I’ve been thinking about what we Christians experience when we read Scripture. On the one hand, we believe it to be God’s revelation of himself, the Story of redemption in Christ that is unfolding in space and time. It is the telling of a gospel, Kevin Vanhoozer says, that “displays a goodness than which nothing greater can be dramatized.” On this creedal level, it’s dramatic. On the other hand, we can hardly expect to be so overwhelmed every time we read, to be so swept up into the drama as to be rendered speechless. The brokenness of our lives and world is far too deep for that, so expecting it is nothing short of utopian.
Still, much of the time many of us seem to find the task of reading Scripture to be at best mundane. If we do it, it is because we should, not because it is our delight. Yet “delight” is precisely the word David chose to express his response to meditating on God’s law—the Old Testament law, for goodness sake. Jonathan Edwards used it too:
I had then, and at other times, the greatest delight in the holy Scriptures, of any book what so ever. Often times in reading it, every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt an harmony between some thing in my heart, and those sweet and powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light, exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing ravishing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading.
I yearn for this delight. Desire it. Not all the time, or every time, but at least occasionally. Which is why I’ve chosen Joseph Hart’s (1712-1768) old hymn as my prayer this year:
Come, Holy Spirit, come.
Let thy bright beams arise;
dispel the darkness from our minds,
and open up our eyes.
Convince us of our sin,
then lead to Jesus’ blood;
and to our wondering view reveal
the secret love of God.
Dwell, therefore in our hearts;
our minds from bondage free:
then shall we know and praise and love
the Father, Son and thee.