LOVE THE WORD
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It is my hope that the title of this article is not misunderstood by some as referring to an abstract idea separated from that which historically orthodox Christianity has come to understand as the word. That is, it is not my intention to find some unique idea about what the word means. As many know, the Ďwordí as it appears in we call the Bible can have several different meanings, though all of them are inseparably related. For example, there are those who have come to understand certain passages as referring to the written pages of the Bible as the word. Traditionally, there are certain passages that have been interpreted as pertaining to those written pages:

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

Word and doctrine here are associated. Typically Christians throughout the ages have associated studying the pages of the Bible as studying doctrine. Therefore they might interpret the above passage as speaking of those who labor in the word, or the Bible, i.e. those who labor over the written pages we know as Genesis through Revelation. Actually, there are quite a few different words that refer to those written pages of the Bible. Some of them are the following: scripture, commandments, statutes, judgments, law, testimonies. Then there are other passages that contain the phrase, the word, that we have come to understand as referring to Jesus Christ; the most popular of which is found in the first chapter of the Gospel of John:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Then of course we read several verses into the chapter:

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

In John it seems clear that Ďwordí is referring to none other than God Himself. We also see this in Revelation:

Revelation 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

Yet there are other passages that seem to have a more mystical meaning of the term word. Certainly tradition could attest to this particular interpretation, and that is that the word is used as that unique and powerful message preachedóa message conveyed that contains in it that good news which, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is able to convict and/or convert a person from darkness to light. Those passages might include:

1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Romans 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

Then there are those passages that seem to speak of Godís creative power as the word:

Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds (Gk.-aion or Ďagesí) were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

2 Peter 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

The above passages portray the word as that power issued from God used to create the heaven and the earth and the ages.

It is my opinion that all of those particular uses of the word, though different in application or function are very related in essence or nature. For example, there are two basic Greek words used for word in the New Testament. They are rhema and logos. It appears that they can be used interchangeably. In 2 Peter (the passage above) the word used to refer to the creative power of God is logos:

2 Peter 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

Again, logos is used in that passage. And yet the passages in Hebrews that speak of that same creative power use the word rhema. Strongís Exhaustive Concordance defines the two words like this:

3056. logos, log'-os; from G3004; something said (including the thought); by impl. a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extens. a computation; spec. (with the art. in John) the Divine Expression (i.e. Christ):--account, cause, communication, X concerning, doctrine, fame, X have to do, intent, matter, mouth, preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say (-ing), shew, X speaker, speech, talk, thing, + none of these things move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work.

4487. rhema, hray'-mah; from G4483; an utterance (individ., collect. or spec.); by impl. a matter or topic (espec. of narration, command or dispute); with a neg. naught whatever:--+ evil, + nothing, saying, word.

It is obvious that within the frame of meaning for both words, the same English words can be used to describe them. This is not to say that there is not specific intention when the authors used the two words. By definition the word rhema leans more toward a written or spoken expression compared to that which can be inferred from the word logos. However, the word rhema can sometimes have the same implication as logos in the Bible.

Since the objective of this article is to promote love and passion for the word of God rather than examine the etymology of the different words, we will not delve into the various meanings and differences between the words. It is sufficient to say that regardless of the definition or implication of a certain passage, one thing is clear: the person making a claim to the love of God must seek to have a passion and love for the word of God. Granted, we can argue over what word or Scriptures refer to the written pages of the Bible or what words refer to Jesus Christ. In at least the four cases above we are called to love whatever Godís intended meaning for the word word is. Therefore, as we examine the passages in the Old and New Testaments that speak of the type of desire we should have for the word, let us remember the various meanings it can take, but understand that they are really inseparable.

Most Christians would view the admonishment to love the word as an imperative. Generally speaking, regardless of whether we find reasons why a particular command is given, we should be inclined to obey simply because God says so. Yet in the case of loving the word we are fortunate to have a great incentive to love the word in Scripture:

Psalms 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

The Psalmist says that the word of God is exalted at least as much as the actual name of God. Since, as Paul says in Philippians, the name of Jesus is exalted above every other name, it would follow that the implication of the passage in Psalms is that Godís word has a place on equal level to the name of God itself. We cannot deny that our greatest objective as Christians is to adore God above all else. Therefore, if the word of God is exalted or magnified at least to the level of the name of God, we should have the mindset that has the highest regard for the word of God.

