HE AGAIN FIXES A CERTAIN DAY, "TODAY," SAYING THROUGH DAVID AFTER SO LONG
A TIME JUST AS HAS BEEN SAID BEFORE: palin tina horizei (3SPAI) hemeran
Semeron en David legon (PAPMSN) meta tosouton chronon kathos (as) proeiretai
(3SRPI) : (Heb 3:7,8;
2 Samuel 23:1,2; Matthew 22:43; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42; Acts 2:29,31; 28:25)
He again - used chiefly in two senses, (a) with reference to repeated
action; (b) rhetorically, in the sense of "moreover" or "further,"
indicating a statement to be added in the course of an argument, e.g. Mt 5:33
(horizo) means to mark out definitely and so to set a limit (think of
our English word = horizon). In a sense God places a boundary on the
day. - "He limited a certain day, 'Today'".
The meaning is,
another opportunity of securing the rest, and calls the period in
which the opportunity is offered today.
A certain day - John MacArthur comments that..
Opportunity for God’s rest remains, but it will not remain indefinitely. For
each individual it will end before or with death; and for all mankind it
will end in the Last Day. The age of grace is not forever. This is why
immediate action is a basis of entering God’s rest, of being saved.
John: Hebrews. Moody Press
Through David - Attributing the Psalm to David. “Through David” is
not in the Hebrew text of Psalm 95:7-8, but the
inserts the traditional author of the Psalm (in verse 1 "The praise of a
Song by David").
As the OT promise points beyond Moses to Christ, so the rest of God in Genesis 2:2
points beyond Joshua and David (Hebrews 4:7-8) to the final rest to which
believers in Christ will attain if they hold fast to their faith.
Remember that although the larger context of chapter 4 reflects the sad
events of Israel's disobedience as recorded in Numbers 13-14, the specific
Scriptural reference the writer refers to now is from Psalms 95:7-11, which
relates to Israel’s experience at Meribah.
After so long a time - The time between Joshua and David. This phrase
not part of the original psalm, but refers to the fact that God,
approximately five hundred years after His offer of rest to the generation under Moses,
makes another offer of rest. This offer is accompanied by the warning that
the people should not harden their hearts.
The Nelson Study Bible adds that..
By merely entering the Promised Land, the Israelites had not entered God’s
rest, for David (years after Joshua had led the Israelites into the land)
had warned his generation to not harden their hearts, so that they could
enter God’s rest (see Hebrews 3:7-11). Like David, the author of Hebrews
called the present generation to respond to God today (see note
which is the day of repentance. (Radmacher,
E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. The Nelson Study Bible: NKJV.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Said before (Proeipon) only used here. The
pictures past completed action with continuing effect or result and thus
means “as it has before been said,
and is still on record”.
TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS: Semeron ean
tes phones autou akousete (2PAAS)
(Heb 3:7,15; Psalms 95:7) (1Kings 6:1;
Acts 13:20, 21, 22, 23)
Remember that in the NAS, verses in capital letters indicate a direct
quotation from the Old Testament in this case of Ps 95:7.
What does he mean by "today"?
Today meant “now” in the time of his readers and that is what it means by
way of application in our time - Now is the day of salvation! (cp 2Co 6:2)
The only way the rest is through a hardened, disbelieving heart that
shows its unbelief in a person's disobedience. The writer's tone speaks of a
sense of urgency. Today is now and now is the day of salvation!
The voice of God still called because the invitation of "Today" was still
available 500 years after Joshua took the children of the first generation
into Israel. The author has already used the quotation in 3:7 ff.. But its
point this time is the word "Today." There is still a day of opportunity,
even though the fate of the wilderness generation stands as an impressive
witness to the possibility of spiritual disaster
Utley observes that...
Psalm 95:7-11 has been quoted several times in the context of chapters 3 and
4. Each time a different part of the OT passage is emphasized (like a
1. Hebrews 3:7-11 emphasizes “do not harden your hearts” of Ps. 95:8;
2. Hebrews 3:15 emphasizes “when they provoked Me” of Ps. 95:9;
3. Hebrews 4:3, 5 emphasizes “they shall not enter My rest” of Ps.
4. Hebrews 4:7 emphasizes “today” of Ps. 95:7. (Hebrews Commentary)
In Psalm 95 David wrote...
For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of
His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as
at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness (Psalm 95:7-8)
Spurgeon commenting on Psalm 95:7b writes...
what is this warning which follows? Alas, it was sorrowfully needed by the
Lord's ancient people, and is not one whir the less required by ourselves.
The favoured nation grew deaf to their Lord's command, and proved not to
be truly His sheep, of whom it is written, "My sheep hear my voice":
Will this turn out to be our character also? God forbid.
