Your decrees are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. With open mouth I pant, because I long for your commandments. Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your custom toward those who love your name. Keep my steps steady according to your promise, and never let iniquity have dominion over me. Redeem me from human oppression, that I may keep your precepts. Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes. My eyes shed streams of tears because your law is not kept. Psalm 119: 129-136 (NRSV)
Cindy Tanquary Peavy is from Alabama. Her granddad was a quiet man. But in the evenings when he settled on the sofa, poetry flowed from him. Cindy loved to lean against his chest, her cheek on his worn, flannel shirt, and listen to the rumble and rhythm of the words as he spoke. He often recited Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem about the village blacksmith under the spreading chestnut tree. Knowing just when to pause or raise his voice, he transported Cindy to another time and place. She was spell-bound.
Granddad taught Cindy that we learn from words when we treasure them. The verse from Psalm 119 above invites us to do the same with the words of God. As the source of all knowledge, God has much to teach us through the Bible. But the psalmist tells us that we'll miss the lesson if we skim over the words; rather, they're meant to be unfolded. Layer by layer, word by word, we open the divine gift. We read God's words until they're stamped in our memory and the light of understanding enters our hearts. Then those words can teach us wisdom, direct our steps, wrap us in comfort and peace, show us mercy and love, and bring us closer to God.
I, personally, find that reading the Bible out loud every day has made a significant difference in my spiritual life. Even when I can't pronounce the names correctly, I do the best I can, and I believe God listens to the intent and not the perfection. As I read it over and over my understanding changes and, hopefully, it is growing.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for your word. Help us to unfold it like a treasured gift so that it fills our lives and our hearts, in Jesus' name, amen.