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Words like butter – anxiety is not a one verse problem February 6, 2022

Posted by Pete B in Scripture Engagement.

I just had a rant at a facebook post promoting ucb.co.uk/word-for-today/89157. Here’s why…

Anxiety is tough and the psalmist knows that. I’m disappointed that the notes provide no link to the whole psalm in which the psalmist pleads with God for a change in his circumstances, and in the actions and attitudes of his friends. (see verses 20-21 for the reference to “words like butter”)

Out of context verses like verse 22 can falsely imply that anxiety is a failure to trust in God. This was not UCB’s intent, but many Christians suffering from clinical levels of anxiety have had well meaning friends quote things like this.

It can be helpful to follow the pattern of the psalms in venting our frustrations to God. He is patient with us, can take it and already understands where we are at. So, if you are going to point people to verse 22, please point them to the whole psalm.

In reply to my post, UCB added, “We want to always encourage readers to read the full scriptures which are referenced in Word For Today”. So here is all of psalm 55 via Bible Gateway  biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalms 55

After a previous post on the dangers of reading tiny bits of scripture a friend reminded me of the saying, “a text without a context is a pretext” – which got me wondering about who said that first and in what context. Apparently the full quote is, “a text without a context is a pretext for a prooftext” and is attributed by Canadian theologian, D.A. Carson to his father. This is not not say a single verse cannot speak powerfully, but rather that it is open to misinterpretation.


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