How Much Do You Love God’s Word?
“How I do love your law! All day long it is my concern.”—PSALM 119:97.
1. What is one way in which God-fearing individuals demonstrate their love for God’s Word?
HUNDREDS of millions of men and women own a copy of the Bible. But there is a difference between owning a Bible and loving God’s Word. Can a person rightly claim to love God’s Word if he seldom reads it? Of course not! In contrast, some who once had little regard for the Bible now read it every day. They have learned to love God’s Word, and like the psalmist, they now make God’s Word their concern “all day long.”—Psalm 119:97.
2. How was the faith of one of Jehovah’s Witnesses sustained under difficult conditions?
2 One who learned to love God’s Word is Nasho Dori. Along with fellow believers, he endured for many decades, serving Jehovah in his native Albania. During much of that time, Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned, and these faithful Christians received little Bible literature. Yet, Brother Dori’s faith remained strong. How so? “My goal,” he said, was “to read the Bible for at least an hour each day, which I did for some 60 years before my eyesight failed.” Until recently, the entire Bible was not available in Albanian, but Brother Dori had learned Greek as a child, so he read the Bible in that language. Regular Bible reading sustained Brother Dori through various trials, and it can sustain us as well.
“Form a Longing” for God’s Word
3. What attitude should Christians cultivate toward God’s Word?
3 “As newborn infants,” wrote the apostle Peter, “form a longing for the unadulterated milk belonging to the word.” (1 Peter 2:2) Just as a baby craves its mother’s milk, Christians who are conscious of their spiritual need find exquisite delight in reading God’s Word. Is that how you feel? If not, do not despair. You too can cultivate a longing for God’s Word.
4. What is involved in making Bible reading a daily habit?
4 In order to do so, first discipline yourself to make Bible reading a regular habit, a daily one if possible. (Acts 17:11) You may not be able to spend an hour each day in Bible reading as Nasho Dori did, but quite likely you can set aside some time each day to consider God’s Word. Many Christians rise a few minutes early in order to meditate on a Bible passage. What better way could there be to start the day? Others prefer to end the day by reading the Bible just before retiring. Still others read the Bible at some other convenient time. The important thing is to read the Bible regularly. Then, take a few moments to meditate on what you have read. Let us consider some examples of individuals who benefited from reading and meditating on God’s Word.
A Psalmist Who Loved God’s Law
5, 6. Although we may not know his name, what can we learn about the writer of the 119th Psalm 119 by reading and meditating on what he wrote?
5 The writer of the 119th Psalm 119 certainly had deep appreciation for God’s Word. Who wrote that psalm? The writer is not identified in the Bible. From the context, however, we learn some details about him, and we know that his life was not problem free. Some of his acquaintances who were supposed to be worshipers of Jehovah did not share his love for Bible principles. Nevertheless, the psalmist did not allow their attitude to prevent him from doing what was right. (Psalm 119:23) If you live or work with someone who does not respect Bible standards, you may see similarities between the psalmist’s situation and your own.
6 Although a godly man, the psalmist was by no means self-righteous. He frankly acknowledged his own imperfections. (Psalm 119:5, 6, 67) However, he did not allow sin to control him. “How will a young man cleanse his path?” he asked. His answer: “By keeping on guard according to your word.” (Psalm 119:9) Then, underscoring what a powerful force for good God’s Word is, the psalmist added: “In my heart I have treasured up your saying, in order that I may not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) A force that can help us avoid sinning against God is powerful indeed!
7. Why should young people especially be conscious of the need to read the Bible daily?
7 Christian youths do well to consider the psalmist’s words. Young Christians are under attack today. The Devil would dearly love to corrupt the rising generation of Jehovah’s worshipers. Satan’s goal is to entice young Christians to give in to fleshly desires and break God’s laws. Movies and television programs often reflect the Devil’s thinking. The stars of such programs seem attractive and likable; immoral relations between them are portrayed as normal. The message? ‘It is all right for unmarried people to have sexual relations as long as they truly love each other.’ Sadly, each year a number of young Christians fall prey to such reasoning. Some experience shipwreck of their faith. So the pressure is on! But is the pressure so intense that it is impossible for you young people to cope? By no means! Jehovah has provided a way for young Christians to overcome unwholesome desires. They can resist any weapon the Devil can devise by ‘keeping on guard according to God’s Word, treasuring up God’s sayings in their heart.’ How much time do you spend in regular personal Bible reading and meditation?
