Friday, December 31, 2010


Closer: Devotions to Draw Couples TogetherToday is the fourth and final part in my series on Psalm 119. To read the previous posts, first go here, then here, and finally here.

On Monday I listed the benefits that come from reading God's Word; on Tuesday I explained why we can trust in His Word, and on Wednesday I offered up the warnings for those who refuse to obey His commandments. For me, each of those seem very logical. The benefits and warnings are laid out clearly and without need for interpretation, and the reasons for trusting in the Word are also listed clearly. This last part is a bit different and takes that leap of faith to understand.

The writer of Psalm 119 was deeply in love with the Lord's Word, commandments, regulations, laws, commands, etc. He wrote this song as a love letter to them, as a way of demonstrating his deep devotion. This is not a man who reads his Bible just at a set time during the day and might skip a day every now and then. In verse 120, he says, "I tremble in fear of you; I stand in awe of your regulations." And verse 161 says, "Powerful people harass me without cause, but my heart trembles only at your word."  The writer talks about persecution throughout the song, but he is only moved by God's Word. That is deep trust and devotion.

What really moved me about this writer was how different his view of life and the Word is from our own. We read the Bible to understand God, mostly because we want our lives to be better. We hope that by reading the Bible our lives will be better, that God will bless our effort, or if we are suffering, we go to it for succor, but this writer puts those efforts to shame.

In your unfailing love, spare my life;
then I can continue to obey your laws. Verse 88

Sustain me and I will be rescued;
then I will meditate continually on your decrees. Verse 117

Ransom me from the oppression of evil people,
then I can obey your commandments. Verse 134

I cry out to you; rescue me,
that I may obey your laws. Verse 146

Do you see the theme in each of those verses? The writer isn't asking God to save his life so he can do good things, have a wonderful life, take care of his family, feed the poor, donate all his goods to the poor, or save lost souls. His one and only desire is to obey and meditate on God's laws. Think on that. When I am in despair or suffering, I ask God for comfort or relief, and I may come up with a million reasons why, but for the sole purpose studying the law? I can honestly say, I've never considered that. The writer's focus and reason for being is God's Word.

Reading John 1:1-5 brings deeper meaning to his words:

In the beginning the Word already existed.
      The Word was with God,
      and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
      and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
      and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
      and the darkness can never extinguish it.

The writer didn't have our knowledge that Jesus is God's Word. The Gospel of John was still several hundred years away from being written, but this writer already knew that God's Word was to be the one and only thing in his entire life that had meaning. It gave his life meaning and purpose. Reading Psalm 119 with the words of John 1 in mind, gives all new meaning to it. 

Everything said about God's laws, decrees, regulations, commands, commandments, Word, are also true about Jesus, because Jesus is the Word!

So Jesus brings us joy, revival, encouragement, life, freedom, comfort, delight, understanding, light, peace, and help. He is our only hope, more valuable than millions in gold and silver, trustworthy, true, our constant guide, sweeter than honey, our treasure and heart's delight, the source of our hope, right, wonderful, fair, and perfect. Without Him we are ashamed, rebuked, and cursed, rejected, dull and stupid, far from rescue, fooling ourselves, skimmed off like scum, and overcome by evil. 

With Jesus, we have all that we need, and without Him, we have and are nothing. He is the reason that we need to read the Bible, so we can understand his heart, because it is His love letter to us. Happy New Year, I pray that you will make a resolution to begin reading the Bible and open yourself up to the infinite blessings inside.

Closer by Jim & Cathy Burns is a year-long devotional for couples looking to strengthen their marriage. Broken down into 52 easy to read lessons, the authors tackle many of the issues that strain and break marriages in this age when divorce is common and living together before marriage even more so. From finances to kids to sex, the Burns discuss it all in a encouraging and conversational tone. Each lesson has questions at the end for spouses to ask each other to deepen the lesson as well as exercises to keep the conversation going. The most important lesson the authors have for readers is that God must be in the center of a marriage for it to be successful, and that when we seek to change our partner, it's often we who need to change ourselves. The lessons are quick and easy to read in just a few minutes weekly, so it will work for even the busiest couples. Closer is an excellent tool for couples looking to have a better relationship in 2011.

Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a copy of this book for review.