The Gift of the Bible
Exploring the Bible’s Blessing
For International Day of the Bible we invited Bishop Claude Alexander of the Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, to inspire leaders to preach on the blessing of engaging with God’s Word. We invite you to follow his lead and share some words of thanks for our sacred Scriptures with your congregations.
Growing up going to Sunday School, I found certain Bible passages were often quoted. The repetitive nature of their being quoted signaled a degree of significance and importance to the instructor that was transferred to the students. After a while, I discerned that I needed to be familiar with them. Psalm 1 was one of those passages. It wouldn’t be until years later that I would come to understand its true significance for my own life.
Years later, I would learn that one of the rules of interpretation is the rule of first mention. In short, whatever a writer mentions first is of primary importance. For example, hymnals that begin with the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” set forth the primacy of acknowledging and referencing the holiness of God in worship.
The Psalms are the hymnbook of Israel, so the psalm selected to be the first signals a theological perspective of primary importance: the blessed life of a person or nation comes from a relationship with the Word of God.
The psalmist speaks to this in a positive sense in verse 2, which states, “Instead they find happiness in the Teaching of the LORD.” God blesses the person whose happiness comes from engaging the Scriptures. This engagement with the Word of God is constant and consistent. It is not just an evening affair or just a morning affair. It is a day and night affair. It is a morning and evening affair. It is characterized by thinking about—by meditation. The meaning is that of speaking softly to oneself and chewing. It is taking the Word in and chewing on it. It is to speak the Word of God to oneself over and over again. It is to talk to yourself using the Word of God as the content of your self-talk.
The Blessing of Being Positioned
By engaging the Word of God, you discover the blessing of being positioned and being repositioned. The psalmist speaks of being planted. It speaks of being properly positioned. You plant a tree where you want it to grow. It is positioned according to your desire. Meditating upon the Word of God enables God to properly position you by revealing God’s will and God’s ways. By revealing the will and way of God, the Word then instructs you about the position that you should take in life. When you are in doubt about the position that you should take, chewing on the Word is able to position you.
Meditating or chewing upon the Word of God has reminded me of positions that God would have me take. It reminds me to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13) and to “be still and know that God is God” (Psalm 46:10). It reminds me to “wait on the Lord and be of good courage” and know that God will strengthen my heart (Psalm 27:14). It instructs me to “trust in the Lord with all of your heart and to lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, you are to acknowledge him and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The Blessing of Being Repositioned
When you have a relationship of engaging with the Word of God, it not only positions you, but it also repositions you. When life throws you out of position, meditating on the Word of God is able to reposition you. When the sudden attacks of the enemy take you off guard, the Word of God is able to reposition you by assuring you that no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). When fear strikes your mind and your heart, the Word of God is able to reposition you by guaranteeing you that if God be for you, who can be against you (Romans 8:32), that nay in all these things you are more than a conqueror through Christ who loved you (Romans 8:37), that God has not given you a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), and that greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. When you grow faint of heart and weary of spirit, the Word of God will reposition you. It will bring to your remembrance the testimony, “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD. Be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:13-14 KJV). “Even the youths shall faint and be weary and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord…” (Isaiah 40:30–31a).
The Blessing of Knowing Your Life’s Season
Besides positioning and repositioning you, God blesses your engaging the Word of God by helping you come to terms with the times of your life. There is a particular notion that the Bible has concerning time. It is that of a season. The word for season refers to time as conceived in terms of an opportunity or appointment. It speaks of an appointed opportunity. The writer of Ecclesiastes informs us that, “to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
A relationship with the Word of God gives you the perspective of appointed opportunities. It causes you to know that God has a purpose for every moment within time. It assures you that within the course of time, God has appointed some opportunities of fruitfulness. The psalmist speaks not only of being planted, but also of bringing forth fruit in season. A relationship with the Word of God instructs you concerning there being an appointed time of fruitfulness.
The Blessing of Assurance in Your Season
The Word encourages you by telling you, “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season, we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). For this reason, the person who chews upon the Word is neither anxious nor envious. There is the assurance that he or she has an appointed season. While the vision may tarry, if he or she simply waits for it, it will speak and not lie (Habakkuk 2:3). He or she can celebrate others when their season of fruitfulness comes knowing that the seasons still work.