At this point we must consider those things that are important to us. A better word for important would might be value. What is valuable to us? To which things do we esteem the highest value or price? There is a common phrase: "Money canít buy everything." Or as one credit card company exclaims: "There are some things money canít buy." This is true. Most of us would agree that value can be placed on yachts, houses, cars, entertainment, and even fame and notoriety. Certainly for those of a less profound mindset even a spouse could be bought. Many spouses gravitate toward the other person partly due to monetary success or fame. In that case, however much money or fame drew the spouse to the person of wealth, that in turn would be the value of the spouse. For he or should would then only be worth as much as that for which he or she was willing to drawn to the person of wealth.

But at this juncture we must draw the line. For in the case of the wealthy and the person drawn to the wealthy both are expressly guilty of placing a definitive value on each other. If the wealthy uses money to bait the best catch, then the wealthy is only as deep as the catch lured and vice versa. In both cases an actual price can be placed upon the relationship, regardless of which side is spending the money. But what about character? Not simply a bribe to pay off a person to speak highly of someone else. Then that too would have a value only as high as the bribe and would nullify the character as well. To put it bluntly, things like a good name cannot be bought.

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches

Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment

Both of these passages are not at all trying to place a determined or definitive value upon a good name. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. The intent of the passages is to make sure the reader understands that a good name cannot be purchased. Precious ointment and great riches are simply Solomonís way of explaining the impossibility of purchasing a good name. A good name, love, kindness, tenderness, sympathy, all, of course, in the real sense of the words, cannot be bought. They have no price. A definitive value cannot be placed on them because the nature of such character traits is beyond the scope of material wealth. Those traits are beyond the scope of material comparison as well.

Such is the case with the word of God. However, with the word of God it falls in a category all by itself. For if the word of God is to be "magnified above all the name of God," then even those character traits listed (love, kindness etc.) cannot be compared to the word of God. The reason for this is that, even though those character traits are above the value that any material wealth could buy, yet they are tainted by virtue (or lack thereof) of the person expressing any given trait. This is not, however, the case with the word of God. In fact, frequently in the word of God it is emphasized that comparisons are not even to be made between those things of spiritual value (i.e. the word of God) and those things of material value. One example (more later) is found in Psalms:

Psalms 119:72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

The word of God, as the Psalmist describes it, is pure:

Psalms 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
Psalms 19:7-8 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. {8} The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Psalms 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
Psalms 93:5 Thy testimonies are very sure:
Psalms 19:9-11 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. {10} More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. {11} Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

But it is in the following passage that we see the purity of the word as that which motivates the believer to love it:

Psalms 119:140 Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.

Something to consider is how many Christians complain of their lack of prayer and their lack of spending time reading the Bible. Mostly, Christians tell me that praying is easier than spending time in the Bible. The question is, how can we gain a greater appreciation for the Bibleóan appreciation that is more than admiration or acknowledgement that the word of God is truth and that it is essential for the Christian life and fellowship with God? It is similar to any other truth we have come to love. For example, Christians have come to love the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For in those is the eternal life of the believer. In those is victory over sin and death. But how were we able to know them, let alone appreciate and love them? The answer is simple: by finding those truths in the Bible and understanding the emphasis that the Bible places upon them. The same is true with the word of God. The only way to appreciate and love the word of God is to first find those truths in the Bible and then understand the emphasis the Bible places on the word of God.

In Genesis we find the phrase, "the word of the Lord" appearing for the first time in the Bible. In chapter fifteen Godís word comes to Abram:

Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

In this Ďwordí God makes His promise to Abramóa promise declaring His protection over Abram, and also that He Himself is Abramís reward; i.e God is everything Abram needs. But Abramís response does not yet show any true love for the word of God. We see this in Abramís apparent doubt:

Genesis 15:2-3 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? {3} And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

But upon hearing the word of the Lord the second time we see a different response from Abram:

Genesis 15:4-6 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. {5} And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. {6} And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

It seems that it took a simple yet more detailed description of the promise to Abram to convince Abram that God would hold true to His promise to protect and reward Abram. When this more detailed description of the promise was exclaimed, Abram came to see the value and truth of Godís word. Thus, "Abram believed God and it was accounted to Him for righteousness." In our own lives could this be the case? Could it be that simply reading a particular promise in Scripture sometimes does not convey the depth and magnitude of any given promise? Suppose a father tells his family that he is going to purchase a house where they will live in a few months. At first the family might respond with a little excitement and might even ask, "When?". But how does the family truly come to experience that which convinced the father of buying the home? Most likely it would be by asking what the house is like. That is, the family would ask for a more detailed description of the home. Once the father elaborated about the home, explaining that it is on a hillside over-looking a gorgeous meadow with a stream running through the middle of itówhere the kids can fish and hike and watch deer and antelope playóthis would spawn an element of excitement that otherwise would not be there if the family had merely heard the fatherís promise without asking him any questions or seeking further into the matter.

