Appendix 19: Internal Designs in the Bible

by Dr. Henry M. Morris:

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Arather intriguing type of evidence for divine inspiration of the Bible is that which is contained in certain remarkable structural, arithmetical and geometrical phenomena found scattered here and there in its pages. This type of evidence is controversial, but there is a significant number of scholars who do consider it of value. A brief discussion of the subject is given in this appendix, with examples of what seem to be incidental internal evidences of structural design in the very words of the Bible.

Cautions to Observe

One question that can obviously be raised is whether or not such phenomena as described in this appendix are unique to the Bible or can also be discovered in other books which are not divinely inspired. One cannot prove a universal negative, but it does seem impossible to find similar phenomena in other books, unless they have been deliberately designed into them.

A related question is whether, since there are so many different numbers and other mathematical concepts which exist, and so many different ways in which mathematical patterns might, therefore, be formed, is it not only to be expected that some mathematical patterns would be found in the Bible?

The answer to this question could only be obtained by a very sophisticated and extensive statistical analysis of the possible number of meaningful, orderly mathematical patterns in, say, the words of a given chapter, in contrast to the possible number of meaningless, random patterns that could occur with the same words in the same chapter.

So far as known, no one has yet undertaken such an analysis. Until then, one must more or less rely on his own judgment, or even his instincts, as to whether or not it is meaningful. Certainly one can note that there are infinitely more random, disorderly patterns possible with a given number of components than there are orderly patterns. Randomness is statistically probable; order is statistically improbable. When one deals often with data of any kind on a statistical basis, he tends to develop a sort of instinctive feeling for what is and what is not strictly accidental in the arrangement of those data, even in the absence of a formal statistical analysis.

It does seem, at least until a formal probability analysis proves otherwise, that the many remarkable structural and mathematical patterns in Scripture are far too numerous and too improbable to admit of explanation on a naturalistic basis. If so, this evidence becomes one more striking indication of the verbal inspiration of the Bible.

Another quite understandable question is whether this type of study might be used to support certain mystical interpretations of Scripture and even to justify strange and dubious doctrines. Unfortunately, among both Christians and pre-Christian Jews, some Bible teachers have done exactly that, imparting unnatural interpretations to certain passages of Scriptures on the basis of the supposed spiritual meanings of numbers and patterns connected with those passages.

Any such “spiritualizing” interpretations, whether based on numerology or typology or anything else, are not sound hermeneutics. Numbers in the Bible should never be used to prove or even to intimate any point of doctrine. The same caution should be observed in connection with any other structural phenomena in the Bible (e.g., types, first mentions, etc.).

One cannot overlook the fact, however, that some numbers in the Bible are used in such a way as to indicate that the writer did regard these numbers themselves as being of special significance. The most obvious example is the number “seven,” which all expositors recognize to be symbolic of completeness, but there are many others (e.g., 10, 12, 40, 70, 666, etc.) which clearly are regarded as significant in various ways.

We must not make too much of the spiritual meanings of numbers—most of them seem to have no such meanings—but neither should we ignore the fact that the Bible writers (and, therefore, the Holy Spirit) did intend such meanings in many cases. The true “literal” interpretation is that which seeks to reproduce what the writer himself (and the divine Author who directed his pen) intended to mean.

The following rules seem appropriate to follow in this regard: (1) never use Biblical numbers to teach doctrine; they should only be used to illustrate doctrine, and then only when there is clear and unequivocal teaching related to that doctrine elsewhere in Scripture, and also only when there is clear contextual justification for that use; (2) the primary use of such numbers and mathematical patterns is not doctrinal, but apologetic, providing a distinctive evidence that the Bible writings are uniquely and supernaturally inspired.

With these cautions and rules in mind, we are in position to look at a few of the innumerable mathematical patterns that can be found in the Holy Scriptures.

