Love is a complex thing. Contrary to popular notions, love is not a feeling or an emotion that you can fall into and then fall out of. Love is complex, meaning that love involves many things. Classically speaking, our human faculties are made up of the mind, the will, and the affections. Love is rooted in knowledge, exercised in willful decision, and experienced in the affections. To love someone involves all of this. To love someone means that you also love the things about someone. This is most true of our love for God. We love Him, and that leads us to love everything about Him. One of those things is His Word. To love God is to love His Word. Psalm 119 says, “Oh how I love your law!” (v. 97).
Because the Word is the means that God uses to speak to us, we need to love it and use it. Let’s consider how to do that.
By Our Duty to Read It
We are to love God by loving His Word. Therefore, it is our duty to read it. Just as we give presents because we love someone and they open it in reciprocal love and gratitude, so too has God shown His love for His people by giving us the gift of His Word. The psalmist said: “He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules” (Ps. 147:19–20). Show Him you love Him by reading His Word. Scripture explains that we do this in three ways.
Because the Word is the means that God uses to speak to us, we need to love it and use it.
Publicly. We love God by loving His Word read publicly. This was done in the ancient Jewish synagogue, as evidenced by Jesus’ entering the synagogue and performing the appointed reading from the prophet Isaiah (Luke 4:16–24). The early church carried on this practice, as Paul tells us (1 Thess. 5:27; Col. 4:16), and continued the practice after the close of the Apostolic age. For example, Justin Martyr said, “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits.” And Tertullian said, “We assemble to read our sacred writings . . . with the sacred words we nourish our faith, we animate our hope, we make our confidence more steadfast.”
As a family. We love God by loving His Word read as a family, if the Lord provides us with a family. Moses exhorted the Israelites to teach the commandments to their children (Deut. 6:6–7). Family Bible reading is necessary to propagate the Christian religion in our children. Studies show the rising generation in American churches leaving those churches; is it any wonder when parents, especially fathers, are not taking the time to read the Word with their children? Ignorance of Scripture leads to ignorance of Christ.
Privately. We love God by loving His Word read privately. Psalm 1 speaks of the singular “man” (v. 1) who is blessed because “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (v. 2). To read the Word and meditate on the Word as a believer causes one to be like a well-watered and fruitful tree (v. 3). Psalm 119 is also the meditation of an individual believer: “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day” (v. 97). Meditating on the Word makes one wise (v. 98), makes one godly (v. 101), and gives us a spiritual delight as the Word is “sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (v. 103). This is why one writer said, “To neglect [the reading of the Word] is to despise our own souls, and deprive ourselves of the advantage of God’s instituted means of grace.” If we love God, it is our duty to read the Word of God.
By Our Delight to Receive It
We are to love God by loving His Word. Therefore, it is our delight to receive it. Again, think about receiving a gift. A gift is an act of grace—a person gives you something not because you deserve it but because he decided to express his love.
Ten times in the great Psalm 119 we read of the psalmist praising the Lord for receiving the Lord’s Word, saying he “delights” in the Word (Ps. 119:14, 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174). Why? Because the Word is the living Word of the Lord to us, His people. The psalmist also describes his delight in the Word in comparison to other delightful things. He compares the Word to gold and silver, saying in verse 72, “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (see v. 127). He compares the Word to honey, saying in verse 103, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Elsewhere in Scripture, we read of the Word being compared to other things such as these. The Word is compared to a sword that defends against spiritual enemies (Eph. 6:17). The Word is compared to a lamp that guides us (Ps. 119:105). The Word is compared to milk that nourishes our souls (1 Peter 2:2).
If we love God, it is our duty to read the Word and our delight to receive it as the very Word of the true and living God.
Rev. Daniel R. Hyde is pastor of Oceanside United Reformed Church in Oceanside, Calif. He is author of several books, including the forthcoming Grace Worth Fighting For: Recapturing the Vision of God’s Grace in the Canons of Dort.