Acts 13:34 and Isaiah 55:3 - “the SURE MERCIES of David”
Acts 13:34 and Isaiah 55:3 - “the SURE MERCIES of David”
Isaiah 55:3 "Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID."
The sure mercies of David are again spoken of in Acts 13:34 in the KJB and the reference is to Christ, the son of David, who was raised from the dead and now sits on the throne.
These are called the sure mercies of David because God had promised to set up his seed (Christ) to sit on his throne. Christ would build the house of the Lord, God would be His Father and He would be His Son and God's mercy would not be taken away as He had done with Saul. See II Samuel 7:12-16 for these promises.
David had grievously sinned by committing adultery and murder, yet God did not break His promises to David for his sins, and so these are called the sure MERCIES of David. Mercy is not getting punished as we should be.
"the SURE MERCIES of David" in Isaiah 55:3 is the reading of the KJB, NKJV, 1917, 1936 Jewish translations, Webster's, KJV 21st Century, Third Millennium Bible, RV, ASV, Geneva, and the Hebrew Names Bible.
The NASB is close in meaning here with "the faithful MERCIES shown to David" but the NIV along with the RSV says: "MY FAITHFUL LOVE promised to David." The ESV says: “MY STEADFAST, SURE LOVE for David.
Love and mercy are not the same concept. Mercy is not being punished as we deserve. David certainly deserved to be punished but God had mercy on him as He does with us.
Acts 13:34 - KJB - “And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID.”
“SURE MERCIES OF DAVID” - τα οσια δαβιδ τα πιστα
In the Acts 13:34 passage the NASB, ESV and NIV say "I will give you THE HOLY AND SURE BLESSINGS of David" instead of "the SURE MERCIES of David" as the KJB and others say. Actually there is no Greek word here for “blessings” at all, neither is there any word for “and”. They just made this up in their translations.
Some Bible critics tell us that the King James Bible is wrong with its “SURE MERCIES” of David - (τα οσια δαβιδ τα πιστα). They tell us that the Greek words used here are “ta ‘hosia” (rough breathing mark) and that this Greek word means “the holy things”.
They are right in that the word osios usually means “holy” or “Holy One” as in “not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27) and “lifting up HOLY hands, without wrath” (1 Timothy 2:8) and “who is HOLY, harmless, undefiled” (Hebrews 7:26)
But in the KJB and many others, as we will see in a moment, the neuter plural form of this word (ta hosia) is translated as “MERCIES” in Acts 13:34.
So, how do we explain this? I think it is rather simple once we look into the quote taken from Isaiah 55:3 and the Hebrew word that is used there.
What we have in the King James Bible is a Hebraism in Acts 13:34. The Hebrew word used in Isaiah 55:3 for “mercies” is # 2617 gheh-sed. This is a noun. The adjective form of this word is #2623 ghah-seed and it is variously translated as “HOLY, MERCIFUL and saints”
The same Hebrew word is translated as “thou wilt not suffer thine HOLY ONE to see corruption” (Psalms 16:10) and as MERCIFUL in such passages as “With the MERCIFUL thou will show thyself MERCIFUL” (2 Samuel 22:26 and Psalms 18:25) “With the MERCIFUL thou wilt show thyself MERCIFUL” and Jeremiah 3:12 - “…Return thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD…for I am MERCIFUL”
Not only does the KJB read MERCIFUL in these three passages, but so too do the Revised Version 1885, ASV 1901, the KJB, the ESV and the NKJV to name but a few.
The same word that is translated as “Holy One”, holy, and saints also means MERCIFUL.
Jeremiah 3:12 “Return thou backsliding Israel…for I am MERCIFUL”
So too read the NET version 2006, the NIV 1984 edition, Darby 1890, the Geneva Bible, God’s Word Translation 1995, Jubilee bible 2010, the RSV, NRSV, Tree of Life Version 2015 and others.
Back to Acts 13:34.
The KJB translators were well aware of other ways to translate this verse, but they rejected them. For example, the Bishops’ bible 1568 and The Geneva Bible read: “I will give you the holy things of David, which are faithful.”
Coverdale 1535 had a different slant, saying - “The grace promysed to Dauid, will I faithfully kepe vnto you.”
The King James Bible translators rejected these other ways to translate Acts 13:34 and it was the first English Bible, but not the first bible, to translated the phrase as “THE SURE MERCIES of David.”
Agreeing with the King James Bible in Acts 13:34 where we read of God saying: “I will give you THE SURE MERCIES of David” are the following Bible translations -Whiston’s New Testament 1745, Wesley’s N.T. 1755, the Worsley N.T. 1770, Living Oracles N.T 1835, Webster’s bible 1833, Darby Translation - “the faithful mercies of David”, The Godbey New Testament 1902, Goodspeed N.T. 1942, J.B. Phillips N.T. 1972 - “the sure mercies of David”, NKJV 1982, The 21st Century KJV 1994, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005, the Jubilee Bible 2010, The Hebrew Transliteration Scripture 2010, A Faithful Version 2017 and The Passion Translation 2017 - “faithful mercies that you can trust.”
Lamsa’s New Testament from the Aramaic (The Peshitta) 1933 reads just like the KJB with “I will give you THE SURE MERCIES of David.”
It is interesting that the Modern Greek Bible (modern Greek is not like biblical Greek) actually uses the most common word for “mercies”.
It reads: “οτι θελω σας δωσει τα ελεη του Δαβιδ τα πιστα.” = I will give to you the sure (faithful) MERCIES (τα ελεη) of David.
The Spanish Las Sagradqs Escrituras of 1569 and the Cipriano de Valera 1602 (obviously done before the KJB of 1611) both read the same way the KJB does with “Os daré LAS MISERICORDIAS FIELES prometidas a David.”
Spanish Las Sagradas Escrituras 1569 -
And so too does the Spanish Reina Valera Gomez Bible 2010 read like the KJB - “Os daré las misericordias fieles de David.”
The so called Greek Septuagint also reads like the King James Bible - "and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, the SURE MERCIES of David."
και διαθησομαι υμιν διαθηκην αιωνιον τα οσια δαυιδ τα πιστα
Greek O.T. (Septuagint)
Some odd balls =
Young’s 1898 is closer to the KJB than it is to the ESV, NIV, NASB with “I will give to you THE FAITHFUL KINDNESSES of David”.
Bible in Basic English 1961 and The New Testament for Everyone 2011 - “I will give you THE HOLY AND FAITHFUL MERCIES of David.” (These two combine both ideas of holy and mercies). So does this one -
The Tree of Life Version 2015 - “I will give you the holy and sure mercies of David.’
Amplified Bible 2015 - “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David [those blessings and mercies that were promised to him].’”
God’s Word Translation 1995, Names of God Bible 2011 - “‘I will give you THE ENDURING LOVE PROMISED to David.’”
The Concordant Literal Version - “I shall be giving you the faithful benignities of David.'"
The Koster Scriptures 1998 - “I will give you the trustworthy kindnesses of David.”
Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible 1902 - “I will give unto you the faithful lovingkindnesses of David.”
Note: In the King James Bible whenever we see the "t" words like thou, thee, thy and thine, this is the singular "you". And whenever we see the "y" words like ye, you and your, this is the "you" plural. So, when we see God promising "I will give YOU the sure mercies of David" this is a promise to all of God's people that as He had mercy on David, in spite of his sins, and still kept His covenant of grace, so too will He do with us.
See “Why those "thee"s and "ye"s are more accurate.”
The King James Bible is right, as always.
ALL of grace, believing the Book,
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