Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is composed of 22, 8 verse stanzas. In the original Hebrew, the Psalm follows the Hebrew alphabet, so that verses 1-8 all begin with “A” (or aleph), verses 9-16 begin with “B” (bet), and so one. All together, Psalm 119 contains 176 verses extolling the wisdom, wonder, and pleasure of knowing God’s word. The Psalmist has drunk deeply from the well of God, and he resounds with praise for God’s gracious revelation.
It is interesting, over twenty times, the Psalmist comments on the joy-producing character of God’s Law. He is not simply reading “the Bible” because it is the thing to do. He genuinely loves it and his heart overflows with a pleasing theme. Hear a few of his jubilant words:
- In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches (v. 14).
- I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word (v. 16).
- Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors (v. 24).
- I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love (v. 47).
- I delight in your law. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces (v. 70-72).
- Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight (v. 77).
- How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (v. 103)
- Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart (v. 111).
- I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil. I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law (v. 162-63).
- I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight (v. 174).
Would you describe God’s as the Psalmist does? In comparison to all created things, the Psalmist describes God’s word as more delightful than riches, more wise than learned counselors, sweeter than the finest delicacy, and more wonderful than the rarest treasure. Such a description gives us a vision of what knowing God is like.
In fact, creation which overflows with wonder and delight was made for this very purpose–to lead us to God. As Psalm 119:64 tells us, “the earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!” Creation is designed to stir within us a desire to know and delight in God through his word. Sadly, we have taken this invitation and prostituted ourselves with the messenger, instead making preparation to see the King (see Rom. 1:18-32). Creation is but a shadow of God’s substance; it cannot tell us who God is and how we can know him personally. Thus creation can never ultimately satisfy us.
We must take up God’s book and read to know God and to enjoy him forever. Augustine once said our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee. And rest, peace, and joy are available not in lavish vacations or accumulating created goods, but in knowing God through his word. Then and only then, can we rightly delight in God’s creation.
Getting back to the original question: Why should I read my Bible? It is not simply to be “good” people or even “good Christians,” it is not because the pastor said so, or because we simply like reading the world’s best seller. We read our Bible’s to know God and to take pleasure in him. It is true, that what we find in the Bible often makes us uncomfortable and uneasy–because the light of God’s word exposes our darkness. Nevertheless, such conviction of sin is a genuine marker that you are on the right path to faith in God’s grace and everlasting Spiritual joy.
Why should I read my Bible? Because in it we find God in the glorious revelation of Jesus Christ, which is the means to our greatest happiness. One of Satan’s greatest ploys is to keep us out of the Bible. Why? Because Satan is a miserable person, and he hates God and all those who share his image. He hates God’s word and the joy that it brings, and he wants to kill, steal, and destroy your eternal, abundant joy in God. How does he do it? By replacing joy in God with trifling, temporary pleasures in this world. This is how the world, which is under his temporary rule, runs (1 John 2:15). Don’t be deceived! Pick up your Bible and read, for in it is a world of joy! Just read Psalm 119.
Feeding on the word with you,
[This post was taken from my weekly devotional at http://www.cbcseymour.org called “Feeding on the Word.”]