The Occurrence of Mathematical Phenomena in Scripture

To find mathematical phenomena in Scripture is not as surprising as it may seem at first. The Author of Scripture is also the Designer of the universe. Of the latter, the Scripture says: “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number” (Isaiah 40:26).

“Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?” (Isaiah 40:12).

The natural world has been very carefully and meticulously planned by God; its structures are highly ordered and its processes precisely controlled. It is significant that man has found it appropriate to develop the science of mathematics to describe these structures and processes. In fact, most scientists would agree that a phenomenon is not really understood until it can be formulated in mathematical terms. Mathematics indeed is the very language of science and engineering.

That being so, it is not unreasonable to anticipate mathematical phenomena in God's written revelation as well as in His natural creation. The full nature of any possible mathematical description of the Word, however, is yet undiscovered. All we can do at present is to note occasional instances where particular numerical relationships emerge to the surface, as it were, from some underlying substratum of mathematical structure which has not yet been identified and explored.

On the other hand, the phenomenon of “Bible numerics,” so-called, which has been studied at great length by Dr. Ivan Panin and his followers, is more questionable. These writers believe the original Hebrew and Greek texts are filled with numerical patterns in the arrangement of the very words and letters. Panin even developed his own Greek New Testament by applying the criterion of the presence of numeric patterns as the test of authenticity of any particular passage. This evidence has very doubtful statistical significance, however, and some writers have claimed to be able to find similar numeric patterns in other books and documents. In some cases, Panin's approach seems persuasive, but in others it seems artificial. At best, this particular type of numerical study is still quite uncertain and so cannot be cited as a Christian evidence.

The Numbers “Seven” and “Ten”

The most obvious examples of numeric significance in the Bible are associated with the number “seven.” This is the most frequently occurring number in Scripture and is very commonly invested with the symbolic meaning of “fullness” or “completion.” God created all things in six days and then marked the seventh day as a day of rest and contemplation of all His glorious work of creation (Genesis 2:1-3). In like manner, man is to do his own work for six days and then rest and honor the Lord and His completed work every seventh day (Exodus 20:8-11).

This primeval emphasis on the number “seven” has been carried over into numerous other applications in Scripture, normally conveying the same basic thought of “fullness.” The climax of this “seven-ness” of Scripture is found in the final book of the Bible, in which all the developments of the book are clustered around groups of seven—seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials, seven thunders, seven years, etc.

A number which also is used in a similar sense is the number “ten.” In a way, this number is more naturally associated with completeness even than the number “seven.” The quickest and most natural way for man to count numbers is by means of his fingers, of which there are ten. Thus, man's number systems have most commonly been structured around the number “ten.” The decimal system, the metric system of units, etc., all recognize the naturalness of the number.

The most obvious example in the Bible is the Ten Commandments. Other examples are the ten plagues of Egypt, the ten kings of the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, the ten visions of Zechariah, and others. It will be noted that this number seems to be used when the concept is one of “judgment” as well as “fullness.” However, the same is also often true of the number “seven.”

Combinations of “Seven” and “Ten”

When the numbers “seven” and “ten” are combined, either by multiplying them to get “seventy” or by adding them to get “seventeen,” two other very interesting Bible numbers appear. The one seems to be used in relation to “judgment” in a special sense as it affects Israel among all the nations of the world, the other in reference to “fullness” in a special sense as it relates to the fullness of eternal life received by those who are redeemed from all the nations of the world.

The original number of the children of Israel as they left Canaan to go into Egypt was seventy souls (Genesis 46:27; Exodus 1:5; Deuteronomy 10:22). Also, there were seventy original nations established by God, as indicated by adding up the names in Genesis 10, the “Table of Nations.” That this correspondence of numbers had significance was indicated by Moses in Deuteronomy 32:8, when he said: “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.”

Evidently, the Israelites took this statement very seriously, as the number “seventy” was thenceforth predominant in their judgmental councils. They ordained seventy original elders to judge the people (Numbers 11:16, 25); there were seventy scholars designated to translate the Scriptures into the Greek language (the Septuagint Version); there were seventy men on the Council of the Sanhedrin, and Christ sent seventy disciples to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Luke 10:1; Matthew 10:6).

