I still have my Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified from high school. I loved taking shorthand in 10th grade for a number of reasons: It’s fun to make all the swirls, dots, and curlicues; it makes you feel like you’re learning a foreign language; it got me out of Social Studies.
But mostly I love shorthand because it’s fast. It allowed me to take college and seminary lecture notes verbatim.
Even today, sometimes when I am taking notes from the Bible I want to do it fast, so I use my slightly deteriorating shorthand skills. But what I also do to save time is skip a few words in a verse rather than transcribing every jot and tittle. For example, I will write some pronouncement or prophecy from the Old Testament, but omit the phrases “says the Lord,” or “declares the Lord,” or “thus says the Lord of hosts,” which seem to be quite repetitive. And after all, I know that it’s the Lord who said it.
But one day when I was on a roll, writing Scripture while anticipating the next words in a verse, I was bowled over by a new thought that every single word in the Bible was put there by God for a reason, even if I don’t know the reason. There is no superfluity or redundancy in the Bible, even if it looks that way to me.
That led me to ponder why in the Old Testament the lengthy judgment passages and curses and blessings are liberally sprinkled with phrases like “says the Lord” and “declares the Lord” and “thus says the Lord of hosts.” What I came to understand is that with each occurrence of one of those phrases, the Lord is reminding us that He is the one who said it. It was not your neighbor, it was not your friend, it was not your congressman, it was not even your favorite theologian—it was none other than the Lord God.
The lesson: In any conflict or discrepancy between what some man says and what I read in the Bible, I am going with the Bible. And I have sometimes started bothering to write in longhand “says the Lord,” instead of dot-dot-dot.