# 27 Psalms of Lament (# 4) – Psalm 13 (# 1)

As you read the Psalms, you come across a number of them, just like Psalm 88 that Mark Buchanan mentioned. They are usually called prayer or lament psalms and Brueggemann refers to them as “psalms of disorientation”.

We will look briefly at one of them.

Psalm 13   A psalm of David.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him, ” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

Just maybe, like Mark Buchanan, one of these Lament Psalms has been meaningful to you in a difficult time? Or just maybe one of these psalms could be helpful to you right now in what you are facing today or in the future.

Firstly though, let me share with you some things I have been learning from my studies of the lament psalms.

These particular psalms have a variety of authors, including David. They are basically poems and often follow the style of poems of the day with certain distinct elements. Things like an introduction, the lament or complaint, a confession of trust, a request or need, a vow of praise and an anticipation of thanksgiving. In fact, Psalm 13 has all these elements.

It’s very likely that these psalms were written in response to a particular time of difficulty, but mainly we are not told what it is. That enables these psalms to fit any need, at any time, for any person, including you and me. The psalms were also sung as a part of Israel’s formal worship as well as used in an individual’s private devotions.

The more I have studied them, the more I have discovered that these psalms are incredibly rich in so many ways. As we read them we not only discover important (although sometimes unsettling) things about life and God, but much about ourselves. It is suggested that the whole nature of human experience is expressed in the psalms somewhere. Tremper Longman says, “The psalms speak to all seasons of our lives. Our intellect is informed, our emotions are refined and our wills are directed…Reading the psalms touches the very core of our being.” (see references # 1)

A key thing to remember is that the psalms are addressed primarily to God. The psalms are an encounter with Almighty God, the Creator and Redeemer. As we read them we are witnesses to mere humans, in all their weaknesses and failings crying out to our Living, all-powerful, loving God in praise, thanksgiving, worship, prayer and complaint or lament.

So, let’s look again at the first section of Psalm 13.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.  Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him, ” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

Such incredibly honesty! No messing around here. Straight to the point! The psalmist is going through a difficult time and he cries out to God. We learn from this and other such psalms that we have permission to be just plain honest with God & speak to him from the depths of our despair.

Craig Broyles says, “The laments testify of the value of simply telling our story to God.” (see references # 4)

I don’t know what you are going through at the moment, what season of your life it is for you. But I do know that God is waiting for you to tell him your story. Your real story! No pretence! No pious sounding words. Just be honest. No matter how difficult or complex or even messy. Look at the Psalms. It seems to me that even with the wide range of human emotions that are found in the psalms, God does not appear to be offended or intimidated.

John Calvin wrote that “There is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror…grief, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares … in short, all the perplexing emotions with which the minds of men [and women] are [often] agitated.” ( see reference # 23)

 Other emotions include, reverence for and awe of God, joy, peace, even shame and anger. This huge range of emotions can empower us to come in touch with our own deepest emotions and often can also enable us to be sensitive to the struggles of others.

Another characteristic of the psalms is that the psalmist’s feelings are usually connected with what is happening in his relationship with God. If God seems to be distant, then the psalmist will express negative emotions including sadness, fear, shame, doubt, or anger. On the other hand, if God seems to be near, the psalmist’s emotions are more positive, even expressing love for God.

Truly, these psalms, including Psalm 13, are an amazing section of this incredible book we call the Bible.

# 26 Psalms of Lament (# 3) Psalm 88

On that occasion when leading the time of “worshipful lament” that I mentioned last time, I shared the following true story which I had read in an article in a Leadership Journal (Fall 2011). It was written by Mark Buchanan, a pastor in Canada. He wrote:

“My heart plunged into winter, bleak and cold. For a long season my world turned bitter, and [I was] desperately lonely. Death brought it on. Carol was my wife’s best friend and my trusted colleague. She was a pastor of extraordinary gifts. Even more, she had a depth and closeness with God that made you want these things too. Her prayers stormed heaven. Her preaching opened its gates. Her ways invited you in.

