Psalms 121:1, Doug Kutilek and the NKJV
Bible agnostic Doug Kutilek thinks he has found another glaring error in the King James Bible and he wants to let you know about it. I call Mr. Kutilek a Bible agnostic and an unbeliever in the Infallibility of the Bible simply because he has admitted that he is still searching for the correct readings and the correct texts and he does not believe that ANY Bible in ANY language (including “the” Hebrew and much less “the” Greek) IS or ever was the complete, inspired and 100% true words of God.
I have corresponded with Mr. Kutilek through several emails and we have gone back and forth over his biblical agnosticism versus faith in the King James Bible.
We will now take a look at Mr. Kutilek’s “key” for properly understanding Psalms 121:1 and then I will respond from the Infallible King James Bible believer’s position.
Mr. Kutilek writes - Unlocking a Difficult Verse, By Doug Kutilek
(The Biblical Evangelist, October 1, 1986)
My experience has been that such Bible verses as have puzzled me are very often a puzzle to other preachers as well. One such verse is Psalm 121:1, which reads in the KJV, "I will Lift mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help." What does this mean?
Obviously, the hills don't provide help to the believer. The psalmist continues in verse two with words that seem to plainly contradict verse one: "My help cometh from the LORD which made heaven and earth." Since Scripture, correctly interpreted, is never self-contradictory, I was hard put for some while to explain verse one.
Some writers have suggested that verse one has reference to the refreshing or exhilarating feeling of the view from a hilltop a rather feeble and inadequate notion to my mind. Some commentaries suggest that the hills here are Mount Zion or Mount Moriah or some combination of hills on which Jerusalem sit, and where God's temple stood. While this is perhaps a little better than the mere "mountain top inspiration" explanation, it doesn't seem entirely satisfactory to the context.
The key to unlock this passage is given in the margin of the original edition of the KJV. Rather than being a statement, verse one is understood as two questions: "Shall I lift up mine eyes to the hills? Whence should my help come?"
Hebrew grammar supports this punctuation. The first clause CAN BE taken as a question (according to the phenomena of Hebrew grammar, and the second clause must be taken as a question (the Hebrew clause always introduces a question whenever it is used in the Old Testament). But taken as a pair of questions, what does verse one have reference to?
It must be remembered that the hilltops were the preferred location for pagan shrines employed in the worship of Baal and Ashteroth and other heathen Canaanite deities. The prophet Ezekiel clearly depicts this pagan worship: "Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when their slain men shall be among the idols round about their altars, upon every high hills, in all the tops of the mountains, and every green tree and every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols" (6:13). Jeremiah, whose consistent theme is the denunciation of pagan idol worship on the high hills and under the green trees (2:20; 3:6; 13:27; 17:2), declares the futility of such worship: "Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel: (3:23).
And that is exactly the Psalmist's idea here: 'Shall I join in with those who worship idols on hill tops? Is my hope and help and salvation to be found there? No, no! My help comes from the LORD, the true God, the Creator of the universe. I will look to Him, and trust Him.'
Application of truth taught here can easily be made to our own day. Should we trust in the idols of the hour, the idols of money, self fulfillment, pleasure, escapism, entertainment, intellectualism? No, we will commit ourselves and our souls to the God of the Bible. He who does all things well . We will be content to trust His word and believe His promises, and not rush off after the latest fadish idol.
-- by Doug Kutilek
Responding to Mr. Kutilek’s criticism.
First of all, it should be noted that when Mr. Kutilek speaks of “the Bible” and “trusting His word and believing His promises” he has no particular “Bible” in mind that we can actually trust.
In Mr. Kutilek’s mind, any and all texts are open to doubt and debate and nothing is sure and unchanging in his “Bible”. He could not tell you where to get a copy of God’s infallible words if his life depended on it.
We might have one some day, if Doug ever gets around to making up his own mind about what is part of God’s words and what is not, and he finally comes out with his own Bible version. But until that day arrives, (according to Mr. Kutilek’s own thinking) there is no such thing as a complete and 100% true Holy Bible to be found anywhere on this earth. Don’t believe me? Then just ask him where we can get one now, and you will see what he really believes.
Secondly, there are many marginal notes in the King James Bible, but you have to remember two things, one far more important than the other. There were some 47 very learned men whom God used to give us the greatest Bible ever printed in history. They did not always agree among themselves as to what or how a certain passage should read. So when some gave an alternate reading, they sometimes included it in the marginal notes as expressing another view. But the most important thing to remember is the sovereign hand of God was at work in putting this Holy Bible together and it is what was put IN THE TEXT ITSELF that is the inspired and infallible words of God.
And Thirdly, in spite of the fact that Mr. Kutilek is aware of a very reasonable explanation that has been taught and espoused by many very able Bible commentators in the past as to why the King James Bible reading is correct, he rejects it out of hand, simply because he hates the King James Bible only position and prefers to set up his own mind as his final authority. Mr. Kutileks arguments about how there should be two questions in verse one don’t even match up with his NKJV reading.
The NKJV reads: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills---From whence comes my help?” You will note there is only one question in the NKJV and we have to wonder why this person would lift up his eyes to the hills in the first place, and then ask where his help is coming from. Then Mr. Kutilek has to add a bunch of words and an additional question mark to the text to have it come out meaning what he thinks it should mean. - “that is exactly the Psalmist's idea here: 'Shall I join in with those who worship idols on hill tops?”
The NIV, NASB, ESV and Holman Standard all read like the NKJV with only one question. Yet Mr. Kutilek tells us there should be TWO question marks in the verse. So, not even these other “scholars” got it right, according to Mr. Kutilek’s own humble view.
