Tuesday, January 21

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Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
—Psalm 119:97
The record for winning the most episodes of Jeopardy! in a row is held by Ken Jennings, who in 2004 won seventy-four consecutive shows. That translates to 2,693 clues answered correctly, to say nothing of Double Jeopardies and Final Jeopardies.
Such a streak represents a phenomenal amount of knowledge, not to mention a remarkable recall of those facts. But is that the same kind of understanding Scripture promises for those who seek God?
Psalm 119:73 says, “Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.” When the Bible talks about understanding, it’s not just about knowing facts or boasting a wide collection of information (although it is important to seek after what is right). But true understanding refers to a deeper kind of wisdom. This kind of understanding involves the ability to perceive situations with clarity and perspective, make wise decisions, and gain spiritual insight into life.
After finding out he would be featured on the show, Ken Jennings spent a month making flash cards and cramming for familiar Jeopardy! subjects such as US presidents, world capitals, and pop culture. But reading all the websites, encyclopedias, and newspapers in the world wouldn’t be enough to give a person the kind of understanding described in Psalm 119.
Yet despite how daunting it sounds, Scripture says that gaining wisdom is fairly simple. You don’t have to be a genius; you don’t have to know the answers in multiple categories and be able to put them in the form of a question, all before the buzzer sounds. Understanding is available to anyone—young or old, rich or poor, regardless of IQ.
There is only one thing needed to gain wisdom: a love for God’s Word.
Sixteenth-century Protestant Reformer Martin Luther was guided in large part by his love for God’s Word. During a time when religious leaders were convinced that only priests should have access to Scripture (almost all of which was in Latin), Luther maintained that it was critical for people to be able to read God’s Word in German, their native tongue. He had a specific love for Psalm 119, and he said he would not take the whole world in exchange for one leaf of that beloved chapter.
Having been an Augustinian friar, Martin Luther would have been very familiar with Psalm 119—he likely knew the whole thing by heart. In Luther’s day, monks recited long sections of Psalm 119 as part of their daily recitations at 6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., noon, and 3:00 p.m. He didn’t want to keep that delight in God’s Word to “professionals” like himself; he wanted everyone to be able to experience the same abiding love for God’s Word that had captured his heart.
Luther believed it was vital for people to have access to God’s Word so they could grow in wisdom and understanding. As 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Championing this belief, Luther devoted the later years of his life to translating the Bible from Latin into the language of the people, setting the stage for similar translations in French, Dutch, and English.
Ultimately, Luther knew that Scripture is the way to understanding—and the way to Christ himself. “The Bible,” he said, “is the cradle wherein Christ is laid.”
Is God’s Word merely a series of facts for you, or is it something you love and are eager to share with others? What can you do to cultivate a deeper appreciation for Scripture?

—Stephanie Rische

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