Two other sections of Bible Delight really caught my attention. They were Section 3: “Pressure and Promise” and Section 12: “The Word and the World”. Both these sections of the book speak about how Gods word interacts with us, as we interact with the world we live in.
In section 3, “Pressure and Promise”, Ash emphasises a fact that I often miss as I read the Bible. He emphasises the fact that the writer of Psalm 119 writes his song in the midst of a hostile world. The psalmist is surrounded by people who think he’s stupid for trusting God. He lives among people who treat him with scorn and contempt for what he believes. He doesn’t sing of his love for God’s word from an ivory tower, but rather from the nitty gritty of life’s messiness.
We live in that same world too. I’ve often made the mistake of thinking that people in the Bible kind of floated around wearing sandals and robes and lived in a world that was holier than ours, a world that was less “real” and less messy. Here as I read Psalm 119, and Ash’s helpful commentary I am reminded that this is far from the case. Like the psalmist, we are mere sojourners here, and like him we need to keep God’s word stored in our hearts as a safeguard against all the pressures we face.
As Ash concludes, “ The process is this: I am drawn by the grace of God to seek him and walk in the way of his word. The world begins to oppose me, to scorn me and to pot against me. And so as I read his word I pray with all my heart for God to open my eyes to understand it. For these words are my only reliable counsellors. And so the process of hostility is turned by God into a pressure that squeezes me closer to the God I seek” (p 56)
In Section 12 Ash looks at the interaction between God’s word and the world in a different way. He is now focusing on verse 89-96 of the psalm. He addresses a question that I think a lot of Christians have, but are often too scared to admit. Ash looks at the question; Does the Bible actually correspond to the world I live in? Is the Bible truly relevant to the world today? I must say I am sometimes tempted to wonder this myself. I look around at the world…governments around the world are making huge decisions without any reference to the Bible. People seem to live successful lives without giving the Bible a second thought. Sometimes we may be tempted to think the Bible doesn’t really gel with the world around us. Here, Psalm 119 steps in and indeed has something relevant to say.
Verse 89 of the psalm says “Your word O Lord is eternal, it stands firm in the heavens”. God’s word stands firm- it is firmly fixed and is the actual foundation of our world. The whole world is built on the word of God. As Ash says, when we walk the way of His Word, “we do not carve out for ourselves, as some little minority religious grouping, a social order of our own construction. No, we walk along the grain of the universe. And therefore we are safe.” (p 123)
God’s Word and the world I live in every day … As I read Bible Delight I am reminded that the Bible is written about those who walk in the messiness of life, and yet hold fast to the truth. The truth that the world is created by Gods word and therefore, it will be within his word that I will find the very compass designed to help me navigate it.