September 26, 2012

Friday: Singing the Scriptures

Three thousand years ago the Holy Spirit inspired one of the psalmists to write a song. The focus of that Scripture song was the Word of God. Perhaps you will recognize some parts to that psalm: “Revive me according to Your word.” “The entrance of Your words gives light.” “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

Have you recognized the psalm yet? That’s right! Psalm 119 (verses 154, 130, 105, and 11).1 I encourage you to read that inspired Scripture song in its entirety. The message is clear. God has revealed His Word to us, and that Word can bring light and revitalizing power to your life today.

More Than Mere Words
Jesus accepted that inspired Scripture song and the rest of the Scriptures as more than a helpful collection of religious ideas—more than words of human beings about God. The Scriptures were, and still are, the inspired Word of God. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus responded to Satan’s temptations by quoting from the Scriptures. He said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ ” (Matt. 4:4, quoting Deut. 8:3). 

How do we receive that word which proceeds from the mouth of God? Through the oral and written testimonies of the prophets. The apostle Peter gave this testimony under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “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 1:19-21).

2012 1527 page18When the Lord called Jeremiah to be a prophet, Jeremiah responded, “Ah, Lord God!  Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth” (Jer. 1:6). But the Lord said to Jeremiah, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak” (verse 7). Then the Lord touched the young prophet’s mouth and said, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth” (verse 9).

God’s Word a Defense
God’s Word is a defense against the enemy. When Jesus went into the wilderness after His baptism, Satan saw this time of prayerful solitude as an opportunity to attack Him. Jesus responded to Satan’s every temptation with God’s Word. How was He able to do this? Did He have a scroll or two hidden under His cloak? No. Jesus believed the Scriptures were the Word of God, so He hid God’s Word in His heart. He took time to memorize and internalize it. Then, when the enemy attacked, Jesus had a defense against him. He used “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).  

The Greek noun translated “word” in Matthew 4:4 and Ephesians 6:17 is rh?ma, which implies a specific word or saying. When Satan attacked, Jesus didn’t just hold up the Bible or a Bible scroll like some kind of lucky charm and say, “The Bible, the Bible, the Bible.” No, Jesus responded to Satan’s attacks with specific words from the Scriptures. 

So why are the Scriptures a defense against the enemy? Because Satan is a liar and a deceiver, but the Word of God is truth. So when Satan says to you, “You’re a sinner. You’re a loser. You might as well just give up and be damned,” God’s Word points you to Jesus and tells you the truth: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The truth of God’s Word dispels Satan’s lie. 

When Satan tries to intimidate you and fill you with fear, God’s Word points you to Jesus, who tells you the truth: “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:17, 18).

When Satan tries to overwhelm you with the burdens of this life, God’s Word points you to Jesus, who tells you the truth: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

Questions for
Reflection and Sharing
1. Why does the Word of God silence the devil?

2. Is it really possible to be saturated with the Bible?

3. How does memorizing Scripture work to keep us from sin?


Three Practical Suggestions
God wants you to experience the revitalizing power of His Word in your life. Here are three practical ways to fill your heart with God’s Word: (1) saturation—read the Bible every day; as you saturate your mind with God’s Word, you can be sure that the Holy Spirit will bring it to your remembrance when you most need it (John 14:26); (2) Scripture memory cards—choose a portion of Scripture and write it out word for word on a small card; take the card with you everywhere and repeat it frequently, to intentionally “hide God’s Word in your heart” (see Ps. 119:11); (3) Scripture songs—learn Scripture songs or compose your own songs. Jesus used Scripture songs as a means of hiding God’s Word in His heart.2 As you sing Scripture songs in worship or during your daily activities, the Word of God will be reinforced in your mind. Then share God’s Word with those around you.

Some years ago a pastor received a phone call asking if he could come and pray a blessing of God over someone’s house. Apparently a woman named Glenda3 had recently been widowed, and the superstition of her culture had taught that her dead husband’s spirit would come to visit the house for 40 days after his death. About a week after his death she began to hear rapping sounds in the part of the house in which he had died. Glenda was an educated woman, but she didn’t know how to handle this supernatural phenomenon. As the pastor prepared to go to Glenda’s house, he was impressed to take a CD of Scripture songs with him. He encouraged Glenda to play it in her home and to hide God’s words in her heart. The next morning Glenda called excitedly: “The rapping is gone!” The evil spirit harassing Glenda had been expelled from her house by the power of the Word of God! Glenda experienced the revitalizing power of God’s Word, and her life was transformed.

God’s Word is still a defense against the enemy. We need its power more now than ever. For “the devil has come down to [us], having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Rev. 12:12). Take time to study the Word of God. Take time to hide it in your heart. Pray with the psalmist, “Revive me according to Your word” (Ps. 119:154), and experience its revitalizing power in your life day by day. 

1 Texts in this article are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 73.
3 Glenda is a pseudonym.

Derek J. Morris is editor of Ministry, an international journal for clergy. This article was published September 27, 2012.