Thinking Out Loud

January 22, 2011

Psalm 119? Noooo! Not That One!

Today’s post is also last night’s post at my devotional blog, Christianity 201

I think it’s rather ironic that Psalm 119 has become associated with the weariness some people have with Bible reading. Its 176 verses are simply too much for some people, and yet, it is a Psalm that is all about having a love of God’s word.

In David’s time, the “scriptures” would refer primarily to the books of the law. Many people reading this feel about Leviticus the way they feel about Psalm 119; it epitomizes something that seems to just go on and on and on.

And yet, these books, Leviticus included, are what David says he loves. Every single verse of the Psalm talks about his love of God’s laws, statutes, commandments.

Is David the kind of guy who gets excited reading the complete federal income tax codes? Does he enjoy studying the Motor Vehicle Act? Would he actually read through the instruction manual that come with most consumer electronics?

I don’t think so. But I think he really sees the character of God expressed in the laws he gave. And he believes that they were written for his good.  You have to approach some sections of scripture — i.e. Leviticus — with that attitude or you won’t derive anything from your reading.

I say all that to tell a story.

This week we were in a Goodwill donation processing center in Toronto, a place where we are told merchandise is returned from various stores for final sale prior to being destroyed. These are the shoes no one wanted, the t-shirts that didn’t sell, and the books that were picked over.

Yes, books. And among those books were three New Testaments.

Now you need to know four things about me:

  • We’re not loaded with money; the 50-cents a copy they were asking for these was a bit of a stretch, especially after my wife had already selected some other items.
  • Our house is already full of books; we didn’t really need three more; there is truly no place to put them.
  • I didn’t have anyone in mind who I was going to give them to.
  • I sell Bibles for a living. I have a vested interested in  new books, not used books.

But I bought them.

They were in reasonable condition, and I couldn’t handle the idea of them being pulped for recycling into other books.

I could spiritualize this and say that it was because I have ‘such a great love for God’s word.’ I could say, ‘The Bible is so precious to me, I couldn’t bear to see one thrown out.’ I won’t do that here. It was simply my WWDD — What Would David Do? — moment.  A Psalm 119 moment.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your love of scripture, your love for God’s word?

And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. ~ Joshua 1:8 (The Message)


  1. What an interesting article. I buy Bibles from Goodwill on a regular basis for the specific reason of giving them away.

    If you had asked your question about how much I treasured the scripture a dozen years ago I would have been hesitant to publish my answer. I would have had to say I used it as a Quick Mart, a place to find what I needed and get out. But becoming a Voice of the Martyrs representative changed everything. I learned of brothers and sisters who, right now, this minute, are being starved or beaten or locked in dark prison cells because they owned and read their Bible. They risked their actual lives to read the scripture!I began to confess my sin of neglect to God and started to read and study (in prayer , often with several commentaries) the Word of God. And I became hungry for it. In fact the hunger grew with the eating! At this point I find it hard to tear myself away from scripture to read anything else…it all pales.
    So my answer to your question is “Top of the Chart!”

    Comment by Cynthia — January 22, 2011 @ 9:29 am

  2. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief

    Comment by Brian — January 22, 2011 @ 10:23 am

  3. Thy Word O’LORD is my LIFE,–my life—my l-i-f-e!!– AMEN!!!!!!!JL

    Comment by Joe Lambert — January 22, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

  4. This news from January 18th from Open Doors Ministry underscores my previous point ” Christian Woman Dies in Eritrean Detention Center-

    After two weeks of torture and brutal treatment, Seble Hagos Mebrahtu, 27, died in the miltary training center in Sawa on January 1st.Although it is unclear how long Mebrahtu had been in prison, sources indicate that her arrest followed being caught for reading her Bible in her bedroom”

    Comment by Cynthia — January 23, 2011 @ 12:47 am

  5. >> how would you rate your love of scripture, your love for God’s word? <<

    I guess the way to rate this, is to think of the things we couldn't do without – the things we would miss the most if we didn't have.

    I know I would miss my hubby if we were parted after 50 years of a happy marriage, but I would learn to live without him, and I would have memories. The same goes for my family.

    If I no longer had the Word, I would be thankful for what I have "hid in my heart" and memorised – but yes, it would be at or very near the top of the list.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — January 23, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

  6. I have often thought that it’s better to leave Bibles on the Goodwill shelves, especially since those who visit Goodwill, usually do so because they don’t have a lot of money (people like you and like me?!)and may never have been able to afford a Bible. And also in case — just in case — there is someone browsing ( a Muslim, for example), who would love to know what is in the Bible but would never request one from someone, or enter a Christian bookstore. I stood in the book aisle not so long ago, surreptitiously watching such a person reading from a Bible he had picked up. He was reading for a good few minutes. He didn’t purchase it, as far as I know, but I was sure praying that what he read would ‘not return void.’

    On the other hand I would purchase a Jehovah’s Witness Bible, just to get it off the shelf!

    Interestingly,I have never seen a copy of the Koran on a Goodwill shelf.

    Comment by Kaybee — January 23, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

    • Normally, yes.

      This was the “last call” for this merchandise; as I mentioned above, things not purchased in the few hours the items are out are, we’re told, destroyed at that point.

      The books are well picked-over; we think used book dealers use this place to bolster their inventory. These were in bins that had already been out for a few hours. Seeing the Bibles rejected at that stage just increased my desire to see them find a home.

      So it’s rather the inverse of the normal Goodwill strategy you suggest, and which, in any of their other stores, I agree with totally.

      BTW Kaybee, since I know you and where you’re writing from, this place is just a mile or so from my mom’s and you should check it out sometime; it’s a hoot!

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 23, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

      • I just might do that!

        Comment by Kaybee — January 23, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

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