The number “seventy” was also important in another way in Israel's history. Because of their failure to keep the seventh-year Sabbath for the land, for seventy of those Sabbatical years, they were sent into captivity in Babylon for seventy years (note Leviticus 25:1-4, 26:14, 32-35; Jeremiah 25:8-11; 2 Chronicles 36:15-21). Thus the people of Israel had despised the Sabbatical Law for seventy times seven, or 490 years, and were thus cast out of their land for seventy years.

This brings before us the remarkable set of 490-year periods in Israel's history. From the time of God's first dealings with Abraham until the final establishment of the children of Israel in the millennial kingdom, there appear to be four 490-year cycles, totaling 1960 years, when God is dealing with Israel in full covenantal relationship. These years, however, do not include those years when the relationship was suspended, as it were, by Israel's disobedience. Such years were simply lost, as far as Israel is concerned, and are not counted in the covenant years.

The first cycle began with the birth of Abraham. From then until God called him out of Ur was 75 years (Genesis 12:4). There were 430 more years until the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai and the beginning of a new era (Galatians 3:17). However, from this total of 505 years can be deducted the 15 years when Abraham had lapsed from faith in God's promise and went into Hagar (Genesis 16:3) until the promised seed was finally born (Genesis 21:5). This leaves 490 years during which Abraham and his descendants were abiding under the covenant promise.

With the giving of the Law began a new cycle, which was acknowledged by God through His presence at the Ark of the Covenant in the tabernacle. This continued until the dedication of Solomon's temple and the incoming presence of God in that new Holy Place.

The years from the Law to the temple seem to total 601. These include 40 years in the wilderness (Acts 13:18), plus approximately 20 years under Joshua, plus 450 years under the Judges, including Samuel (Acts 13:20), plus 40 years under Saul (Acts 13:21), plus 40 years under David (1 Kings 2:11), plus 11 years under Solomon until the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 6:1, 38; 8:1-11).

From this 601-year total should be subtracted those years under the Judges during which God withdrew His protection and allowed the Israelites to be subjugated by the peoples whom they had, contrary to God's command, allowed to remain in the land. Thus, they were in captivity to Mesopotamia 8 years (Judges 3:8), Moab 18 years (Judges 3:14), the Canaanites 20 years (Judges 4:3), Midian 7 years (Judges 6:1), the Philistines and Ammonites 18 years (Judges 10:8), and the Philistines again 40 years (Judges 13:1). These captivities total 111 years, which, subtracted from the 601 years above, leave 490 years.

It is interesting also that this particular cycle of 490 years can be calculated in still a different way. From the total of 601 years may be subtracted the 111 years from the time the Ark of the Covenant was taken out of the tabernacle until it was set up in Solomon's temple. This includes 20 years under Samuel (1 Samuel 4:22; 7:2), 80 years under Saul and David, and 11 years under Solomon.

From the dedication of the temple in 1005 b.c. to Artaxerxes' commandment to build Jerusalem in 445 b.c. (see Nehemiah 2:18) are 560 years. Both these dates are accepted in secular history and agree with standard Biblical chronologies such as that of Ussher. However, the 70-year captivity in Babylon must, of course, be deducted from this, once again leaving 490 years.

It should be recognized, of course, that chronological data for the above three cycles of Israel's history are somewhat unsettled, especially for the period in Egypt and the period under the Judges. There are several competing schools of thought, and the whole subject is technical and complicated. For our purposes here, however, it does seem remarkable that these various numbers, taken primarily from the Bible, yield three such cycles of 490 years each.

The fourth cycle, of course, is the great “seventy week” prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27. This prophecy defines a 490-year period to begin with the decree of Artaxerxes and to end with the “consummation” (Daniel 9:27), evidently the destruction of the “abomination of desolation” and the fulfillment of God's original promise to Abraham in the millennial kingdom.