To day if ye will hear his voice. Dreadful "if." Many would not hear,
they put off the claims of love, and provoked their God." Today," in the
hour of grace, in the day of mercy, we are tried as to whether we have an
ear for the voice of our Creator. Nothing is said of tomorrow, "He limiteth
a certain day," He presses for immediate attention, for our own sakes he
asks instantaneous obedience. Shall we yield it? The Holy Ghost saith
"Today," will we grieve him by delay?
If we put of repentance another day, we have a day more to repent of, and a
day less to repent in. --W. Mason
that hath promised pardon on our repentance hath not promised to preserve
our lives till we repent. --Francis Quarles
And yet, as S. Bernard tells us, there is no difficulty at all in hearing
it; on the contrary, the difficulty is to stop our ears effectually against
it, so clear is it in enunciation, so constant in appeal. Yet there are many
who do not hear, from divers causes; because they are far off; because they
are deaf; because they sleep; because they turn their heads aside; because
they stop their ears; because they hurry away to avoid hearing; because they
are dead; all of them topics of various forms and degrees of unbelief.
--Bernard and Hugo Cardinalis, in Neale and Littledale.
will be as difficult, nay, more difficult, to come to Christ tomorrow, than
it is today: therefore today hear his voice, and harden not your heart.
Break the ice now, and by faith venture upon your present duty, wherever it
lies; do what you are now called to. You will never know how easy the yoke
of Christ is, till it is bound about your necks, nor how light his burden
is, till you have taken it up. While you judge of holiness at a distance, as
a thing without you and contrary to you, you will never like it. Come a
little nearer to it; do but take it in, actually engage in it, and you will
find religion carries meat in its mouth; it is of a reviving, nourishing,
strengthening nature. It brings that along with it, that enables the soul
cheerfully to go through with it. --Thomas Cole (1627-1697) in the "Morning
HINTS FOR PASTORS
The entreaty of the Holy Ghost.
The special voice -- "the Holy Ghost
a). In Scripture.
b). In the hearts of his people.
c). In the awakened.
d). By his deeds of grace.
A special duty, "hear his voice", instructing, commanding, inviting,
A special time -- "today." While God speaks, after so long a time, in the
day of grace, now, in your present state.
The special danger -- "harden not your hearts", by indifference, unbelief,
asking for signs, presumption, worldly pleasures, etc.
Verse 7. Sinners
entreated to hear God's voice. "Hear his voice", because --
1. Life is short and uncertain;
2. You cannot properly or lawfully promise to give what is not your own;
3. If you defer, though but till tomorrow, you must harden your hearts;
4. There is great reason to fear that, if you defer it today, you will never
5. After a time God ceases to strive with sinners;
6. There is nothing irksome or disagreeable in a religious life, that you
should wish to defer its commencement. --Edward Payson.
Verse 7. The Difference of Times with respect to Religion. --
Upon a spiritual account there is great difference of time. To make this
out, I will shew you,
1. That sooner and later are not alike, in respect of eternity.
2. That times of ignorance and of knowledge are not alike.
3. That before and after voluntary commission of known iniquity, are not
4. That before and after contracted naughty habits, are not alike.
5. That the time of God's gracious and particular visitation and the time
when God withdraws his gracious presence and assistance, are not alike.
6. The flourishing time of our health and strength, and the hour of
sickness, weakness, and approach of death, are not alike.
7. Now and hereafter, present and future, this world and the world to come,
are not alike. --Benjamin Whichcot.
Verse 7. This supposition, If ye will hear, and the consequence inferred
thereupon, harden not your hearts, doth evidently demonstrate that a right
hearing will prevent hardness of heart; especially hearing of Christ's
voice, that is, the gospel. It is the gospel that maketh and keepeth a soft
heart. --William Gouge.
Spurgeon commenting on Psalm 95:8 writes...
Verse 8. Harden not your heart. If ye will hear, learn to fear also. The sea
and the land obey him, do not prove more obstinate than they!
"Yield to his love who round you now
The bands of a man would east."
We cannot soften our hearts, but we can harden them, and the consequences
will be fatal. Today is too good a day to be profaned by the hardening of
our hearts against our own mercies. While mercy reigns let not obduracy
rebel. "As in the provocations, and as in the day of temptation in the
wilderness" (or, "like Meribah, like the day of Massah in the wilderness").
Be not wilfully, wantonly, repeatedly, obstinately rebellious. Let the
example of that unhappy generation serve as a beacon to you; do not repeat
the offences which have already more than enough provoked the Lord. God
remembers men's sins, and the more memorably so when they are committed by a
favoured people, against frequent warnings, in defiance of terrible
judgments, and in the midst of superlative mercies; such sins write their
record in marble. Reader, this verse is for you, for you even if you can
say, "He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture." Do not seek to
turn aside the edge of the warning; thou hast good need of it, give good
heed to it.
