The word quicken is used in the King James Version of the Bible, and it means “revive or make alive.” If something is living, it is “quick”; to “quicken” something is to bring it to life or restore it to a former flourishing condition. The phrase the quick and the dead contrasts the word dead with the word quick—they are antonyms.
Psalm 25:11 in the King James Version says, “Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake.” In the New International Version, the verse reads this way: “For your name’s sake, LORD, preserve my life.” In the New American Standard Bible, the same verse says, “For the sake of Your name, O LORD, revive me.” In this context, quickening involves revival and a preservation of life, and God gets the glory for it.
God’s quickening in our lives can affect us in many ways. By the power of God, we can be quickened or revived from sickness, from discouragement, from fear, and of course from death. Jesus is the Life (John 14:6), and He can grant life to us: “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will” (John 5:21, KJV). The Holy Spirit also gives life: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63, KJV).
God quickens us according to His Word (Psalm 119:154) and His lovingkindness (Psalm 119:88); His quickening is associated with His tender mercy (Psalm 119:156), His righteousness (Psalm 119:40), and our joy (Psalm 85:6). He quickens us in order to keep us on the godly path: “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way” (Psalm 119:37, KJV), and to preserve a people who call upon Him: “Quicken us, and we will call upon thy name” (Psalm 80:18, KJV).
We ask the Lord to quicken our thoughts and the fervor we once had for Him (Psalm 42:11). We cry out for Him to quicken us when we are depressed (Psalm 119:25). We ask that He quicken our hearts when we are pulled by the enticements of the world, so that we remain faithful to His Word (Psalm 80:18).
Believers in Christ are spiritually quickened by God at the moment of salvation: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, KJV). And believers look forward to being physically quickened after death at the resurrection: “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11, KJV).
King James English is often difficult to understand, since many terms, such as quicken, that were well-known in 1611 might be more obscure to us now. It is always helpful to read a troubling verse in several different translations. Each version of the Bible will word the verse or passage a little differently and, by comparing them side by side, we gain greater understanding.