The Invisible Word

I have taken a solemn pledge to drop a word out of my vocabulary. Regardless of the need, I will no longer, after this last usage, speak or write this now-forbidden word: “cruet.” I know that you’re wondering how I will be able to function without this important word, but I assure you that I can and I will.

Of course I could get by without ever saying–oh, I almost said it–this word. Other words are not nearly so easily abandoned. Try going a day without the word “the.” And then there’s today’s next word in Psalm 118:24: “is.” The single most common verb in the English language “is” is not something we can easily work around. In the King James Version, you’ll find the verb “is” italicized here.

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

If you didn’t know it, italicized words in the KJV represent words that are not actually in the original Hebrew or Greek. Translated literally, the verse might read like this:

This the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

While it sounds like old-school Tarzan, such a sentence structure worked in Hebrew. The “is” would be understood, sort of like the “You” is understood when we give commands or directions in English: (You) go down the street.

This invisible word uses the simplest of verb tenses, the present indicative. We have all sorts of verbs tenses in English. Linguists don’t even all agree about how many there are, but you probably use all of them without even thinking about it. The present indicative, however, is the starting point and used most often.

The Psalmist is not saying that this “will be” the day. It’s not “might be” or “had been” or “will have been.” This is the day that is the one God made.

Now stick with me here for a bit. This day that is God-made has twenty-four hours in it. That’s 1,440 minutes. Since every day (as we established last time) is the day that the Lord has made, then presumably every hour and every minute is the hour or minute that He made as well. Otherwise, if, for example, only the hours of 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. are the day that the Lord made, then we find ourselves having to use a different verb tense before 6:00 or after 9:00.

The faithfulness of God is a 24/seven/365 sort of thing. It’s there first thing in the morning and endures until the close of day. That’s a lot of mileage out of an invisible word that most of us wouldn’t give a second look.