Pisseth and the Gospel

I said the word “piss” several times during a sermon a few weeks ago. Actually it was “pisseth,” but that’s close enough. The message was from 1 Samuel 25 where a rich, rude man named Nabal acts selfishly toward David and his followers by not giving them their deserved payment. David is upset about this and vows to go to Nabal’s plantation and kill everyone that “pisseth against the wall.”

My family considered the word “piss” a bad word, so my brother and I didn’t use it. We also weren’t allowed to watch The Golden Girls because of Blanche’s trampy antics or Cheers because it was set mostly in a bar. While the prohibition against watching those shows slowly faded, we still weren’t allowed to use that word or many of the other more colorful words. While I am thankful for my parents sheltering us from the majority of the unsavory stuff that we could have gotten involved with, it caused me to feel a little sheepish saying “pisseth” again and again.

I don’t guess I had to say “pisseth”; it is only found in the King James Version. I suppose I could have switched over to a different version of the Bible for this particular sermon. To be honest, I didn’t even consider doing so. I’m old school when it comes to both my Bible version of choice and when it comes to The Dukes of Hazzard. Johnny Knoxville is no Tom Wopat.

Yes, I know that people don’t use King James language when they speak or write. I think that this is one of the reasons that is resonates so much within me. There is a certain set-apart-ness about it that still draws my attention. If I read a magazine article  and then read my Bible, I notice that there is a difference between the two on a surface level before even getting into the content of what is being read. I like this difference; I like that my copy of God’s Word is decidedly unique from everything else I read.

I think this helps me in terms on my theology. It is good for me to be continually reminded that God is altogether other; that he is distinct from everything else in existence and that there is none like him. This fact can be seen in a multitude of ways, but when I pick up my Bible and feast from its riches it is seen in a way that is very tangible as I hold the scriptures in my hands.

Some people bash those who use a Bible version different from the one they prefer. I think this is poor stewardship of their time and distracts from the main goal of lifting up Jesus. Aside from a few terribly inadequate versions, I believe that the best Bible version for a person is the one that he or she is actually going to read.

For me, though, the King James Version continues to be what I study and preach from. This may or may not change at some point in the future. And whether it changes or not doesn’t really matter.

What never needs to change is my certainty that God is highly exalted and my gratitude to for the provision of my adoption into his family through the power of the Gospel. Regardless of what version is used, the Bible is about the never-changing, life-giving Gospel. I pray that I will continue to drink deeply from its truth and help others make their way to the Fountain of Life that never runs dry.

What Bible version do you use?
How are you reminded of God’s glorious other-ness?


36 thoughts on “Pisseth and the Gospel

  1. Good to hear from you Matt, even though you use the word “pisseth.” have you seen the video of the pastor who goes on a rant with that? Anyway… I use the ESV. haven’t used the KJV for well over 35 years when I started using the NASB, then went to the NIV and have settled on the ESV. You will too when you get holy. 🙂 I try to see God’s otherness every day as well.

  2. That’s great! Was your church shocked by pisseth? I use the NIV but it’s the 1984 cesium. The new version messes up all the verses that I have memorized.

  3. I am like you in that even though I have no problem with most other translations, I still use the King James to study and preach. However, I guess I should say that I more often preach from the NKJV and a little from the Holman. Whichever I use, I always do my best to go through the text in the original language, first. Even the King James can be better clarified at times.

    But in reference to this specific post, I am so jealous of you! I don’t know why I never used “pisseth” in a post. On the other hand, a couple of years ago I used it at the beginning of a sermon. I hope you don’t mind me taking the time to tell what happened.

    I was preaching from Numbers 22 that morning on Balaam. Before I started, though, I asked the church, especially the ones who had KJV’s, to turn to a couple of verses (the ones with the word “piss”). I asked someone to stand and read one of those verses aloud, but guess what? NO ONE would do it! With that one little exercise I tried to point out that there are some times even the King James could be updated.

    That is when I said that if they found it unacceptable to stand and read from the “infallible” and “inspired” King James Version, in which every word was “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” then maybe they wouldn’t mind if I used a different version for the story of Balaam and his donkey. I said, “Maybe you won’t mind so much me using a different translation, because I don’t want to stand up here and say ‘ass’ all night long.”

    That was 3 years ago. Believe it or not, I still have a church.

  4. My go-to version is the NIV, but as a former English Lit major and a huge word nerd, I do like the word choices in the NKJV the most. It just comes across as more poetic to me.

  5. I grew up with the 1984 NIV (me and Jon Acuff are basically twinsies like that), so it’s the version that I hear in my head when I think of a verse. I’ve come to appreciate the NLT, though. Gasp!

  6. I’m with you, Matt. I grew up reading and memorizing from the King James, and I love the sound of it. I also agree with you about getting someone whatever translation they will actually read. We often give people the Good News translation because it’s easy to read. Question: What is a bad word, anyway? Words can wound or heal. If we seek to bring life and truth and uplift and encourage others, there will be no “bad” words.

  7. I read any bible that’s available! As long as it brings me closer to God. I agree with Linda in that ANY words can be used to wound or heal a person. Although some word have more of a stigma attached to them.

  8. I’ve used many, many translations over the years:

    Living Bible
    The Message

    But have settled on the ESV for now.

    How about a congregational word study on that particular Greek word, which Paul used, that gets translated as “dung?”

    My favorite awkward Bible related thing is the storybook someone got for my then-infant daughter: Samson & Deliliah. With the text lifted directly from the KJV. Jawbone of an … indeed. 😉

  9. Great post…I actually just got a new Bible for Christmas and I love it. It’s a parallel that includes KJV (what I was raised on), NIV (my favorite), the New American Standard, and the New Living Translation, both of which are used in my personal reading and study to help me understand things better. I don’t have to choose just one, and I just use whichever I need at the time. I love it!

  10. I use the NASB to study from, the KJV to preach and teach from, and the ESV when I am just sitting around reading the Bible. I grew up on the KJV but always found it difficult to get into it in my own personal devotions. And then I went to Bible college and had it beat into my brain that the KJV was the only true Word of God. I guess that made me dislike it a little.

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