But, she started tripping, and walking into walls. She forgot the simplest things…she complained of crushing headaches…and an MRI revealed a tumour in her head the size of a baseball. What followed was an ordeal of surgeries and therapies that ended, 15 months later, with a funeral.

Up until then, and even during, I was stout-hearted. I stood week after week in the pulpit, preaching, praying, exhorting. I gave all the updates on Carol’s condition, in a calming voice.

And then I buried her. Even this I did with strength and conviction. But I woke up a week or so later tired and sad, and I stayed that way a terribly long time.

I thought I needed therapy or medications or a career change. I wasn’t entirely sure what I believed. I kept on preaching, kept leading, but some days I could barely rouse myself. When people asked me to pray for them, I did, but felt stumped, as if they had posed me a mystery beyond my meagre capacities to solve…

I tried and tried to get out of it, until I realised there was nothing doing except going through it. I was in winter. It was a season of my heart no more unnatural or preventable – or tolerable – than the winters of the town where I grew up, a place in northern Canada that went dead with cold for half a year. Winter is what happens when the earth tilts away from the sun; it’s still there just slantwise. A winter of the heart is similar. Something tilts, something shifts, the light diminishes, and everything goes cold, goes dormant. Awful, but normal. That helped, knowing this.

And so did Psalm 88.

[Here are some verses from this psalm:

“Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry to you…I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those who go to the pit; I am like one without strength…

You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. You have taken from me my closest friends …

Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?… Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me.  All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken from me friend and neighbour— darkness is my closest friend.”

Buchanan continues:]

That is one dark poem. It is a recitation of lifelong suffering, a protest against [what seems to be] God’s apathy and brutality. It hasn’t a shed of daylight in it. It ends with the words: “darkness is my closest friend.” The psalmist has crouched down in the pit so long, it seems homey. He’s in deepest misery and isn’t going to be coaxed out with easy [answers].

I grew to love him, this psalmist, his stark honesty, his fierce lament, his see-sawing between wild anger and passive resignation, his willingness to almost taunt God to action. All that provided a way, not out of winter, but through it. The psalm is a prayer. That was my first clue – after all he’s been through, he’s still talking to God. And my second clue: he confesses, without restraint, his disappointment in God, but asks God to act anyway.

This became the shape of my own prayers in my winter. I told God exactly how I felt [nothing kept back], but I didn’t stop talking to him. And I kept reminding him, bluntly, of what he could and should do. Those prayers were raw and real. They were their own acts of faith.

I don’t romanticize this time. It was hard and bleak, and I was happy to bid it good riddance. But it taught me something I’ll need again, [that] ‘even the darkness is not dark to [God]’ (Psalm 139:12)”  (references: # 22)

Having read this story, I (Rod) followed this up with the following prayer before sharing more about psalms of lament:

Father, none of us are exempt from tough times, dark times. All of us have been through seasons in our lives that we have not really appreciated. In fact, as Mark Buchanan says, we have been happy to bid them good riddance. Happy to see them finished and again come into the light. But, we wonder why? What purpose, if any, could there be in these winter seasons in our lives? Sometimes it’s a mystery to me. But, just maybe, in your wisdom and love and grace, you are wanting to teach us things during these times, wanting to bring us into a more intimate relationship with you,  wanting to use these times to change us, to make us more like Jesus. Maybe, it’s really only in these times that we can know our hearts and what we really believe, what our real values in life actually are. If so, then we want to be willing to learn, to talk to you about these things honestly and openly, just as the psalmists so often did. To trust you, and allow you to walk with us through these hard times and in and through these times to testify of your unfailing love. In the all-powerful name of Jesus. Amen.

