The Psalmist adds to that thought “…it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). The word “simple” at first seems offensive, but if we recognize that this one is related to “uncomplicated,” it makes a lot of sense. Years ago I came across a small book written by a man whose academic credentials listed by degree letters reached almost across the cover.
His contention in the book was that the later writers of the gospels corrupted the writings of those first gospel accounts. For example, when John wrote of Jesus being the Word of God, even God in the flesh, near the end of the first century, he contradicted the account given by Matthew or Mark, who presented Jesus as the King of the Jews and the servant of Man.
It appears that with all of his academic achievements, he had not discovered that the Holy Spirit motivated those men to write their accounts, just as Peter related how the Old Testament writings came about:
“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:16-21).
The writer of Psalm 119 makes an astounding declaration! Look at this:
“I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies aremy meditation” (Psalm 119:99).
And we ask, “How can that be?” Perhaps the same One who prompted him to write that also was telling him this:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
It is interesting how Paul recognizes the qualities of character that was in the Corinthians because the Holy Spirit dwelt in them, as believers, in spite of how carnally they lived:
“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him, in all utterance and all knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:4-5).
In that opening verse of this article, “simple” does not mean “dumb” or “brain-dead.” Given the only way possible for a person to understand the Word of God is to be taught by the Holy Spirit, it may well mean “simply” to submitting to that Teacher’s tutoring. Consider this promiser Jesus gave His disciples as He neared His crucifixion:
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13).
Because of that promise of an indwelling Comforter He had made earlier…:
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17)…
Jesus could make this declaration:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12).
It comes down to the conclusion that flesh and blood of the Adam nature can contribute nothing—NOTHING—to the true work of God, and He is not going to share His glory with Man.
I have long contended and believe it to be so, that we have had only two things in the world that are, at the same time, both physical and spiritual–the person of Christ in human body form and the written or printed Word of God. Jesus has ascended into heaven, yet we still have the Word of God, the Holy Bible. Some might say that the born-again believer is also like that, both physical and spiritual, but in that case the physical body is corrupted with the sin of Adam.
In a strange and unique way, the words of the Bible can penetrate a person’s conscience and change his life. Here are some examples of how the Bible makes those claims of itself, like no other book can do:
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, and there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13).
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror, for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (James 1:22-24).
“…having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified
In the verses above, the writer of Hebrews says the Word pierces into the innermost part of a person’s being; Peter tells us that we are born again by the instrumentation of the Word; and Paul commends to us that Word because it will build us up spiritually and accumulate a spiritual heritage for our account in heaven. Paul also reveals that faith, itself, is generated by exposure to the Word of God, and in another place, he says it is the sword of the Spirit.
If the content of this article so far, as it points toward enlightenment of the truth, has not raised a question in your mind, then let me suggest one: Why is it that some read and study the Scriptures, yet come up with positions as far apart as daylight is from dark?
There are several possibilities I can see that would cause that end result: Pre-conceived ideas of what the truth is; lack of understanding what is the nature of the Word of God; lack of understanding what is the nature of God; lack of understanding what is the broad plan of God for the ages.
Much of the difficulty would be solved if there is established a firm and sure benchmark or two which would always keep the discovered biblical principles in balance with each other. One of these has to do with the nature of God, and I have found that Numbers 23:19 spells it out clearly:
“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
And for those who would complain that that’s taken out of context, make a note that the attributes of God are never out of context. A second benchmark is found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Note that the inspired Word of God accomplishes four basic and foundational things:
· It reveals the truth of God—doctrine;
· That revealed truth should rebuke any deviation from the truth—the reproof;
· It will provide the proper realignment with the truth—the correction;
· It will provide the necessary information to enable one to live according to the truth of God—the instruction in righteousness.
Then, one who would be a man of God will be adequately fortified to accomplish what God has for him to do—and be.
The first Bible conference I attended many years ago gave me a simple Bible study outline that works for a single verse, a larger context, a chapter, and perhaps even a book of the Bible. It has four basic questions to be answered:
1. What does the verse say? (Paraphrase it in your own words, or for larger passages, outline it.)
2. What does it say that I don’t understand? (What you might not understand, or even a question someone else might have. Seeking to answer the questions is implied.)
3. Where else does the Bible speak of this? (Cross-references that speak of this topic.)
4. What does it say to me? (What applications do I make from this truth?)
It is said that the Bible is its own best commentary, and it has reason to be, having been formulated over many years with the writings of many different people from different cultures. Yet it does not vary in the continuity of its central theme and message. (Note that no mention of going to an outside commentary or the teaching of the “early church fathers” is made.)
If a student ever comes to a place where it looks like God is contradicting Himself, it is time to fall back on those benchmarks I mentioned earlier. God does not lie, He does not change His plan, and the Word is inspired by Him. It is incredible, yet unrealistic, that in some circles more unquestioned authenticity is given to that one remaining ancient copy of the Greek book, Homer’s Odyssey, than the many early copies of the Scriptures, now including those of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In my years in the accounting profession, mathematical terms were a real part of any day. If your books are out of balance, divide the difference by nine to see if you have made a transposition of numerals. If it divides evenly, it is a transposition. If the difference divides evenly, half and half, it is likely you have entered a debit as a credit, or vice versa, in the amount of that half of the out-of-balance amount.
Division, then, is a key operation in bringing things into balance. Likewise, rightly dividing the Word of God ensures a balanced interpretation of the Word and an affirmation that it is the correct one, having considered all applicable inputs to the equation.
It is of great comfort that the Holy Spirit is committed to leading us into all truth and will show us things to come (John 16:13).