Blessed are they … who walk according to the law of the Lord. Psalm 119:1 (NIV).
A cursory reading of Psalm 119 clearly indicates that David loved the Scriptures. The first hint comes in verse 11 when he says, “I have hidden your word in my heart …” The heart, as we know, is the seat of our emotions. When we value someone we draw them to us … that is, we take them to heart. Who do you love? I love my wife, my children, my grandchildren, my dog, and more. But what about the Scriptures? Do we love God’s Word?
For many years I’ve researched why people do or do not connect with the Bible. Some people don’t read the Bible because they say it’s archaic, complicated, bigoted, unscientific, confusing or not true. Others, like the majority of church-going folk, will read some of it but never read it from cover to cover. In fact in Christian circles evidence suggests that it may be true to say that the Bible is the most popular least read book! Maybe that’s because Christians don’t really love the author, because if we did, we’d value every word He has to say to us.
Psalm 119 is laced with references to loving and to learning the Scriptures. In verse seven David speaks about how he ‘learns’ the Scriptures and in verse fifteen how he ‘meditates’ and ‘considers’ the Scriptures. God hasn’t given us His Word to be left on a dust covered shelf. He’s entrusted it to us because He wants us to study it. Yet research reveals that while the Bible is generally available and accessible, there’s only a small number of people who earnestly and responsibly study it personally, with their families, and with their communities of faith. Something’s lost that needs to be found.
How are you doing? Are you working up a spiritual sweat digging into the Scriptures? Or do you leave it to the pastor or read the latest popular Christian book. Now the last thing I want to do is make you feel guilty. Guilt, while it’s a motivator, is a poor one at best. But here’s the point, if you consider yourself to be a Christian, and it’s not your priority to regularly and consistently study the Scriptures, then you need to know there’s a problem.
David asks, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” Psalm 119:9. Then answers, “By living according to your word.” God’s entrusted the Scriptures to us for a reason – that we would live by them. What goes in is what comes out. If we spend two to three hours a day watching TV, playing video games, interacting on social media or texting friends, then these things will inform our values and actions. How we use time is critical. To live as God wants us to live we need to spend more time meeting with God through His Word. David chose to live by God’s Word. He considered God’s ways (Psalm 119:15), delighted in His decrees, and did not neglect His Word (Psalm 119:16).
Loving, learning and living by the Scriptures are the three foundational actions that inform the fourth action – leading others to the Scriptures. In Psalm 119:43 David asks God to not snatch His Word from his mouth and in verse 46 he mentions his intention to speak about the Scriptures before kings. While God has given us the responsibility to love, learn and live by the Scriptures, He’s also entrusted us with the important work of leading others to the Scriptures.
Some years ago I asked a congregation if anyone had shared the Scriptures with someone in the past week, month or year. There were about 100 people in the meeting and only 1 person indicated he had shared the Scriptures with someone during the past week while a few others said they’d shared the Scriptures with someone during the past month or year. Most of the people had never shared the Scriptures with anyone. Are you helping others to connect with God’s Word?
So according to Psalm 119 we’re to love, learn, live by the Scriptures, and lead others to it. And why is this important? Because the Scriptures aren’t an end in themselves. Because in loving, learning, living by and leading others to the Scriptures we’re loving, learning, living for and leading others to the One of whom the Scriptures speak – the Lord Jesus Christ.