Andy is the former senior manager of contents for scriptures Gateway. He currently works in ~ Calvin College.

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


Today is the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s well known Gettysburg Address. Delivered several month after the bloody, decisive battle of Gettysburg, the Gettysburg deal with put the brutal violence of the American civil War into a grander civic and spiritual context.

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

Four score and also seven years back our fathers brought forth ~ above this continent a brand-new nation, conceived in liberty, and committed to the proposition that all guys are produced equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, deserve to long endure. We space met ~ above a good battlefield of the war. Us have pertained to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting location for those who here provided their stays that that nation might live. That is completely fitting and also proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we deserve to not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and also dead, who struggled here, have actually consecrated it, far over our bad power to add or detract. The civilization will little note, nor lengthy remember what us say here, but it can never forget what they go here. The is for us the living, rather, to be specialized here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have actually thus far so nobly advanced. The is quite for united state to it is in here devoted to the an excellent task remaining prior to us—that from this honored dead us take increased devotion come that reason for i beg your pardon they provided the last complete measure that devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall no have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth that freedom—and that federal government of the people, through the people, for the people, shall not perish native the earth.

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Why cite this right here on holy bible Gateway? due to the fact that the Gettysburg attend to contains a number of Bible and spiritual references that, while they might slip previous us today, would have been quite noticeable to Lincoln’s initial audience. In an LA Times essay ~ above the strength of the Gettysburg Address, Ronald White identifies some of the biblical references embedded in Lincoln’s speech:

Lincoln rose, adjusted his spectacles, and also began: “Four score and seven year ago.” The an initial two words rhyme, setting in movement a symphony that sounds. The biblical ring of his opened was rooted in lines indigenous Psalm 90. Lincoln never stated the Bible, but the totality of his speech to be suffused through both biblical content and cadence. <…>

In his final three sentence Lincoln pointed away from words come deeds. The contrasted “what we say here” v “what they go here.”

In this closing paragraph, he continued his usage of repetition: “To be dedicated; to be below dedicated.” And: “We take enhanced devotion”; “the last full measure of devotion.”

Lincoln, who constantly chose his words carefully, below selected words that conjured up the contact to religious commitment that heard consistently in the preaching at the brand-new York way Presbyterian Church in Washington.

The reference to Psalm 90 could seem confound to modern-day Bible readers; over there isn’t an obvious connection in between the Gettysburg Address’ opened words and also Psalm 90 in most contemporary Bibles. However, analysis Psalm 90:10 in the King James variation (the holy bible most acquainted to Lincoln’s audience) provides the reference clear:

The work of ours years are threescore years and also ten;and if by reason of toughness they be fourscore years, however is their stamin labour and sorrow;for that is soon reduced off, and also we fly away. — Psalm 90:10 (KJV)

Beyond its apparent political significance, the Gettysburg address is an artifact native a historical 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 might reference a semi-obscure scriptures verse (without clearly calling attention to it) and expect their audience to understand it. Execute you think a speak today can make together a reference with the very same expectation? and if lock did… would certainly you notice it?


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