promises of God, Word Study

A New Understanding of Jeremiah 29:11 #WordWednesday

Jeremiah_29_11_Tattoo_(7475472160)

It’s one of the most loved Bible verses of all time.

It’s probably the most memorized and quoted.

And possibly the most tattooed! 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11.

(I don’t know this man in the photo, and it’s not my habit to put strange men on my blog, but his photo was on Wikimedia Commons and “rights free” to use. “Thank you, sir, and Wikimedia Commons for letting me use your back.)

Now that we have that cleared up, let’s continue….

I’ve often prayed this verse for others, my children, myself. It’s encouraging and hopeful, and we live in a world that so desperately needs hope.

But the other day as I was writing in a new journal, Jeremiah 29:11 was printed on the bottom of the page, but it was another translation than what I normally use. It was the New King James Version. Look how it reads:

“I know the thoughts that I have for you,” says the Lord, “thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

The Bible study geek in me did a back flip! Why had I never read or seen this translation before? And WOW! What a difference between the words “prosper” and “peace” at least in my brain. So…you know what I had to do. I had to start digging!

[Side note: Please start digging into the ancient language under the translations when you find a discrepancy such as this. Use a Key-Word Study Bible or a website such as BlueLetterBible.org.]

The Hebrew word that in my mind has been translated so differently is shalowm.

Yes, shalowm.

According to the BlueLetterBible.org site, the definitions of shalowm include:

completeness, soundness, welfare, peace

  1. completeness (in number)

  2. safety, soundness (in body)

  3. welfare, health, prosperity

  4. peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment

  5. peace, friendship
    1. of human relationships

    2. with God especially in covenant relationship

As I read these definitions peace fell on me. I breathed deep and exhaled long and slow. The word itself and its definitions seemed to hold a sacred power over me. And I knew that if I were to print the LTB (Lee Translation Bible), I would choose to translate Jeremiah 29:11 with the word “Peace” rather than “Prosper” even though “prosperity” is one of the meanings. Actually, maybe I would not use an English word to translate this verse. Maybe I’d simply use the Hebrew because it holds so much more depth and meaning than any of our English words can convey.

“I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says the Lord, “thoughts of shalowm

…completeness

….contentment

soundness

…tranquility

…peace in relationships with God and man

I know prospering doesn’t have to mean money or things. It can be on the inside too. But my mind automatically goes to “stuff” when I think of prospering.

But “stuff”– though it can make life easier, does not possess the ability to bring me shalowm.

I feel the need to pray. Grab my hand. Let’s kneel before the throne together.

“Father-God, thank you. Thank you that your thoughts toward us are loving. You look at us with eyes of grace and love. Many feel you are always looking for a reason to punish us, but Jeremiah 29:11 testifies your desire to have relationship with us, to grant us peace with you and others, contentment, sound minds, and tranquility. Help us claim this in our lives. We desire your shalowm. Thank you for Jesus. You’ve made these thoughts of love and shalowm tangible through Him. We love you. Amen.”

 

Share your thoughts: How does knowing the definition of the Hebrew word shalowm in Jeremiah 29:11 affect your understanding of the verse? What would your new translation look like? (Comments are like chocolate for my soul without the sugar or calories!)

 

Digging Deep,

 

Andy

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12 thoughts on “A New Understanding of Jeremiah 29:11 #WordWednesday

  1. This is so exciting! I’m in a season of life of uncertainty where worry can easily creep in and I’ve chosen to set my heart on these very words and am too “digging deep” and receiving the life of these words that He is speaking to me and to everyone who reads them. I’d love to add to what you’ve said here, Andy:

    “…the thoughts that I think toward you…”

    Thoughts: plans and purposes, an INVENTION even (something ORIGINAL!), that which anyone MEDITATES, purposes, or plots…when you meditate you DWELL on a thought, for an extended period of time and examine it from all angles…it’s not just a blip of a passing thought through your mind…this is HOW the Lord “thinks” towards us, not flippantly, but thoughtfully…

    To think literally means TO WEAVE (figuratively to conceive, to purpose, to meditate)…so indeed our Father’s thoughts about and for us are so tenderly and intentionally and purposefully put together…He’s invested “time” (as we perceive it because He’s outside of it and not limited by it) in orchestrating and WEAVING plans/purposes and intentions as it pertains to us and our lives…He truly does care! To weave takes time, pieces are all intentionally arranged to produce a particular and beautiful product.

    Be blessed and encouraged everyone!

  2. This is one of my all time favorite verses! It has spoke to me since my late 20s. I have studied each translation many times, and each translation has words that speak to me in whatever situation I am in. I have prayed it for my life, my husband, still pray it for my children, and use it as my go to verse when things are not as I think they should be….. as my ways are not HIS. HIS are so much better!!
    Thank you for sharing your heart today!

  3. Very insightful, my Friend! What I like most about the “new” translation is ” thoughts of you” instead if ” plans for you.” I like the sweetness of knowing He has me in His mind in those ways! Thank you!

  4. This is my life verse, recited, prayed, whispered over those I love and for those I love. Held close when I lived behind dikes in my home in a major flood, when my husband had cancer, as my mom slipped from life. I never think of prosper in a material way. I think of it as all the words you cited. Right now when my eldest son, my first born, is in a huge struggle, too complicated to even explain or share, I pray that for him. He is an unbeliever so I have long conversations with God about my desire that my son come to know him and to know Gods’ word. Once again your blog touched my need today. Thank you.

    1. I love how the Lord uses His word to comfort us. It is a strong-tower isn’t it? I also love how the word “prosper” meant all those things to you that the Hebrew word “shalowm” means. It proves to me that God’s word is not stifled by our translations no matter how misguided. It still spoke the truth into your heart. So thankful it spoke to you today too. I’m always grateful and humbled. I’m just typing as He leads. Praise Him.

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