Psalm 78:36 Can God be DECEIVED? – NASB 1972-1995, Legacy Standard Bible 2021, Youngs, NET, ISV, Holman Blunder

Psalm 78:36 KJB (NKJV, RV, ASV, NIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV) – “Nevertheless they did FLATTER HIM with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.”

NASB 1972-1995 – “But THEY DECEIVED HIM with their mouth And lied to Him with their tongue.” 

But now the NASB 2020 edition has come out and they have corrected it to read as the KJB always did – “But they FLATTERED Him with their mouth And lied to Him with their tongue.”

Psalms 78 tells us of Israel’s rebellion and sin against their God and of his continued compassion towards them. One of the people’s many recorded sins is found in v.36: “they did FLATTER him with their mouth, and lied unto him with their tongue.”

We can flatter God – say all kinds of nice things about him yet not really mean them. God is not fooled by mans false words of adoration. God says through his prophet Ezekiel – “And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: FOR WITH THEIR MOUTH THEY SHEW MUCH LOVE, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.”  Ezekiel 33:31

Charles Spurgeon notes in his Treasury of David, a commentary on the Psalms, – Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. – “they did but FLATTER and lie, and play the hypocrites with God…A FLATTERER, you know, differs from a friend, in that he pretends much kindness, yet wants inward good will, doing it for his own ends…he being a God that knows the heart, to flatter him is the greatest mockery; for that is it which chiefly provoketh men to hate such as dissemble friendship.”

Adam Clarke notes: “They promised well, they called him their God, and their fathers’ God, and told him how good, and kind, and merciful he had been to them. Thus, their mouth FLATTERED him. And they said that, whatever the Lord their God commanded them to do, they would perform.”

John Calvin translates it the same way it stands in the King James Bible and comments thus: “And they FLATTERED him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongue. Here they are charged with perfidiousness, because they neither confessed their guilt with sincerity of heart, nor truly ascribed to God the glory of their deliverance. We are not to suppose that they made no acknowledgement at all; but it is intimated that the confession of the mouth, as it did not proceed from the heart, was constrained and not voluntary. This is well worthy of being noticed; for from it we learn, not only the duty incumbent upon us of guarding against that gross hypocrisy which consists in uttering with the tongue, before men, one thing, while we think a different thing in our hearts, but also that we ought to beware of a species of hypocrisy which is more hidden, and which consists in this, that the sinner, being constrained by fear, FLATTERS God in a slavish manner, while yet, if he could, he would shun the judgment of God. The greater part of men are mortally smitten with this disease; for although the divine majesty extorts from them some kind of awe, yet it would be gratifying to them were the light of divine truth completely extinguished. It is, therefore, not enough to yield an assent to the divine word, unless that assent is accompanied with true and pure affection, so that our hearts may not be double or divided.”

 John Gill comments: “Nevertheless, they did FLATTER him with their mouth?In prayer to him, they only drew nigh to him with their mouths, and honoured him with their lips; they showed much love to him and his ways and ordinances hereby; but their hearts were not with him, but after their lusts; they made fine speeches and fair promises, but their hearts and mouths did not agree; they spoke with a double heart, thinking and endeavouring to “deceive” the Lord…but he is not to be deceived, nor will he be mocked.”


“they did FLATTER him with their mouth”

Agreeing with the reading found in the King James Bible that the people FLATTERED God are Coverdale 1535, The Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, The Bill Bible 1671, The Longman Version 1841, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Jewish Family Bible 1864, Noyes Translation 1869, the Revised Version 1885, Calvin’s Bible 1855, The Sharpe Bible 1883, Darby 1890, American Standard Version 1901, Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible 1902, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 – “they FLATTERED HIM with their mouth”, the 1936 Hebrew Publishing Company Old Testament (New York), The New Berkeley Version in Modern English 1969, the Amplified Bible 1987,  the NIV 1984 – 2011, NKJV 1982, the RSV 1952, NRSV 1989, The Word of Yah Bible 1993, The Koster Scriptures 1998, the KJV 21st Century 1994, Third Millennium Bible 1998, Green’s 1998 Modern KJV, God’s First Truth 1999, the World English Bible 2000, The Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001, New Simplified Bible 2003, the Updated Bible Version 2004, Green’s Literal 2005, the Context Group Version 2007, The Hebraic Transliteration Scriptures 2010 – “Nevertheless they DID FLATTER him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.”, the New European Version 2010, New Heart English Bible 2010, the NIV 2011, the Common English Version 2011, the Names of God Bible 2011, the Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 – “they FLATTERED him with their mouths”, the Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011, the Katapi New Standard Bible 2012, Bond Slave Version 2012, The Hebrew Names Version 2014, The Modern English Version 2014, Tree of Life Version 2015 and the English Standard Version 2001 – 2016 (ESV). 

The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 –

?Nevertheless they did FLATTER Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues.?


The Jewish Virtual Library Tanach {full text} 1994 – ?Nevertheless they did FLATTER him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.?

Hebrew Transliteration Scriptures 2010 – ?Nevertheless they did FLATTER him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.?

Interlinear Hebrew Old Testament – ?Nevertheless they did FLATTER him with their mouth??


