So today we’re going to briefly look at the second discipline of the four, namely reading God’s word. Hopefully by now you’ve grasped that I really love the Bible. But I’ve got nothing on the writer of Psalm 119! This 176 verse chapter (the longest one in the Bible) is one long love-poem to Scripture, since the word of God leads him into the presence of the God of the word.
Before we get to that, let’s address a side-issue. A common question that people ask is “Does God still speak today?” My answer would be “Of course he does, primarily through his word.” But then they follow up with “But what about an audible voice or a voice you actually hear in your head?” I wouldn’t completely rule it out, in the sense of guidance from the Spirit. But usually what the Spirit is telling me is just an application of what he's already told me in the pages. It might be the Spirit, or it might be those leftover tacos from last night. If you want to the Lord to speak to you, the only 100% reliable source is from the Bible. Anything else is questionable at best. And quite frankly, instead of worrying about getting a “fresh” message from the Almighty, how’s about we concentrate on what we know he’s told us already?
One more note before we delve into the passage itself. Keep in mind that when the psalmist wrote this, what was he mainly referring to when he was going on and on about how much he loved the Scriptures? The Torah. The books of Moses. Not just the exciting stories about Noah and Abraham and the Plagues. No, he loved the laws about mold in homes and the rules concerning priests. This was pretty much all he had: No stories about Jesus or the apostles, no epistles by Paul or Peter, not even the prophets. Just wanted to point that out.
So how are we to respond to the Scriptures?
• We're to live according to his word. This is how we keep our lives pure.
• We're to seek the Lord through his word. The writer wasn’t talking about some mystical and mysterious experience on a mountaintop somewhere. He was talking about finding God through diligent study of the Scriptures.
• We're to hide his word in our heart so that we won’t sin against him. Yep, that’s talking about memorization.
• We're to recount his word, both to others and to ourselves. That means sharing his word with others, and it means reminding ourselves of it by speaking it out loud.
• We're to rejoice in it and treasure it. If you had a family heirloom that had been in your family for generations, would you take care of it? Would you value it? If you had a car worth one million dollars, would you value it, or just let it go to pot?
• We're to meditate on it. This is truly a lost art among modern American Christians. Biblical meditation is not emptying your mind, except insofar as it makes room for God’s truth. Tape up a verse in your bathroom mirror. Listen to Scripture readings in your car. Chew on it over and over like a cow chews its cud.
• And finally, delight in it. Celebrate the truths you find there. Incorporate them into your prayers.
On the sidebar of the blog I've got a link for multiple plans for reading the Bible through from cover-to-cover, ranging in one year to three years (which is actually my current favorite). I'd urge you to pick one, or maybe another one from someone else (there are plenty to pick from). Whatever plan you use, I earnestly plead with you to commit yourself to reading the Bible through from cover to cover. If you want God to speak to you, you need to go to the main source, and camp out there.
Father, I confess that I don’t love your word nearly as much as I should. Please place that spirit of that psalmist within me. May his love become mine. Because as I search your word, I’ll find you there.