First Samuel 21:1-6 tells this story. Every week, new shewbread was made, and the priests ate the old ones. David was given the old bread that had just been replaced with the new bread.
Even though only the priests were permitted to eat the shewbread, God did not punish David because his need for food was more important than legal jargon.
What Jesus was saying to the religious leaders was, “If you condemn me, you must also condemn David,” which the religious leaders would never have been able to do.
If they did, it would have created public disturbances and protests. Disobedience to God’s laws was not something Jesus condoned. Instead, when enforcing the laws, He stressed compassion and discernment.
Working on the Sabbath is against the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:8–11). That was in accordance with the law. However, the priests were permitted to work by offering sacrifices and leading worship services because the Sabbath is a day of rest and worship.
This “Sabbath day work” was devoted to God’s service and worship. Jesus always emphasized the purpose of the law and its meaning. The Pharisees had lost sight of the law’s spirit and insisted only on obeying its letter and that their interpretation be followed.
In Matthew 19:4, Jesus responds by quoting Scripture, as He does frequently, rather than expressing an opinion or a point of contention.
He asks them, referring to Genesis, if they have read that the One who created people from the beginning made male and female. In the verse that comes after, he will conclude the quote.
Jesus is aware that these extremely religious Pharisees have read and, in some instances, memorized the entire Bible. Despite this, He frequently inquires if they have read the Bible.
He is implying that they are disregarding the information that God has provided to them. This is one of His main complaints to these religious leaders (John 5:39-40).
In Matthew 21:16, Jesus asks the religious leaders a question in response. He inquires as to whether they have ever read Psalm 8:2. Jesus is aware that they are familiar with the passage, as was the case with their inquiry to Him.
Jewish people frequently used this tactic to make a point. “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise,” Jesus says, citing a Greek translation. In many English translations, the Hebrew verse means “strength,” not praise.
Jesus was making the point that it is God who inspires children to praise Him. The fact that Jesus applies this verse to Himself only serves to enrage the religious leaders.
In essence, Jesus is acknowledging that He is also God’s equal and that He is the Messiah. He will not prevent the children from offering the praise that God has prepared for them to offer.
Jesus describes Himself as "the stone that the builders rejected" in Matthew 21:42 and Mark 12:10. Even though many of His followers rejected Him, He would become the foundation of the church (Acts 4:11).
If God considered Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be dead, He would not have said, “I am the God of you father.”
They are alive from God’s point of view. Jesus used “I am the God of” to draw attention to the resurrection and eternal life that all believers have in Him.
So, what have we seen with these verses? Jesus has repeatedly asked them, “Have you not read.” What does that imply? Have they actually taken the time to read the Scriptures, pray about what they have read, and understand what they have read?
Various Kinds of Readers
1. People who have never read. These are the people who have never picked up the Bible, possibly by choice.
2. People who read extraordinarily little. These are the people who might have read a verse or two but have never actually dug into the Word.
3. People who are choosy about what they read. These are the people that pick and choose what to read.
More than likely, they neglect to read some parts of the Bible because it might “step on their toes.” That means it might convict their hearts of the sin in their life.
4. People who regularly read. If we look at Acts 8:27-34, we read where Phillip meets the Ethiopian official who was sitting in a chariot reading Esaias (Isaiah), and look where it led him.
In Acts 17:10-12, we see the words, “and searched the Scriptures daily.” What does that tell us? That tells us that these people read the Word of God every day, not just during a church worship service.
How do you assess teachings and sermons? The people of Berea read the scriptures for themselves and looked for truths to support or refute the message they had been given.
The Bible and what we hear should always be compared. A teacher or preacher who preaches the true message of God will never contradict anything in God’s Word.
What type of reading do you do?
The Value of Good Reading
1. To embody blessedness. The author of this psalm began by praising the blessings of being a godly person. That is a person who obeys God and refuses to listen to those who mock or denigrate Him.
By meditating on His Word, we can gain insight into how to follow God. Reading and reflecting on what we have read is an essential part of our spiritual life.
