Many people, even avid Bible readers, are unaware that it wasn’t until the 13th century that chapters were added to Scripture. Verses, as we know them today, weren’t added until the 16th century. This is why I (and many others) caution against cherry-picking verses when studying the Bible. The chapter and verse breaks aren’t organic to the text. That said, it’s amazing how much God can pack into a few short verses. Take Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV):

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

There are two, three-part progressions tucked into those verses…

Walk, stand and sit, and wicked, sinners and mockers. The first is a progression of increased familiarity. Here’s what I mean by that. Suppose you’re walking and talking with someone. The conversation becomes more engrossing, so you stop walking and stand and talk. Finally, you decide to sit together. As that familiarity grows, we see depravity grow as well. First, it’s the wicked, those inclined to sin. Then it’s those who are actively sinning. Finally, it’s those who are committing the sin of mocking God. As our familiarity with these groups grows, so too does our distance from God.

Then, the psalmist turns the table. The person who delights in the law of God and meditates on it is like a tree planted near streams of water that yields fruit and its leaf does not wither. In whatever they do they prosper. The face-value lesson this passage teaches is important: how to keep close to God. But these passages also teach or remind us that on virtually every page of the Bible, there is more than meets the eye.

Works of fiction, such as “The Da Vinci Code” and others, entertain readers by imagining some type of secret code embedded within Scripture. God doesn’t hide anything in the Bible. It’s all straightforward. But a divine book needs a divine teacher. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would teach us. When we pray to Him before opening God’s Word, amazing things often happen. The Living Bible comes alive, and it is custom written for us. So, don’t look for secret codes. But look for progressions and patterns that can help us better understand what God wants us to get out of each reading of the Bible.

So, the next time you read a “verse of the day,” take some time to read at least the entire chapter from where it is taken. You can start by reading Psalm 1 in its entirety. I have no idea what God will do with it when you read it. And that’s what makes it so exciting!

— Pastor Jerry Bader

No Comments

Post A Comment