ABCs with Meaning

If you’ve been a Bible reader for more than a few years, and if you’re like me, you may find yourself skimming over words that have a vague meaning but their value hasn’t yet been “treasured in your heart.” I’ve noted a few of these lately. Let’s look at three.


This word in English most often shows up in the Psalms, for example:

Psalm 96: 7, 8 (NET):

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the nations,

ascribe to the Lord splendor and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the splendor he deserves.

Bring an offering and enter his courts.

Although the Hebrew word, yahab, means “to give,” we know the meaning isn’t, “Give the Lord splendor and strength.” He already has splendor and strength, and we certainly don’t have it to give. So what is the Psalmist getting at?

Another way to look at “give” is to “count” – to credit, to acknowledge, to assign. When we “ascribe to the Lord the splendor and strength” we are proclaiming that He does, indeed, dwell in splendor and is truly strong. The idea of “ascribe” could be looked at through this dialogue: “Hey, Jean, do you see all that splendor around God?”  “Well, sure enough, He is splendid.” Jean affirms that she has also seen in God the quality her friend has pointed out. She has ascribed to him splendor.  

One way we do this is through the familiar refrain, “God is good, all the time.” That is the observation. When we respond with “All the time, God is good,” we are ascribing goodness to him.

What truths do you ascribe to God?


There is something more to beholding than just looking or just seeing. There is an element of awe and wonder in it. There’s a sense of “I see it, but it is just too marvelous to believe.” Behold invites us to tarry and ponder. No rushing to the next paragraph or to the end of our quiet time. Behold tells us to watch carefully at what is coming next; you will be dazzled.

With this exclamation we are expected to look intently because what follows is important, shocking, life-changing. 

Read the following with the posture just described. What new insights do you have?

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.  (Is 40:15 ESV)

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  (Luke 1:31 ESV)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Rev. 3:30 ESV)

For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor 6:2 ESV)


As a young Christian I learned that the word “confess” means to, “agree with.” The idea is that when I confess my sins I am agreeing with God about the nature of my sins. I still think that’s a fair way to understand it. But over the years I have come see a deeper richness in the word.

Confess, I think, has the broader definition of “acknowledging truth.” When a bad guy confesses he is saying, “here’s what really, truly happened; here’s what I really, truly did.” When we confess our sins we are saying, “It is true. I have failed. I have fallen short. I have sinned.”

Confession isn’t always (though often is) used in the context of something negative. I can also confess that I am in love; I am happy about something; I am looking forward to an upcoming event. I can also confess that, “Jesus Christ is Lord.”  In doing so, I am saying, “It is true. Jesus Christ is Lord.”

What are the things you know to be true that you can confess today?

Carol Dowsett is a career missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators and a professional communications consultant, having worked for nearly 25 years in global communication leadership roles. She has served with agencies such as Wycliffe International, SIL International, Forum of Bible Agencies International, Bible League International, Christar, and the Well Community. She is a frequent teacher of Reflective Bible Studies and has been a lay leader of women's discipleship and prayer ministries in various churches. An advocate to the Church for mental health awareness, she has served as a support group leader with Mental Health Grace Alliance. With her family, she lived in Nairobi, Kenya for three years and now makes her home near Dallas, Texas. Married for 45 years, she and Jim have four adult children and six grandchildren.

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