Friday is for Heart Songs
The more I study Bible the more I am learning to slow down. Sometimes, we just read too quickly to see the connections, the repetitions, the emphasis of what what we read. The opening line to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” is good advice for Bible reading, “Slow down / you move to fast / you got make the morning last.”
Scholars who examine details often read slowly. And one of the things they have seen are the “‘I-am statements” in the New Testament. Scattered throughout the gospel of John, Jesus gives seven metaphors about his ministry and person. They are famous and many a pastor has done a series of messages unpacking the beauty of all of these metaphors concerning the person of Christ.
- “I am the bread of life“ [Jn. 6:35, 41, 48, 51];
- “. . . the light of the world” [Jn. 8:12 and 9:5];
- “. . . the door“ [John 10:7, 9];
- “. . . the good shepherd [Jn. 10: 11, 14];
- “. . . the resurrection and the life” [Jn. 11:25];
- ” . . the way, the truth and the life“ [Jn. 14:6];
- “. . . the true vine” [Jn 15:1, 5]
It is good to pay attention to these kind of patterns and repetition in the Scripture when we are reading. They are often the kind of things that slow down our reading enough to see things that were always there (by the intentional plan of God), but that we were too busy to pay attention to.
While reading Psalms, I saw a number of “I am declarations” in Psalm 119:
- “I am a stranger in the earth” vs. 19
- “I am the companion of all those who fear You” vs. 63
- “I am Yours” vs. 94
- “I am exceedingly afflicted” vs. 107
- “I am Your servant” vs. 125
- “I am small and despised” vs. 141
If I am a stranger in the earth,
it is because I am a citizen of heaven.
If I am a companion of those who fear God,
I will be despised by those who don’t.
If I belong to YHWH,
I can not belong to the world.
If I am exceedingly afflicted,
it is not without the God’s sovereign and good hand.
If I am the servant of God,
it is for His purposes that I breathe.
And if I am small and despised,
it is a reminder that it is for His glory not mine
that He has called me to be a stranger on the earth.
“Lord, thank You for the wonder of Your word and the reminder in just these six passages that You can be trusted, that I am right to trust You, that it is always right to trust You and I am never alone, never abandoned, never forsaken. It is too wonderful. I am overwhelmed and stunned.
And so, though I might be small and despised (vs. 141), I am still Your servant (v. 125), and when I am afflicted (vs. 107) I will remember that I belong to You (vs. 94), and I will walk with my companions who fear You (vs. 63) because I am a citizen of heaven (vs. 19). I love You Lord.”