Biblical vocabulary: בטח (“to trust” in something or someone)

Last updated on March 3, 2022

Biblical vocabulary - Serving the Lord

Trust based on your faith

In the Hebrew Bible there are words and expressions that belong to the “faith vocabulary”. This biblical faith vocabulary undoubtedly includes the Hebrew verb בטח ‘batach’.

The basic meaning of ‘batach’ is “to trust” in something or someone, but this verb also means: feeling confident, being carefree, entrusting yourself to, hoping, trusting. It is remarkable that in the latter sense of ‘batach’ the reason or basis for the certainty is usually mentioned. In the context it becomes clear from the Scriptures that this verb is used in particular with regard to the complete certainty that one finds in the Lord God, in everything that He is and offers.

Unfounded trust

In the Old Testament ‘batach’ also appears as a warning in a negative sense, as far as trust in false certainty is concerned; if one trusts something or someone that appears to be unreliable. It is about putting trust in something negative and/or believing in someone who offers deceptive certainty. In many cases in the Bible this unfounded trust is mentioned as opposed to the trust in the Lord God, to which man is called in the Scriptures.

For example, Proverbs warns against trusting in wealth: “Whoever ‘batach’/trusts in his riches will fall …” (Proverbs 11:28). The psalmist of Psalm 52 tells us this when he describes the godless man and his final evil (Psalm 52:3-7) and ends with the sharp contrast between trust in wealth and the most blessed trust in God: “See the man who would not make God his ‘batach’/refuge, but ‘batach’/trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!” (cf. Psalm 49:6).

The Word of God repeatedly warns of trust in deceptive, unreliable man-made certainties. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to ‘batach’/trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9). The Scriptures teach us that it is foolish to trust in something or someone other than God, and to seek certainty outside of Him. Trust outside of God only leads to disappointment, but in His care lies the unwavering basis of our trust.

Also, our own insights, which are put above those of God, are misleading and cause us to make mistakes: “‘Batach’/Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

He who fears the Lord

Our God is in the heavens” the psalmist exclaims in Psalm 115:3 and then points to the fundamental contradiction between relying on powerless and dead idols (Psalm 155:4-8) and trusting faithfully in the almighty living God, after which there is an urgent call for an absolute ‘batach’ /trust in the Lord God: “Israel […] house of Aaron […] You who fear the Lord ‘batach’/trust in the Lord …” (Psalm 115:9-11).

This penetrating call sounded and still sounds for all of Israel and now applies undiminished to everyone who fears the Lord. He who fears and reverently loves and serves the Lord, is called upon to fully trust in Him and His Word. His blessing rests upon this, for all ages! (Psalm 115:13). “Who among you fears the Lord …” (Isaiah 50:10).

Trust based in God

The prophet Jeremiah also knows the danger and the terrible consequences of relying on human powers and display, while the heart deviates from the Lord God. In this he also points to the blessing-rich fruits of the man who puts his trust in God. “Blessed is the man who ‘batach’/trusts in the Lord …” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). Whoever entrusts himself to God in this way, has the glorious promise that is offered here and will be blessed by Him in bearing fruit!

Then we also bear the fruit of praise and sing a ‘new song’ as a hymn for our God. That can be an appealing testimony for others, through which they also learn to ‘batach’/trust in God (Psalm 40:4-5).

Those who trust are richly blessed

The rich blessing of trusting God is repeatedly emphasized in the Scriptures. As an inviting exclamation: “Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who ‘batach’/trusts in you” (Psalm 84:13). Also, as a statement it reads: “… blessed is he who ‘batach’/trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20). “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord …” (Psalm 112:1). In the midst of all the uncertainties of our existence, we have the rich blessing of trust based on God!

We do not know what the future will bring us, but we can confidently look ahead in the assurance of faith that we know one thing for sure: The Lord God is with us as our guide. Every day, every hour that He gives us.

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