When you live by the word of God you know that there is a season when your fruit must come forth. The rain may fall, but it must come forth. The winds may blow, but it must come forth. Opposition may rise, but it must come forth.
This perspective of time not only places the period of fruit-bearing in perspective, but also it places the period of suffering and struggle in perspective. It lets you know that it is only for a season. The time of crying is only for a season. The time of distress is only for a season.
The Blessing of a Consistent Demeanor
A relationship of engagement with the Word of God further produces a consistency of demeanor. The Word of God is able to produce an outlook that enables your demeanor to defy your circumstances. It is able to impact your personality in such a way that individuals would not know the season if you didn’t tell them. The psalmist speaks to always having leaves. With this image, the psalmist makes a distinction in terms of trees. The tree whose leaf does not wither is the evergreen tree. An example of this would be the palm tree. The leaves of the palm tree are always green. Regardless of the season, the leaves are always the same. You can’t tell the season by looking at the leaves. They are always the same. There is a consistency that they possess. Their leaves are just as green in winter as they are in summer.
I can testify that I’ve been up and I’ve been down, but the Word has kept my leaves green. I’ve been in and I’ve been out, but the Word has kept my leaves green. I’ve been in plenty and I’ve been in want, but the Word of God has kept my leaves green.
The Blessing of Ultimate Success in Christ
The psalmist goes further to say that “Those people succeed in everything they do.” This speaks to the ultimate success or achievement of the believer. He or she will ultimately succeed and achieve. When the psalmist says “whatsoever” (verse 3 KJV), the whatsoever is limited. Whatsoever refers to that which his or her meditation upon the Word instructs him or her to do. Whatsoever refers to that which is within the bounds of the Word of God, the will of God, and the way of God. Engaging the Word of God assures you of God’s fulfilling God’s purposes.
There is a track record concerning the Word of God, and each word that God speaks. It begins in Genesis 1 where God says “Let there be” and things come to pass. The heavens and the earth are created. Light comes into being. The waters are divided by a firmament. The sun, moon, and stars come into being. Dry land appears. The fowl of the air, the beasts of the field, and the fish of the sea are all created by the power of the Word. It continues with God’s Word of judgment to Noah. According to God’s Word, the rains fell and flooded the earth for forty days and forty nights. According to God’s Word, Abraham and Sarah give birth to a son in their old age and name him Isaac. According to God’s Word, Abraham’s seed is multiplied. According to God’s Word, Joseph becomes second to Pharaoh. According to his Word, God delivers his people from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. According to God’s Word, his people take possession of the land of promise. According to God’s Word, David becomes king of Israel. According to God’s Word, the Assyrians lead Israel captive and the Babylonians lead Judah captive. According to God’s Word, the captivity of Israel and Judah is lifted. According to God’s Word, the remnant returns and rebuilds the wall and the Temple of Jerusalem. God’s Word does not return void. It achieves the purpose for which it is sent (Isaiah 55:11).
The Blessing of the Word: Jesus Christ
There is another example of God’s Word achieving its purpose. According to God’s Word, enmity would be between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Her seed would bruise its head and its seed would bruise its heel. The Word was that there would come one from the tribe of Judah and from the line of David who would be the Messiah. The Word was that a virgin would conceive and bear a son who would be called Immanuel. The Word was that he would be called “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” The Word was that he would be born in Bethlehem. According to the Word of God, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary in a stable in Bethlehem. The Word was that he would be wounded for our transgression and bruised for our iniquity. The chastisement of our peace would be upon him and with his stripes, we would be healed. The Word was that he would be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests, be crucified, and be raised on the third day. According to his Word, he was betrayed by Judas. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He shed his blood for the remission of our sins. Early Sunday morning, God raised him from the dead. An angel met the women at the grave and told them that Jesus is risen as he said.
Everything that God speaks through God’s Word comes to pass.
Through finding our happiness in the Teachings of the Lord, we experience God position and reposition us, help us come to terms with the times of our lives, produce a consistency in our demeanor, and assure us of God’s fulfilling God’s good purposes.
Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for more than 200 years.
Help us share God's Word where needed most.
Connect with our Bible engagement blog for leaders and receive a Bible-reading Habit Guide for your community.