4. Come realistically. No matter how much we know, there will always be an endless abyss forever beyond us. We should feel like a little child paddling above the Mariana Trench. As we look down into the darkness surrounding His glory, we cry out with Augustine, “I see the depths, but I cannot see the bottom.” Reading the Bible with realism also means that we will often read the Word and feel very little of God at all. The book itself preps us to expect such dry times (see Pss. 13; 88). The sacred songbook is full of such sentiments. When we feel abandoned, these songs remind us that we are not alone; others have passed this way before. God gave them these songs in the midst of their dereliction. Evidently, He was much nearer than they sensed Him to be.
5. Come systematically. Wasn’t it Spurgeon who said that it takes a whole Bible to make a whole Christian? We must resolve, therefore, to mine its depths all day, every day (Ps. 1:2). Only then will it become our constant reference point, the lens through which we view all of life. Only then will we develop the faith-habit of looking through the appearance of things to see reality.
6. Come submissively. Determine to hear God’s mind, not your own; to pursue His will, not your own; to be done with the Adamic habit of measuring God “by the yardstick of your own carnal stupidity” (as John Calvin says), and to take Him as He reveals Himself, on His terms, not your own. Let there be no “not yet” in your prayer for submission. “Give me spiritual chastity now” must be the cry of every reader determined to find God in this book.
7. Come expectantly. The closest possible connection exists between God and His Word. Why do you think He made the universe with words, when a mere thought would have done it all? Was it not to teach us the glory of His voice? When He speaks, nothing remains the same; everything changes. And when His Son came into the world, how does He introduce Him to us? As His Word, His voice of self-revelation, through whom He made all things (John 1:1–3). So, when we come to the Bible, we should come expecting to meet the Lord Christ. It is His book. It is all about Him. He is the righteousness of the Law, the wisdom of the Proverbs, the singer of the Psalms, the king on the throne, the voice of the Prophets, the sacrifice on the altar, the judge in the end, and the glory of it all. He is all of this in union with us, His people.
This book is alive with the life of Christ. It comes to us as a spiritual virus. Most viruses, of course, take life from us; this one has quite the opposite effect. It infects us with a restorative glory. Reading it, our vision returns, and we see things as they really are. What is more, don’t you have the uncanny feeling you aren’t the only one doing the reading? Someone is peering into your soul. Open the Bible, and you come to a book that reads you.