The first 69 weeks (483 years) of this cycle terminated in the crucifixion of the Messiah. As a result, God broke off His covenant relation with His people, and there has since been a long period during which, as it were, time is standing still for Israel. The clock will start again when the last seven-year period begins, quite likely immediately following the translation of the Church after the “fulness of the Gentiles [has] come in” (Romans 11:25) and, therefore, when “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). This will be the so-called “70th week of Daniel,” as summarized in Daniel 9:27, and as expounded fully in Revelation 6-19.

The number 70, therefore, 7 x 10, is a most remarkable and fascinating numbers in its identification throughout the Bible with Israel, especially with Israel in relation to the other nations of the world. When combined again with the number 7, to make the 490-year cycle, it reminds us again and again both of God's judgment and also of His repeated forgiveness. It seems singularly appropriate, therefore, when we hear Christ telling Peter to forgive his brother, not seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21, 22).

When the two numbers, seven and ten, are added instead of multiplied together, the intriguing number “seventeen” is obtained. The concept of fullness is now doubly in view, with the idea of full judgment superseded by full blessing. Thus, it seems to be connected with fullness of grace, eternal life, eternal security.

The word occurs first in Genesis 7:11 in connection with the coming of the great judgment of the Flood on the seventeenth day of the second month. The Flood, of course, while it brought judgment to the world, also brought deliverance and a new beginning to those on the ark, who would otherwise have been inundated in the universal corruption of the antediluvians. It is significant, therefore, that the ark landed exactly five months later, again on the seventeenth day of the month. The seventh month of the Jewish civil year later became the first month of the religious year (Exodus 12:2). The Passover lamb was always slain on the fourteenth day of this month (Exodus 12:6). Christ ate the Passover with His disciples on this day, was crucified the next day, and thus rose from the dead on the seventeenth day of the month, the exact anniversary of the landing of the ark! Both events speak of deliverance and new life, and their occurrence on the same date can hardly be coincidental.

The theme of security and eternal life is stressed in Romans 8:35-39, where there are seventeen entities—“ ... tribulation, or distress, ... height, nor depth, nor any other creature” listed—all of which are “unable to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Psalm 23, perhaps the greatest chapter on the believer's security in the Old Testament, contains seventeen personal references to the believer (i.e., “my shepherd,” “all the days of my life,” etc.).

An interesting number is derived from the number 17 when one adds up all the numbers from 1 to 17. This gives 153, which is also equal to 9 x 17. The digits in the number 153 add up to 9 and the cubes of the digits add up to 153 again. The miracle of the 153 fishes (John 21:11) is the ninth great sign in the gospel of John, all of which testify that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through His name” (John 20:31).

The 153 fish seem to have been mentioned by their number in this way because they represent those whom the disciples, as fishers of men, were to go forth into the world to catch with the “net” of the gospel. “For all there were so many, yet was not the net broken” (John 21:11).

Uses of the Number “Twelve”

The number “twelve” is also a number which indicates the idea of “completeness,” though perhaps the dominant idea is that of “divine government.” The natural ordinances for the regulation of the earth are founded upon the sun and moon, which function so as to give the earth a cycle of twelve months per year.

The obvious examples in the Bible, of course, are the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. This division is to be eternally established as the governmental basis for both the millennial earth (Matthew 19:28) and the eternal earth (Revelation 22:12, 14). Numerous other examples, such as the 144, 000 witnesses (Revelation 7:4), could be added.

