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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Confess

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Yâdâh (יָדָה, Strong's #3034), “to confess, praise, give thanks.” The root, translated “confess” or “confession” about twenty times in the KJV, is also frequently rendered “praise” or “give thanks.” At first glance, the meanings may appear unrelated. But upon closer inspection, it becomes evident that each sense profoundly illumines and interprets the other.

Yâdâh overlaps in meaning with a number of other Hebrew words implying “praise,” such as halal (whence halleluyah). Man is occasionally the object of yâdâh; but far more commonly, God is the object.

The usual context seems to be public worship, where the worshipers affirm and renew their relationship with God. The subject is not primarily the isolated individual, but the congregation. Especially in the hymns and thanksgivings of the Psalter, it is evident that yâdâh is a recital of, and thanksgiving for, Yahweh’s mighty acts of salvation.

An affirmation or confession of God’s undeserved kindness throws man’s unworthiness into sharp relief. Hence, a confession of sin may be articulated in the same breath as a confession of faith or praise and thanksgiving. The confession is not a moralistic, autobiographical catalogue of sins—individual infractions of a legal code— but a confession of the underlying sinfulness that engulfs all mankind and separates us from the holy God. God is even to be praised for His judgments, by which He awakens repentance (e.g., Ps. 51:4). So one is not surprised to find praises in penitential contexts, and vice versa (1 Kings 8:33ff.; Neh. 9:2ff.; Dan. 9:4ff.). If praise inevitably entails confession of sin, the reverse is also true: The sure word of forgiveness elicits praise and thanksgiving on the confessor’s part. This wells up almost automatically from the new being of the repentant person.

Often the direct object of yâdâh is the “name” of Yahweh (e.g., Ps. 105:1; Isa. 12:4; 1 Chron. 16:8). In one sense, this idiom is simply synonymous with praising Yahweh. In another sense, however, it introduces the entire dimension evoked by the “name” in biblical usage. It reminds us that the holy God cannot be directly approached by fallen man, but only through His “name”—i.e., His Word and reputation, an anticipation of the incarnation. God reveals Himself only in His “name,” especially in the sanctuary where He “causes His name to dwell” (a phrase especially frequent in Deuteronomy).

The vista of yâdâh expands both vertically and horizontally—vertically to include all creation, and horizontally stretching forward to that day when praise and thanksgiving shall be eternal (e.g., Ps. 29; 95:10; 96:7-9; 103:19-22).

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Confess'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/c/confess.html. 1940.

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