Andy is the former an elderly manager of content for bible Gateway. He at this time works at Calvin College.

You are watching: Four score and seven years ago biblical reference


Today is the 150th anniversary that Abraham Lincoln’s well known Gettysburg Address. Ceded several months after the bloody, decisive battle of Gettysburg, the Gettysburg resolve put the brutal violence of the American civil War into a grander civic and also spiritual context.

Have you read the Gettysburg Address? You can be surprised to learn that it’s actually quite short. Here it is in that is entirety:

Four score and also seven years back our fathers carried forth top top this continent a brand-new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition the all males are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a an excellent civil war, trial and error whether the nation, or any nation so conceived and also so dedicated, deserve to long endure. We are met ~ above a an excellent battlefield of the war. Us have involved dedicate a portion of that field, as a last resting location for those who here gave their stays that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper the we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we have the right to not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we have the right to not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far over our negative power to include or detract. The people will little note, nor long remember what us say here, but it have the right to never forget what they go here. It is for united state the living, rather, come be devoted here come the unfinished job-related which castle who combated here have thus much so nobly advanced. The is fairly for united state to be here specialized to the great task remaining before us—that from this honored dead we take enhanced devotion to that cause for i m sorry they gave the last full measure that devotion—that we right here highly solve that this dead shall no have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a brand-new birth of freedom—and that federal government of the people, by the people, because that the people, shall not perish native the earth.

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Why point out this below on holy bible Gateway? because the Gettysburg resolve contains a variety of Bible and spiritual references that, when they might slip past us today, would have actually been quite evident to Lincoln’s original audience. In an LA Times essay ~ above the strength of the Gettysburg Address, Ronald White identifies several of the biblical references embedded in Lincoln’s speech:

Lincoln rose, changed his spectacles, and began: “Four score and also seven years ago.” The very first two native rhyme, setup in motion a symphony of sounds. The biblical ring that his opened was rooted in lines indigenous Psalm 90. Lincoln never discussed the Bible, however the entirety of his speech to be suffused with both biblical content and cadence. <…>

In his final three sentences Lincoln pointed away from words come deeds. The contrasted “what we say here” through “what they walk here.”

In this closeup of the door paragraph, he continued his usage of repetition: “To it is in dedicated; come be below dedicated.” And: “We take enhanced devotion”; “the last complete measure that devotion.”

Lincoln, who constantly chose his native carefully, right here selected words that conjured up the speak to to spiritual commitment that heard frequently in the preaching at the new York avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington.

The reference to Psalm 90 could seem confusing to modern Bible readers; there isn’t an obvious connection between the Gettysburg Address’ opening words and Psalm 90 in most modern-day Bibles. However, reading Psalm 90:10 in the King James variation (the scriptures most familiar to Lincoln’s audience) renders the referral clear:

The days of our years space threescore years and ten;and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, however is their strength labour and also sorrow;for the is soon cut off, and also we paris away. — Psalm 90:10 (KJV)

Beyond its noticeable political significance, the Gettysburg deal with is an artifact indigenous a historic era in i beg your pardon general holy bible literacy (which, the course, doesn’t have to correlate to bible belief) was usual enough the a politician can reference a semi-obscure holy bible verse (without explicitly calling attention to it) and expect their audience to understand it. Execute you think a speak today might make together a referral with the very same expectation? and if castle did… would you an alert it?


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