In the 23rd Psalm, there are seventeen occurrences of the first-person-singular pronoun. Now we may also note there are twelve references to the Lord, and that these occur in a rather remarkable geometric pattern. Thus:

Twelve References to the Lord in Psalm 23

“The Lord”, Once in Psalm 23:1

“He”, Twice in Psalm 23:2, Testimony

“He”, Thrice in Psalm 23:3, Testimony

“Thou”, Thrice in Psalm 23:4, Prayer

“Thou”, Twice in Psalm 23:5, Prayer

“The Lord”, Once in Psalm 23:6

The Numbers “Six” and “Eight”

Having already discussed the number “seven,” we now want to consider the adjacent numbers “six” and “eight.” The number “six,” being as it were short of perfection or completeness, speaks especially of man without God. The number “eight,” being over and beyond completeness, speaks of a new beginning, of regeneration, resurrection, new life. It is especially identified with Jesus Christ as the One who brings salvation and eternal life.

Man was created on the sixth day, and it was in Noah's six-hundredth year, 1656 years after the Creation (1656 = 6 x 6 x 46) that the Flood came to destroy man. There are numerous examples in the Bible of this apparent identification of the number “six” with man, especially as in rebellion against God. The most striking, however, is the establishment of the number 666 as the mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:18) in the coming Tribulation period. The number 666 is a very interesting number. It would be written as χξς (i.e., chi xi stigma—see the list of the numerical equivalents of Greek letters below). In the Greek language (as in Hebrew), each letter was also used as a number. The title “Christ” in Greek is written Χριστσς (“Christos”), thus beginning and ending with the letters c and s that appear in the number of the Beast. However the central part of the name of Christ is forced out, as it were, by the letter ΞΎ, which is in the form of a coiling serpent!

The Beast, of course, is the Anti-Christ, the Man of Sin, who receives his power from the “dragon, ... that old serpent, the Devil, and Satan” (Revelation 12:9; 13:4). The number 666 is also the sum of the numbers, 1 + 2 + 3 + ... + 36, and 36 is, of course, 6 x 6. The Beast is mentioned by that name exactly 36 times in the book of Revelation (actually there are two “beasts”—Revelation 13:11, 12—collaborating as one, which perhaps correlates with the repeated appearance of 6 x 6).

The “number of his name” most obviously refers to the numerical value of the name, either the human name or assumed official name, of the man who is to be revealed as this Man of Sin. The message of Revelation 13:18 seems to be that one who “hath wisdom” will be able to identify this man before he is openly revealed by “count[ing] the number of his name.” Most likely this would involve transliterating his name as pronounced in his native language into the corresponding sounds in the New Testament Greek language, then adding the numbers corresponding to the letters of that name. Probably about one out of every ten thousand names will actually have a value of 666, and one of these will ultimately turn out to be the Beast. There have, of course, been many other interpretations of the meaning of 666 in Revelation 13:18. All of them require excessive allegorization or symbolization. The plain literal meaning of the admonition to “count the number of his name” is simply to add up the numbers represented by the letters in his name.

Greek Alphabet—Numerical Equivalents

Greek Letter Symbol Number English Equivalent
Alpha a 1 a
Beta b 2 b
Gamma g 3 g
Delta d 4 d
Epsilon e 5 e (short)
Stigma (or vau) v 6(only when used as a number) s (at end of word)
Zeta z 7 z (or dz)
Eta h 8 e (long)
Theta q 9 th
Iota i 10 i, j
Kappa k 20 k
Lambda l 30 l
Mu m 40 m
Nu n 50 n
Xi x 60 x
Omicron o 70 o (short)
Pi p 80 p
Koppa k 90 not a letter)
Rho r 100 r
Sigma s 200 s
Tau t 300 t
Upsilon u 400 u
Phi f 500 ph (f)
Chi c 600 ch
Psi y 700 ps
Omega w 800 o (long)
Sampsi M 900 not a letter)

In remarkable contrast to this, the name Jesus (Greek “ιηους”) has the value “888,” and it occurs 888 times in the New Testament! The name “Christ” (Χριστσς) has a value of 8 x 185, and the name “Lord” (kuriv) 8 x 100. There are exactly eight combinations of these three names used in the New Testament (“Lord”—“Jesus”—“Christ”—“Lord Jesus”—“Lord Christ”—“Jesus Christ”—“Christ Jesus”—and “Lord Jesus Christ”) and each, of course, has a numerical equivalent which is a multiple of “eight.”