8. How can the examples outlined in this paragraph help you to grow in appreciation for the Mosaic Law?
8 The writer of the 119th Psalm 119 exclaimed: “How I do love your law!” (Psalm 119:97) To which law was he referring? To Jehovah’s revealed word, including the Mosaic Law code. At first glance some might dismiss the Law code as outdated and wonder how anyone could love it. However, as we meditate on the various features of the Mosaic Law, as did the psalmist, we can appreciate the wisdom behind that Law. Aside from the many prophetic aspects of the Law, there are its sanitary and dietary stipulations, which promoted cleanness and good health. (Leviticus 7:23, 24, 26; 11:2-8) The Law encouraged honesty in business practices and exhorted the Israelites to show empathy to fellow worshipers in need. (Exodus 22:26, 27; 23:6; Leviticus 19:35, 36; Deuteronomy 24:17-21) Judicial decisions were to be made with impartiality. (Deuteronomy 16:19; 19:15) As the writer of Psalm 119 gained experience in life, he no doubt saw how well things turned out for those who applied God’s Law, and his fondness for it grew stronger. Similarly today, as Christians have success in applying Bible principles, their love and appreciation for God’s Word intensifies.
A Prince Who Dared to Be Different
9. What attitude did King Hezekiah cultivate toward God’s Word?
9 The contents of the 119th Psalm 119 harmonize well with what we know of Hezekiah when he was still a young prince. Some Bible scholars suggest that Hezekiah was the writer of the psalm. While this is not certain, we do know that Hezekiah had great respect for God’s Word. By his life course, he showed that he was in heart harmony with the words at Psalm 119:97. Of Hezekiah, the Bible states: “He kept sticking to Jehovah. He did not turn aside from following him, but he continued keeping his commandments that Jehovah had commanded Moses.”—2 Kings 18:6.
10. Of what encouragement is Hezekiah’s example to Christians who have not been raised by godly parents?
10 By all accounts, Hezekiah did not grow up in a godly family. His father, King Ahaz, was a faithless idolater who had at least one of his sons—Hezekiah’s own brother—burned alive as a sacrifice to a false god! (2 Kings 16:3) Despite this bad example, Hezekiah was able to “cleanse his path” of pagan influences by getting acquainted with God’s Word.—2 Chronicles 29:2.
11. As Hezekiah watched, how did matters turn out for his unfaithful father?
11 As Hezekiah grew up, he saw firsthand how his idolatrous father handled affairs of State. Judah was surrounded by enemies. There was Rezin, the king of Syria, who joined with King Pekah of Israel in besieging Jerusalem. (2 Kings 16:5, 6) There were the Edomites and the Philistines, who made successful forays into Judah and even captured some Judean cities. (2 Chronicles 28:16-19) How did Ahaz deal with these crises? Instead of appealing to Jehovah for help against Syria, Ahaz turned to the king of Assyria, bribing him with gold and silver, including that from the temple treasury. But this did not bring lasting peace to Judah.—2 Kings 16:6, 8.
12. By doing what could Hezekiah avoid repeating the mistakes of his father?
12 Eventually, Ahaz died and Hezekiah became king at 25 years of age. (2 Chronicles 29:1) He was relatively young, but that did not prevent him from becoming a successful king. Rather than imitate the conduct of his unfaithful father, he stuck to Jehovah’s Law. This included a special commandment for kings: “When [the king] takes his seat on the throne of his kingdom, he must write in a book for himself a copy of this law from that which is in the charge of the priests, the Levites. And it must continue with him, and he must read in it all the days of his life, in order that he may learn to fear Jehovah his God so as to keep all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 17:18, 19) By reading God’s Word daily, Hezekiah would learn to fear Jehovah and avoid repeating the mistakes of his ungodly father.
13. How can a Christian be sure that in a spiritual sense, everything he does will succeed?
13 Not only were the kings of Israel encouraged to give constant thought to God’s Word but all God-fearing Israelites were to do so. The first Psalm describes a truly happy man as one whose “delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.” (Psalm 1:1, 2) Of such a man, the psalmist says: “Everything he does will succeed.” (Psalm 1:3) In contrast, of the one lacking faith in Jehovah God, the Bible says: “He is an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways.” (James 1:8) All of us want to be happy and successful. Regular, meaningful Bible reading can contribute to our happiness.
