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How to Study the Bible More Completely & Worship More Deeply

Categories Old Testament

Devotions on the Hebrew Bible by Lee Fields and Milton Eng

“Bible study isn’t complete until it results in worship.”

So insists Lee Fields, a regular contributor to this space and the co-author of a new linguistic-devotional resource along with Milton Eng, Devotions on the Hebrew Bible.

Before this book I’m not sure I would have considered studying the biblical languages a devotional exercise! Yet I appreciate Fields’s point: unless our study of Scripture leads us to worship the God who authored it in full-hearted, full-throated worship our study is incomplete.

The Biblical languages provide a footbridge between complete study and deep worship, which is the two-fold aim of this book:

  1. To encourage students and pastors to continue (or to resume!) using their Hebrew knowledge in their work;
  2. To demonstrate that a knowledge of the original languages can and should be a spiritually rewarding, devotional exercise.

Each of the 54 devotions “are designed to bring out some grammatical or lexical insight which cannot be gained in English translation alone along with some point of spiritual application.” (13)

A diverse line-up of contributors will deepen your appreciation and understanding of biblical Hebrew with wordplays, word studies, and literary and grammatical analyses—bringing spiritual reward and fostering worship.

Two poignant insights into the Hebrew language illustrate how Devotions on the Hebrew Bible will help you study the Bible more completely by (re)engaging the Hebrew language, resulting in adoration to God.

Open-Ended, Ongoing Faith • Genesis 15:6

Randall Buth provides our first insight from a devotional on Genesis 15:6: “And he believed the Lord and he counted it to him as righteousness.” (ESV)

Buth draws our attention to the first Hebrew word in the verse, which is ְו ֶה ֱא ִמן (“and he was believing”), notַ וַיְּאֵמן (“and he believed”). He notes the importance of this tense, which isn’t used very often and indicates open-endedness:

The Hebrew verb ְו ֶה ֱא ִמן looks at the process of believing without looking at the beginning or end of the “believing.” The tense does not imply that Abram first believed God at this point. Nor does it present Abram’s faith as complete at this point. (15)

Buth goes on to explain that the author chose this tense to force “the reader to think about ongoing implications” of Abraham's faith. (16) This has implications for our own ongoing faith and worship of our faithful God, as well.

“Abraham is the father of faith,” writes Buth. “God is good and his promises are trustworthy. As we journey through life on earth, we do not always see God’s perspective on individual situations…But Abraham was trusting God. We can be encouraged. Our faith is not a one-time assertion, but a life of faithfulness.” (16-17)

Getting to Give • 1 Samuel 1:28

“Have you ever prayed and asked God for something?” Chloe Sun questions at the start of her devotional on Hannah’s request for a son. She continues, highlighting the nature of many requests and drawing a convicting conclusion using an important Hebrew verb:

When we make our prayer requests, we usually want to keep what we’ve asked from God. How many of us would pray for something and then give it right back to God? Hannah did just that. She made a vow: if God would grant her a son, she would give him back to God (1 Sam 1:11). Why would she do that? (48)

Sun draws our attention to the different uses of the single verb שׁאל, which means both “request” and “give” (NIV). “Request” is the basic meaning of the qal stem, “give back” is the meaning in the hiphil stem.

“Hannah’s request is not simply a request. It is a devotion to God out of gratitude.” (49) Hannah’s request for a son isn’t about getting something from God, but the opportunity to give back to God what he’s given her.

“In other words, Hannah’s request is an act of worship.” (49)

Sun reminds us what Hannah’s example reminds us: “ask not just for our own self-serving purposes, but also as an act of worship to give back to God what we asked for.” (49)

***

“As we present this volume,” write Eng and Fields, “our hope and prayer is that readers would be drawn to a deeper love for, understanding of, and adherence to the Scriptures and the God who gave them, and that God himself might be glorified thereby.” (14)

Study the Bible more completely with Devotions on the Hebrew Bible in order to worship God more deeply.

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