The Blessedness of Bible Study
“Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near” (See Revelation 1:3, RSV).
Beatitudes are biblical principles or promises which begin with the word “blessed”. They describe the “attitudes that ought to be” in the life of a Christian. The most famous beatitudes are found in Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7). The book of Psalms contains nineteen beatitudes. There are seven beatitudes in the book of Revelation, the first expressed in Revelation 1:3.
First, there is a blessedness in reading God’s word (3a). The word “read” means “to know again” or “to know well”. A reader in the synagogue of Jesus’ day helped the people to “know again” what God had said in the scriptures. Jesus is our model for reading. The Gospels make clear that Christ was a reader (See Matthew 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:31). He who was omniscient studied the scriptures! We need to develop a method for our reading. First comes the basic commitment to study the Bible. Then we develop a plan or schedule. Perhaps we will read through the Bible in a year, or we will study a particular book for one month, or we will trace a word (like “grace”) all the way through the Bible, or study a great character like David or Peter.
Second, there is also a blessedness in hearing God’s word (3b). This is much more than listening to sermons. Hearing requires meditation – that is, thoughtfulness and reflection. Meditating on scripture was practiced and enjoined in the New Testament. Hearing also requires some level of memorization (or memory). Our goal is not to forget what we read! The Psalmist calls this “hiding God’s Word in our hearts” (Psalm 119:11). This kind of hearing begins with a proper estimation of the Bible. Jesus described his words as “Spirit and life” (John 6:63). God’s word is worthy or our meditation and even memorization.
Third, there is a blessedness in keeping God’s word (3c). Obedience is an expression of love (John 14:15). James calls us to be “doers of the word” and not “hearers only” (James 1:22). Obedience is also an entrance or gateway into happiness. The Psalmist speaks of “thy testimonies . . . rejoicing the heart”. Jesus said, “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them” (John 13:17). This obedience ultimately becomes an example and witness to others. Do you know the blessedness of Bible study?
Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.