God’s Word Sustained Jesus
14. How did Jesus show love for God’s Word?
14 On one occasion, Jesus’ parents found him sitting in the midst of the teachers at the temple in Jerusalem. How these experts in God’s Law “were in constant amazement at his understanding and his answers”! (Luke 2:46, 47) That was when Jesus was 12 years old. Yes, even at a young age, he clearly had a fondness for God’s Word. Later, Jesus used the Scriptures to rebuke the Devil, saying: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matthew 4:3-10) Soon after that, Jesus preached to the inhabitants of his hometown of Nazareth, using the Scriptures.—Luke 4:16-21.
15. How did Jesus set an example when preaching to others?
15 Jesus frequently quoted from God’s Word to support his teachings. His listeners “were astounded at his way of teaching.” (Matthew 7:28) And no wonder—Jesus’ teachings came from Jehovah God himself! Jesus said: “What I teach is not mine, but belongs to him that sent me. He that speaks of his own originality is seeking his own glory; but he that seeks the glory of him that sent him, this one is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”—John 7:16, 18.
16. To what extent did Jesus demonstrate his love for God’s Word?
16 Unlike the writer of Psalm 119, there was “no unrighteousness” in Jesus. He was sinless, the Son of God, who “humbled himself and became obedient as far as death.” (Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 7:26) Yet, perfect as he was, Jesus studied and obeyed God’s Law. This was a key factor in his ability to maintain his integrity. When Peter used a sword to try to prevent his Master from being arrested, Jesus rebuked the apostle and asked: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels? In that case, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that it must take place this way?” (Matthew 26:53, 54) Yes, the fulfillment of the Scriptures meant more to Jesus than escaping a cruel and humiliating death. What outstanding love for God’s Word!
Other Imitators of Christ
17. How important was God’s Word to the apostle Paul?
17 The apostle Paul wrote to fellow Christians: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) Like his Master, Paul developed a fondness for the Scriptures. He confessed: “In my inmost self I dearly love God’s Law.” (Romans 7:22, The Jerusalem Bible) Paul quoted God’s Word frequently. (Acts 13:32-41; 17:2, 3; 28:23) When he gave his final instructions to Timothy, a beloved fellow minister, Paul emphasized the important part that God’s Word should play in the daily life of every “man of God.”—2 Timothy 3:15-17.
18. Cite an example of one who, in modern times, showed respect for God’s Word.
18 Many faithful servants of Jehovah in modern times have likewise imitated Jesus’ love for God’s Word. Early in this century, a young man received a Bible from a friend. He described the effect of this precious gift on him: “I determined to make it a must in my life to read a portion of the Bible each and every day.” That young man was Frederick Franz, and his love of the Bible led to his enjoying a long and successful life in Jehovah’s service. He is fondly remembered for his ability to quote entire chapters of the Bible from memory.
19. How do some schedule the weekly Bible reading for the Theocratic Ministry School?
19 Jehovah’s Witnesses place great emphasis on regular Bible reading. Each week, in preparation for one of their Christian meetings, the Theocratic Ministry School, they read several chapters of the Bible. Highlights of the assigned Bible reading are discussed during the meeting. Some Witnesses find it convenient to divide the week’s Bible reading into seven smaller sections and read one section each day. As they read, they reflect on the material. When possible, they do additional research with the help of Bible-based publications.
20. What is needed in order to make time for regular Bible reading?
20 You may need to ‘buy out the time’ from other activities in order to read the Bible regularly. (Ephesians 5:16) However, the benefits will far outweigh any sacrifices. As you develop the habit of daily Bible reading, your love for God’s Word will grow. Before long, you will be moved to say with the psalmist: “How I do love your law! All day long it is my concern.” (Psalm 119:97) Such an attitude will bring great benefits now and in the future, as the next article will show.
Do You Remember?
□ How did the writer of Psalm 119 manifest deep love for God’s Word?
□ What lessons can we draw from the examples of Jesus and of Paul?
□ How can we personally grow in our love for God’s Word?
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Faithful kings were to read God’s Word regularly. Do you?
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Even as a boy, Jesus had a love of God’s Word