The Nature of Scripture
Psalm 19 begins with a description of how the created universe gives evidence of (testimony to) its Creator. Then the psalm speaks of how the Scriptures revive the soul, give wisdom to the simple, and bring joy to the heart.
That gets me thinking…. What is the nature of the Bible?
The Bible itself answers that question many times, describing itself as a lamp to our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105), a hammer that breaks rocks in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29), the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating even to dividing soul and spirt, judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12), God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness in order that the person of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17), more precious than gold and sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:10).
As the universe speaks to our minds of a wise and careful and caring and imaginative Creator, so the Scriptures speak to our hearts of the goodness and trustworthiness and care of our Lord and Savior.
The Scriptures set us back on course when we have wandered in the wrong direction. In his book, A Thirst for God, Sherwood Wirt tells of serving briefly as the quartermaster of the Teal, an 80-foot patrol boat belonging to the Alaska Game Commission. He was at the helm when Captain Cole took over briefly and changed their course north toward Juneau. The Captain pointed to the compass reading and told Wirt, “Steady as she goes!” As the ship cruised along, Wirt noted that they seemed to be edging toward the mainland, so he altered the course slightly and steered the Teal straight up the channel. A few minutes later, Captain Cole rushed onto the bridge and snapped, “You’re off course! Go back to the reading I gave you.”
Wirt writes, “My dead reckoning had led me to believe one thing, but the chart indicated something else. Following my intuition might have led to shipwreck.”
The Bible is God’s chart. Our own reckoning often gets us off course—sometimes quite dangerously. God’s “chart” pulls us back on course.
And the Scriptures meet our deepest hunger. Wycliffe Bible Translators Jean Dawson and Hazel Wrigglesworth worked on the Ilianen New Testament in the Philippines with a native Ilianen speaker Iney. When some persons in her village tried to get Iney to stop her work on translating the Bible, Iney said to them, “When you’re cooking a pot of rice and you taste it and it’s good, you can’t stop there. Well, I’ve already tasted and seen that this [Bible] is good, and I can’t stop.”
There are words of hope and comfort and encouragement and truth and challenge that meet the deepest hungers of our souls.
And the Scriptures give us peace and strength and courage in the midst of our greatest struggles. After Terry Anderson was taken hostage in Lebanon in 1985 and held as a captive by terrorists for 6 years, he shared, “Constantly over the years, I found consolation and counsel in the Bible I was given in the first few weeks [of my captivity]. Not other-world, ‘this is just a test’ kind of consolation, but comfort from the real, immediate voices of people who had suffered greatly, and in ways that seemed so close to what I was going through. I read the Bible 50 times, cover to cover, in those first few years.”
Over and over again in my life, I have found Scripture to provide what I need to get me through struggles that have come along.