Words Mean Something

I'll never forget that one question on the quiz -

Briefly explain the following passage:  "Remove not the ancient landmarks which your fathers have set (Proverbs 22:28)."

The following options were available:

a) Do not take down an old monument

b) Keep established tradition

c) Do not steal

Without hesitation, I chose the answer that I was certain was right - B.  After all, I had heard this passage used, more than once, in this very way.  (Here is an example)

And, like many occasions, I was wrong in my certainty.  The right answer is C.

I'll put the explanation at the end, for those who are interested, but the right understanding of this verse isn't the point.  I was WRONG about what the verse meant, because I believed a very reasonable explanation by people I trusted.  I had never before been given a reason to doubt that understanding.  I had never been given a reason to doubt the preparation of those people who told me the wrong meaning.  I never questioned what I believed, why I believed it, and where that came from in the first place.  I believed there was a God-breathed prohibition against changing "that old time religion".

What do you believe?  Why do you believe it?  Where did that belief originate?  And, once you have answered those questions - are those answers good enough?

Soli Deo Gloria,


***Why I was wrong***

Because I didn't understand the 17th century meaning of "landmark" (since the King James Version of 1611 is where most current versions begin their translation verbiage, for reader familiarity), which meant "boundary line", not "monument"...which is why answer isn't "A".

Because I didn't know the Hebrew word translated there also means "territorial boundary" or "structure marking that boundary".

Because I didn't realize the original context, which can also be seen in Deuteronomy 19:14 and 27:17, is that people would move these property markers slowly, over time, to claim their neighbor's land for themselves.

Because, the preachers who used the verse in this way used it in a modern context of resisting "liberal" encroachment against established doctrines or practices, it makes sense that it could mean that.  After all, that's a message that is Biblical in some applications.

Because, even giving them the benefit of the doubt that they did their homework, those leaders would say that keeping "old, sound doctrine" would still be "in the spirit" of Proverbs 22:28.  However, when we understand that it is condemning a specific practice against stealing, we know it can't be about foolishly accepting novel doctrines or practices.  

There are verses that talk about that sort of thing, but this isn't one of them.  Using it in this way undermines the messenger and the message.