Vol.XIV No.I Pg.6
March 1977


Robert F. Turner

From my window in a Pasadena motel I see a sentence on the side of a commercial building. "We really move our tools for you." What does that mean? A transfer company? No, "our" tools, not "your" tools. To establish context we note that the remainder, of the sign reads, "K & M Tools, Inc." Tool rentals? We are in an oil country-- may oil well "fishing" tools? Maybe, but let's not be hasty. We take a walk, so we can see all sides of the building, and we find this is a tool rental place — electric, air, yard tools, and a few heavy duty cable winches. Now, is the sign clear??

In the main — yes. But a whimsical "touch" is yet uncovered, a "feeling" the company wished to convey, that is perhaps more important than the obvious "movement of tools." To get the point one must be familiar with advertising "commercials" of this section. A large airline has spent thousands of dollars on billboards and singing T.V. ads that say, "We really move our tails for you'." This little company is capitalizing on the popular theme by a simple pun — "our tools —. Now, the sign actually makes mundane "tool moving' of secondary though vital importance. It is SERVICE that they wish to emphasize in the sign.

And that is interpretation! It is not magic nor mysticism. It does not involve direct operation of the Holy Spirit, nor "spiritual discernment," (in the sense so often used by evangelicals): But it does necessitate an ability to read and understand words. It calls for objective consideration; no "reading into" the sign what we want it to say. 'thorough (investigation of context is demanded — and that goes deeper than a few surrounding sentences. Geographic setting and an understanding of the nature of outdoor advertising is important; and in this case, a knowledge of a popular commercial theme of the period makes the difference in just getting a surface message, and in genuinely understanding the sign.

Is the sign true? Do they really render service? I don't know. I have no knowledge of the source of that sign — nothing to cause me to have faith in its maker — and I refer to the origin of the message, not to the sign painter. If I could believe that God gave that message I would confidently affirm that the K & M Tool company renders a marvelous service.

Man does not do the "transcending" when understanding the Bible. God spanned the gap between things of God and things of man — by revelation. By inspiring the sign painters (Apostles and Prophets) He gave us His message in understandable words. The divine source is confirmed by "signs and wonders." so we may confidently accept the message. And God used a means of communication common to man; so that we must apply the same techniques in studying His word as in all other interpretation. Even puns? Yes, even puns! (Onesimus means "profitable." Now, read Phile. 10-11; or try Gal. 5: 12.) God suited His sign to his man:

The literate "man on the street" can understand sufficient truth to be justly accountable, and saved; but diligent study brings rich rewards the "smatterer" will never taste.