God and His Word

Psalm 119

You might be familiar with the term, bibliolatry.

Maybe someone has accused you of it. Or perhaps you might have labelled someone a bibliolater yourself.

What does it mean?

Commonly it refers to someone who worships the Bible over and above God; that is, someone who idolises Scripture. Now, I think we’d all agree that the person who puts a Bible on an altar, lights some candles or incense around it, and bows down and worships this object, would be guilty of idolatry – worshipping the created rather than the Creator (Rom 1:25). But this is not usually what people mean when they call someone a bibliolater. What is generally meant is someone who excessively reveres the words of God.

Is it possible to make the Bible into an idol? To treasure God’s words more than God himself?

If it is, Psalm 119 would arguably be a great example of “bibliolatry”:

For I delight in your commands
    because I love them. (v. 47)

The law from your mouth is more precious to me
    than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. (v. 72)

Oh, how I love your law!
    I meditate on it all day long (v. 97)

How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth! (v. 103)

Is the Psalmist idolising Scripture?

Brothers and sisters, he is doing nothing of the sort.

I find it incredibly saddening when Christians set up a dichotomy between loving God’s word and loving God. The beautiful truth is that it is impossible to revere God’s words too much. We’re at no risk of idolising the creature rather than the Creator when we cherish Scripture, for there is a profound unity between God and his word. Theologian John Frame suggests that “you cannot separate the word of God from God himself.” John Stott likewise says that “God has clothed His thoughts in words, and there is no way to know Him except by knowing the Scriptures.”

The reason the Psalmist is so delighted in the Scriptures is because the word reveals God.

I’m convinced that if our greatest desire is to know God, then we will relish the Scriptures with such an intense passion it will probably look idolatrous to the outside world. My prayer for us this morning is that we would be people who, like the Psalmist, “open our mouths and pant, longing for God’s word” (v. 131)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly for His glory,

Daniel Budd

5 thoughts on “God and His Word

  1. Thanks Daniel, really well put. You identify a sad diagnosis of modern Christianity that wants to devalue the ‘Spirit word’ in preference for the ‘Spirit experience’. We should highly value Spirit living, but sometimes when a Christian declares something a little odd as being ‘God told me’, its hard to verify (and hard to argue). Spirit experience in its laziest form ‘relegates’ God’s word. We do well to remember that the Bible is not a ‘paper pope’ for evangelical Christians, but is the Spirit breathed word of God, His revelation of himself.

    (Folks I had my FDR roster days mixed up and confess that I thought today was my day to write FDR, apologies and thanks Mr Budd! Therefore, below you’ll find an ‘extra’ reflection on Psalm 119).

    • Obviously, Geoff, you just wanted to do an extra FDR this month. Bless you both. We have such riches because we have free access to his word.

  2. Amen Daniel! Jesus said if anyone loves Him ,they will obey my teaching(John 14 :21 and 23) How can we obey(love) Jesus if we don’t know it, and therefore love His word? After all Jesus was the Word on legs-or with skin on I heard recently. I love verse 15 that says he loves considering and meditating on God’s word. That’s using our God given eyes and brains thoroughly,thoughtfully ,& purposefully.
    I was asked once was I a Holy Spirit Christian or a head knowledge Christian. I said both.

  3. Thank you Daniel well written!! This is my favorite chapter in the Bible. Some verses that stand out to me that give me life are;
    V32 When God gives a heart- the new heart- it is a delight to walk according to His ways

    V92 when hard times come along its only Gods Word that gets me through and remembering His promises

    V114 Jesus is my shield becsuse if His love for me He stands between anything that comes against me and protects my heart. I don’t have to become hopeless my hope in in His Word

    V165 Great peace is offered to those who love Gods ways of living which is loving God and loving others

  4. It’s a scary way to put it, but I agree. It’s like only responding to someone if they text you, not if they stand in front you and speak.They only exist in their tests. Who’s sending the texts! A person, a real person.

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