# 25 Psalms of Lament (# 2)

When I read books on the Psalms written by people like Brueggemann, Longmann, Westermann, etc. and find myself a bit overwhelmed by the wealth of scholarship found there, it is then that, as much as I have learnt so much from them, I remind myself why I started writing this Blog, and that was to share the challenges and blessings I have received in reading and studying the Psalms over the years. So, I will continue to share what I have found helpful in reading their books (and those of others), but will endeavour to also keep coming back to how these psalms have been applied in my life as well as those I have sought to encourage along the way.

At the college where I am on staff we all have the opportunity at times to lead times of worship. When it was my turn, those who knew me and knew that I had been studying the Psalms and in particular the Psalms of Lament were not too surprised when I turned up to lead a time of worshipful lament.  My inspiration for this had come from reading a small book called “Sowing in Tears. How to Lament in a Church of Praise” by Paul Bradbury (see references  # 22)

I introduced the time with these words:

“I don’t know about you, but I have at times walked into a church service and felt downcast for some reason. Maybe related to my health, family problems, work related issues, some sense of loss, my failures in one area or another, and the list of possible reasons goes on. The last thing I feel like doing on these occasions is facing an enthusiastic worship leader who wants me to ‘forget all my troubles, put them all behind me’ and sing loud, joyful songs of victory, worship and praise to God. Not that this hasn’t also helped lift my mood at times.”

In fact, Brueggemann suggests, speaking specifically of the Western church,  that, “It is a curious thing that the church has, by and large, continued to sing songs of orientation in a world increasingly experienced as disoriented.” He gives a couple of options why this might be the case. He says, “It could be that…[it] is an act of bold defiance in which these psalms [and songs] of order and reliability are flung in the face of disorder…[insisting] that nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ…a great evangelical ‘nevertheless’ (as in Hab. 3:18)…It is possible…But at best, this is only partly true. It is my judgement that this action of the church is less an evangelical defiance guided by faith, and much more a frightened, numb denial and deception that does not want to acknowledge or experience the disorientation of life…[coming] not from faith, but from the wishful optimism of our culture.” (see references #2)  A challenging thought-provoking statement!

So, I continued, “I don’t want to pretend to be happy in the Lord and sing along just because everyone else is. Deep down, I want to lament, to cry out to God, to ask God what is happening and what he intends doing about it.

I felt that way the week we received an email from Pakistan, where we had worked for 11 years, and heard the news about a tragic accident. A van with two beautiful Christian Pakistani women and 3 children had been involved in a head on collision with a truck. They were all good friends of ours. One of the women died as a result of her injuries. Her daughter and one of her granddaughters were seriously injured. The other two children had minor injuries but all were seriously traumatized by the event. And to make matters even more difficult, they were on their way to see their husband/father/grandfather who was being treated for terminal cancer. We who knew them around the world were shocked. When I rang my daughter she burst into tears at the news of the tragedy. I wasn’t far behind!

How do we pray at such a time? How do we manage our grief? Where is God when such tragedies happen?

Today, I want us to spend the next hour doing something that we probably don’t do enough. We will spend some time considering some Psalms of Lament and hopefully learning why they are in the Bible, and just how much we are missing out on if we don’t avail ourselves of such a rich resource in God’s Word, particularly on occasions like the one I have just described. Then we will apply them, pray them, in relation to events in our own lives or of any one of many sad events occurring in our world at this time.”

Paul Bradbury says:

“..we [in the Western church] have lost the ability to lament…We have lost a critical ability in our language of faith expression to articulate   anything of integrity and truth in the context of suffering and tragedy…”

If true, this is, in reality, a tragedy in itself.

