Inerrancy in the Sense (particularly the Psalms)?

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
I have pondered the below question(s) for some time and admittedly it is difficult to put in written form, but I will try in an effort to gain some insight from the PB.

How do we discuss scripture being inerrant regarding some of the saint’s prayers that could be said to be lacking or even expressing things deficient? Examples that come to mind are some of Job’s attitudes and words expressed to God. Commentators will often point out the good parts of the prayer and the things that were not exactly model expressions? The same can go for some of the words of the Prophet Jonah, expressed to God. To be clear I know this gives us hope because we are humans as well and our prayers are riddled with error as we need the intercession of the Holy Spirit.

As I think on this topic, I cannot also help but to think upon The Book of Psalms. IF we have examples of erroneous expressions to our Lord elsewhere (even in the Prophetical Books), is it not also possible that some of the Psalms have some expressions that should not serve as models for us? Surely if Jonah and Job had mixed expressions, then David is not exempt.

So the big question is:

1. How do we think on inerrancy, in light of erroneous attitudes being expressed?

Little Question:

2. Is it possible some of the Psalms have erroneous expressions in the same sense of Job and Jonah? Why? or Why not?

Please don’t read me as accusing scripture or any of our forefathers, I have trying to be brief at the risk of reading too bluntly. I am also a lazy and ignorant servant at times.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
The books of Job and Jonah are infallibly telling us historical facts, some of which are that these godly, but fallible men said or did things that were wrong. To the extent that any other part of scripture is telling us historical facts, the same thing may be happening. The Psalms generally are not relating history as such, so that doesn't apply. Not sure if I've expressed that well, or if it helps at all, but if it doesn't make sense then I can try to clarify.

Edit: As an aside, I sometimes think we maybe misunderstand Job when we say that he spoke wrong, or his attitudes were wrong. That's certainly what his friends thought, but at the end God says that Job had "spake of me the thing that was right", and his friends had not.
 
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Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
Christ or his church are ultimately the speakers in the Psalms. Christ prayed and sang them (not to mention his Spirit inspired them), so they are his songs. I think of Psalm 73 serving as a good example of a Christian's envy of the apparent success and ease of the wicked, that is until God showed him his foolishness. It's a story and a confession, and Christ sang it, even though the psalmist expressed that he had been sinful and God had forgiven him, something the Lord himself had never done; but he has identified with us in our sin, and he sang and prayed such on our behalf. I think the wisdom books and other places in the Bible teach us how to bring our complaints to God; it's ok to feel sad and low and even angry, but to sin not, or certainly to confess our sin as soon as we realize it.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Can you give us an example?

I don't see the so-called deficient prayers as all that problematic. I don't believe the Bible intends to teach us timeless truths per se, so I don't see the need to get around any truth-value in some of those prayers.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Inerrancy ensures that the words that are given are God's words as he willed them to be recorded as well as infallibly delivered. You are correct to note however that not everything in scripture is, as recorded, true in the sense that it conforms to scripture's overall teaching or doctrine (though note it is true with respect to the fact that the words reflect something that happened or was actually said). The purpose of the doctrine of infallibility is to affirm that what we have is for our good insofar as nothing is written in scripture with the purpose to lead us astray or is, of itself, can lead us astray. This is even true of those statements, when isolated, are erroneous themselves.

For example Psalm 14:1, when cited in part, would read "there is no God" and clearly that statement by itself contradicts the rest of scripture. Note, however, that it is also corrected in its own context as it is quoted to demonstrate, infallibly, God's judgment of the sinful heart. It is recorded here to show us something true of man's rebellion, and clearly its purpose is not to promote the value of an atheistic profession. Similar examples can be found throughout the Bible, including the NT, such as Romans 3:8 "Let us do evil, that good may come."

I wish to strongly suggest, however, that if the context does not reveal something erroneous about the statement (namely that it is corrected by the author or the narrator) that we should be reluctant to say anything negative about it. And I would apply that equally to the infallible book of Psalms as I would to any other book of holy scripture.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Inerrancy, in some cases, perhaps means nothing more or less than this or that person actually said this or that thing at such and such a time in history.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
That would seem to be a better description of Infallibility.

Infallibility means not capable of error. Inerrancy means truth-value. I am not infallible. I make the following inerrant statement:

"The Deep State conspired to steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump."

