Becoming a Student of God's Word
Would you describe yourself as a devoted student of God’s word? Or would you like to describe yourself that way? As I was reading Psalm 119 this week, I was struck by how thoroughly enthralled the psalmist is with God’s word. This acrostic poem is a lengthy meditation on the author’s delight and confidence in the Scriptures. They are worth more than large sums of money. His soul longs for the rules and judgements of God, because they bring wisdom and understanding. God’s perspective is a priceless treasure, and God’s words are his joy, his strength, and his faithful counselors.
Psalm 119 is not officially attributed to anyone, but it sure sounds like something David would write. Whether or not he’s the author of this one, there are plenty of other psalms written by David that contain similar statements (Psalm 19, for example). David was an ardent and devoted student of God’s word. But I’m not sure he started out that way.
In 2 Samuel 6, we read about the time David attempted to move the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem, the new capital city. On his first attempt, David loaded the ark into an ox cart, which is definitely not the procedure outlined in the Mosaic law. (Exodus 25:12-14, Numbers 4:5-6) It was supposed to be carried on poles by the Levites, but either David didn’t know about these requirements or he neglected them.
When the oxen stumbled along the way, one of the men guiding the cart reached out to steady the ark. Immediately, God struck the man dead. David was furious with God at first, but by the end of the day, his anger had turned to fear. What kind of holy God was he dealing with? Was it possible to draw near to such a God and not die? How could the ark ever come to David’s house?
When he returns three months later to make a second attempt at moving the ark, David goes about things differently. He tells the priests and Levites to consecrate themselves beforehand, and he prepares a tent in Jerusalem where the ark will come to rest. 1 Chronicles 15:15 says, “The descendants of Levi carried the ark of God on their shoulders with poles, just as Moses had commanded in keeping with the Lord’s instruction.” Over the past three months, David had obviously spent time studying the Scriptures. He had learned something about what God is like and how to approach him.
In the final chapters of 1 Chronicles, we read about David’s preparations for the temple his son, Solomon, will build. He organized the Levitical clans for service and assigned them different rotations and responsibilities in the temple. He collected all kinds of supplies for constructing and furnishing it. In these passages, we can see that David has poured over the instructions in Exodus and Leviticus. Down to the door hinges and the silverware, he’s thought about how to build a house where God will be honored and where God will want to dwell.
Maybe you don’t see yourself as a student of the Scriptures. Maybe David didn’t see himself that way either, initially. But he did want to know God and be near him, so he devoted himself to the Scriptures, which produced a deep delight in God’s word.
You and I might not write 176-verse acrostic poems about how much we love the Bible, but we can become devoted students of God’s word. And if we give ourselves to studying the Bible, treasuring it, and doing what it says, we will find the Scriptures to be a rich source of wisdom, joy, and strength, just like David did.