Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®

Truth

from the Responsive Reading

Psalms 31:1, 5

In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. . . . Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

Like many prayers of ancient Israel, Psalm 31 alternates assertions of trust with heartfelt petitions for help. The terms trust, deliver, and commit underscore the Psalmist’s willing dependence on God. 

Jesus echoes verse 5 in his final words from the cross, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). 

righteousness: holiness; justice
redeemed: freed from captivity; saved

Psalms 40:1, 2

I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

inclined: turned
miry: very muddy; swampy

Deuteronomy 32:4

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. 

“His ways are judgment” describes God in terms of justice and fairness. Mišpāt, the word rendered judgment here, is sometimes translated right. Genesis 18:25 poses the question “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right [mišpāt]?”

In this verse, truth is translated from the Hebrew noun ’e mûnâ, which conveys God’s reliability. e mûnâ is often rendered faithfulness in the King James Bible, as in Lamentations 3:23: “Great is thy faithfulness [e mûnâ].”

from Section 1

1 | Psalms 43:3

O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

In the phrase “send out thy light and thy truth,” divine qualities are seen as guides to God’s kingdom. A scriptural authority offers this interpretation: “As the pillar of fire and of the cloud led the Israelites into the promised land, so let God’s ‘light and truth’ . . . bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles; or, thy dwelling-place.”

2 | Psalms 51:6  

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Translation

Surely you desire integrity in the inner self, 
and you teach me wisdom deep within.

—Christian Standard Bible

from Section 2

3 | Psalms 85:11–13

Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase. Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.

Translation

Truth springs up from the earth, 
    and righteousness smiles down from heaven. 
Yes, the LORD  pours down his blessings. 
    Our land will yield its bountiful harvest. 
Righteousness goes as a herald before him, 
    preparing the way for his steps.

—New Living Translation

One source explains that “just as the sun shines down from the sky and draws forth new budding life from the earth, so the ‘righteousness’ of God . . . evokes the faithfulness and the faith of men.”

The Jewish concept of truth (here translated from the Hebrew ’emet) includes stability, certainty, and trustworthiness. It communicates both the truth of God, as in this passage, and the truth of men. Second Chronicles records that King Hezekiah “wrought that which was good and right and truth [’emet] before the Lord” (31:20).

5 | Psalms 46:10

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Most translations render the Hebrew word gôy as nations rather than heathen. In the Hebrew Bible it usually refers to the nations surrounding Israel and Judah or to people who do not worship the one God.

from Section 3

6 | Psalms 25:4, 5 

Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Translation

LORD , tell me your ways.
    Show me how to live.
Guide me in your truth,
    and teach me, my God, my Savior.
    I trust you all day long.

—New Century Version

7 | I Samuel 1:2, 10, 11

Hannah had no children. . . . And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

In the ancient Near East, making a vow to a god—promising to do something if the deity fulfilled a request—was a common practice. Hebrews made their vows to the one God, and Hannah pledged that if she were given a son, she would relinquish him to lifelong service to God. 

A commentator observes: “God begins Israel’s transformation . . . not with great men and events, but with the distress of a barren woman. Such a beginning reminds us of the unlikely paths God’s grace often takes, and it signals to us that the coming kingdom itself is to be understood as the gift of divine grace.” 

Hannah honored her vow, bringing little Samuel—believed to be about three years old—to the high priest, Eli (see vv. 11, 24–28). And Samuel did indeed commit his life to God as prophet, priest, and judge of the Israelites. (Hannah later gave birth to three more sons and two daughters—see I Samuel 2:21—clearly a permanent healing of her infertility.)

The promise that “there shall no razor come upon his head” probably alludes to the Nazarites, men who separated themselves from society in order to serve God. Long hair was a visible symbol of this service (see Numbers 6:1–5). 

8 | I Samuel 3:19 

Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.

Translation

Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and He fulfilled everything Samuel prophesied.

—Holman Christian Standard Bible

9 | Proverbs 22:17, 19, 21 

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. . . . That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. . . . That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth.

Translation

Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; 
    apply your heart to what I teach, . . . 
So that your trust may be in the LORD
    I teach you today, even you. . . . 
teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth, . . .

—New International Version

10 | III John 1:4

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

Translation

Nothing makes me happier than to hear that my children are living according to the truth.

—GOD’S WORD Translation

While this declaration might sound like a sentiment about youngsters, children was an affectionate term for less-experienced followers—and may allude here to Christians the writer has converted. Second John uses very similar wording: “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth” (1:4). 

Only two books of the Bible are considered personal letters—the message to Gaius in Third John and Paul’s dispatch to Philemon. The “Pastoral Epistles” to Timothy and Titus, though addressed to individuals, are more official in nature. And other New Testament letters are intended for churches, communities of Christians, or a general audience.

from Section 4

11 | Psalms 15:1, 2 

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

Translation

O LORD, who may lodge [as a guest] in Your tent?
Who may dwell [continually] on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity and strength of character, 
and works righteousness,
And speaks and holds truth in his heart.

—Amplified® Bible

from Section 5

12 | Psalms 140:13 

Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

the upright: those who are honest and just

14 | Matthew 14:14 

Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

moved with compassion: deeply touched, with a tender desire to help

15 | Matthew 15:22–28

A woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Christ Jesus’ interchange with the Canaanite woman takes place near the end of his healing career. The account falls between two stories of great plenty—his feeding of the five thousand (see 14:15–21) and then of the four thousand (see 15:32–38). Mention of crumbs (15:27) presents a stark contrast to the multitudes’ food. But the woman is sure that even the smallest iota of truth will bring healing.