# 24 Introduction to Psalms of Lament (# 1) “How long, O Lord?”

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)
Earlier in my introduction to the Psalms (Blog # 6) I quoted Temper Longman who said that there are “roughly seven basic types” of Psalms. He continues, “we need to be flexible as we speak of a Psalm’s genre” but suggests the following types: “the hymn, the lament…” Well, we have looked briefly at the first one (although there is much more to be said of course) and the next one mentioned here is the “lament”. Now these psalms are a fascinating study. I confess to having read most and preached most on these psalms because somehow they are the ones I and many others, I have discovered, can really identify with at particular times in our lives i.e. the difficult times!
But first, concerning types or genre of Psalms, we will turn to another author, Walter Brueggemann, and I will quote below from his very insightful book, ‘The Message of the Psalms’ (see references # 2). His approach is quite different and I have found it very helpful in my studies of the Psalms.
Brueggemann’s discussion of the Psalms “is organised around three quite general themes, [1] poems of orientation, [2] poems of disorientation, and [3] poems of new orientation… [he suggests] that the psalms can be roughly grouped this way, and the flow of human life characteristically is located either in the actual experience of one of these settings or is in movement from one to another.”
It is important to note that the author clarifies the statement above by adding, “But I want to say…that I do not intend [this]…to be a straightjacket. I do not imagine that the scheme is adequate [by itself] to comprehend the Psalms, for we do not have such a ‘master key’. I intend this principle of organization only to help us see things we might not see otherwise.” And, as mentioned, I have found it helpful and I trust you will too.
So, he defines these 3 themes as:
[1] Poems of orientation: “Human life consists in satisfied seasons of well-being that evoke gratitude…[articulated through] joy, delight, goodness, coherence and reliability of God, God’s creation, God’s governing law.” We have considered a few of these psalms previously (there are many more) and they are encouraging to read, to memorize, to reflect upon and are quite often the ones we read in church.
[2] Poems of disorientation: “Human life consists in anguished seasons of hurt, alienation, suffering and death. These evoke rage, resentment, self-pity and hatred…[as seen in the] poems and speech-forms..[known as] the lament…[which have] a recognizable shape that permits the extravagance, hyperbole [exaggeration], and abrasiveness needed for the experience.” Psalm 13,  being an example. These are psalms that we don’t tend to read much in church, to our loss, I think. Later we will look at appropriate ways these amazing and honest prayers can be used in a worship time together.
[3] Poems of new orientation: “Human life consists in turns of surprise when we are overwhelmed with the new gifts of God, when joy breaks through the despair. Where there has been only darkness, there is light…These psalms affirm a sovereign God who puts humankind in a new situation…” Psalm 30 is a good example. The psalmist proclaims what the Lord has done for him. He says, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” (30:11)
In summary, Brueggemann says, “psalm forms correspond to seasons of human life and brings these seasons to speech. The move of the seasons is transformational and not developmental; that is, the move is never obvious, easy or ‘natural’.”
The author emphasizes that, of course, our lives aren’t static events, but a continuous “movement from one circumstance to another, changing and being changed.” He suggests that “the life of faith expressed in the psalms is focused on the two decisive moves of faith that are always underway, by which we are regularly surprised and which we regularly resist.
One move we make is out of a settled orientation into a season of disorientation…a dismantling of the old, known world and a relinquishment of safe, reliable confidence in God’s good creation …[this] includes a rush of negativities, including rage, resentment, guilt, shame, isolation, despair, hatred and hostility.” And we have all experienced this!
He continues, “It is that move which characterizes much of the psalms in the form of complaint and lament. The lament is a painful, anguished articulation of a move into disarray and dislocation. The lament is a candid, even if unwilling, embrace of a new situation of chaos, now devoid of the coherence that marks God’s good creation. The sphere of disorientation may be quite personal and intimate, or it may be massive and public. Either way, it is experienced as a personal end of the world, or it would not generate such passionate poetry…
The other move…is…from a context of disorientation to a new orientation, surprised by a gift from God…just when we thought all was lost…[there is] a departure from the ‘pit’ of chaos just when we had suspected we would never escape. It is a departure inexplicable to us, to be credited only to the intervention of God…[it] includes a rush of positive responses, including delight , amazement, wonder, awe, gratitude and thanksgiving…The hymnic psalms…are a joyous assertion that God’s rule is known, visible, and effective just when we had lost hope…
In the last analysis, the Psalms have what power they have for us because we know life to be like that.”
If you are interested there is a short (less than 3 minutes) YouTube clip of Walter Brueggemann teaching on the Psalms of Lament as follows:
Need for Lament (Psalms): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxqmtft4WYM