Granted, the whole idea of the incomparability of the word of God with material things is somewhat minimized with the above analogy. However, I think the point is understood that our love for something intensifies when we gain more knowledge about the greatness of its value.

An interesting testimony of appreciation and love for the word is found in the book of Numbers. When the prophet Baalam was asked to curse a people whom God had not cursed, Baalamís response was a testimony of his love for the word:

Numbers 22:18 And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.

In fact several times Baalam was asked to do differently than what he knew Godís word had commanded. Yet his respect for Godís word was firm:

Numbers 22:38 And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.
Numbers 23:12 And he answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the LORD hath put in my mouth?
Numbers 23:26 But Balaam answered and said unto Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the LORD speaketh, that I must do?

Baalam even went so far as to declare the incomparable nature of Godís word next to great riches:

Numbers 24:13 If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak?

The Family and Love for the Word

Christians have long understood that the prosperity of a nation must originate with healthy families. Yet, by the end of the second millennium the rate of divorce among Christians was at least equal to that of non-Christians (well over 50%). Consequently we see the deviance from justice in our government. The division, complacency, and unfaithfulness in the family has infiltrated the leadership structure of our government as well. Sadly, however, well-meaning Christians have assumed that the remedy is to figure out better legislation and try to get Christian leaders in office. And though those are noble objectives, yet they are not the remedies for a better government. We must turn to the heartbeat of a nationís success. We must understand that which brings success to the core of any nation, and that is the family. But how does a family succeed? How does a family prosper?

From the very beginning of Godís establishment of His covenant with the nation of Israel He instituted the regular practice a family should have in order to be successful. It all begins with a love for God and His word:

Deuteronomy 6:3-9 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. {4} Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: {5} And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. {6} And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: {7} And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. {8} And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. {9} And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

How could God have made it clearer? Success and wellness with a nation is entirely established upon the training of our children in the word of God to understand the importance of the word of God and the emphasis that should be placed on the word of God in every family. Many families have plaques of accomplishments, trophies, paintings, pictures, and other memorabilia set up on walls, dressers, shelves and even magnetized to their refrigerators. All these are wonderful things. However, could we as families say that we have the word of God placed in conspicuous places as God commanded the families of the Israelites? If a person were to walk into the houses of ten different Christian families, would that person see a love and allegiance to our own personal accomplishments and memorabilia or would it be obvious that those ten families were families that had an unparalleled love and devotion to the word of God? As families we are quick to talk of our accomplishments, jobs, activities, parties, favorite teams, world news and other subjects that so frequently occupy our conversations. Jesus Christ said that where our treasure is (what we love), there will our heart be as well. Have we displaced the treasure of the word with other treasures? Godís word in the book of Deuteronomy seems to set forth parameters that can help alleviate that problem. Our love for the word begins with the condition of our heart pertaining to the word. God says:

Deuteronomy 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

The word of God must first be in our hearts. For how can we possibly teach our children and families the word of God if that word is not first in our hearts? Again, where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. If our treasure is in the more materialistic and trivial things of life, that will be a testimony of where our heart is. For some it is music. For others it is sports. For others it is movie trivia. Still, for others it is business or their jobs. Even our children and spouses can become objects of importance over the word of God. Though nothing in this material world is more important than our families, yet we must be careful that we are not falling into the dangerous trap of thinking that time spent with the family can take the place of having a foundation of love for the word of God. Though time spent with the family is absolutely essential to the success of a family, if we surround the family with things to do at the expense of loving the word, we are merely teaching our family that the value of activities, sports, games, movies, t.v. etc. is more important than the word of God. This will begin the motion of the virtually unstoppable wheel of independence from the word of God and an unhealthy dependence on ourselves. Thus we will begin to view life, jobs, family, and even entertainment as conquerable by our own power. This mentality is essentially what is ruling our country now. But where did it all begin? It started with the emphasis and love families began placing on things other than the word of God. Israelís demise originated with her dependence on her own ability and independence from the word of God. But God was very clear:

Deuteronomy 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

But is it enough for the word to simply be in our hearts? Actually, the answer is yes. For if it is in our hearts, then the rest of the parameters God sets forth will be in place. We must understand that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. If the word is our treasure (in our hearts) then our thoughts, allegiance, and practice will be upon the word. Or, as another proverb Christ speaks: "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." Our actions will only flow from the condition of our heart. If we find our time consumed with material things, then obviously that is where our heart isói.e. on material things. Now this can be very humbling, for many of us have rather lofty views of our heart and consider ourselves as very Ďbiblical.í But where is our Ďbiblicalí nature taking us and our families? Are our families being raised to set their minds on things of material wealth or spiritual wealth? In fact, a good question that every father and/or husband should continually be asking himself and his family is: what do we consider as true riches and true wealth? And without prompting, the family whose hearts have been led to love the word of God will naturally answer something related to, spiritual understanding of the word of God. Even Paul prayed this for the churches:

Colossians 1:9-10 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; {10} That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

So then, in Deuteronomy God outlines how to ensure that this happens. Beyond having the word in our hearts, we are to:

1). Teach the word diligently to our children (vs. 7)
2). Talk about it when we sit in our houses (vs. 7)
3). Talk about it when we walk throughout the day (vs. 7)
4). Talk about it when we are about to go to sleep (vs. 7)
5). Talk about it when we wake up (vs. 7)
6). Bind the word as signs on our hands (vs. 8)
7). Fix the word as frontlets (or emblems) on our heads (vs. 8)
8). Write the word on the posts of our houses (vs. 9)
9). Write the word on the gates of our houses (vs. 9)

As is evident, it appears from the text that if one truly loves the word, actions will speak very loudly of where the heart really is. We must not be quick to declare our own love for the word unless we truly are practicing these things.

Now, of course many of us might ask: "Are we to take those things literally?" Quite honestly I believe these are guidelines for every generation. But we must consider the thrust of the text. Is God concerned with a strict literal obedience to the details of the text or is God, instead, interested in the heart of the text? It seems to me that God is conveying to families that the word should saturate our houses and our thought life. Meditation on the word should be like breathing, eating, and drinking. I have been asked many times about what the Bible says about fasting. Though a strict and regular practice of fasting is not commanded, we do find Godís people fasting. Even Jesus fasted in the desert. But why? Is it because God wants us malnourished? That doesnít seem to be Godís intention. In fact God brought severe hunger to the children of Israel for a specific purpose:

Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

The purpose of hunger is "that He might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live."

Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights. Jesus also quoted the above passage to the Devil while He was tempted as He fasted in the desert:

Matthew 4:1-4 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. {2} And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. {3} And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. {4} But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

If we fast, our purpose should never be to tell others about our fast. In fact Jesus specifically forbids this:

Matthew 6:16-18 "And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. {17} But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, {18} so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (NRSV)

Fasting is not for us to be commended by others. Instead it is to help remind us of the craving we should have for the word of God. God deliberately caused the Israelites to hunger so that He would make them know that they cannot live without the word of God. The Holy Spirit intentionally led Jesus to be tempted so that He would constantly be aware of His need for the word of God. Those who are considering fasting should ask themselves the question: "Am I craving the word of God as necessary as my daily food? Do I have the proper view of Godís word?" People often quote the following slogan: "The way to a manís heart is through his stomach." How does God reach the heart of man? Through the word of God. The great man of God, Job, understood this and craved the word of God:

Job 23:11-12 My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. {12} Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Imagine craving the word of God more than your necessary food. If we are lacking this type of craving, perhaps that is Godís way of telling us to fast so that He might "make us know that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."

Let us consider the effects of physical hunger and thirst. Many years ago the Donner party tried to make their way across the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountain range. Weather kept them from being able to travel. Soon their food sources were depleted and they began to starve. Their starvation and intense craving for food caused them to turn to cannibalism. Lest we think that we are immune from this type of craving, let us consider a graphic description of a famine in the Bible:

2 Kings 6:25-29 As the siege continued, famine in Samaria became so great that a donkey's head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and one-fourth of a kab of dove's dung for five shekels of silver. {26} Now as the king of Israel was walking on the city wall, a woman cried out to him, "Help, my lord king!" {27} He said, "No! Let the LORD help you. How can I help you? From the threshing floor or from the wine press?" {28} But then the king asked her, "What is your complaint?" She answered, "This woman said to me, 'Give up your son; we will eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' {29} So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, 'Give up your son and we will eat him.' But she has hidden her son."

