This past Sunday night I took our church through a study of the Hebrew words that we translate as “hope.” Hope is in short supply in our world, even in our churches. There is a lot to learn from how the writers of Scripture understood the concept of hope. I’ll share a different thought in each post this week.
tôcheleth + śêber
I’m hitting these two together because they share a similar meaning.
tôcheleth is used translated as “hope” for all of the 6 times in the Old Testament (KJV).
śêber is also translated as “hope” for all of its appearances, 2 times in the Old Testament (KJV).
Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live,
and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
Hold me up, that I may be safe
and have regard for your statutes continually!
(Psalms 119:116-117 ESV)
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God.
(Psalm 146:5 NKJV)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
(Proverbs 13:12 ESV)
The meaning of these two words is vital to hope: expectation. Expectation is that key ingredient to hope. When we don’t expect for good to happen in our lives, we have no hope.
Notice that in two of these examples hope is related to help from the Lord. We do not trust in the help itself; we trust in the Lord and He provides our help.
When you pray for someone to be healed, or ask to be healed, where is your hope focused? Is it focused on the person praying? You focus on how they’ll be used by God to do a miracle, they will pray the right words to get His attention, or that they will be the one that can get the results. Are you focused on the act of prayer itself? Scripture says to pray; it doesn’t say a whole lot more than that. You pray, believing, including the elders of the church. So when the prayer is done you say, “Okay, did it work?”
When we pray are we to be focused on what is being said or what the results will be? Not at all! When we pray we should be looking to God. Only He can deliver what we need. Not the pastor or the elders or our accountability partner. It comes from God. Sure we start off with, “Heavenly Father” or, “Dear God” and we finish with, “in Jesus name.” But did we really put our hope in God?
This expectation is the most basic use and definition of hope.