Foreign Language Bibles

Many foreign language Bible teach the same thing – the FLATTERED God but they certainly did NOT DECEIVE Him. Among these are  the Spanish Reina Valera of 1909, 1960 and the 2004-2010 Reina Valera Gómez Bible – “le lisonjeaban con la boca”, the Italian Diodati 1649 and the Italian Nuova Riveduta of 2006 – “Essi però lo adulavano con la bocca” = “they flattered him”, the Portuguese Almeida Actualizada and La Biblia Sagrada em Portugués – “Todavia lisonjeavam-no com a boca” = “they flattered him with the mouth”, the French Martin 1744 and French Ostervald 1996 – “Mais ils faisaient beau semblant de leur bouche” 


Some Other Versions

The Bible in Basic English 1961 says: “But THEIR LIPS WERE FALSE TO HIM, and their tongues were untrue to him”

Rotherham’s Emphasized bible 1902 – “So THEY SPAKE HIM FAIR WITH THEIR MOUTH, And, with their tongue, did promise him falsely”

New Life Version 1969 – “But THEY GAVE HIM FALSE HONOR with their mouth. They lied to Him with their tongue.”

Living Bible 1971 – “But it was only with their words that they followed him, not with their hearts.”

New Living Translation 2015 – “But all they gave Him was lip service”


The Message 2002 – “But THEY DIDN’T MEAN A WORD OF IT; they lied through their teeth the whole time.”

The Common English Bible 2011 – “But THEY WERE JUST FLATTERING HIM WITH LIP SERVICE. they were just flattering him with lip service.  They were lying to him with their tongues.”

The New International Reader’s Version 2014 – “THEY DIDN’T MEAN IT WHEN THEY PRAISED HIM”

International Children’s Bible 2015 – “BUT THEIR WORDS WERE FALSE. Their tongues lied to Him.”

“they DECEIVED God”

But the NASB, as well as Young’s “literal”, the Holman Christian Standard Version 2009, the International Standard Version and Daniel Wallace and company’s NET version all say “they DECEIVED him with their mouth”.

A single Hebrew word can have many meanings, but not all of the possible meanings is the right meaning for the context.  The same Hebrew word #3117 yohm can mean either “days” or “years” (KJB, ESV, NKJV, NASB, NIV) and the same Hebrew word #1288 bah-rach can mean either “to curse” or “to bless” (See Job 1:5, 10, 11 and 21), but obviously is not the same in every context.

The KJB itself translates this single Hebrew verb (#6601 pah-thah) as “to deceive, entice, flatter, silly, persuade, enlarge and allure”, but obviously all of them can be the correct one at any given time, especially when it comes to the perfect nature of our holy God.

Notice that the NASB, Youngs, NET, ISV and Holman Standard don’t say “they TRIED TO deceive Him” or “they THOUGHT they had deceived him” but “they DECEIVED Him”. This is utterly impossible. God certainly cannot be deceived. 

The Catholic versions –

As usual the Catholic versions are all over the place creating confusion, but at least none of them so far has gotten as bad as the NASB, NET and Holman Standard.  The Douay Rheims of 1610 did not follow the Hebrew at all, nor did the 1950 Douay but both said: “But they LOVED HIM with their mouth and lied unto him with their tongue.” 

Then the 1968 Jerusalem bible changed this to “But they OUTWARDLY FLATTERED HIM with their mouth.”  The 1970 St. Joseph New American Bible correctly has “they FLATTERED him with their mouth”.  Then the 1985 New Jerusalem says “They TRIED TO HOODWINK HIM with their mouth” and now the 2009 Catholic Public Domain version has “And they CHOSE him with their mouth, and then lied to him with their tongue.”


The so called Greek Septuagint

Both the so called Greek Septuagint and Lamsa’s translation of the Syriac are wrong when they say “they LOVED him with their mouth” (Greek -agapeesan), but at least they didn’t go so far off course as to say “they DECEIVED him.”

Oh, but wait. Now the NEW English Septuagint Translation 2014 has come out and it now says: “And they DECEIVED him with their mouth, and with their tongue they lied to him.” 

You can see this latest perversion here –

The Voice of 2012 has at least had the common sense to change their translation to “they TRIED TO DECEIVE Him”.

If a person flatters another person, this never automatically means that the person flattered actually believes their words are sincere. When most people are flattered, they know that the other person is just saying nice things about them in an effort to be friendly or to get something. But to be flattered does not mean that you actually believe the nice things being said about you.

This is an important point. The flattery comes from man and is directed towards God. It tells us nothing about how it affected God in any way. In fact, by calling it “flattery” we assume that it was insincere. The Bible does not say “they complimented Him” but “they flattered him”. Flattery is untrue or insincere praise.

However when we look at the word deceived, this tells us about how the words of mere mortal men affected God Himself. The NASB blunder says that “they DECEIVED Him”. Here we are looking at the way in which God Himself was affected by what was said. The NASB translation and clear meaning is either stupid or from the pits of hell, or both. But it is not right and it is not inerrant.

The absurd reading found in the NASB, NET, ISV, Youngs and Holman Standard that people DECEIVED God is a theological error. The word Theology literally means the study of God.

If we begin to list the attributes of God as found in Scripture, we can say that God is holy, God is righteous, God is love, God is light, and if we follow the NASB reading, we would also have to conclude that God is gullible – He can be deceived. Is this the true God of the Bible? I trow not.

This example of false doctrine being taught in the modern versions is not an isolated case. There are many examples of the true doctrines of God being either watered down or perverted in todays Bible Babble Buffet. 

Here are over 30 examples for you to consider.

Please call me for this article about fake Bible versions do teach false doctrines 661 619 6434.

Get yourself the King James Holy Bible, the only one seriously believed to be the complete and infallible words of the living God.