Lights please! (How to read the bible part 1)

I thought it would be an easy talk but as always it took some hard graft to put together. I had been asked to speak at the UEA CU on how to read the bible. I love reading the bible and there are a lot of things that I could say about it, but still, putting a 20 minute talk together was a challenge. I wanted to make it personal and practical but also ground it in the bible itself. After all, if the bible is so good, why not let it speak about itself!

I began thinking of a passage I could base the talk on and Psalm 119 came to mind. It is a massive Psalm but I very quickly homed in on a few verses. I wanted everyone, including me, to experience something of the metaphors that the Psalmist was using so I gave out lots of sweets, turned all the lights off and began to read the passage by torch light:

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path. Psalm 119:103-105

It’s amazing how exciting it is being in a dark room with a torch. My kids love it and I guess I’ve never grown out of it. I was tempted to give the rest of the  talk in the dark but sanity prevailed and the lights went back on.

I wanted to vividly make the point that God’s word is sweetness and it is light! That there is both an experiential delight and an intellectual enlightenment to be found in the bible. That is certainly the testimony of the Psalmist who writes as someone who as discovered hidden treasure. By studying this song I hoped to find clues that would lead me into a similar experience.

Many people dismiss the bible as boring and irrelevant. The psalmist however, even though he only saw a fraction of what is there for us to discover now, was inspired to write 176 verses about it; 8 for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In God’s word he finds truth, comfort, direction, protection, blessing and salvation.

I can relate to the Psalmists verboseness. The more I read in the bible the more I seem to have to say about it so inevitably I ended up with too much material for the night. I thought therefore that it would be a good idea to blog my notes.

I had three points which I will blog over the next few weeks. First I will look at the Psalmist’s heart, next his head and finally his hands.


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