I must tell you (and not without a little embarrassment) that for many years I thought “strait” was just a quaint, old-fashioned spelling for the word “straight” in the King James Bible.
I saw these two words as the same in my mind’s eye and thereby missed the profound difference this word gives to several key verses.
I should have known better though, especially with words like straitjacket, strait-laced, and the Strait of Gibraltar gracing my dictionary and giving me a clue.
Welcome to my KJV Bible Word Study Series!
In this series, I will take words that we may be unfamiliar with outside the Bible setting or that may be confusing to our modern-day English sensibilities, and expound upon their original meaning within the context of the verse.
By using Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, it is my hope to bring clarity to, and broaden our understanding of, many beloved and obscure KJV Bible passages.
Strait—#H6887: To cramp (literally or figuratively), adversary, afflict, besiege, bind, bind up, distress, narrower, oppress, pangs, shut up, be in trouble, vex
#H6862: narrow, a tight place, (fig.) trouble, an opponent (as crowding), enemy, foe, affliction, close, distress, narrow, small, sorrow, tribulation
#G4728: narrow (from obstacles standing close about)
#G4912: to hold together, to compress (as the ears, with a crowd, or siege), or arrest (a prisoner), (fig.) to compel, perplex, afflict, constrain, hold, stop, keep in, throng
Straiten—#H6693: To compass, (fig.) oppress, distress, constrain, press
Straitened—#H3334: to press, be narrow, (fig.) be in distress
#H4164: narrowness, (fig.) distress, anguish
#H680: (properly) to join; to separate, (hence to) select, keep, reserve, take, taken from #H681 (in the sense of joining) a side, near, hard by, beside, toward, with
#H7114: to dock off, to curtail (especially at harvest of grass and grain), cut down, grieve, mourn, reap, be shorter, trouble, vex
#G4729: to hem in closely, (fig.) cramp, distress, taken from #G4730: narrowness of room (fig.) calamity, anguish, distress
#4912: see definition for “Strait” above
Straiteneth—#H5148: to guide, to transport, bestow, bring, govern, lead, lead forth
Straitness—#H4689: a narrow place, (fig.) anguish, distress
Straits—#H3334: to press, be narrow
#H4712: something tight (fig.) trouble, distress, pain
[Underlining and words in bold are added for emphasis in Bible verses throughout this study.]
You feel anguish as the cliff walls of your life close tightly around you. A miscarriage, cancer diagnosis, unemployment—these loose stones and falling debris strewn in your path–have you troubled and afflicted on all sides.
You are in a strait.
A strait may be straight, but not necessarily.
Most often it has curves, twists, and turns. And with certainty, it constricts on all sides, hems you in, and is quite narrow giving you very little room to move about.
Our faithfulness to God puts us in a difficult place, a narrow strait with the world around us, even with those of our own family who refuse Him.
It is this tight spot that creates great distress.
And David said unto God, I am in a great strait: let us fall into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man. 2 Samuel 24:14
When so much of this life hurts and causes us pain; when we are in the Strait of Affliction and cannot see a way out, do what David did, my friends. Fall into the outstretched hands of our merciful God.
And fear not. Our God is mighty to save! He cannot be straitened (#H7114)—cut off, curtailed, made shorter. He is not hampered or constrained by a single thing.
O thou that are named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the Lord straitened?
are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? Micah 2:7
As a child of God, Christ asks us to walk a straight and narrow road. We turn our backs on the world’s perverse and crooked path, embrace the Lordship of Christ, and become a set apart and beloved people.
Throughout the Old Testament, the tribes of Israel and Judah found themselves in great trouble and distress. They were straitened by their own doing, however.
This set apart and beloved people chose self-reliance, haughtiness, and disobedience to God instead. God used their enemies to wedge them between a rock and a hard place.
The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down. Job 18:7
In the fullness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: every hand of the wicked shall come upon him. Job 20:22
Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits. Lamentations 1:3
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. Luke 13:24
Ahh, diligent research of the word strait has made understanding this quote from Luke astonishingly clear.
This gate, this strait gate is no ordinary, easy-to-get-through gate with oiled hinges and a gentle latch (that you don’t need to use anyway because the gate is so short you could leap over it).
No. This gate that leads to everlasting life requires us to STRIVE to enter through it.
- fight the Adversary daily,
- labor in the heat of the day fervently, and
- struggle with the world and ourselves every step of the way!
This is just too much work for most people to bother with. They may half-heartedly seek this narrow opening, but only to enter in on their own terms.
For all their self-centered attempts, it is impossible to find.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7:13-14
The way to destruction is wide and smooth, a grassy meadow on a fair day. The stride is easy, the view serene.
To traverse this plain, you don’t need to examine yourself or repent. You don’t need to give up your desires or relent.
Like the poisonous poppies in The Wizard of Oz, this field deceives you with its beauty and ease till you are overcome with sin’s deadly scent.
The world walks defiantly hand-in-hand through this field declaring a ‘better, more tolerant, and wiser way’ than God’s while deceiving themselves with every comfortable step and marching closer to their own demise.
But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished! Luke 12:50
The constant pressure of our circumstances and the antagonism we face from others puts us in great straits (#G4712)—trouble, distress, and pain.
We, as believers, will never be free from this while we breathe.
It is in our nature to run far from sorrow and affliction, but thanks be to our Lord, Jesus Christ, He chose to be straitened by it.
He chose to place His love for us above His suffering and anguish so that we could be ultimately free.
Our Christian walk is fraught with straits.
Like a steep mountain gorge with crumbling walls on either side, this is no comfy trek. But we can help each other over the rough spots with a steady shoulder and a prayer. Beckoning those behind us and cheering on those ahead.
And if you ever find yourself alone on this path, dear ones, remember this. There is a guardrail the whole way. Hold on tight to Christ and you will get to the top.
When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Proverbs 4:12
I love a good word study, don’t you? I hope you’ve gleaned, along with me, some additional insight into the rich words used in the KJV Bible.
Join me next time as I showcase another word we can learn the in-depth meaning behind together.
If you would like to read more posts in this series, please check out my KJV Bible Word Study Series page.
Abiding in the Vine,
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The post “Strait: KJV Bible Word Study Series” was first published on Desert Rain.