Twice in today’s Bible reading* we find the name of God, “Lord of the Armies” (Psalm 84 CSB)
Several English translations render the Hebrew word Sabaoth as “hosts” (ESV, AV, LEB) while others refer to “Almighty” (NIV), and “heaven’s armies” (NLT) or “Angel armies” (Message) So which translation is correct?
When it comes to modern Bible translations, there really isn’t one correct version as opposed to the others. Translators emphasize different aspects, depending on their translation philosophy. The question isn’t which one is correct, but rather, which one is better based on the context.
Hebrew nouns, like Sabaoth are based on three-character Hebrew verbs. By adding prefixes and suffixes, verb tenses change, as well as nouns are formed. The Hebrew verb ṣābāʾmeans to fight/serve. Sometimes the word ṣābāʾis paired with Elohim and other times it’s paired with Yahweh/Jehovah. In Psalm 84, ṣābāʾis paired with God’s covenant-making, covenant-keeping name, Yahweh/Jehovah. As with yesterday’s reading, the Sons of Korah wrote this psalm.
Oftentimes, we picture God as a cosmic Santa Claus, a benevolent grandfather figure. As such, it sounds a little harsh to hear God’s name presented as God or Lord of the Armies. But we need to read the Bible as it’s written. And the Sons of Korah see God’s active protection and defense of His people. They long to be in God’s lovely dwelling place. (Psalm 84:1-2)
Spiritual warfare is real. To protect and defend His people from their enemies, God musters his angelic troops to go on the offensive. And He always wins the war!
Whenever you feel defeated, whenever you feel discouraged, use the wartime walkie-talkie of prayer to call in reinforcements. Don’t attempt to fight your battles alone!
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: