I’m terrible at following directions. This fact has resulted in many quandaries through the years, like the time I decided I didn’t need driving directions for a trip back to college one semester, and for about two-hundred of the four-hundred-mile journey, I drove in the wrong direction.
There was that time.
I also neglect directions when it comes to putting furniture together. Once I pull out the pieces and lay out the various tools, screws, and parts, I simply start. The directions can usually be found in the trash because I have convinced myself: I can figure it on my own.
And this is why we have unnecessary holes in bookshelves, why we have a lop-sided chair, and why our music stands pop off every time I pull them up.
As ridiculous as my attitude is toward following directions, I’ve realized that my disposition toward Scripture can too easily slip into a similar mindset: I know it’s important, but I’ve read it before. Or, sadly, I will first seek my own solutions to difficulties in life rather than searching the Bible for answers; perhaps there is a part of me that believes I can figure it out on my own.
If you struggle to read the Bible because you don’t think it’s necessary, or if you’re tempted to believe that it doesn’t make a difference in your life, take a look with me at the particular words chosen by the Psalmist in Psalm 19:
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
In this Psalm, David highlights an important truth: God has perfectly revealed Himself in the Bible. So, in order to know God, we need to know His Word, and David uses a parallel list of nouns, adjectives, and verbs to illustrate this importance. The six nouns explain what the Bible is, the six adjectives describe it, and the six verbs remind us of the ways we benefit from studying this precious book.
The Word of God is law, testimony, precepts, commandment, fear, and rules. The “law” is the entirety of the Scriptures which hold in it all God wants us to know. It gives “testimony” to God, meaning that it holds aspects of truth that testify to who God is. So, when the Bible tells us to not lie, it sheds light on the truth of God’s character.
Precepts, commands, and rules all remind us of the authority of the Scriptures. The Word of God tells us what we are to do and how we are to act. And the word “fear” indicates that we should respond to its words with a sense of reverence. All six of these nouns have in common a call to obedience. But in order to obey it, we have to know what it says.
When we desire change in our lives, when we want to be better parents, or when we crave peace over anxiety, it is so tempting to first seek self-help books or advice from those who have seemingly overcome the areas where we feel weak. While other resources can be helpful, this list of nouns reminds us that there is no other book that can clearly and authoritatively guide us in our daily living.
And when it comes to controversial topics, it’s easy to form a conclusion based on emotion rather than seek the answers given in Scripture. Sometimes God’s answers seem out of place in today’s culture, but His Word is authority; we have to know it and obey it.
David continues on to explain the reasons why we should desire to know and obey it.
The Word of God is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true.
Who wouldn’t want to follow something that encompasses these descriptions all the time and in every age? You will never find a teacher who is wiser or a book that is surer than God and His Word. It’s perfect all the time and for every situation. These same Words that refreshed the Hebrew men and women long ago, are the same, faultless Words for us today.
And while the descriptive words are encouraging, the verbs that David uses show us what the Bible does.
The Word of God revives our soul, makes us wise, gives us joy, enlightens our eyes, endures forever, and provides rewards. If this is what God’s Word can do, there is no good excuse to avoid it!
So, why is it difficult at times to open our Bible and study it? In part it’s because we live in a technological age where we expect quick results and immediate answers. If we don’t understand the first time around, we close it up rather than taking the time to ponder it.
I studied English in college, and when I became a writing teacher, I couldn’t wait to teach high schoolers about the intricacies of putting a paragraph together. I was actually excited to talk about grammar. Sound crazy? It wasn’t to me because I had spent time trying to understand it, which led to an excitement about the material, which then made me want to share it with others.
The same thing happens when we put effort into the study of God’s Word. Whether it’s personal study, a group Bible study, or absorbing Scripture during corporate worship, God’s Word is active, and it will change us when we spend time engaging with it.
We can’t rely on our own abilities in this life. No one can do it on their own, and if we try, we may find ourselves driving hundreds of miles in the wrong direction. God has given us the gift of His perfect Word to use. Sit at the feet of Jesus and learn, ask Him to give you the desire to open your Bible, and watch as He guides you through His sweet and precious Words.
About the Author:
Katie is wife to Chris, a PCA pastor at Trinity church in Kirkwood, MO, and together they have three children, Ella (15), J-Rod (13), and Lily (9). Katie works as the music director at Trinity and serves on the Women’s Ministry Committee. She also spends much of her time writing, teaching piano, leading women’s Bible studies, and speaking to women’s groups about the joy she has found in Christ. Katie serves on the board of Covenant College, where she graduated with a BA in English Education, and is currently pursuing her Masters of Arts in Theology from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. For more information, as well as various blog entries, you can visit her website at www.katiepolski.com.