Verse 8. Harden not your hearts. An old man, one day taking a child on his
knee, entreated him to seek God now -- to pray to him, and to love him; when
the child, looking up at him, asked, "But why do not you seek God?" The old
man, deeply affected, answered, "I would, child; but my heart is hard -- my
heart is hard." -- Arvine's Anecdotes.
Verse 8. Harden not your heart. -- Heart is ascribed to reasonable
creatures, to signify sometimes the whole soul, and sometimes the several
faculties appertaining to the soul.
1. It is frequently put for the whole soul, and that for the most part when
it is set alone; as where it is said, "Serve the Lord with all your heart",
1 Samuel 7:20.
2. For that principal part of the soul which is called the mind or
understanding. "I gave my heart to know wisdom", Ecclesiastes 1:17. In this
respect darkness and blindness are attributed to the heart, Ephesians 6:18,
3. For the will: as when heart and soul are joined together, the two
essential faculties of the soul are meant, namely, the mind and will: soul
put for the mind, heart for the will "Serve the Lord with all your heart and
with all your soul", Deuteronomy 6:13.
4. For the memory. "I have hid thy word in my heart", saith the prophet,
Psalms 119:11. The memory is that faculty wherein matters are laid up and
5. For the conscience. It is said that "David's heart smote him", that is,
his conscience, 1 Samuel 24:5 2 Samuel 24:10. Thus is heart taken, 1 John
6. For the affections: as where it is said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy
God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind",
Matthew 22:37. By the mind is meant the understanding faculty; by the soul,
the will; by the heart, the affections.
Here in this text the heart is put for the whole soul, even for mind, will,
and affections. For blindness of mind, stubbornness of will, and stupidity
of affections go together. -- William Gouge.
Verse 8. Let us not fail to notice, that while it is the flock who speak in
Psalms 95:1-7, it is the Shepherd who takes up their expostulating words,
and urges them home himself at Psalms 95:8, to the end, using the argument
which by the Holy Ghost is addressed to us also in Hebrews 3:7-19. There is
something very powerful in this expostulation, when connected with the
circumstances that give rise to it. In themselves, the burst of adoring
love, and the full out pouring of affection in Psalms 95:1-7 are
irresistibly persuasive; but when (Psalms 95:8) the voice of the Lord
himself is heard (such a voice, using terms of vehement entreaty!) we cannot
imagine expostulation carried further. Unbelief alone could resist this
voice; blind, malignant unbelief alone could repel The flock, and then the
Shepherd, inviting men now to enter the fold. --Andrew A. Bonar.
Hear (akouo) in the present context means to hear with
attention, to hear effectually so as to perform or grant what is spoken
Hearing is a key word in Hebrews...
Hebrews 2:1 (note)
For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have
lest we drift away from it.
Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS
VOICE, 8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY
OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS
while it is said, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR
HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME."
Hebrews 4:7 (note)
He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a
time just as has been said before, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT
HARDEN YOUR HEARTS."
Hebrews 5:9 (note)
And having been made perfect, He became
to all those who obey (literally "hear under",
= hupo + akouo) Him the source of eternal salvation,
Hebrews 5:11 (note)
Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you
have become dull of hearing.
Hebrews 11:8 (note)
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed (literally "hear under",
= hupo + akouo) by going out to a place
which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing
where he was going.
Do not harden - This is a prohibition for the hearers (plural verb)
to not willfully make the choice (active
= the hearers' volitional choice) to not yield to God's invitation to enter
from skleros = dry, hard, rough) means first to make dry, stiff or hard.
In the active skleruno means to harden and in the passive sense, to
The NT uses are only figurative (metaphorical) and mean to cause one to
become unyielding, obstinate or stubborn (carried on in an unyielding or
Skleruno was a medical technical term (first attested by Hippocrates) in Greek writings describing
something becoming hardened or thickened. Our English word "hardening" of
the arteries is known as "arteriosclerosis". This is a serious, potentially
fatal physical condition, but here in Hebrews the danger is even more
ominous, for spiritual hardening can lead to eternal death and damnation of
one's soul, not just loss of their physical life!
From the uses of skleruno in Exodus (see below), one observes
two important aspects of hardening: (1) Man can repeatedly harden his heart,
until finally God does the hardening, with the implication that the latter
is irrevocable. (2) One effect when one's heart is hardened is not listening
note that in
Exodus Moses speaks of God’s hardening Pharaoh's heart (see Exodus
4:21; 7:3, 9:12; 10:20, 27; 11:10) and also records that Pharaoh
hardened his own heart (see this "self produced" hardening in Exodus
8:15, 32; 9:34), the obstinate ruler confirming God’s act of hardening by
his own act of hardening. Such passages point out the humanly irreconcilable
tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. A similar tension is
found with Esau who was rejected before he was born (and who later chose to
reject the inheritance for a pot of stew). Judas Iscariot, in a similar way,
before he was born, was appointed to betray Christ (Acts 1:16; John
6:70,71). Both Esau and Judas chose to follow sin and unbelief.
