possible ways to render this. When I look at the word trust I find it is the Hebrew word batach. The is a loan word from Middle Egyptian used for welding. There is Archaeological evidence that the Egyptians developed the art of welding as far back as 1,500 BC. If possible I would encourage you to talk to a welder, observe a weld taking place or even examine a good weld. You might have a whole new appreciation for trust. What happens is that two pieces of metal are melted into each other. Parts of each metal are intermixed. A welder will tell you that if you get a good weld that piece of metal will break in unwelded parts before it ever breaks at the weld. When you trust in God you are welding yourself to Him, you are intermixing with his power and strength.

David does something pretty much out of style in his poetical writing, he attaches a personal pronoun to the word Elohim. What I see David is saying here is: “My trusting God, in you I am not consumed by fear.” Let me explain it this way using a chess board.

The word batach or trust is spelled Beth, Teth and Cheth. The Cheth is telling me that I am joined with God such that I not only trust in Him but He is trusting in me. I have become a piece in his chess game with the enemy. He will move me where it will best suit His strategy and although I may be just a chess piece not knowing what the ultimate strategy is, God can trust me to just not move from my position on my own, but to wait for Him to decide when he can move me. Thus, wherever I move, the enemy will not triumph. After all God is the chess master. The word triumph in Hebrew is alas, which means to rejoice over an impending victory. If I move on my own, it will mess up God’s strategy in this big chess game and give the enemy an opportunity to rejoice over an impending victory, causing God to have to rework his strategy.

So long as I just remain as a chess piece, be it just a pawn, and let God move me rather than I plotting my own strategy to suit myself and not His kingdom, I need never be consumed by the fires of fear, for I am part of an overall strategy and whatever move God decides to make for me, it will be to help bring His kingdom to ultimate victory.

However, I must remember that it is more than my trusting in God, I must allow God to trust in me to not develop my own strategy and move before He is ready to move me.

Can you imagine what it would be like to play chess and have everyone of your pieces screaming at you: “Move me, no move me first, you have to move me right away there’s a knight and bishop ready to sweep me away.” So you move one of your pawns and your rook says: “Well, so what makes that pawn more important than me, a rook, that you will protect him before me, if that is all you care I will move myself out of the way of that bishop and knight to this nice safe spot over here.” Unfortunately here happens to be in the direct path of the queen and your non trusting rook waits out your next move in fear and trembling.

What I feel Psalms 24:2 is telling me is that if I am to trust God or be welded to him, I have to allow God to trust in me and not to work out own strategy to save my own gizzard and make my own life comfortable. There is a broader picture out there and there are many other players depending on the move God makes in my own life and I am in this game to make God the victor, not to find a safe little corner on the chess board where I can wait out my existence on this planet. As long as I trust God and He can trust in me I will be on that chess board confident that he is planning to move me when it fits His strategy even if I am in the path of knight or bishop because he may have a pawn or king covering for me. How embarrassing that would be to be rescued by a pawn? But if you are about to be swept away by a knight or bishop, it won’t matter what station in life someone is who rescues you. Suddenly, your station in life doesn’t really matter in light of the Master chess player who never loses once chess piece on His way to victory.