Jesus reprimanded the Pharasees and other religious zealots for knowledge of God’s law but not knowing the Author of the law. Sometimes we, as believers, get all caught up in what God’s Word says. We might use it to judge others and even worship the Bible as if this book was the source of praise. That would defeat what God is saying. Worship God alone, says His Word to us. His Word leads us to hear Him. God’s Word is our code of instructions for living in His ways. But knowing His Word does not save us, only Jesus saves us by his work on the cross.
I remember my Grandma had so much respect for the Bible that nothing, absolutely nothing could be placed on top of it as it sat on her coffee table. As a young, mischievous child, I challenged this behavior by laying the newspaper over it just to see how long it would take Grandma to come and move it. As habit, Grandma would walk by in mere seconds and move the paper to one side. After three times of putting various objects on top, she figured out what I was doing and just smiled with that twinkle in her eyes. But because I had respect for her, I didn’t do that again. Did she worship the Bible? Absolutely not. This book was opened each evening just before bedtime, read and prayed over as they asked God to forgive them. What they learned from God, the Author became their guide for living the life God wanted. Their prayers reflected their true worship of God, “the Author and finisher of our faith”, Grandpa quoted often. You see, Grandpa and Grandma KNEW the Author well, therefore they respected what He wrote but they worshiped Him.
Never have there been so many tools available for serious Bible study, and we are grateful for them. However, the Word of God is unlike any other book: we must be on good terms with the Author if we are to learn from what He has written. Our relationship to the Lord is determined by our relationship to His will, and that is determined by how we relate to His Word. Too many believers have only academic head knowledge of the Word, but they do not know how to put this knowledge into practice in the decisions of daily life. This is the difference between having a “Biblical worldview” as opposed to a worldview without God’s input in our behavior. What we all need is a heart knowledge of the Word, and this means being taught by God.
Here are the conditions we must meet:
We must love His Word and meditate on it (vv. 97-100). We enjoy thinking about people and activities that we love, and meditation means loving the Lord by pondering His Word and allowing its truths to penetrate our hearts. This means that our minds and hearts are so yielded to the Spirit that He can remind us of the Word when we need it and give us fresh understanding in the new challenges we face.
We must obey His Word (vv. 101-102). A true student of the Word is not a person with a big head, full of all sorts of knowledge, but one who has an obedient heart and loves to do God’s will. While God’s truth is food for our souls, it is not a “buffet” from which we select only the things we like. If the Bible tells us something is wrong, we stay off that path. If God tells us something is right, we do not abandon it.
We must enjoy His Word (vv. 103-104). Honey would be the sweetest thing the psalmist could taste, as stated in other translations. However, the Word contains both sweetness and bitterness, and we must learn to receive both. God’s Word is pure, not defiled, and gives us the sweetness and energy we need to obey His commands. The unsaved person finds the Bible boring, but the devoted child of God feeds on the Scriptures and enjoys the sweet taste of truth.
This is what it means to go beyond Bible study.
Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs
Part 13 – Psalm 119, The Message
97-104 Oh, how I love all you’ve revealed;
I reverently ponder it all the day long.
Your commands give me an edge on my enemies;
they never become obsolete.
I’ve even become smarter than my teachers
since I’ve pondered and absorbed your counsel.
I’ve become wiser than the wise old sages
simply by doing what you tell me.
I watch my step, avoiding the ditches and ruts of evil
so I can spend all my time keeping your Word.
I never make detours from the route you laid out;
you gave me such good directions.
Your words are so choice, so tasty;
I prefer them to the best home cooking.
With your instruction, I understand life;
that’s why I hate false propaganda.
TRUTH: “With your instruction, I understand life; that’s why I hate false propaganda.”
Proverb 2:2-5, The Message
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.
WISDOM: “Set your heart on a life of Understanding.”
Thank you for your Word that speaks volumes to my soul and nourishes my mind and heart all day long and into the night. But I worship only You, the Author of Your Word. Your word, with the help of Your Holy Spirit in us, guides us into all Truth. Your Word comforts, affirms, convicts, corrects, and challenges us. Your Word is YOUR story. When we look for You in Your Word, we find You every time. Thank you for guiding people who loved and worshiped you to write down your story. Thank you for wisdom, the skills for living, that teaches us your ways and how to navigate this world while preparing for life eternal with you. We definitely know when we get it right and how to correct when we get it wrong. Thank you for revealing yourself to us through your Word. Yes, knowing You, the Author, goes way beyond mere Bible Study. Hallelujah!
In Jesus Name, Amen