The Exclamation Point!

This morning I sent my husband this simple text, “No!!!!!!” He replied, “That is the first text I have ever gotten with six exclamation points.” I may have overreacted, but I was attempting to stop him from waking up my sleep-deprived daughter, her husband, and their new baby. Admittedly, however, I have been known to overuse this form of punctuation. It seems to me that “Thanks” communicates much less appreciation than “Thanks!” or certainly, “Thanks!!!” But the grammarians among us will argue that merely adding “!” to a sentence poses several issues. First, the use of “!” lacks creativity. I should be able to find specific words that express my heartfelt emotion or sincerity. Second, its overuse eventually diminishes its effectiveness. If I use my favorite punctuation too regularly, how can the reader distinguish when I am particularly excited or a situation requires even more exceptional emphasis? (similar to the “boy who cried wolf” syndrome)

I began to ask myself, where does the exclamation point appear in current translations of the Bible? Unwilling to count myself, I relied on Google, which revealed that the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible includes 313 exclamation points. Given the almost 800,000 sentences in the Bible, and considering that everything in Scripture is breathed by God, the exclamation point is used sparingly—less than one half of 1%. The NIV translation deems these statements as worthy of the exclamation point:

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15


God used another method to express emphasis on a point—He spoke two words in particular: “behold” and “amen.”

Behold

When “behold” preceded any statement, the author conveys, “Make sure you see this! Don’t miss this! It is important to grasp what this means!” [The Discovery Bible HELPS Lexicon/dictionary] In other words, “behold” is the exclamation point.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” Matthew 1:23

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail[a] on account of him.” Revelation 1:7


Amen

The pastor and theologian, John Piper wrote, “Amen is an exclamation point after a prayer for help.” It means, “Yes, Lord, you can do it. Yes, Lord, you are powerful.”

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

Our prayers of praise, worship and supplication deserve the emphasis of Amen.

My realization of the import of these words will not likely change my practice of overusing the exclamation point, but they certainly make me ponder those messages that really need to be emphasized and communicated. God’s power. God’s mercy. God’s love. God’s gift to us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!