A Matter of Emphasis

by Jeanne Kun

Emphasis: (1) a force or intensity of expression that gives special impressiveness or importance to something; (2) a particular prominence given in reading or speaking to one or more words or syllables; (3) a special consideration of or stress or insistence on something.

Accent: a mark of prominence or emphasis.

When we read Scripture, either aloud or silently to ourselves, we can grasp a deeper understanding of its meaning through the particular attention we give to each word. We can enhance and heighten its impact on us by accenting or stressing individual words and phrases. Varying the stress to emphasize another word or concept in the same sentence can highlight another aspect or dimension of the full truth and meaning of God's word to us.

Try this little experiment. Read this familiar verse from the psalms aloud several times: "The Lord is my light and my salvation" (Ps. 27:1). Each time vary the stress you put on each individual word. For example,

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Notice how the difference in accent stresses or brings into sharper focus each aspect of this truth. It is the Lord, and no one else, who is my light. He is indeed my light, no doubt about it! The Lord is my own light-- he knows me and the particular shadows in my life. And he is light, that shining; gleaming brightness that shatters my darkness.

Try this reading technique with other well-worn, familiar verses of Scripture and see them take on new, fuller meaning in your life. Put a little accent in your life!

This article originally appeared in © God's Word Today, Volume 12, Number 10, October 1990,
published by The University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN.

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