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The Tenth Benefit of Studying the Bible: Joy
In the first benefits article, we looked at the real purpose and value of Bible codes. The purpose of Bible codes is to serve as another witness to the authenticity of the Hebrew Bible as a text that was authored by God. Now if God is the author, then what He wrote must have great value and pertinence to everyone. So its content conveys usages that far exceed the vain hope of receiving a few reliable predictions via Bible codes. Given that, we continue our review of the benefits of studying the Bible. In the final article of this series on the benefits of studying the Bible, we look at the benefit of joy.
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
—Psalm 119:103 (NKJV)
Many of our previous articles in this series have demonstrated the practical application of studying God's Word for direction and guidance in our lives. So, how does joy fit into that? As we read the writings of Jeremiah, King David, and Solomon, we will find that having joy in our lives is a natural outcome of studying, meditating on, and applying God's Word to our lives.
In the midst of facing the Lord's anger towards Israel, Jeremiah suddenly bursts forth with the following:
Your words were found, and I ate them,
And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;
For I am called by Your name,
O LORD God of hosts. —Jeremiah 15:16 (NKJV)
This spontaneous expression of the Word as pure joy to his heart is compelling. In Hebrew, the word heart ( or ) can be the physical heart, or in the abstract, "the totality of man's inner or immaterial nature."1 It can also refer to a person's understanding or mind, and it is considered the seat of the will.
Furthermore, throughout Scripture, God's Word is frequently compared to food or nourishment. Here Jeremiah speaks of finding God's Words and eating them. Reading and meditating on the Word is much like eating. Taking the Word into our mind and letting it nourish us is food not just for the mind, but for the body and soul as well, and surely, the resulting joy is good for all three.
Let's Find Treasure
Princes persecute me without a cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your word.
I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure. —Psalm 119:161-162 (NKJV)
Again we find the word heart, but this time coupled with awe. Awe in this context is a great reverence for God's Word. King David's entire being is in awe over the Word, and using a vivid word-picture to describe his joy, he says he rejoices over the Word as if he stumbled upon a great treasure. In our modern-day culture, we don't often have the opportunity to "find a great treasure," so we may have to use our imagination.
- Finding a family heirloom that had been lost.
- Finding a treasured book from your childhood that is out-of-print.
- Inheriting a fortune, just when you needed it most.
None of these compare with the joy that comes from treasuring God's Word.
Let's Find Happiness
Solomon, considered the wisest man that ever lived, is known for the opening passage of Ecclesiastes: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." (Eccl. 1:2b, NKJV). He continues with a bleak outlook on the vanity and brevity of life. Chapter one paints a vivid picture of futility. However, this same man writes in Proverbs:
He who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he. —Proverbs 16:20 (NKJV)
Solomon had the secret to happiness and the antidote to futility all along. In verse 24 he continues, "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones." While he may not be specifically referring to God's Word here, based on his earlier thoughts, this passage would certainly apply to God's Word. Again, we see the idea of words being food, being sweet, and bringing health to the body and soul.
Psalm 1 describes the man who delights in God's law. In Hebrew, the word that is translated as delight is the word for "his desire" (). So the object of his desire is God's Word, and the result of meditating on the Word is blessing, prosperity and joy.
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish. (NKJV)
For additional information on this Psalm, see our previous article: Blessings.
The benefits of studying the Bible are pervasive and limitless. In this series of articles, we have touched on just ten benefits:
- Receive Step-by-Step Guidance
- Receive Wisdom and Insight
- Be Strengthened
- Know that Your Troubles Have a Good Purpose
- Confidence About Security
- Peace and Assurance
- Receive God's Unfailing Love and Salvation
- Be Liberated from the Burdens of Sin and Personal Obsessions
We conclude with excerpts from the very Psalm that inspired this series of articles. As you meditate on these verses, may each of you find continuing joy in studying God's Word.
Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word. —Psalm 119:1-2, 10-11, 14-16 (NKJV)
1Harris, Archer and Waltke, eds. 1980. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute. (Vol. 1) 466.
Ben-Yehuda and Ben-Yehuda. 1964. Ben-Yehuda's Pocket English-Hebrew/Hebrew-English Dictionary New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Scripture quotations marked "NKJVTM" are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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