It entails asking ourselves how we can adapt to live our lives in accordance with God’s will. The first steps to applying God’s Word to our daily lives are knowing it and meditating on it. We must know what God says if we want to follow Him more closely (Psalm 1:1-3; Revelation 1:3).
2. To acquire comprehension. The Bible is not a collection of fables, myths, or made-up stories about God that are simply human ideas. God's plan and person were shown to some believers by the Holy Spirit, who wrote down God's message for His people (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Inspiration is the name of this process. The authors used personal, historical, and cultural contexts to write the Bible. But they wrote what God wanted them to write, even though they used their own ideas, skills, language, and style.
3. To be tested and tried.The Word of God is more than just a collection of God’s words and a way to convey ideas. As it operates within us, it is dynamic, living, and transformative.
It reveals who we are and what we are not with the sharpness of a scalpel. It gets to the heart of our spiritual and moral lives. It identifies the good and bad aspects of ourselves.
Making the right decisions is necessary to meet the requirements of God’s Word. We must read the Bible and allow it to guide our lives, not just to listen to it (Hebrews 4:12; John 6:63; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:23).
4. To increase hope. Our outlook on the present and the future is influenced by our knowledge of the scriptures.
The more we understand God’s past actions, the more certain we are of what He will do in the future.
Steps to Better Reading
1. Read on a regular basis. The Book of Deuteronomy is written as a treaty between a king and his subjects. The king was supposed to be a man of God’s Word.
He was required to obtain a copy of the law for his own use, to always carry it with him, to read from it daily, and to strictly adhere to it.
He would gain respect for God, avoid feeling superior to others, and avoid neglecting God during times of prosperity through this process.
We can only learn what God wants from His Word, and unless we regularly read and reflect on it, His Word will not have an impact on our lives.
It is not difficult to gain access to the king’s wisdom's source today because the Bible is readily available. The more difficult part is adhering to its instructions (Deuteronomy 17:18-19; 1 Timothy 4:13).
2. Read with devotion. The desire to emulate their parents or other older siblings is a trait that all children share. We become spiritual infants when we are born again.
We will want to grow if we are healthy. How sad that some people never reach spiritual adulthood. A baby’s need for milk is a sign of growth and a natural instinct.
Our spiritual appetite will grow, and we will begin to mature once we recognize our need for God’s Word and begin to find nourishment in Christ. How eagerly do we desire God's Word? (Psalm 119:18; 1 Peter 2:2-3).
3. Read attentively. James tells us to get rid of everything that is wrong in our lives and to be humbly thankful for the salvation message we have received, “the engrafted word,” because it is the only thing that can save us.
Knowing what God’s Word says is important, but following it is even more important. Our attitudes and behaviors are a good indicator of the effectiveness of our Bible study time.
James used a good analogy. He compared a person who listens to God’s Word but does not act on it to a person who immediately forgets his own face after looking in a mirror.
We should find both concepts absurd. If we will not act on what we see, why look? If we will not remember what we just saw, why look?
James explains in this passage how believers should approach studying the Bible. Christians ought to pay close attention to the law of freedom, the perfect law. They will be blessed in their actions if they consistently do that and follow what they see there (James 1:21-25; Ezra 7:10).
4. Read out loud to yourself. Some people do this to help them locate passages of Scripture more easily.
There are times when we read out loud to ourselves; it may help us to understand what we are reading and to remember Scripture.
The problem that we can see in our society today is that there is no desire to know God or to hear from Him. Much of humanity has become so infected with Satan’s influence and the tolerance of sin throughout the world.
No more is sin considered sin because now society says that it is okay to live, to act, and to be whatever you want, regardless of what God’s Word tells us (Joshua 1:8).
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Chris Swanson answered the call into the ministry over 20 years ago. He has served as a Sunday School teacher, a youth director along with his wife, a music director, an associate pastor, and an interim pastor. He is a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman with over 30 years of combined active and reserve service. You can check out his work here.