Why Read the Bible?

In Psalm 119, the writer records the value of the written word of God.  So what does the Bible do for us? 

First, the benefits of the Word of God come to those who read it, believe it by faith, and obey it. 

Reading it, alone, will increase knowledge, but it will not give understanding without belief.  True belief will naturally lead to obedience, for if we truly believe a thing we walk out on it, putting our money where our mouth is, so to speak.

Of course, in God’s grace, these are steps to be taken.  

            * God graciously comes to us and helps us to turn to His Word (Acts 11:21). 

            * He confirms His Word in our hearts as we read so that we can believe it (John 31:31; Romans 10:17)

            * And then, in our belief and agreement with Him, he then helps us to walk in it (obey it) (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Romans 8:1-4).

Because of Jesus, God forgives our stumbling efforts to know and obey Him. The Holy Spirit’s power, the same power that resurrected Christ from the dead, is given to those who believe, to help us remember what He commands and to stand firmly against temptation (Romans 8:11).

Therefore, the benefits of  God’s Word begins at first reading when the heart is fully seeking the Lord. The more we test it out, the more we find it to be firm, and the more we receive the blessings of which the psalmist in Psalm 119 is speaking.

Psalm 119

This psalm, divided into 23 octrains (8-verse stanzas), is a teaching song about the merits and praise of God’s Word. When the writer implores God with a request and ends with “according to your word“, that means that God has aleady confirmed the fulfillment of the request in the promises of His Word. Therefore, as the author asks, he knows by faith that he will receive it.  

This is not the prayer of a person who is merely wishing for these things—he is praying God’s promises back to Him by faith.  So can we, too, pray God’s promises back to Him. But first we must know them.[1] 

What Does God’s Word Do for Us?

So what do these octrains tell us that God promises? What benefit do we receive from reading, believing and obeying God’s Word? 

Below are gleanings from each of these octrains.  Each is linked to the related scripture and a studied, summarized prayer from this website in modern language underneath.[2] By reading both, you can better understand the full value of the praise and petitions of the author.

Aleph – Those who read and obey His word are blessed by God Himself. They are not ashamed. 

Beth – We are able to stay on the path of purity. We are able to say ‘no’ to sin. 

Gimel – God opens our eyes to understand His Word. We see the arrogant rebuked. Scorn and contempt are removed from us. God gives peace when those in authority conspire to slander us.   God’s Word counsels us and is a delight to our souls. 

Daleth – When I am laid low, God’s Word preserves my life. God teaches us. We see God’s wonderful deeds in history. We receive strength in exchange for weakness. We are kept from the deceits of this world; we are made wise. We are not put to shame because our understanding is increased. 

He – God’s Word helps us lean in to its truth; we avoid covetousness and vanity. We come to see God’s judgments as good and reproach is turned away.  

Vav – God’s mercies and salvation are fulfilled to us according to His Promises. We have an answer for those who reproach us. We are spiritually kept from wrongful misinterpretation of the Word according to His judgments. We walk at liberty of soul. We speak before those in high authority and are not ashamed. We come to love His Word.

Heth – God’s Word is our inheritance. We receive God’s mercy.  God turns our feet from falsehood and evil to walk in the truth. Though the wicked may rob us of earthly things, God help us to remember His law, of which no man may take from me. God’s judgments give comfort all day and all night without fail. We have fellowship with those who fear God and keep His commands. 

Teth – God counsels us well through His Word. He gives us good judgment and knowledge when we believe. God gives us power to keep His word in exchange for our weakness.  We can now see God in His goodness instead of fearing His judgment. We can stand firm and confident in the face of those who lie against us. We can see affliction as a good teacher. We come to value the Word of God above all other treasures.

Jod – We come to see God as our personal Creator.  We have joy-filled fellowship with other believers. God’s Word self-confirms its truth. We see affliction as God’s faithful correction and are not offended by it. God’s merciful kindness comforts us. The mercy in His commands give us life. We see the proud become shamed as they persecute without cause; in God we see justice. God’s Word gives us a soundness of mind and heart that defies shame. 

Caph – God’s Word gives me hope that Christ’s salvation is sure. When I am discouraged, God’s Word does not fail me. God gives help in times of persecution. God’s Word is faithful and true. God’s Word keeps us from destruction. God’s Word is loving and kind. 

