The Brilliance of the Bible

 

The opening of Your words gives light, imparting understanding to the simple. –Psalm 119:130

The Bible is a source of endless light and wonderment to those who read it often and study it seriously. The Psalmist said, “The opening of Your words gives light.” This means that whenever we open the Bible, if our heart is right, we should expect light to bathe even the most familiar of verses and render them in surprisingly vivid tones.

Imagine flinging back the curtains of a house an hour before sunset, at that golden hour when the light is warm and the shadows long. A streak of light pours through the window pane, refracts, and sets ablaze various objects in the room. As the sun sets, the light moves to different objects—first the table, now a picture frame, now a vase. Sometimes a stray beam lands on a particularly reflective object and jumps from one side of the room to the other. Reading the Bible is like that. The word lights up in places. Often it’s a single phrase that stands out with heightened luminosity. Something we’ve read a hundred times all of a sudden acquires transparency and dazzling depth. The more we become inhabitants of the biblical land, and not mere tourists scurrying around with little attentiveness and appreciation, the more opportunities there are to make new discoveries, fresh observations, and powerful connections—the more opportunities light has to shine.

The apostle John refers to this experience in his first epistle:

Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you but an old commandment, which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you heard. Yet again a new commandment I am writing to you, which is true in Him and in you because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. –1 John 2:7-8

The commandment to love one another is old because it was spoken long ago by Jesus Himself (John 13:34). When John was writing his first epistle, that would have been roughly 60 years prior. Despite the oldness of this commandment, it was constantly new to the early church whenever they read it because of the shining power of the divine light in the word. Light makes old things new. Witness Lee says the commandment is “new because in their Christian walk it dawns with new light and shines with new enlightenment and fresh power again and again.”[1]

The Bible should never be a dimly lit book to us. Its words should never grow old or wane. Instead, we should be constantly realizing Scripture’s newness, power, and brilliance. We should be constantly making new discoveries in its familiar passages.

Realizing this characteristic of Scripture, Augustine said:

For such is the depth of the Christian Scriptures that, even if I were attempting to study them and nothing else, from boyhood to decrepit old age, with the utmost leisure, the most unwearied zeal, and with talents greater than I possess, I would still be making daily progress in discovering their treasures.[2]

This is humbling and exhilarating at the same time. We may not have all the skills or the time we wish we had to dive into the Bible, but we have a God who’s word gives light. We have a brilliant Bible. So we should pray with the Psalmist,

Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law. –Psalm 119:18


 

1. Witness Lee, Recovery Version Footnotes, 1 John 2:8, note 1
2. Augustine, Letter 137, 1.3

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