What does it mean to be "double-minded" ("those with divided loyalties", NLT)? (Psalm 119:113)


I hate double-minded people,
    but I love your law. (NIV)


I hate those with divided loyalties,
    but I love your instructions. (NLT)

Clarify Share Report Asked January 21 2023 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Justin Hale
Hebrew is such an 'image-based' language and most of its words are rooted in pictures that shed light on meanings. So in this instance, the Hebrew word translated 'double-minded' is rooted in a word that means, 'to lop off a tree top.' Modern arborists call this 'topping.' The purpose of it is to stunt the upward growth of the tree and prevent it from getting any taller, sending it into a mode to bush outwards instead. People do this when a tree is poorly rooted yet outgrows its surroundings and starts to pose a threat of falling over under its own weight. 

The Psalmist of Psalm 119 is picturing the person who 'loves Yahweh's law' in the same way the Psalmist of Psalm 1 also describes:

"And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers." (Psalm 1:3).

Also as the prophet Jeremiah imagines:

"And he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That sends forth its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor refrain from yielding fruit." (Jeremiah 17:8). 

So the 'double-minded' man is like a 'topped' tree that is stunted from growing because he has unstable roots. He is a man filled with anxiety about the changing seasons. He is not 'firmly rooted by the streams' so any change hits him hard and this keeps him from producing any truly 'good fruit.' What he does produce seems 'out of season.' 

Christians today 'love Yahweh's law' just as much, only it is now called 'Christ's law,'(1 Corinthians 9:21, Galatians 6:2), 'the law of liberty,' (James 1:25, 2:12), 'the law of the Spirit of life,' (Romans 8:2), and the 'law of burden bearing,' (Galatians 6:2). 

The basis of this new law remains identical to the Torah:

“The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31).

We can only do this by abiding in the 'living waters' which flow out of us from GOD through Christ's Holy Spirit, (John 7:38). 

When people are desperate, struggling, afraid, anxious, yet resistant to change, rigid and 'stunted,' they do the things that GOD 'hates' most, (Proverbs 6:16-19), which is why the Psalmist of Psalm 119, (and all of GOD's people), 'hate' being around them.

January 27 2023 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
To my knowledge, the cited verse is the only one in all of Scripture where the word translated as "double-minded" (anglicized from Hebrew as "seeph") is used

I would say that the psalmist is referring to a state of mind or heart with regard to matters of religion where there is no firmness, stability, or settled view, but a state instead characterized by continual wavering, doubt, or skepticism.

By contrast, what the psalmist would seek or value would be a mind that is settled in its convictions of truth, and firm in its adherence to that truth -- a mind that is steadfast in its religious beliefs, and is not vacillating or uncertain on the subject.

January 27 2023 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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