Read the Bible daily.
Of course, I don’t want to shortchange you; if you want to read more, than read more. The psalmist rose early in the morning (Psalm 119:147) and stayed up through the night with God (Psalm 119:148). He did it even 7x a day (Psalm 119:164).
Discipline yourself to have a regular time in the Word of God – morning, afternoon or evening. Reading the Bible daily is like eating a meal. You can skip it every now and then, but eventually you will die from starvation if you don’t eat.
Find a time and stick to it.
Read the Bible systematically and comprehensively.
Don’t be a random reader. Don’t be one of those people who just flips open his pages and reads what he sees or reads topically. If you do that with your life, you will take more and more things out of their context.
If you read what you want and not from Genesis to Revelation, book by book, there are commands in the Bible you are going to disobey because you never know they were even there. And ignorance is not bliss when you must stand before God and give account for those portions you neglected.
All Scripture is inspired by Him and so we need to know it all comprehensively.
Read the Bible devotionally.
Reading the Bible is not meant to be an academic exercise. It is worship. It is an act by which he express our love for the Bible and for God. We study the Bible to know God, hear from God, and be changed by God. Steve Lawson has written in his commentary on Psalm 119,
“In every generation, those who have most treasured God’s word have been those most mightily used by God. Having a passionate devotion to his Word and being a powerful force for God are inseparably bound together. The former feeds the latter. One is the root, the other the fruit. Loving God’s Word is the cause; being used by the Lord is the effect. The fact is, no one can love God without loving the Word.”
Read the Bible prayerfully.
This is not a difficult concept; it just means that when you read the Bible, you also pray. John Piper has come up with an acronym to use when reading the Bible prayerfully that you might find helpful. He uses the letters “I.O.U.S.”
- I – Incline. To hear Him rightly in His Word, you have to be desirous – “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness” (Psalm 119:36).
- O – Open. To hear Him rightly in His Word, you have to ask for God’s assistance to understand the amazing things you read – “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18).
- U – Unite. To hear Him rightly in His Word, you have to have a unified, single focus on His Word – “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11).
- S – Satisfy. To hear Him rightly in His word, you have to be ready to produce more fruit – “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” (Psalm 90:14).
Read the Bible reverently.
The Bible is a Holy revelation of God’s will and to read it is to take your sandals off each time because you are on holy ground.Love it, treasure it, learn it, memorize it, meditate on it, believe it, practice it. How you treat the Bible is how you treat God. John Wesley get the last word:
“O give me that book! At any price give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book.”
Amos, who was a shepherd, fig tree caretake,r and breeder of cows, was called by God to take his agricultural and farming abilities to God’s people and shepherd them towards repentance. God gave Amos a message to deliver that summarizes greatly the state of the land at that time –
“’Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord God, ‘That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).
Friends, the conditions described in those two verses are very indicative of the 2017 world we live in and unfortunately too many churches fall under this characterization as well.
The doctrine of Sola Scriptura – “Scripture alone” – is a Latin phrase people know and ascribe to, but are far from practicing. Our society is an “I did it my way” place where our rules too often trump God’s. Our society may often consider the Bible’s good morals but then opt out of following them when it is not convenient.
Sola Sciptura was one of the distinctions that separated Protestants from the Roman Catholics during the Reformation and it should be a phrase that separates us still today. It is not Scripture + tradition or Scripture + church teaching or Scripture + experience or Scripture + church councils or church fathers.
It is Scripture + nothing = everything.
John MacArthur has written,
“No man, no church, no religious authority has any warrant from God to augment the inspired Word of Scripture with additional traditions, or to alter the plain sense of it by subjecting it to the rigors of a ‘traditional’ meaning not found in the Word itself. To do so is clearly to invalidate the Word of God – and we know what our Lord thinks of that.” (Sola Scriptura, pg. 182)
What does Jesus think of that?
“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev 22:18-19).
The greatest evil in the world is to sit in judgment upon what God has said.
Psalm 119 is the longest of the 150 psalms in the Psalter, with 176 verses, which make it equal in length to Ruth or James or Philippians. Psalm 119 is the feast of all feasts in the Psalter as it unpacks every nuance imaginable about the nature of the Word of God.
There are a number of synonyms for God’s Word in this chapter. In fact, only 6 verses in the psalm do not have a word for the “Bible” (vs. 84, 90-91, 121-122, 149); that is a mere 3% of the psalm! 97% of the verses in this psalm are about the Word of God in our lives.
