Can you explain “bethink?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

We spot “bethink” on just two occasions in the King James Bible, both of which are companion passages that record King Solomon’s lengthy dedicatory prayer regarding the Jerusalem Temple:

  • 1 Kings 8:47: “Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;….”
  • 2 Chronicles 6:37: “Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;….”

“Bethink” is a formal word, sounding more majestic than “to think” or “come to think” (its meaning). Another definition is “consider, come to one’s senses, bring back to mind.” The Jerusalem Temple was where the LORD God manifested His presence or glory in and to Old Testament Israel. Since the Law of Moses was in effect, Solomon knew the high probability of his Jewish people sinning against God and thus being driven from the Promised Land via Gentile captivities (see Leviticus 26:27-46—see excerpt below). Israel could be recovered from those courses of chastisement by confessing their sins of breaking the Old Covenant. Whereas they had been spiritually insane (idolatrous) in the land of Palestine, once they would be deported to foreign terrains and realize just how sinful and foolish they had been, they would consider the LORD they had forgotten, think like His people (repent), and He would regather them into their land once more. See the prayers of Nehemiah 1:4-11, Nehemiah 9:1-3, Ezra 9:5–10:3, Daniel 9:3-20; also, read Matthew 3:6, Mark 1:5, and 1 John 1:9.

Leviticus 26:33,38-46: “And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste…. And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them. If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD. These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.”

Also see:
» Must I confess my sins?
» What about repentance?
» Can you explain “cogitations?”
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?
» “If God peradventure will give them repentance…?”