A friend told me her grandfather has moved into a Christian-run retirement home that is definitely not Christian in name only. The staff counseled the newcomer to read the Psalms, explaining that it would benefit him. The man took umbrage at the exhortation. Who were these whippersnappers to direct his Bible study, a man of his stature who has taught Sunday school all his life!
I was taken aback by the story. The reaction of injured pride was so opposite the joy one would expect from a mind sanctified by God’s Word. Nevertheless, one finds it to be true that the study of the Word of God sometimes puffs up rather than tenderizes. This is not the fault of the Bible but of the failure to read God’s Word like a child. And when men are thus smitten with the bug of intellectualism, they will have contempt for other men who bring a simple, clarion, unambiguous message from the Word of God. Isaiah found that out when his clear announcements of judgment and repentance were scorned by the reputed teachers of his day. They said:
“To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the mild, those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”
The theological contemporaries of the prophet resented being lectured to like children (“precept upon precept, line upon line”). When men are more impressed with knowledge than in love with God, and delight in discussing arcane systems more than in communicating truth as helpfully as possible, they will ridicule the simple and ostracize them from their circles. They will consider them less well educated because they take the Word of God on face value.
But blessed is the man who hears God like a child, and the old man or woman whose heart leaps to discover that he is in a place where the people around him care enough to urge the reading of God’s Word rather than the numbing sedative of the one-eyed god of afternoon soaps.