The number “eight” is associated with resurrection, since Christ was raised on the “eighth” day, and there are eight resuscitations (i.e., temporary resurrections) from the dead recorded in the Bible (1 Kings 17:22; 2 Kings 4:34-35, 2 Kings 13:21; Matthew 9:24-25; Luke 7:15; John 11:44, Acts 9:40-41; Acts 20:9-12). The resurrection of Christ Himself is the eighth of the nine great “signs” around which the gospel of John is centered.

The Number “22” and the Hebrew Alphabet

Only one other number will be discussed here, although this type of study could be expanded in“22.” There are exactly 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and the Hebrew language is that through which God has chosen to convey His Word to man. The language of the antediluvians was probably the same as spoken in Eden between God and Adam, and was also the language spoken by Shem after the Flood. Since Noah and Shem did not participate in the rebellion of Nimrod at Babel, there is no reason to suppose that their language was among those “confused” by God at that time. This inference is further supported by the fact that the names of the antediluvian patriarchs (Adam, Seth, etc.) all have a definite meaning in the Hebrew language, and also by the remarkable revival of the Hebrew language in the present nation of Israel. This is possibly the “pure language” which will be restored to all people in the millennium (Zephaniah 3:9).

In any case, the number “22” aptly symbolizes God's revelation to man. The very purpose of language is that God might communicate His Word to man, and that man might respond in praise and thanksgiving to God. The Lord Jesus intimated this when He (who is the Living Word of God) said, “I am Alpha and Omega” (Revelation 22:13). These are the first and last letters of the Greek language, in which, of course, the New Testament was written.

Of direct significance is the interesting appearance of the number “22” in the book of Psalms. This book is unique in the Bible. Not only is it the longest book, with 150 chapters, located in the middle of the Scriptures, but it is the only book whose chapter and verse divisions are part of the original inspired writing. Each Psalm was separate, with its own specific heading, and its verse divisions were clearly delineated by its poetic structure, right from the beginning.

The book of Psalms (meaning “hymns of praise”) is also known as “the book of the praises of Israel.” Thus, it is especially designed to form, as it were, the definitive pattern for man's use of language in the response of praise to God. The theme of praise is fundamental in all of man's ability to communicate in meaningful speech, and this is the keynote of the book of Psalms.

Psalms has been divided into five books, the first four ending with Psalms 41, 72, 89, and 106, respectively. Each of these four books ends with the exclamation: “Blessed be the Lord.” The fifth book seems to end with a like exhortation, at the end of Psalm 145, instead of 150. Then the last five Psalms form a glorious postscript of praise to all five books. Each of these begins and ends with the exclamatory phrase: “Praise ye the Lord.”

This phrase is actually in the Hebrew one word “Hallelujah,” which could be considered the key word in the book of psalms. It is composed of the verb “hallel” (“to praise”) and the name of God “Jah”).

It is significant that the word “hallelujah” occurs exactly twenty-two times in the book of Psalms. Ten of these occurrences are in the last five Psalms.

Even more significant is the first time the verb itself (“hallel”) occurs in the book of Psalms. We find it in the midst of the most graphic scene of undeserved suffering and death in the entire Bible, on the lips of the one suffering. Remembering that the chapters and verses in Psalms are themselves part of its Spirit-ordered structure, it is thrilling to note that this first occurrence of the verb “hallel” (“to praise”) is in Psalm 22:22! Even more thrilling and praiseworthy does it become when we see that this verse is quoted prophetically by the Lord Jesus Himself, right at the very climax of His sufferings on the cross, crying out in victory: “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.”

