Study 5 WHAT TO DO WITH THE BEST OF BOOKS
HOLDING OUT THE WORD OF LIFE
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Psalm 119:1-16)
The theme that predominates this psalm is the writer’s reference to the Word of God, which he describes as God’s “statutes” (verse 2), “precepts” (verse 4), “decrees” (verse 5), “commands” (verse 6) and “laws” (verse 7). All these words are gathered up in the key-verse – Psalm 119 verse 11. David had a longing to please God, a consuming passion to be holy, to be delivered from sin in every shape and form, and to live a God-glorifying life. Surely this is the right desire of every true child of God. Do we long to please God, to live a Christ-like life that glorifies Him? How is this possible? Our key-verse tells us about: (1) the best of books; (2) in the best of places; (3) for the best of reasons.
1. THE BEST OF BOOKS
It is described here as “your word”. There are many wonderful books in the world but the Bible is supreme; it is unique, being totally different from every other book. What makes it so different from other books?
- 1. Because of its SOURCE, its origin. Where does it come from? It comes from God Himself; as the psalmist tells us, “your word…” These two words indicate the divine origin of the book – God is the author. Of course there were many writers employed in compiling it – nearly forty, in fact – and these forty writers wrote over a period of 1600 years; but God was overseeing their writing, as we learn very clearly from 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21.
- 2. Because of its STABILITY. The Bible is absolutely up-to-date even though it was written centuries ago. This is a very remarkable thing. Man’s writings are always needing to be revised, but God’s never – look up and compare Psalm 119:89; 1 Peter 1:24-25, and the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:35. Because God is the author it is therefore authoritative, reliable and accurate – the best of books.
- 3. Because of its SUFFICIENCY. The Bible contains all we need for faith and practice – that is, for what we believe and for what we do. The only demand made upon us in this life is that we shall find help, guidance and wisdom in this best of all books.
We need to see what the psalmist did with the best of books. We are told that he hid God’s word in his heart, and we suggest therefore that he hid the Bible:-
2. IN THE BEST OF PLACES
It was not hidden in a cupboard or a drawer, but he hid it and stored it up in his heart. This means that David placed the Word of God at the very centre of his life, at the core of his being. His Bible would have been much smaller than ours, consisting only of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament), the historical books, and some of the prophetical books. How can we put, or ‘hide’, the Bible in our heart?
- 1. We must take it in our hand. That is to say, we must secure a good copy, well-bound with good print, one that we shall treasure.
- 2. We must get it in our head. This means that we must read it, learn it and inwardly digest it, and we must do this regularly as we pray the prayer in Psalm 119:18. The Bible must be not only in our head, but we must notice the precise thing that David says here in our key-verse:-
- 3. We must hide it in our heart. This means we must let it drop right down into the very centre of our being. How are we to do this? Psalm 119:15 tells us. We must meditate in the Word of God – compare Job 23:12; Jeremiah 15:16; Ezekiel 3:1-3.
3. FOR THE BEST OF REASONS
David tells us that the reason he hid God’s Word in his heart was that he might not sin against God. In other words, the psalmist says that the Word of God hidden in the heart has a sanctifying effect upon the life. How does the Bible produce this sanctifying effect in us if we hide it in our hearts?
- 1. It causes us to recognise sin. Our tendency is to excuse sin, but once we read and meditate in the Word of God then we begin to see sin for what it is – that thing which God hates and that made it necessary for the Lord Jesus to die on the Cross. We then discover that God requires “truth in the inner parts” (Psalm 51:6), and as we read His Word and receive it into our hearts, it comes alive to us, as so many verses in this psalm indicate.
- 2. It makes us hate sin; by meditating in God’s Word we will have a loathing of sin. By nature we love it, but once we begin to dwell deeply in His Word we find ourselves loving what God loves and hating what He hates – and that is holiness.
- 3. It leads us to turn from sin. What a great thing it is when the Holy Spirit ministers to us through the Scriptures and turns our hearts away from those things that grieve God (Psalm 119:9). Compare Genesis 39:7-13 and Proverbs 28:13.
- 4. It points us to the One who has made an end of all our sin. The Scriptures point us to the Sin-bearer Himself (1 John 1:29); to the One who is ready and willing to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9); to our Advocate in heaven (1 John 2:1); to the One who is willing to deliver us and give us the power to live an entirely new life (John 8:11).
What a wonderful book the Bible is! It is the instrument the Holy Spirit uses to do His work of sanctification, to make us holy – more like the Lord Jesus!