Christianity 201

January 28, 2022

Bible Fatigue

MSG.Josh.1.8 And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed.

CEB.Josh.1.8a Never stop speaking about this Instruction scroll. Recite it day and night so you can carefully obey everything written in it.

NLT.Psalm.119.44 I will keep on obeying your instructions
    forever and ever.
45 I will walk in freedom,
    for I have devoted myself to your commandments.
46 I will speak to kings about your laws,
    and I will not be ashamed.
47 How I delight in your commands!
    How I love them!
48 I honor and love your commands.
    I meditate on your decrees.

…97 Oh, how I love your instructions!
    I think about them all day long.
98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
    for they are my constant guide.
99 Yes, I have more insight than my teachers,
    for I am always thinking of your laws.
100 I am even wiser than my elders,
    for I have kept your commandments.

…113 I hate those with divided loyalties,
    but I love your instructions.
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
    your word is my source of hope.

…127 Truly, I love your commands
    more than gold, even the finest gold.
128 Each of your commandments is right.
    That is why I hate every false way.

…162 I rejoice in your word
    like one who discovers a great treasure.
163 I hate and abhor all falsehood,
    but I love your instructions.

I think it’s rather ironic that Psalm 119 has become associated with the weariness some people have with Bible reading. Its 176 verses are simply either too lengthy or too repetitive for some people, and yet, it is a Psalm that is all about having a love of God’s word.

In David’s time, the “scriptures” would refer primarily to the books of the law. Many people reading this feel about Leviticus the way they feel about Psalm 119; it epitomizes something that seems to just go on and on and on.

And yet, these books, Leviticus included, are what David says he loves. He talks about his love of — depending on the translation you use — God’s laws, statutes, instructions, precepts, decrees, commands. Ask people their favorite Bible book and see how many name Leviticus.

Is David the kind of guy who gets excited reading the complete federal tax codes? Does he enjoy studying the Motor Vehicle Act? Would he actually study the instruction manual that come with most consumer electronics? Read the software terms and conditions?

I don’t think so. He had bigger fish to fry. (Okay, maybe lions and bears and giants.) But I think he really sees the character of God expressed in the laws he gave.  And he believes that they were written for his good.

I say all that to tell a story.

Over a decade ago we were in a Goodwill donation processing center, a place, we are told, where merchandise is returned from various stores for final sale prior to being destroyed.  These are the shoes no one wanted, the t-shirts that didn’t sell, and the books that were picked over.

Yes, books. And among those books were three New Testaments.

Now you need to know four things about me:

  • At the time we weren’t loaded with money; the 50-cents a copy they were asking for these was a bit of a stretch, especially after my wife had already selected some other items.
  • Our house is already full of books; we didn’t need three more; there truly is no place to put them.
  • I didn’t have anyone in mind who I was going to give them to.
  • I sell Bibles for a living.  I have a vested interested in selling new books, not used books.

But I bought them.

They were in reasonable condition, and I couldn’t handle the idea of them being pulped for recycling into other books.

I could spiritualize this and say that it was because I have ‘such a great love for God’s word.’  I could say, ‘The Bible is so precious to me, I couldn’t bear to see one thrown out.’ I won’t do that here. It was simply my WWDD — What Would David Do? — moment.

My Psalm 119 moment, perhaps.

Maybe we’d feel differently if we were part of a faith where they don’t leave their sacred texts lying on the floor of a room. Maybe we’d feel differently if we were in one of the 50-or-so countries where owning a Bible is illegal. Maybe we’d feel differently if we lived in poverty and simply couldn’t afford to purchase a Bible.

While we don’t want to be guilty of bibliolatry — worshiping the book instead of the One to whom the book points — we need to value and treasure and God’s word. That becomes a challenge when most Christians in North American and Western Europe have, on average, ten copies of the Bibles in their home.

We need a Psalm 199 moment.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your love of scripture; your love for God’s word?

 

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