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The Power of the Word “Oh!”

by Andrew Davis on August 18, 2020

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! - Romans 11:33 

After writing eleven of the most glorious chapters of Spirit-inspired doctrine the world has ever seen, the Apostle Paul could contain himself no longer, and turned his pen to serve his passionate heart of praise. And it was passionate, full of emotion, for the little word “Oh!” with which he begins, serves no other purpose than to express emotion. “Oh!” is an emotional word. More than that, it is a word of strong emotion, a word of spontaneous exultation which flows from a heart of wonder. The word usually comes from one who is captivated, surprised, or amazed at some new vista of wonder spread out before his eyes. Imagine, for example, the first explorer who saw the Grand Canyon. As he came around the last stand of trees and the multi-colored hues of that immense cavity in the ground filled his eyes with light and his mind with amazement, it can hardly be doubted that a word similar to “Oh!” came from his lips.

This word is the shortest word Paul ever wrote…one single letter in the Greek, the letter Omega. It is the last letter in the Greek alphabet, and together with the Alpha which begins the word “Alleluia” (Rev. 19:1-6), it brackets a comprehensive lectionary of passionate praise to a God who should fill us with wonder and amazement. As I looked throughout the Scriptures, I was surprised by the number of times this little word “Oh!” appears in translation, and by whom it is spoken. For example, the great Psalmist of Israel, King David, showed this kind of passion more than any other man in the Old Testament. In Psalm 14:7 & 53:6, he expressed the depth of his passion for God to save his people, Israel. In like manner, the Psalmist passionately wrote about his love for the law of God in Psalm 119:97, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” Even more telling is the zeal he had for his own holy obedience in God’s sight, in verse 5 of the same Psalm: “Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!” Is this same passion in your heart today?

Perhaps most significantly, God himself is passionate and speaks words of passion. One of the most potent examples of this is found in Deuteronomy 5:28-29 after the leaders of Israel had begged God to stop speaking to them with such awesome power from Mount Sinai. In holy fear and trembling, they begged Moses to be the intermediary between God and Israel. This was God’s passionate reaction: “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” Why does God speak with so much emotion? Simply because he is a passionate being, yearning for the obedience and health of His people. So, in English He says “Oh!” to us. “Oh, that you would obey me today!”  “Oh, that you would follow my ways!”  “Oh, that you would be fruitful as witnesses of Christ!” It shouldn’t surprise us, therefore, that the perfect reflection of the Father, Jesus Christ, also said “Oh!” when dealing with faith-filled Gentile women (Matthew 15:28, “Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Oh woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.’”) or faithless disciples, (Luke 24:25, “And He said to them, ‘Oh foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!’”).

"Is this same passion in your heart today?"

 Our relationship to God and the things of God should be one of passion and wonder. If there is no “Oh!” in your walk with God, could it be evidence of a hardened heart? Ask God to restore to you the wonder of a child, discovering new things in God’s word and in God’s world, responding with passion to the advance of the Gospel, and rejoicing with amazement at the character and deeds of the mighty God you serve.