# 23 Psalm 19:12-14 Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer

And so. in summary, the psalmist considers two ways that God communicates with us. Firstly, he says that it is through the wonder of his “heavens” which declare his glory (including his attributes, his character, his works, his ways), even, remarkably, despite the fact that “They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”  Then secondly, he moves on to something where God does use words to communicate with us and that is the Bible. And these words, when read with an open heart and mind are transformative and life giving. So we now come to the conclusion of this “memorable” psalm and in these last verses it is the psalmist who is communicating with God and he asks:

12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from wilful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

It seems sad that after considering the “heavens” and the word of God that he needs to then move to his ‘errors…faults…wilful sins…great transgression’.  But just as Peter experienced when he first met Jesus, this is a natural progression. This story is found in Luke 5:1-11 when we are informed that Jesus needed to borrow Peter’s boat near the shore because the crowds were large who had come to listen “to the word of God” spoken by Jesus. Following this he (a carpenter) suggested to Peter (an experienced fisherman) that he “put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch”. Initially Peter was reluctant and he said, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” But then something happened that changed his mind, maybe the smile on Jesus’ face, and so he replied, “but because you say so, I will…” Well, you know the story, they were overwhelmed by the number of fish caught and needed two boats to put them all in. Then we see Peter’s reaction, similar to the psalmist’s: “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go way from me, Lord, I am a sinful man!’”

 

Considering who God is as revealed in his incredible creation and as revealed in his word, the psalmist (like Peter) recognized his sinfulness and complete unworthiness to receive anything from God. We all need to come to that place, and having arrived there, then allow God to have mercy, show grace and pour out his compassion on us. All this possible only because of the life, death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus the Christ.

Then only will we be confident enough to pray, ‘May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer’.

A closing prayer based on the words of the psalmists who wrote Psalms 19 and 119:

Father God, thank you for the wonderful privilege of being your child; thank you Jesus, Word of God for setting me free to love you, and thank you Holy Spirit for your presence with me at all times and for guiding me into all truth.

Thank you for your truth, that is revealed in the ‘heavens’ and in your word, the Bible.

But sometimes I read your word and my experience is not like the Psalmist who speaks of your word as, “more precious [to him] than gold, than much pure gold…sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.”

I really want to be able to say this and mean it, and also, that “I delight in your commands because I love them…Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long…I love your statutes…I stand in awe of your laws…Your promises…your servant loves them…I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly.”

He is so passionate, when it comes to his relationship with you, and how he loves your word. Change me, teach me, so that I too can say, “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, Lord…I run in the path of your commands…for I delight in your commands.”

I praise you, my Father, my God, because your word “is perfect, refreshing the soul” – Lord, refresh my soul; “trustworthy, making wise the simple” – Lord, give me wisdom; “right, giving joy to the heart” – Lord, fill me with your joy; “radiant, giving light to the eyes” – Lord, open my eyes, so that when I read your word, I will see you in all your beauty and wonder.

“May the words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Amen.

# 22 Psalm 19: 7-11 Six characteristic names – Six qualities/attributes – Six dynamic effects/realities

Now let us read again what the psalmist in Psalm 19 says about his experience of the scriptures:

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

From reading this we get the idea that the psalmist did not consider this Book we call the Bible to be a dry old dusty book of ancient history. For him it was a powerful Word that God uses to transform lives, including ours if we will let him.