The synonyms lists are as follows:
- “Ways” – This is the Hebrew word dabar and can be found in 32 verses: vs. 3, 5, 9, 15-17, 25-26, 28, 30, 33, 37, 42-43, 49, 57, 59, 65, 74, 81, 89, 101, 105, 107, 114, 130, 132, 139, 147, 160-161, 169. It is the most general of the 8 titles and refers simply to anything that comes from God’s mouth. Anything that comes from His holy, perfect mouth is His “way” for mankind.
- “Testimonies” – This is the Hebrew word edot and can be found in 23 verses: vs. 2, 14, 22, 24, 31, 36, 46, 59, 79, 88, 95, 99, 111, 119, 125, 129, 138, 144, 146, 152, 157, 167-168. It is a word often used synonymously with the 10 Commandments. It is a word meaning “to bear witness. For example, Israel was told to place the Law next to the Ark so it would be a witness against them (Deuteronomy 31:26). His testimony is equal to His will for each individual of all mankind.
- “Statutes” – This is the Hebrew word huqqim and can be found in 22 verses: vs. 5, 8, 12, 16, 23, 26, 33, 48, 54, 64, 68, 71, 80, 83, 112, 117-118, 124, 135, 145, 155, 171. It’s base meaning is “to inscribe, to cut.” It seems to speak of the permanence of Scripture as it is engraved on our hearts (Isaiah 30:8). His statute is something that He permanently holds all of mankind to.
- “Word” – This is the Hebrew word imrah and can be found in 43 verses: vs. 9, 11, 16-17, 25, 28, 38, 41-43, 49-50, 57-58, 65, 67, 74, 76, 81-82, 89, 101, 103, 105, 107, 114, 116, 123, 130, 133, 139-140, 147-148, 154, 158, 160-162, 169-170, 172. It’s root word means “to promise.” It really refers to anything that God vows to do, how He judges, how He rewards, etc. for mankind.
- “Rules” – This is the Hebrew word mishpatim and can be found in 24 verses: vs. 7, 13, 20, 29-30, 39, 43, 52, 62, 75, 84, 91, 102, 106, 108, 120-121, 132, 137, 149, 156, 160, 164, 175. It means “what the Divine Judge has ruled to be right” or “ordinances” It refers to any divine legal issues. It looks at the judicial side of God’s Word; it sees truth as something that is legally binding upon mankind.
- “Commandments” – This is the Hebrew word mitsvot and can be found in 24 verses: vs. 6, 10, 19, 21, 32, 35, 47-48, 60, 66, 73, 86, 96, 98, 115, 127, 131, 143, 151, 158, 166, 172-173, 176. Its root refers to teaching. The title means “what God has taught us to observe.” A commandment refers to truth as something taught to mankind.
- “Precepts” – This is the Hebrew word piqqudim and can be found in 21 verses: vs. 4, 15, 27, 40, 45, 56, 63, 69, 78, 87, 93-94, 100, 104, 110, 128, 134, 141, 159, 168, 173. It means “what God has appointed to be done, like a covenant.” It is synonymous with covenants. A precept is that aspect of truth that refers to anything God has covenanted with mankind over.
- “Law” – This is the Hebrew word torah and can be found in 25 verses: vs. 1, 18, 29, 34, 44, 51, 53, 55, 61, 70, 72, 77, 85, 92, 97, 109, 113, 126, 136, 142, 150, 153, 163, 165, 174. This is the most common title for God’s Word in the O.T. It’s root meaning is “instruction.” It refers to the totality of everything God teaches mankind.
Psalm 119 is an exhaustive look at the Word of God and an exposition of what all these titles refer to and mean. And in the coming weeks, on this blog, we will highlight sections of this Word-based psalm.
“At the feast of Belshazzar and a thousand of his lords,
While they drank from golden vessels, as the Book of Truth records,
In the night as they reveled in the royal palace hall,
They were seized with consternation as the hand upon the wall.
See the brave captive Daniel as he stood before the throng,
And rebuked the haughty monarch for his mighty deeds of wrong;
As he read out the writing, “Twas doom of one and all,
For the kingdom now was finished said the hand upon the wall.”
See the faith, zeal and courage that would dare to do the right,
Which the Spirit gave to Daniel this the secret of his might.
In his home in Judea, a captive in its hall,
He still understood the writing of his God upon the wall.
So our deeds are recorded; there is a hand that’s writing now.
Sinner, give your heart to Jesus, to His royal mandate bow;
For the day is approaching, it must come to one and all,
When the sinner’s condemnation will be written on the wall.”
I may have bought this!