This post isn’t as theological as the previous two. Here, I’m simply trying to point out the following idea, namely, that the Bible has a great deal of textual detail that is rich and rewarding to study. In this way, it is like a piece of rich soil just waiting for one to come and dig and unearth its treasures. Too many of us are asleep in the shade, I think, when we should be digging.
I’m not going to give a ton of examples of this point, because there are so many one could give. I’ll simply say that close study of the biblical text yields untold rewards. It is wonderfully true that a person of the simplest mind can pick up the Bible and grasp its basic ideas. Yet we must allow a right understanding of the clarity or perspicuity of Scripture to undermine a doctrine of the depth of the Word of God. The Word is easily comprehensible, but it is also a storehouse of linguistic, exegetical, textual, and theological treasures. For example, I recently preached a sermon on Samson. In my study of Judges 16:21-31, I discovered a number of really cool insights about the text. For example, there is allusion to Samson’s fortunes in the geography of his trip to Philistine territory–he was “going down” to there. There is significance in Samson being forced to harvest grain in a Philistine grainery–Dagon, the Philistine god, was the god of grain. Samson was thus acting out in a physical, tangible way the defeat of his God by the Philistines. Now, I didn’t see these things myself–commentaries helped me out a great deal here. However, I have from time to time seen things in the text due to my own search for detail, as many others will also have experienced. In addition, my training in the languages has really helped in this area. It is not essential to know Greek and Hebrew in order to be a faithful preacher of the Word–not by a long stretch–but it does not hurt, either, and can only help the student of the Word. If you want to be a preacher, and you can’t take any other classes, take language classes. You can read theology, study philosophy, and search history on your own terms, but rare is the man who can teach himself an ancient language. If you don’t have linguistic training and want to pick up overlooked details in the text and thus preach the Word with a richness and depth your people will eagerly drink up, acquire commentaries that can guide in a close study of the original text.
Let’s make a commitment, then, to studying and unearthing the untold riches of the Bible. Let’s dig deeply into the Word, and as Christians, whether laymen or preachers, let’s bring these riches to others and think together about them. The result? A faith that is deeper, more enlightening, and way less boring than a faith dependent on the same cliches, the same maxims, that we know–and need–but that become inestimably more powerful when rooted in the detailed “soil” in which they were given.