Having used 6 charactistic names for God ‘s word, he says that it has some incredible ATTRIBUTES:

  • Perfect
  • Trustworthy
  • Right
  • Radiant
  • Pure, enduring forever
  • Firm, and altogether righteous

And then goes off into further enthusiastic description as he says that the Word of God is:

  • more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
  • sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

Now that’s a man who loved the Word of God and had found deep satisfaction in his experience of reading the Word and applying it to his life. Honey has to be tasted to really know how sweet and satisfying and nourishing it is, and the Word of God has to be engaged with deeply to know the wonders of this Book  to transform our minds and hearts as the Spirit of God applies it to our lives.

So, in what ways does the psalmist suggest that God’s word deeply touches our lives?

He says, because:

  • It is perfect, it refreshes our souls
  • It is trustworthy, it makes us wise
  • It is right, it brings joy to our hearts
  • It is radiant, it gives us spiritual insights

And all this because it endures forever and is altogether righteous.

But then he also adds that by reading and taking note of what he reads “your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

So, not only refreshment, wisdom, joy, spiritual insights but the opportunity to be warned of danger, particularly related to our sinful tendencies. But then on top of this, the psalmist believes that in reading and obeying the truth we read, the result will be rich blessings or “great reward”.

So, what has been your experience of reading the Bible lately? Is your experience like that of the psalmist? Can you say that as you read the Word of God, your heart burns within you, that your heart is not only informed but inflamed? Is it more precious than gold [to you], than much pure gold? And is it sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb?

If not, then maybe it is time to consider how this might be possible. Maybe time to ask God to speak to you through his word again in a life changing way.

Let me give you some suggestions from the Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care that I mentioned earlier concerning formative Bible reading.

On the role of meditating on the Scriptures there is a quote from George Swinnock, a Puritan born in the early 1600s. He uses the term ‘conversing with scripture’, meaning to meditate or spend time allowing the Spirit of God to speak through the Word. He speaks of the ‘purposeful reading of scripture’ whereby the truth of God’s Word grips the three main faculties of our souls: our understanding (so that God is esteemed to be ‘above all’), our emotions and desires (so that we desire Him ‘more than all’ others), and the will (which chooses Him ‘before all’ others). He suggests that scripture meditation is the means by what is known in our head moves down into our heart, breaks out into our lives, and then like a channel of grace, flows out to others to the glory of God. ‘Above all’, writes Swinnock, ‘meditate on the infinite majesty, purity, and mercy’ of God as revealed in the Bible.

Then concerning the role of prayer in our reading of the scriptures, George Marsden suggests that reading and prayer are inseparable. He says, “Prayer is the language we use to begin our Bible reading. Prayer is the spirit in which Bible reading is conducted – and prayer is what flows from the reading itself”. As we come to the Word of God we need to remind ourselves who’s Book this is. Remind ourselves who the author is. And then humbly seek Him asking Him to speak into our lives through his Word. John Wesley wrote that “serious and earnest prayer should be constantly used before [and as] we consult the oracles of God”.

Then having spent time with God reading and praying, the next step is application or action. G Campbell Morgan said that “Bible study must always provoke action; hearing and doing are vital elements of a Bible-centred obedience” Bible reading must ultimately bear fruit in our lives, or we are wasting our time! The fruit being not only information but transformation. The reading of the Bible should be expected to bring instruction and through the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about a Godward change in our lives. Jesus in John 15 said “This is my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (v8).

So, to summarize, some words that should be associated with our reading of the scriptures are:

  • Pray – ask God to reveal his truth to your heart and mind and then pray in response to what you read.
  • Read – not just using your mind but with an open heart to respond to the reading and what the Spirit of God wants to teach you.
  • Hear – listening to what God has to say to you
  • Mark – note things that make an impression, journal what God may be saying to you so you don’t forget and can later reflect on what God has said and done.
  • Learn – allow the passage to impact your life by asking relevant questions like, what would my life look like if I obeyed this truth?
  • Taste – make the Word personal, actually apply it today.