In Acts 19:9 skleruno is linked with unbelief and disobedience.
Remember the axiom that
The same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay.
If your heart is not melted in faith, it will be hardened in unbelief!
Skleruno is used 6 times in the NT...
Acts 19:9 But when some were becoming hardened (passive
and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he withdrew
from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of
Tyrannus. (Comment: Some of the Jews in Ephesus were “hardened” at
Paul’s preaching in the synagogue. Notice that here we see hardening
associated with disobedience to the Truth.)
Romans 9:18 (note)
So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens (active
whom He desires. (Comment: This verse speaks of God's judicial
action. He causes this person's hardening, which is manifest by them
becoming stubborn or refusing to listen. Compare a parallel truth in
Romans 1 where God gave the intractable sinners over to the power of Sin
- see notes
Hebrews 3:8 (note)
Do not harden (active
your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the
wilderness, (Comment: Don't make a volitional choice or a choice of
your will to harden your heart).
Hebrews 3:13 (note)
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called
"Today," lest any one of you be hardened (passive
by the deceitfulness of sin. (Comment: The deception of sin -
promises one thing, gives another - produces hardening of one's heart.) (See
The Deceitfulness of Sin)
Hebrews 3:15 (note)
while it is said, "Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden (active
your hearts, as when they provoked Me." (Comment: Don't make a
volitional choice or a choice of your will to harden your heart).
He again fixes a certain day,
"Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said
before, "Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden (active
your hearts." (Comment: Don't make a volitional choice or a choice of
your will to harden your heart).
Skleruno is used 33 times in the
(Gen. 49:7; Exod. 4:21; 7:3, 22; 8:19;
9:12, 35; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 13:15; 14:4, 8, 17; Deut. 2:30; 10:16; Jdg.
4:24; 2 Sam. 19:43; 2 Ki. 2:10; 17:14; 2 Chr. 10:4; 30:8; 36:13; Neh. 9:16f,
29; Ps. 90:6; 95:8; Isa. 63:17; Jer. 7:26; 17:23; 19:15)
Exodus 7:3 "But I will harden (Lxx = skleruno in the
= by a judicial act God will harden it) Pharaoh's heart that I may multiply My signs and My
wonders in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 7:22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret
arts; and Pharaoh's heart was hardened (Lxx = skleruno
passive voice) , and he did not listen to them, as
the LORD had said. (Other uses of skleruno are in the passive voice -
Regarding the numerous uses of
skleruno (and skleros) in the LXX, NIDNTT writes
Hardening, according to the OT understanding, results from the fact that men
persist in shutting themselves to God’s call and command. A state then
arises in which a man is no longer able to hear and in which he is
irretrievably enslaved. Alternatively, God makes the hardening final, so
that the people affected by it cannot escape from it. (Brown,
Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)
As noted above, hardening of one's heart is associated with not
listening to God and not obeying God. Listening to God and obeying Him are
matters of the will. So is hardening the heart as indicated by the use of
as Israel did. In first Timothy Paul warns that our hearts, or
consciences, can become seared and insensitive, as skin does when it is
badly burned and scars over. The scar tissue that replaces the skin has very
little feeling. Something very much like this happens to a conscience that
is repeatedly disregarded. Today lasts only as long as there is
opportunity to decide and as long as the conscience is sensitive to God.
When a person’s today is over, it is too late. His heart gets harder
every time he says "No" to the good news of Jesus. When the heart is soft,
the conscience sensitive and the intellect is convinced about Christ, that
is the time to decide, while the heart is still pliable and responsive.
The danger that the writer of Hebrews is warning about is that one will
eventually become spiritually hardened, stubborn, and insensitive and the
gospel will no longer have any appeal.
Illustration of the significance of the word "Today"-
In his earlier ministry D. L. Moody often would end his message with, “Go
home and think about what I’ve said.” One night in Chicago he told the
people to do this and to come back the next night ready to make a decision.
That night the Chicago fire broke out, and some who had been in his
congregation died. That was the last time he told anyone to think over the
claims of Christ and make a decision later. No one knows if he will have a
tomorrow in which to decide. Today signifies the present time of grace. Men
today, as in the time of Moody and in the time of Hebrews and in the time of
David and in the time of Moses, never know how long that time of grace for
them will be.