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Confronting Pressure in Your Life

I have been drawn to the word “compel” (“anas” in the Hebrew Scriptures). However, this word only appears once in Esther 1:8. Therefore, I found two other Hebrew words that conveyed a similar sense of compelling: “abad” (forced service or slavery) and “nadaq” (urge to the point of forcing).

From a study of these three words I concluded that “compelling” can be used as three different types of pressure: (1) moral (emotional), (2) spiritual, or (3) physical. An example of moral pressure would be the use of fear or bullying tactics to compel, thus leaving a condition of strength to cowering and weakness. A physical sense of compelling would be caused by force, such as moving or pushing. A spiritual compelling might cause someone to change or adopt a thought or belief that was not of that person’s original nature. An example of spiritual compelling might be a change from chastity to promiscuous behavior.

There is only one use of the word “compel” that conveys a moral tendency. In the book of Esther we read, “And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure” (Esther 1:8). In this verse, those attending the banquet were offered what would appear to be a generous, non-stop drink of alcohol. This application of the word “compel” conveys both a moral and a physical meaning. The officers of the house were not forcing, or compelling, anyone to over-drink, but offered to the guests an opportunity to drink according to their own desires.  The potential to become drunk was there, but because there was a moral standard of refraining from drunkenness, some of the guests were not compelled. That is, they chose to remain sober-minded.

Secondly, the word “abad” conveys compelling as an overt demand that is an emotional bullying, such as forcing someone to work as a slave rather than as hired help. For example, we read in Leviticus, “If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you shall not subject [compel] him to a slave’s service” (Lev 25:39). Therefore, we must not force the poor to work for us in a condition of slavery, but must treat our workers as hired hands. The pressure created by guilt can make people respond in an undesired way.

Third, we see the word “nadach” used as “compelling” in 2 Chronicles. “He [King Jehoram of Judah] had also built high places on the hills of Judah and had caused the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves and had led Judah astray” (2 Chr 21:11). The people were led by a destructive king, and were forced into prostituting themselves according to his nature. The degraded personality of the king encouraged, or compelled, the people to behave poorly, that is, without moral standing. The people were emotionally abused by a king, and compelled to behave in a way contrary to their nature. The use of the word “nadach” implies an amoral push where someone is talked into, or convinced, to behave poorly.

How are you being compelled in your life, or how are you compelling others? Now is the time to address a need for change as Paul urged the Romans. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).