We often fail to understand the lengths to which people will go when they are starving or dying of thirst. Most of us have never been acquainted with this intense longing. But these peopleís lives were in danger. They were in such desperation that they could think of nothing else. They couldnít even consider that they were killing their own children. When death is imminent most people will do just about anything to survive. The point of this elaboration is to make clear the craving we should have for the word of God. We need to understand that without the word of God we would starve. And indeed many are starving for the word of God and yet are entirely blind to their condition. But to the one who understands his or her need for the word of God, they see their condition and even, as Job, esteem the word of God as more necessary than their daily food. Meditate on these passages that speak of the desire and craving we should have for the word of God:

Psalms 63:1 A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
Psalms 84:2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
Psalms 42:1-2. As the deer panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. {2} My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
Psalms 119:131 I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.
Psalms 143:6 I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.
Psalms 119:2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

Notice the words used to depict the craving of the Psalmist: thirsting; longing; fainting; crying; panting, with the whole heart, stretching forth the hands. These words should not be taken lightly. These are words of desperation. Understanding the mindset of the Psalmist is crucial in order for us to identify with his hunger and thirst. Why would God use such graphic wording to convey this truth? It is my belief that God uses these words because mankind understands food so well, as it is something he takes in every day, throughout the day. God makes His way to the heart through the stomach. Remembering the pattern set forth in Deuteronomy, let us examine the Psalmist as he implements this practice in his daily life. And though the next set of passages is long, yet it brings home the point that we should be longing for the word of God all the day.

Psalms 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
Psalms 35:28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.
Psalms 44:8 In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.
Psalms 71:8 Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day.
Psalms 71:15 My mouth shall show forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof.
Psalms 71:24 My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long
Psalms 89:16 In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.
Psalms 119:97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Proverbs 23:17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

With what are we filling our minds all the day? Certainly we are to be faithful stewards at the workplace, in school, at home etc. However, where are our minds? Has the busyness of the day captured our minds? Are we slaves to the thoughts of work? Many women speak disparagingly about their husbands who bring their work home with them. This is a valid concern. We should be aware of the danger of being taken captive by school, work, or any other task or pleasure that holds hostage the mind, disabling it from meditating on the word. Yet the Psalmist repudiated anything that would come close to taking his attention from the beauty of Godís word:

Psalms 119:117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.

It was Davidís passion to seek the word of God all the day long continually.

Again, related to the identification of the word with food, we read of Jeremiahís passion for the word:

Jeremiah 15:16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.

Jeremiah first found the word. He then ate the word, and just as one would find great delight in a seven-course meal after having fasted for many days, so Jeremiah found the words of God to be the "joy and rejoicing of mine heart." Do we find the word of God to be our satisfaction, delight, more important than our necessary food? Just as we are robbed of joy when we are physically hungry, is it any wonder when we are starved for the word of God that joy is lacking in our lives? It is vital for the Christian life to have a deep sense of desperation and longing for the word if we are to continually feed ourselves and our families with it.

The passage in Jeremiah combines eating Godís word with the inevitable accompaniment of joy and delight. From here we move to those passages which speak of delighting and rejoicing in the word of God. Perhaps the most well-known passage that speaks of delighting in the word is found in the book of Psalms:

Psalms 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Davidís love for, and delight in, the word of God is evident by his own testimony that he meditates on it day and night. He maintains that Deuteronomian standard of saturating his life with the word of God. Pleasure is another word that is used to describe that which the believer should have in the word of God. The Hebrew word for pleasure is the same word that is used for our word delight. There are several passages that use this word which actually can be translated pleasure, delight, or desire.

Psalms 111:2 The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.
Psalms 112:1 Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.
Psalms 119:24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.
Psalms 119:35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
Psalms 119:47-48 And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. {48} My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
Psalms 119:77 Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.
Psalms 119:92 Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
Psalms 119:143 Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.
Psalms 119:174 I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.

As one can see, the Psalms are laden with verses which speak of the value and trustworthiness of the word of God. In particular, Psalm 119 speaks more about the word of God than any other chapter in the Bible. Also, it is fitting that this chapter is also the longest chapter in the Bible. It seems that God spoke through David to exhaust the exaltation of the word of God in the mind of the believer. One hundred seventy six verses are devoted to describing the magnitude of the word of God. Specifically, our focus will now turn to those passages that speak of the word being the delight, pleasure, desire, joy, and rejoicing, and even the song of the believer.

