One blessing that came from the great dispersion of the saints called shelter-in-place is that we were reminded of, or realize for the first time, how vital the regular, personal reading of the Scriptures is. With all the uncertainty around, without many opportunities to gather in person, with the major disruptions in our day-to-day schedules, with us being bombarded with worldly opinions and instructions on the best course of action during this time, how can we maintain our pace on the race that has been set before us (Heb 12:1)?
The answer is hopefully obvious, and not just because it is the title of this article but because the Spirit has graciously made this truth obvious to us. The Word of God is our sufficient guide in any and all situations, including global pandemics. Outside of the world turning on its head, we know that we should be like the Bereans, searching the Scriptures daily to know what is true, and to know God’s will, thereby strengthening and increasing our faith (Acts 17:11). How much more so in the unusual times should we be in the Word, praying it, studying it, meditating on it, and having our minds transformed by it?
Psalm 119 is a testament to this truth. Much of the Psalm deals with afflictions and troubles the author has with the wicked and his own sin and temptations, certainly difficult times for the author. And yet threaded through and overpowering those troubles and sorrows is the author’s love for God’s Word and what it has taught him about God. Reading the whole Psalm will do your soul tremendous good, but briefly here are four parts of this love letter to Scripture that so very clearly illustrate the importance of daily Bible reading:
1. It will increase/give us joy: “My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” (v. 28). In the midst of trials, of broken schedules, of lack of work, of deep sorrows, what will strengthen us and give us joy? Our joy is Christ, the Word of God (John 1:1), who sits at the right hand of God where there is the fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Ps 73:11). We read of the promise of Him in the Old Testament (Rom 1:2) and His fulfillment of those promises in the New where God speaks to us through Him (Heb 1:2).
2. It will remind us of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness: “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast” (vv. 89-90). A clear lesson from the Israelites in the wilderness is that when times get tough, people are quick to forget those truths. Where else are we going to be reminded of these important truths, that God is absolutely sovereign over the earth and our present condition and that He is good and faithful, during the week especially when we aren’t able to join a midweek Bible study? We need to remind ourselves that God does not abandon His people, and that He is working all things out for the good of those who love Him.
3. It will help keep us from idleness and other sins: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules” (vv. 105-106). In many minds, our homes are places of rest that we come to when we’re done with work, not places where we go or stay to do work. Therefore, being at home, even if we have work to do, comes with the temptation to just relax, procrastinate, and be idle. In other words, veg out on the couch, binge watch a show we’ve been meaning to watch, take frequent naps, and so on, instead of remaining productive, diligent, and making the best use of time (Eph 5:16). On top of that, because we are in our own homes away from the public eye, we may have a greater temptation to commit those sins that cling closely to us, particularly if we are sheltering in place alone. Daily studying the Word is a lamp to our feet that will guide us in what we do and help us to redeem the day while keeping us away from its evils.
4. It will remind us of our great hope in Christ: “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (vv. 147-148). What greater thing could occupy our minds and hearts, regardless of what is going on in the world, than the redemption of our souls by the grace of God? Hope not in news reports, rumors, or opinions, but in the solid Word of God that tells of Christ who came as man and died on our behalf to satisfy the wrath of God toward our sins.
In pandemic season and out of pandemic season, it is imperative that we are flooded with God’s Word. Don’t read it just to read something, but meditate on it. Memorize it, sing it, let it fill your minds, season your speech, set clear paths before your feet, and increase your joy in the hope of Christ. Take the opportunity of increased time at home to begin a daily Bible reading plan, to do more in-depth study than you normally do, to have more frequent Bible studies with your family and friends, or all of the above. If you already practice these, wonderful! Persevere in them and encourage others to join you.