I became a Christian when I was in high school, and I remember being really excited about the Bible. Reading verses for the first time was amazing. My best friend and I used to pass notes to each other in class, writing Bible verses on them, and writing stuff like, “Check this out!”, “How cool is that!”. Those were great days. These days, I’m still walking with God and the Bible has certainly sustained me across the years. But I have to admit, I don’t feel that wonder and delight as frequently as I did. There’s times when that joy springs up again, but often the Bible can feel like a duty, instead of a delight.
I think that’s why I found Christopher Ash’s book, Bible Delight so helpful. I think for me, it addresses an issue that not many of us Christians want to talk about. We don’t really want to admit that we often don’t feel excited about the Bible.
I also love the way that he chooses not to motivate his readers through guilt. Instead, he chooses to inspire and excite us. He does this by taking the reader on a detailed and insightful journey though Psalm 119. The psalm has 167 verses, and has a lot to say about Gods word. Ash divides the psalm into twenty-two different sections, which all have personal response questions at the end. In this way, you can read the book over a period of time, digesting each section bit by bit. Perhaps you could even read one section each day!
In his introduction he says something that I found very interesting. He says that one of the great functions of the psalms is to “shape our ragged emotions and desires, so that we not only think as we ought to think, but also feel as we ought to feel and long as we ought to long.” (p12). He says that Psalm 119 gives us a model of how to authentically respond to God and his word, how to combine thought and feeling, theology and prayer, emotion and reality. Through his book, and particularly through Psalm 119, he wants to “inject into the heartbeat of Christian experience the passionate and reasonable delight in the written word of God.” (p 13)
I really loved his goal. I didn’t want to read a book that just told me what to do. As I read the introduction I felt warmed and excited. I was keen to read carefully through this psalm, with Ash’s careful guidance in the hope that my heart might be changed, my emotions touched and that I may learn as Ash says, to “sing” this psalm with a new and authentic delight for God’s word in my heart.