How not to read the bible

Psalm 109

I find this Psalm difficult. It brings back some painful memories of how not to read the bible…

In a previous church I was excited when a young man who had recently moved into town started regularly attending our Sunday service. He was well educated and had taken a role at a local science institute. He was a very new Christian and eager to grow in his faith. I would often spend time journeying through the bible with him. As the months went by he revealed that things weren’t great between he and his boss. During these times of turmoil I would often point him to the Psalms and show him that King David dealt with stress at work by handing it over to God, and asking God to supply all his needs and deliver him from anguish.

I was shocked when one afternoon I received a phone call saying that this young man had been involved in an accident. He had been driving home from work along the highway and had hit a cyclist at about 90 km/hr. The cyclist was in critical condition and was being flown out to an emergency hospital.

In a state of shock the young man had asked the Police to call me to come and help him. He was being held in custody and was soon to be transferred to a holding cell in a different town pending an investigation.

When I met up with him I found out that the cyclist he had hit was his boss.

After sitting with him for a number of hours he was finally able to utter the words “Psalm 109”. I opened my bible and read the Psalm to him. He asked me to read verse 6 again:

Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
    let an accuser stand at his right hand.

He then said “I am the one God appointed.”


… In the end he was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.


When we read the bible we must understand it in the context of the situation in which it was written and the context of the whole bible.

If you are struggling to understand the bible, ask someone to help.

If you are thinking of carrying out a radical act, don’t do anything until you speak to someone.

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2 thoughts on “How not to read the bible

  1. Thx for your reflections Lachlan. I don’t know if your friend falls into the following category as I think as there are a lot of mental health problems in the community it follows they will also be in the church. Unfortunately it doesn’t fit well with “living the victorious Christian life” ideal and as a result many people suffer in silence. I applaud those believers who are aware of and open about their mental health problems. Thankfully this seems to be increasingly the case. Having one or two solid friends in the Christian community helps I think.

  2. God bless you Lachlan…and the young man too and the man he hurt in his self-centred rage and confusion….such a difficult sad thing for all involved…..

    As a very new member of the church (I’m Aaron’s mum and Peter Ylias’ wife) I appreciate your warning Lachlan, of making sure we have good teaching around our understanding of what we’re reading in The Bible…..checking with others any uncertainties….i also appreciate your candour and honesty.
    Thanks so much.
    Georganne Ylias

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