You see, Mr. Kutilek and Mr. Kutilek alone is his own final authority. So until he finally gets around to writing his own bible version, I guess we poor rubes will have to keep up to date with Doug’s ongoing revelations and deep insights so we too can finally be sure about what God REALLY said. Ya think?
Now, let’s look at the Psalm more closely and see if it makes sense or not.
Psalms 121:1 King James Bible - “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”
NKJV makes it a single question - “I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help?" Other versions that make it a single question are the ASV, NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV, Darby, Youngs, ESV, Jehovah Witness New World Translation and the NET version. The Catholic Versions are a mixed bag of confusion - as usual.
Agreeing with the King James Bible and making Psalms 121:1 a statement are Wycliffe 1395, Matthews Bible 1549, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, Webster's 1833 translation, the Douay Rheims, Rotherham's Emphasized Bible 1902, Lamsa's 1936 translation of the Syriac, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, the 2009 Catholic Public Domain Bible, the English Jubilee Bible 2010.
Other English Bibles that have Psalms 121:1 as a statement and not a question are The Word of Yah 1993, God's First Truth 1999 - " I lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from where comes my help.", Complete Apostle’s Bible 2005 - “I lifted up my eyes to the mountains — from where my help shall come.”, the Ancient Roots Translinear Bible 2008, Bond Slave Version 2009, Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011, Conservative Bible 2011, the Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 - “(Shir HaMa’alot) I will lift up mine eyes unto the harim (hills), from whence cometh ezri (my help).", The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011,
And the Interlinear Hebrew Old Testament -
The Jewish Virtual Library Tanach [full text] 1994 - "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help."
The Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 - "(Shir HaMa’alot) I will lift up mine eyes unto the harim (hills), from whence cometh ezri (my help)."
Foreign Language Bibles that read like the KJB
Luther’s German Bible 1545 - “Ich hebe meine Augen auf zu den Bergen von welchen mir Hilfe kommt.”, the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569, Cipriano de Valera Bible 1602, the Spanish Reina Valera 1909, and the 2010 Reina Valera Gomez, Spanish Jubilee Bible 2010 - “ALZARÉ mis ojos á los montes, De donde vendrá mi socorro.”, the French Martin 1744 and the 1996 French Ostervald - “J'élève mes yeux vers les montagnes d'où me viendra le secours.” and the 1649 Italian Diodati - “IO alzo gli occhi a’ monti, Per vedere onde mi verrà aiuto.”, Czech Kralicka Bible - “Píseň stupňů. Pozdvihuji očí svých k horám, odkudž by mi přišla pomoc.", the Russian Synodal Version - "Возвожу очи мои к горам, откуда придет помощь моя.", the Hungarian Károli Bible - “Szemeimet a hegyekre emelem, onnan jön az én segítségem.”, The Polish Updated Gdansk Bible 2013 - “Oczy moje podnoszę ku górom, skąd przyjdzie mi pomoc.”, and the Romanian Fidela Bible 2014 - "ÎMI ridic ochii spre munţi, de unde îmi vine ajutorul."
The Bible Commentators
Adam Clarke agrees with the King James Bible readings and comments: “Unto the hills- Jerusalem was built upon a mountain; and Judea was a mountainous country; and the Jews, in their several dispersions, turned towards Jerusalem when they offered up their prayers to God.”
John Gill comments: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills…Not to the hills and mountains in Judea, looking about to see if the inhabitants of them, or any bodies of men, appeared upon them to his help in distress; rather to the hills of Moriah and Zion, where the ark of God, the symbol of his presence, was, and to whom he looked for assistance and deliverance: or to heaven, the holy hill of the Lord, and to him that dwelleth there.”
Here is a partial list of several verses that support this view. Let’s compare some other Psalms and see what they have to say about the hills.
“I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.” Psalm 3:4
“Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill Zion.” Psalm 2:6
“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?” Psalm 15:1
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?” Psalm 24:3
“O send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.” Psalm 43:3
“The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan; an high hill as the hill of Bashan. Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the LORD will dwell in it forever.” Psalm 68:15-16
“His foundation is in the holy mountains.” Psalm 87:1
“Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.” Psalm 99:9
Other Scriptures reveal the truth of God’s presence to be found in the mountains. “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.” Genesis 22:14
“And Moses....came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.” Exodus 3:1
“And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount: and Moses went up.” Exodus 19:20
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.” Exodus 24:12
“Then Joshua bult an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal.” Joshua 8:30
Compare Psalms 125:2 where the lofty mountains surrounding Jerusalem are symbolic of God's watchful presence. "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever."
Other Bible commentators
Matthew Henry - commenting on the reading found in the KJB says: "I will lift up my eyes to the hills" - probably he meant the hills on which the temple was built, Mount Moriah, and the holy hill of Zion, where the ark of the covenant, the oracle, and the altars were."
John Wesley comments on Psalm 121:1 saying: “Hills - To Sion and Moriah, which are called the holy mountains.”
Matthew Poole comments on Psalm 121:1 - “Unto the hills; either to Zion and Moriah, which are called the holy mountains, Psalm 87:1
Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
- “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. The pilgrims' even-song as they caught the first sight of the hills (Psalms 121:1) round Jerusalem.”
John Trapp (English Puritan) Complete Commentary - “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills - to Zion and Moriah, where God’s sanctuary is, Psalms 87:1”
Daniel Whedon’s Commentary - “ I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills—Not to the hills of Palestine in general, but to those of Jerusalem and its environs. See on Psalms 125:2. Mount Zion, in David’s time, and Moriah afterward, were particularly holy mountains, the abode of Jehovah.”
The King James Bible is always right. Accept no substitutes.
By sovereign grace, believing The Book,
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