The Greek word for dog in verse 27 is kynarion—meaning a household pet, not one of the stray or wild dogs that ran in scavenging packs. As today, small pet dogs were sometimes fed from the communal table.

Several parallels exist between this record and that of the centurion’s servant (see 8:5–13). Both petitioners are Gentiles who approach Jesus with respect for his spiritual authority, out of love for another person, and with the expectation of healing. Both speak at some length with the Master, and both receive his assurance of a cure.

grievously vexed: suffering greatly

from Section 6

16 | Psalms 33:10, 11

The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

Translation

The LORD  foils the plans of the nations; 
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 
But the plans of the LORD  stand firm forever, 
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.

—New International Version

Counsel (Hebrew, ‘ēsâ) signifies advice, plan, or purpose; devices (Hebrew, maha šābâ) refers to thoughts, and often indicates crafty or evil intent (see Esther 9:25, for instance). Proverbs 19:21 employs the two terms to contrast human plotting and divine direction: “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”

nought: nothing
of none effect: totally unsuccessful

17 | John 8:31, 32

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Translation

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

—New Living Translation

The Gospel of John celebrates truth, using true or truth about forty times. In this saying, Jesus places a condition on knowing the truth—maintaining an ongoing devotion to his teachings. “All that Jesus promises in v. 32,” reflects a scholar, “depends on the listener’s continuing relationship to Jesus’ word.”

18 | Matthew 22:15–22

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Cæsar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

Tribute money posed a dilemma for Jews. Under Hebrew code, they were to avoid images (see Exodus 20:4Leviticus 26:1Deuteronomy 4:15–19, 23). But the coins required for paying taxes carried Caesar’s likeness. 

Jesus astutely sidesteps the Pharisees’ efforts to entrap him, while implying that mere coins have no value compared to the things of God. A Bible authority interprets Jesus’ meaning this way: “. . . it is possible to be a true citizen of the kingdom and yet quietly submit to the civil rule of a foreign potentate.”

regardest: pay respectful attention to
hypocrites: people who pretend to be more virtuous or moral than they actually are
superscription: engraved words
render: provide; pay
marvelled: wondered

19 | I John 4:6 

We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

Translation

We are [children] of God. Whoever is learning to know God [progressively to perceive, recognize, and understand God by observation and experience, and to get an ever-clearer knowledge of Him] listens to us; and he who is not of God does not listen or pay attention to us. By this we know (recognize) the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error.

—Amplified® Bible Classic

from Section 7

21 | Revelation 21:2, 3, 25–27

I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. . . . And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie.

In Hebrew Scripture, Jerusalem is called the holy city three times (see Nehemiah 11:1Isaiah 52:1Daniel 9:24)—and prophets specify details of dimension, design, and adornment of a new city and temple (see Ezekiel, chaps. 40–48Zechariah 2:1–5Isaiah 54:11, 12).

The Revelator builds on the deeper significance of these descriptions, identifying New Jerusalem not as a national shrine but as the spiritual representation of God’s presence. Other biblical writers portray Jerusalem in spiritual terms as well. In Galatians, Paul attests that “Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all” (4:26). And the book of Hebrews calls it “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (12:22).

Gates were vital to the strength and defense of cities in ancient times. To possess the gate of a city equated to ownership of that city, and entry was strictly guarded. Yet, centuries before this, Isaiah 60:11 predicted, “Thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day or night.” Now the Revelator confirms this open-door policy. In the holy city, no night—no danger or evil—exists to threaten its inhabitants.

22 | Revelation 15:3

Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

Translation

Great and awe-inspiring are your works, 
Lord God, the Almighty; 
just and true are your ways, 
King of the nations.

—Christian Standard Bible

Introduced as the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb, this verse combines two traditions: Moses’ praise of God after the crossing of the Red Sea (see Exodus 15:1–19) and Christians’ praise of God for Christ Jesus’ salvation from sin. This uniting of Old and New Testament teaching is depicted by one scholar: “As the people of Israel had stood beside the sea after their deliverance through the destruction of the Egyptians, so the author of the book of Revelation pictures the victorious saints standing beside a sea of glass and fire. The law and the gospel have now become one and they are merged in a glorious song of triumph.”

“King of saints” is also rendered “King of the nations” and “King of the ages,” showing God to be no mere localized deity but the God of all creation, for all time.


Read a related article, “A thirst for truth!” by Elizabeth B. Everett, at jsh.christianscience.com/a-thirst-for-truth.

Resources quoted in this issue

Cit. 1: Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice, Joseph S. Exell, and Edward Mark Deems, eds. The Pulpit Commentary. London, 1880–1909. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries. 

Cit. 3: Weiser, Artur. The Psalms: A Commentary. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1962.

Cit. 7: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 2, Introduction to Narrative Literature, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015.

Cit. 17: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 8, Luke, John. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015.

Cit. 18: Nicoll, William, ed. The Expositor’s Greek Testament. Vol. 1. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1897. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.

Cit. 22: Buttrick, George Arthur, Nolan B. Harmon, et al., eds. The Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 12, James, Peter, John, Jude, Revelation, General Articles, Indexes. Nashville: Abingdon, 1951–57.

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