That is incontrovertible. It's inerrant. However, I am not infallible. I could have made a mistake. I didn't, of course. But it was possible.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
Infallibility means not capable of error. Inerrancy means truth-value. I am not infallible. I make the following inerrant statement:

"The Deep State conspired to steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump."

That is incontrovertible. It's inerrant. However, I am not infallible. I could have made a mistake. I didn't, of course. But it was possible.
Wrong example in the wrong thread in the wrong forum! (End of moderation)
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
Can you give us an example?

I don't see the so-called deficient prayers as all that problematic. I don't believe the Bible intends to teach us timeless truths per se, so I don't see the need to get around any truth-value in some of those prayers.
What do you mean by the bolded part? I find the statement highly problematic on its own, but maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're trying to say.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Neil and Jeri are pointing you in the right direction.

1. In the context of an historical narrative, inerrancy means that the erroneous sentiment is accurately captured and properly attributed. Inerrancy of the text does not mean inerrancy of the speaker.
2. Psalms may have isolated statements that are reflective of an improper attitude: "I was envious" - "I said in my haste" - "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" - and so forth. But all the Psalms, including those which contain such statements, when they are taken in their entirety, are inspired expressions of piety. Psalms with that kind of statement teach us about examining and correcting ourselves, about being honest with reference to our deficiencies, about how to confess sin. They couldn't do that unless they had such statements.
3. Think about the difference between the record of a dialogue, such as in the Gospels, vs. the didactic teaching in a letter. Peter the impulsive speaker from the Gospel stories may well say something he shouldn't: "Far be it from thee, Lord." Peter the inspired teacher of the church in his letters does not.
4. The key is to identify the speaker in the text, and to relate that to the intention of the text. If the speaker is God or the author, or a prophet or apostle exercising their office, then the speech is inerrant as to its content (when understood within its context). But if the speaker is the devil, for instance, even if what he says is true as far as the words go, it is false and misleading in the speaker's intention. But the text's intention to show the devil for who he is is inerrantly carried out, by showing the devil as a deceiver.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
What do you mean by the bolded part? I find the statement highly problematic on its own, but maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're trying to say.

People who look for timeless truths usually abstract that truth from Scripture, making the rest of Scripture unnecessary. Of course the bible teaches eternal truths, just not in the Plato sense.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Do you have a specific example you could provide?
1 Chronicles 26:18: At Parbar westward: four at the causeway and two at the parbar.

I don't know what the Platonic truth of that passage would be.

On a more existential level, Psalm 137 where it speaks of dashing infants' heads. I don't know how I can read that passage and Dare to be a Daniel.

On the other hand, since I lean more towards a redemptive-historical view of preaching and Scripture, I'm perfectly fine with not trying to see timeless (Platonic) truths in those passages.
 

Challer

Puritan Board Freshman
I have pondered the below question(s) for some time and admittedly it is difficult to put in written form, but I will try in an effort to gain some insight from the PB.

How do we discuss scripture being inerrant regarding some of the saint’s prayers that could be said to be lacking or even expressing things deficient? Examples that come to mind are some of Job’s attitudes and words expressed to God. Commentators will often point out the good parts of the prayer and the things that were not exactly model expressions? The same can go for some of the words of the Prophet Jonah, expressed to God. To be clear I know this gives us hope because we are humans as well and our prayers are riddled with error as we need the intercession of the Holy Spirit.

As I think on this topic, I cannot also help but to think upon The Book of Psalms. IF we have examples of erroneous expressions to our Lord elsewhere (even in the Prophetical Books), is it not also possible that some of the Psalms have some expressions that should not serve as models for us? Surely if Jonah and Job had mixed expressions, then David is not exempt.

So the big question is:

1. How do we think on inerrancy, in light of erroneous attitudes being expressed?

Little Question:

2. Is it possible some of the Psalms have erroneous expressions in the same sense of Job and Jonah? Why? or Why not?

Please don’t read me as accusing scripture or any of our forefathers, I have trying to be brief at the risk of reading too bluntly. I am also a lazy and ignorant servant at times.

The erroneous attitudes of mere men therein are preserved. God's Word is still inerrant. I would also encourage you to reflect on and take comfort in how our Lord regarded the Old Testament. Hope this helps!
 
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