Lamed – God’s Word is stable, faithful, and enduring because it is Truth. We see in God’s Creation the evidence of God’s Word. We, the created, are servants to God alone. God saves us from perishing in our affliction. God gives us inner life. God’s Word shows us that this earth is insufficient for lasting hope, but God is more than sufficient to meet every need. 

Mem – God’s Word makes me wiser than my constant enemies. God’s Word makes me wiser than my teachers. God’s Word gives me more understanding than ancient earthly philosophies. God Himself is my teacher. God’s Word is sweet to me to hear it and to speak it. In the Word, I come to see and reject every false way.

Nun – God’s Word is the light of guidance. God’s Word is righteous. God’s Word gives life to the  afflicted. God’s Word gives us words with which to praise Him. God teaches us. My life is a fragile thing, but God helps me to remember His word and I have hope. God’s Word helps me to avoid the enemies’ traps. God’s Word is my inheritance, and joy!

Samech  – God’s Word is never wasteful. He is a hiding place and a shield and hope. He gives us confidence in the face of evil. He upholds and gives life. Hope in God’s Word is never disappointed or shamed. He gives safety. God’s justice is against those who turn away from God’s Word. God gives sight as we see through their deceit as falsehood. Evil is banished. God’s Word causes me to respect Him as one to be worshipped.

Ain – God’s Word protects us from our arrogant oppressors. Though I wait for His salvation, God’s promises are sure—I will receive it. God’s Word deals in love to His servants. We can intimately know truth. God acts when his law is broken. God’s law is worth more than pure gold. God’s Word helps me to see and reject every false path.

Pe – God’s Word is wonder-ful. Reading God’s Word gives light, even to the simple. God reveals His mercy. God orders our steps. God keeps sin from having dominion over me. God’s Word delivers us from the oppression of man. God’s face shines in acceptance and approval upon His servants and He teaches them. God’s Word gives me the compassion to grieve over those who do not keep His Word.

Tzade  – God’s judgments are everlastingly righteous, upright and faithful. God’s Word creates in me a zeal for truth. God’s word is pure. God sees the small and the despised, and honors them in His Word. God’s law is truth. God’s laws are delightful. God’s law endures forever. Through understanding, God gives life. 

Koph – God hears our cry. God saves me. God’s word gives hope. God’s Word is loving and kind. God gives life according to his Sovereign wisdom. The evil are far from God’s law, but God is very near to us in His Word. All his commandments are right. God’s law is established  from the beginning and endures forever. 

Resh – God knows our affliction and delivers us. God will plead our cause and deliver us and give us life again through His tender mercies. Though persecuted, God gives me strength to obey. God’s compassion and mercy makes me grieve for those who do not keep His Word. God knows my feeble obedience and revives me according to his lovingkindness and forgiveness. God’s word is true from beginning and enduring forever.

Shin – Though people in high places persecute me, my heart is secure in wonder at God’s Word.  God’s word makes me rejoice in its value. God’s word is not a lie or deception, but the truth. God’s Word causes me to praise Him. God’s Word gives great peace, and there is no offense. God’s law gives hope for salvation. God’s word helps me to see myself truthfully and helps me to obey. God’s law creates in me a love for God’s law.

Tau – God hears our cry and gives understanding. God delivers us. God teaches us His Word. God’s word is righteous and therefore is worthy to be spread abroad. God helps us. God’s Word is delightful. God’s Word gives life to my soul and His judgments help me.  When I go astray like a lost sheep, God looks for us who are His servants to keep us safe from destruction. We cannot forget His Word because He keeps us. 

© 2020 by ReadPsalm119.com. All photos are by ReadPsalm119.com.

[1] The octrains repeat many benefits; the repetition is not meaningless, but serves to emphasize the certainty and experience of the author concerning these blessings.

[2] See “Prayers” in the menu bar for a full table of these prayers. This website is undergoing a very slow update, whereby all the prayers are being converted to the New International Version for the sake of modern ease of reading. Many prayers, therefore, will still be in the classic King James Version. Thank you for your patience as we continue improving this site for you.

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