Guilty as Charged

In Psalm 56:4, 10, three times the psalmist refers to God’s word as follows:

In God, whose word I praise . . .
In the LORD, whose word I praise . . .
In the LORD, whose word I praise . . .

In Psalm 138:2, the psalmist, addressing God, says, “you have exalted above all things your name and your word.”

In Deuteronomy 8:3, Moses tells the Israelites that they cannot survive on bread alone, but “on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” As well, Jesus confirms the truth of this statement in Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4.

Later, in Deuteronomy 11:18, Moses tells the Israelites to take the words of God and tie them on their hands and foreheads.

Additionally, Moses declares that the words of God are not just idle words, but “they are your life” (Deuteronomy 32:47).

The psalmist declares the enviableness of the one who meditates on God’s teaching day and night (Psalm 1:2).

Indeed, there are all kinds of interesting statements about the word of God in the psalms. God’s words are flawless (12:6). God is perfect and his word is flawless (18:30). The words of the Lord are “perfect . . . trustworthy . . . pure . . . enduring forever . . . sure . . . altogether righteous . . . precious” (19:7-10).

How does the psalmist in Psalm 119 regard God’s words? He delights in them. He sets his heart on them. He loves them. He lifts his hands up to them. He regards them as eternal. He rejoices in them. He stands in awe of them. He pants for them. He sings of them.

The person in whom the Lord delights is the person who “trembles” at his word (Isaiah 66:2, 5).

Jesus declared that heaven and earth would pass away, but that his words would never pass away (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).

Jesus is identified as the word (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13).

Jesus knows the Father, and keeps his word (John 8:55).

The words Jesus speaks are not just his own—they are “the Father, living in me” (John 14:10, 24).

The word of God is the very sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).

The word of Christ is to dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16).

God’s word is not chained (2 Timothy 2:9).

The word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12).

The word of God is living and enduring (1 Peter 1:23).

* * * * * * *

So, to summarize:

God’s word is to be praised.
God himself has exalted his word.
God’s word is life-giving.
God’s word is perfect, flawless, eternal, pure, wonderful, awe-inspiring, living, righteous, precious.

More specifically, note that:

We praise God.
We praise God’s word.

We exalt God.
We exalt God’s word.

We love the Lord.
We love the word of the Lord.

We are awed by, and tremble at the presence of, the Lord.
We are awed by, and tremble at the presence of, the word of the Lord.

We lift our hands up to the Lord.
We lift our hands up to the word of the Lord.

We pant for the Lord.
We pant for the word of the Lord.

We are indwelt by Christ and the Holy Spirit.
We are indwelt by God’s word.

* * * * * * *

If I am ever engaged in a debate over the character, the authority, and the infallibility of the word of God, and the party with whom I am debating accuses me of being a bibliolater, a person who worships the Bible, a person who has made an idol out of the word of God, I think I’ll just go ahead and plead, “Guilty as charged.” And after pleading guilty, I’ll say, “Just go ahead and lock me up now. In fact, put me in solitary confinement and throw away the key. But before you go, could you please do me a big favor and put a Bible in the jail cell with me?

(The inspiration for this post comes from a book from one my former professors, Moisés Silva, entitled, God, Language, and Scripture: Reading the Bible in the Light of General Linguistics. You may find the relevant discussion here.  There are no page numbers in this particular Google Books edition; after clicking on the link, search for “bibliolatry.”)

Jerry Shepherd
November 12, 2013