By Stephen Leonard
“More to be desired are they [God’s Word] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalm 19:10-11
I read five books of the Bible this morning. And read them in minutes, actually. Sound impossible? Not really, for there are five books in the Bible with only one chapter in them. The shortest in words is 3 John, the longest is the 461 words of Jude. The other books are 2 John, Philemon, and Obadiah, which is the only one-chapter book in the Old Testament. So reading these five books would take you but a few minutes.
How did these books even get into your Bible, you might wonder. The whole Bible seems to us a pretty big project to master. Most people take an entire year to read through their Bible and often fall behind in a one-year schedule in the second or third month. Then, becoming discouraged, they never finish the goal at all. How unfortunate! Reading through the whole Bible, not only once in a lifetime, but many times over, is eternally healthy for your soul.
Far beyond reading any other book all the way through, like the long War and Peace or Les Miserables, reading the Bible through will do more for your spiritual heart than taking on a whole library of books, especially when the Bible is read with the Holy Spirit as your constant reading companion. The trouble is when you read the Bible, you have a chief adversary constantly seeking for you not to.
He will repeatedly cause you to tire, become bored, make you far more interested in any other endeavor; to spend your time doing anything else. After all, it takes a lot less effort to watch television. Unfortunately, you do not always see your enemy at work or recognize him as he throws obstacles in your path.
From Moses to the Apostle John, these sixty-six books took a millennium and a half to complete, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit every inch of the way. In fact, the choosing of which books to place in the Canon of Scripture by the church was according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Men wrote as the Spirit of God compelled them. And men received these books into the Canon of Scripture convinced by the authentication of the Spirit.
“For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) Not being there when these decisions were made, over the long periods and centuries of time, and from so many varied authors, we were not part of this selection process. But being convinced through faith and the authority of God by His Spirit, you can be confident you hold in your hands the written Word of God.
Unbelievers may shake their heads with rampant skepticism, but the believer has confidence in God’s received Word. He treasures it as honey in his soul. And he is nourished daily in the digesting of these words from the mouth of God.
So just as the great Augustine was convinced through the sung words of children playing to “take up and read,” we, too, take up our Bible to read, meditate, and memorize their penetrating words of life. (Hebrews 4:12)
“How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled!”
(1st verse of Rippon’s Selection of Hymns, “How Firm a Foundation,” 1787)