“One of the great reasons that so many Christians never come out of the Old Covenant, never even know that they are in it, and have to come out of it, is that there is so much head knowledge, without the power of the Spirit in the heart being waited for.” ~Andrew Murray, The Believer’s New Covenant
I was studying through the Psalms, taking copious notes. If this was God’s message to me, then you’d better believe that with all the determination I could muster, I was going to understand it. I wanted the Word of God to be my greatest delight. So I kept getting up early and studying, studying. Learning, learning. And even glad to be learning.
Honestly, though, it never even crossed my mind to ask God to open my understanding. He had given me a brain, and that’s what I was using. After all, didn’t somebody say that I shouldn’t ask God to do for me what He had already given me the ability to do for myself?
Then I came to Psalm 22, the one all about Jesus dying on the cross. And the sad fact is that I wasn’t interested in studying it. I knew why. I knew exactly why. It was because it wasn’t about me. Almost every other psalm so far had been, in my mind, about me. But I knew this one was important, and I knew it wasn’t about me, and I knew that I wasn’t excited about reading it.
I wrote in the margin of my wide-margin Bible, “12-2-1993: I’m struggling with the fact that I don’t appreciate a psalm as much when it’s about Jesus instead of me, and what selfishness and immaturity that reveals. Now I’m faced with a psalm that can’t possibly be appreciated properly unless it’s applied to Jesus. God, grant me the grace to rejoice in Your holy Word!”
To look at it now, it seems ridiculous not to appreciate a passage about Jesus. But this was one of the first times in my life—if not the first time—that I actually asked God to open my understanding.
And I almost tremble to recall the results. Psalm 22 opened to me like Aladdin’s cave. I came to tears again and again at the beauty and grace and outpouring of love I saw in my Savior. Beyond seeing Him as simply my great Example (that’s how I kept referring to Him in the first few days of my study), I began to see Him more clearly as the ultimate Sacrifice, His sweat poured out, His blood poured out. As the ultimate Victor, singing the praise of God in the great congregation. As the ultimate Feast of His meek ones, the all-satisfying Living Bread. As the Great Accomplisher of the greatest Work. It is Finished.
This experience marked a turning point in my Christian life.
Through the years, I had thought of the Bible in a number of different metaphorical terms. A friend told me that too many Christians read it as if they’re looking for a Daily Vitamin Pill. When I began reading for actual understanding, I thought of it as my Map from God, giving directions to Him. I thought of it as my greatest Treasure.
But this experience with Psalm 22 began the process of removing the written Word from my heart’s pedestal and placing the Living Word there instead. Though it was years before I began to consistently cry out for the opening of my understanding every time I opened the Word, I began more and more to see the Bible as my great Magnifying Glass.
May my heart ever resound with unending praise to the Savior, the one to whom this Magnifying Glass points like a laser beam, the one who alone is worthy of all blessing and honor and praise and glory and power.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!