May 25, 2014

Psalm 119:140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested,
and your servant loves them.

Various words are used throughout Psalm 119 to indicate what today we would lump together as the Bible, and reading various translations gives the impression that which word is used in a particular verse is somewhat a matter of the translator’s whim. Here, just a quick check yields promises, words, and sayings, all in both singular and plural, depending in the translation. However, the point still comes across, and that point is that what God has said has stood the test of time, and thus is fully trustworthy. We have all sorts of reasons to read the Bible! Reading through Psalm 119 leaves no question that the Psalmist indeed loved God’s Word, and valued it above everything else. That is indeed admirable, but even here, we have to be careful not to fall into what has been called bibliolatry: worshiping the Bible itself. I have been in churches where it could have been said that their “Trinity” was Father, Son, and Holy Bible. The Bible is the record of what God has said, and is a unique resource and authority, but it is ultimately a tool for our access and obedience to the One who caused it to be written. It is sometimes described as a “love letter” from God to us. Carrying that analogy, imagine receiving a love letter and then caring more about the letter than the person who sent it. God speaks to us through the Bible, but we must never forget that He is the one speaking, and give Him our total devotion.

This certainly applies to me. I grew up in a home that loved God and His Word, and read through the Bible for the first time before I was a teenager. In recent years I have been described by one of my church members as a “biblioholic,” addicted to the Bible. I was moved to tears of gratitude to God for that, because the man who said it was a recovered alcoholic, and as he said, he knew what addiction looked like. I am in no way ashamed of my addiction to the Word, but I must be careful that I don’t place the words above the Speaker. I hear from the Lord most often through reading the Bible, but I must not close my heart to hearing from Him however He chooses to speak. I know that He will never contradict the Bible. Just recently I was given a book that seemed very spiritual and admirable, but it didn’t take more than a cursory look through it to see that it was twisting truth just enough to make it a lie. Such discernment is a clear benefit of being as familiar with the Bible as I am! That should give me the assurance to be able to receive whatever God wants to say through me through whatever channel. However He speaks, I must be careful to apply it in real live obedience, or I am not being faithful myself.

Father, thank You for the Bible, for caring enough to cause people to write down what You were saying. Thank You even more for wanting fellowship with us Your children, just as You were a Friend to Abraham long before there was a written Bible. Help me perform Your Word out of intimacy with You, so that many may be drawn into Your family, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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