There are many verses in the Bible that are taken out of context, usually unknowingly. The goal of this article is to encourage a closer look at what Scripture says rather than to point anyone out, but this article also serves as a wakeup call for those who do misuse these verses.
1. Psalm 37:4
4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37:4
"Now that I'm a Christian, God will give me whatever I want!" - a possible example of how someone might take this verse out of context.
This is the type of verse you would find cross-stitched and framed up in your grandparent's house.
5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: 6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. - Psalm 37:5 - 6
"The Hebrew word for "delight" comes from the root anog, which means "to be soft or pliable." Thus, to delight yourself in the Lord means to be clay in His hands, to make yourself pliable to His molding and shaping of your heart, mind, and life. It means to be soft-hearted, completely open to His refining fire, to His potter's touch." (https://calvaryftl.org/Articles/Detail/451)
So with this diction, it can be seen that the meaning of the verse is that if you let God mold you so that you solely desire God with all your heart, then He will grant that desire.
2. Psalm 46:5
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. - Psalm 46:5 (NIV)
"God is with me in whatever I do and He will keep from stumbling." - a possible example of how someone might take this verse out of context.
This is a common verse found on jewelry, mugs, shirts, etc. as an encouraging verse for all women.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. - Psalm 46:4 (NIV)
Put in context, however, the 'she' in this verse is not talking about a woman; Psalm and Proverbs often personify, whether it be 'wisdom', the 'tree of life' or in this case - a city. This is not to say that God is not with women, He is, but this verse is not talking about women.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. - Psalm 46:5 (NRS)
Sometimes it also just takes looking at another version of the Bible to understand the Scripture better.
3. Jeremiah 29:11
11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11
"Praise the Lord - His plan for me is good and He will keep me from harm!" - a possible example of how someone might take this verse out of context.
This verse is what you might see in a Christian greeting card to cheer a person up or to encourage them.
12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:12 - 13
God does have a plan for us, and it is good, but that does not mean we will not face pain and hardships. It's important to realize that we shouldn't think that God's plan for our life is about us and how we can be happy, but how we can bring glory to God. This passage, on the other hand, is God speaking to the Israelites about their punishment and His plan to redeem and restore them.
4. Matthew 18:20
20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. - Matthew 18:20
"Lord, you say in Scripture that where two or more are gathered in your name, there you will be also; so Lord I pray that you will be with us in this time." - a possible example of how someone might take this verse out of context.
This verse is commonly spoken by well-meaning preachers and small group leaders who are trying to add a bible verse to their prayer but are unknowingly misusing the bible.
15 "If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector." - Matthew 18:15 - 17
Although God is always with us when believers gather together, it doesn't mean that He is not with us when we are alone because God is omnipresent meaning He is always with us no matter the circumstance. Put in context this verse references dealing with sin in the church and matters must be settled based on testimonies of two or more.
5. Philippians 4:13
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. - Philippians 4:13
"The Bible says that I can do anything through God so if I trust in God, I will ace my final." - a possible example of how someone might take this verse out of context.
This is one of the most commonly used verses that is taken out of context and is sadly posted on a lot of Christian merchandise.
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. - Philippians 4:11-12
Put in context, it can be seen that Paul's intent in his letter to the Church of Philippi was one of contentment, not attainment.
So what's the lesson in all this? If you are going to quote Scripture, make sure you know the context so you do not misuse God's Word or misunderstand it.