In the last week of December (or the first week of January), many believers made renewed commitments to read their Bibles in the coming year. They found a reading plan that they thought would serve their needs and began to read according to the schedule. Perhaps you are one of those people.
Now we are two weeks into the new year, and perhaps you find yourself in a section of Scripture that may not seem particularly compelling to you. Or perhaps you are confused with names you don’t know or history that is unfamiliar. Perhaps you are being tempted to skip a day (or two) or a week (or two) and pick the Bible back up at a more familiar place. “Surely,” we might be tempted to reason, “it’s okay to miss a few days or weeks without reading our Bibles…”
The psalmist has two good questions for us (actually, there are more questions inferred from his writing, but I am considering only these two, today). His questions help us understand the significance of every word of Scripture, and also give us discernment about the condition of our own hearts. I find the questions inferred in two declarations in Psalm 119:162-163:
I rejoice at Your word, As one who finds great spoil.
I hate and despise falsehood, But I love Your law.
First, do I rejoice in God’s Word (all God’s Word, v. 162)? Most believers have favorite verses, passages, or books. They are the places we go to for encouragement and hope. They are the well-worn pages in our Bibles, with heavily underlined verses. But the question for me is, do I find joy in all of the pages in all the Bible?
- Do I rejoice when God gives commands that are hard and contrary to my inclinations (like the command to love my enemies and to pray for my persecutors, Mt. 5:44)?
- Do I rejoice when God makes declarations that are hard to understand or different from what I want to hear (like God’s sovereignty over even calamitous events, Job 38:22-23)?
- Do I rejoice over the “boring” portions of Scripture (like all the genealogies, e.g., Num. 1-3)?
- Do I rejoice over God’s judgments and priorities (like the necessity of corporate worship, Heb. 10:24-25)?
These kinds of questions relate to what we really think of Scripture. Do we really believe that all of it is profitable (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and that whenever we open the Book, it will always be to our benefit? When we believe it is all beneficial, then it will all become a joy to us whenever we read it.
Second, do I hate any perversion, lie, or twisting away from God’s Word (v. 163)? The flesh is always inclined to making excuses for our sins — “Your sin is not that bad…it’s only in your mind (you aren’t acting on your desires),” or “others are so much worse than you…” or “this is the first time and a long time that you’ve entertained that sin…”
But the psalmist is clear: to love God is to hate sin. We cannot love, entertain, or accept what He hates. The psalmist does not cultivate falsehood, he is not drawn to it, he does not consider it. He will not tolerate it in any way or form. Jay Adams rightly says, “A pretty good gauge of one’s love for the Bible is how much he hates opposing falsehood.”
How are you doing in that test? Do you hate falsehood (false teaching, false speech, false worldviews, false living [hypocrisy])? Or do you merely kind of dislike it? There are no half-way loves of God or half-way hatreds of sin that honor and please the Lord. He is wholeheartedly opposed to evil; we honor him when we are whole-heartedly against all false things.
As you pick up your Bible for your daily reading tonight or tomorrow morning or whenever you regularly read, these two simple questions provide a good guide for your reading: “Lord, whatever I am about to read, give me joy in it (and keep me reading until I rejoice) and give me hatred of anything that You hate (and keep me reading until I hate what You hate).”