Does Psalm 12:6-7 Refer to the KJV?
QUESTION: "In his book, James White suggests that the KJV is mistranslated in Psalm 12:6-7. Further, he planly states that those who support the KJV have misapplied the verse. Is he correct?"
RESPONSE: The verse reads in the King James Bible, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."
Objecting to this, Professor James White responds with, "Many KJV Only advocates prefer to speak of the words of God when they refer to the KJV, drawing from Psalm 12:6" (The King James Only Controversy, p.6). This is a very interesting footnote given by Brother White. Time and again, White says he believes the KJV is the word of God, as is the NIV, RSV, NASV and NRSV. If this is so, why would he footnote what he himself claims to believe? The difference here is that I do not believe the NIV, RSV, NASV, or the NRSV are the words of the LORD. I believe they are translations made by men which reflect a certain line of manuscripts. I believe that they contain God's word, but containing God's word and being the word of God are two different things. I do not believe that God's word has error in it, and I believe that these translations have error. And I believe the promise of God to preserve His words without error.
That is what the verse says. If I am to believe God, I must believe this verse. If I do not believe this verse, why should I believe anything else that God says? However, I do believe it and I have the assurance that God has not lied to me concerning the keeping of His words. Further, I believe that for those of us who speak English these preserved words are in the KJV. So I have a book I believe fulfills Psalm 12:6-7 and it can be held and tested. Brother White does not.
The question is asked of White, "Doesn't Psalm 12:6-7 promise that God will preserve His WORDS?" To this White responds with, "My first question is, Where does Psalm 12 say that the words of the LORD refer to the King James Version of the Bible? Of course, it doesn't. Secondly, nowhere does this passage tell us how God will preserve His words. Does this mean He will do so by ensuring that no one can ever change the substance of those words, or does it mean that He will always make sure that there is one infallible version in one or more languages or translations? The passage does not even begin to address such things. And finally, noting the NIV translation, it is quite possible that verse 7 does not refer back to the words of the LORD in verse 6, but instead to those in verse 5 of whom the Lord says, I will set him in the safety for which he yearns (NKJV)." (Ibid., pp. 243-244).
The NIV translates Psalm 12:6-7 this way: "And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever."
Brother White does not so much answer the question given to him as much as he asks a question of his own. He response with, "Where does Psalm 12 say that the words of the LORD refer to the KJV of the Bible?"
This is not an answer, it is a question. However, the answer is that it does not. If it had, then there would be no word of God until 1611. If there was no word of God until 1611, then Psalm 12 could not possibly be true because the claim is to keep the words of the LORD from THIS generation for ever. This generation predates 1611.
This is the difference between the Bible-believer and modern scholarship. Where is this preserved word today? Where was it at any time? Have we lost it or misplaced it? The modern scholar does not have an answer, at least not one that agrees with the verses found in Psalm 12. The "KJV Only advocates" (to cite Brother White) do not advocate the KJV only for everyone throughout Church history. We advocate the KJV as the preserved word of God, for the English-speaking people, without any proven error.
His second question is what did God mean by preservation? Well, the best answer is He meant what He said. He said He would keep and preserve His words from this generation for ever. Either He did this or He did not. If He did, the modern scholar is at a loss to find where these preserved words are. If He did not, than He lied, which is impossible for God to do. Please notice that the text does not say that God would preserve the substance of His words, as White suggests. He says He will preserve His W-O-R-D-S. Now, did He or didn't He? The Bible-believer says He did, and sees the evidence that He did, in that he has a copy he can hold and read for himself.
The third question Brother White raises is one he plants in his reader's mind. Is Psalm 12:7 translated correctly? Does it refer back to verse 5 and not verse 6? This is the same argument Dr. John Durham of Southeastern Baptist Seminary raised. Durham writes, "Verse 6 interrupts the development of the Psalm with an aside on the purity of the utterances of Yahweh. . .It is. . . an interruption and could very well have been added at a period subsequent to the composition of the Psalm." (Boardman Bible Commentary, pp. 192-193)
So now it becomes either a mistranslation, an interruption, or an addition. Anything except for what it is, the promise of God to keep and preserve His Words. The mark of the Holy Ghost is to assure the Believer concerning the word of God (1 John 5:13). The mark of Satan is to question the word of God (Gen. 3:1).
Dr. G. Campbell Morgan agreed with the rendering found in the King James Bible. He writes, "The psalmist breaks out into praise of the purity of His words, and declares that Jehovah will keep them and preserve them. The them here refers to the words. There is no promise made of widespread revival or renewal. It is the salvation of a remnant and the preservation of His own words which Jehovah promises." (Notes on the Psalms, Revell Comp., p.32).
Brother White quoted the NKJV to support his view that verse 7 refers back to verse 5 and not to verse 6. However, this is not how the NKJV is versed. In the Psalms, the NKJV lends itself to poetic form and groups verses together. It is very plain to see that the editors of this translation have grouped verses 6 and 7 together and not verses 5-7. Brother White would have done better to have stayed with the NIV instead of switching to the NKJV.
It should also be noted that the KJV is not alone in its translation of verse 7 as them instead of us. The ASV of 1901 reads, "Thou wilt keep them, O Jehovah, Thou wilt preserve them from this generation for ever." Well, I guess that this only proves the old saying that even a blind squirrel can find a nut. 🙂