Psalms 119:111 Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
Psalms 119:14-16 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. {15} I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. {16} I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
Psalms 119:162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.

David regarded the word of God as an eternal inheritance to enjoy forever. He trusted that the word of God would make his heart rejoice and that this rejoicing would be an eternal reality for him. His commitment to stand fast to his promise that he would not forget the word of God is a result of the respect for and meditation on the word. The more we meditate on something and ponder it, the more our minds will become preoccupied with it. We must remember, where our treasure is, there will our heart be. I.e. that which we love will be that about which we think and meditate. If we meditate on earthly pleasures or some of the darker parts of this fallen world, then those things are the things we will not forget. When we surround ourselves with violence, profanity, nudity, debauchery, hatred, and drunkenness, then those are the things that we will not forget. Davidís objective was to replace the darker things of the world with the word of Godóto have his mind obsessed with the word of God to the point that it was his meditation all the day. As a result, joy was brought to his life. Darkness never brings the joy and light that the word of God can bring. In the midst of trouble and anguish, when the word of God is our foundation and meditation, we will have an underlying joy that the world cannot take away:

Psalms 119:54 Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

David understood that he was a pilgrim on this earth and that his pilgrimage was often one of troublesome times. But through the thick of that dark pilgrimage the word of God would be his song as a testimony of light shining in a dark place. We recall his poetic Psalm wherein he declares, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." (Psalms 23:4) The rod and staff of God (His word) would be Davidís joy and song during his darkest moments. They would be his comfort during the storms that so frequently attended his life.

Eventually David began to see that this joy and rejoicing that the word brought was of a higher value than anything the world could offer. This is why we see him so frequently showing the complete inability of any material possession to measure up to the inestimable value of the word of God:

Psalms 119:72 The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
Psalms 119:103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalms 119:127 Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.

In fact, as we examine the book of Proverbs (written by Davidís son Solomon), we need to understand that the wisdom and instruction of which Solomon speaks is none other than the word of God. Solomon too shows how the riches of this world cannot be compared to the word of God:

Proverbs 3:13-18 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. {14} For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. {15} She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. {16} Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. {17} Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. {18} She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.

Solomon says that rubies, silver, and fine gold should not even be compared to her. He even goes to the extent of saying that "all the things you can desire are not to be compared to her." The benefit of riches, Solomon says, are length of days, riches, honor, a tree of life, and happiness. He obviously knew, being the richest man in all the world, that earthly riches could not bring happiness. Happy is the man that finds the word of God. Happy is the man that retains the word of God. Solomon tells his son:

Proverbs 8:10-11 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. {11} For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

This is the second time that Solomon says we are not even to compare all the things we may desire with the word of God. Finally, the Word of God speaks through the pen of Solomon:

Proverbs 8:17-21 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. {18} Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. {19} My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. {20} I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: {21} That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

Solomon cannot overemphasize the importance of the word of God and wisdom and instruction above anything the world can offer:

Proverbs 16:16 How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

Then in the most straightforward language the Psalmist proclaims his insatiable love for the word of God:

Psalms 119:113 I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
Psalms 119:97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Psalms 119:119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.
Psalms 119:140 Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
Psalms 119:159 Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.
Psalms 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Psalms 119:167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.

Do we love the word like David? It wasnít that David was some religious fanatic. He was a sinner like all of us. He was an adulterer, a murderer, one who trusted in armies rather than Godóand yet God considered him a man after Godís own heart. Why? Because He followed hard after Godís heart, and that is the word of God. David panted for the word of God as the most precious food. David sought after the word of God as the most priceless treasure. Davidís greatest love was for the word of God, the heart of God. David said:

Psalms 119:131 I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.

Do we have that unquenchable longing for the word insomuch that we pant for it, thirst for it, stretch forth our hands to it, and meditate on it all the day above any earthly possession? God said to the sinful Israelites:

Psalms 81:10 I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

But she refused to open her mouth to be fed. She was content to be fed by earthly pleasures and the darkness of existing without the satisfaction of God. God told Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 2:8 But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.

What was Ezekielís response?

Ezekiel 3:2-3 So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. {3} And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.

God has a roll for us. He has the bread of life for us. It is that which satisfies the thirsty soul. It is that which gives riches to the poor and food for the starving. May our houses be built upon the Word of Godóthe Rock of Jesus Christ, which cannot be moved. May we open our mouths while God fills it with His holy word and experience the joy and rejoicing that can carry us and our families through every storm that comes against us.

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