This verse is quoted in Hebrews 2:10-12: “For it became Him, ... in bringing many sons into glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings .... For which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”

Therefore, when we assemble together in His name, He is in our midst (Matthew 18:20), just as He was there with His first congregation, pitiful though it was (John, His mother, the other women, Joseph and Nicodemus) in the darkness surrounding His cross. He is Himself the leader of our praises, our invisible song-leader as it were, whenever we gather together “by Him let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

The 119th Psalm

Consider finally what is in many respects the most amazing chapter in the Bible, the 119th Psalm. This is the longest chapter in the Bible (176 verses) in the longest book in the Bible. It is very near the center of the Bible. Psalm 117 (the shortest chapter in the Bible, with only two verses) is the middle chapter, and Psalm 118:8 (“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man”) the middle verse of the Bible.

Psalm 119 is a remarkable acrostic Psalm, consisting of twenty-two stanzas of eight verses each. Each of the eight verses of each stanza begins with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. That is, each of verses 1-8 begins with the first letter of the alphabet, aleph, verses 9-16 each begin with the second letter, beth, and so on. Thus, the structure of the Psalm is stamped indelibly with the number 22, representing language, communicating God's Word to man and man's praise to God, and also the number 8, speaking of regeneration and victorious life.

It is by the Word of God, of course, that man is “born again, ... of incorruptible seed” (1 Peter 1:23). Furthermore, the God-breathed Scriptures alone are profitable to the end that “the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:17). The connection of the numbers 8 and 22 in Psalm 119 is thus very appropriate.

Now, the theme of Psalm 119 is simply the praise of the written Word! Almost every verse is an explicit testimony to the Scriptures.

These statements are built around exactly eight different Hebrew names for the Scriptures. Their occurrences follow a most interesting geometric pattern, as outlined below:

Word (Hebrew) Number of Occurrences Word (Hebrew)
“Law” (Torah) 25 19 “Word” (Imrah)
“Testimonies” (Edah) 23 21 “Judgments” (Mishpat)
“Word” (Dabor) 23 21 “Precepts” (Piqqudim)
“Statutes” (Chuqqah) 22 22 “Commandments” (Mitsvah)

The word occurring most, plus the word occurring least, add to 44, and so do each of the other rows, as shown, with the total occurrences then being 4 x 44, or 176.

In the first stanza occur the six words—the law, testimonies, statutes, judgments, precepts, commandments—all of them speaking to the Psalmist of the demands of God's law which is “holy, and just, and good” and in which he finds “delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:12, 22). However, he also finds he is in “captivity to the law of sin which is in my members,” and so has to cry out for mercy and deliverance (Romans 7:23, 24). The first stanza ends with the plea: “O forsake me not utterly” (Psalm 119:8).

In the second stanza, as the commandments had brought conviction, now the living Word brings cleansing and victory. The remaining two words (both translated “word”) both occur first in this stanza. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Hebrew dabar), “Thy word (Hebrew imrah) have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:9, 11).

All the remaining stanzas and verses of the Psalm may most effectively be considered as a running testimony by the Psalmist, extending through his whole life, of the continued blessing received from the Word in meeting, experience by experience, every need of his life.


Many similar patterns are discernible as one studies the inspired Scriptures. Some of these are mentioned in the annotations associated with particular passages. Although one must be careful not to misuse this kind of data in deriving special doctrines or predictions from them, they do seem to provide for the believer a thrilling seal and confirmation, internally and subjectively as it were, of the objective truth of plenary verbal inspiration.


  1. Bullinger, E. W. Number in Scripture. London; The Lamp Press, Ltd., 1952.
  2. Grant, R. W. The Numerical Structure of Scripture. New York; Loizeaux Bros.
  3. Kinney, LeBaron W. The Greatest Thing in the Universe. New York; Loizeaux Bros., 1939.
  4. Woods, T.E.P. The Seal of the Seven. Grand Rapids; Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1938.

This appendix has been taken with modifications from Many Infallible Proofs by Henry M. Morris (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1996), pp. 351-366.