‘A House Divided Against Itself’

‘A House Divided Against Itself’ by Myra Kahn Adams for Red State

The Scriptures we are studying today were spontaneously chosen only after I sat down to write this study. Since last Monday, I had every intention of writing about Psalm 46 and spent time researching the meaning of that magnificent “song” for these troubled times. Such a last-minute switch-out has never happened in the 42 previous volumes. Thus, my interpretation is that I am “supposed” to write about this famous phrase of scripture, which happens to be a political cliché, usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

However, Lincoln was quoting Jesus. During Lincoln’s time, Americans often read the Bible. Therefore, they were keenly aware of the source and His warning about division bringing down a Godly “house.”

The “house divided” verses appear in three of the four New Testament Gospels: Mark 3:23-27Matthew 12:25-29, and Luke 11:17-22, which means they are essential to know, pray about, and heed, now as much as then.

Lincoln was three years away from his 1861 presidential inauguration when on June 16, 1858, he gave what we call the “House Divided Speech.” He was vying to win the nomination as the Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Illinois. Although Lincoln now ranks high among our most revered presidents, in 1858 he was criticized for invoking the words of Jesus in his speech within the context of a nation bitterly divided over the issue of slavery. The following paragraph explaining the circumstances is from a website about Lincoln:

“Even Lincoln’s friends regarded the speech as too radical for the occasion. His law partner, William H. Herndon, considered Lincoln as morally courageous but politically incorrect. Lincoln read the speech to him before delivering it, referring to the ‘house divided’ language this way: ‘The proposition is indisputably true … and I will deliver it as written. I want to use some universally known figure, expressed in simple language as universally known, that it may strike home to the minds of men in order to rouse them to the peril of the times.’”

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