I read the scriptures every day. Before I leave my bed at dawn I open their pages and I absorb words I have heard before, ponder them again and again, and I await what the Lord has for me to understand this time. I have long heard the complaint that scripture study, gospel learning, is terribly repetitive. “We read the same things over and over, hear the same words from the mouths of priests, preachers and prophets. What new does somebody have for me?” This need only be answered in the reading of scripture, in the listening to the sermon or lesson, and having a heart open and sensitive to the voice of God’s Spirit, to know what He would have us learn today, and forget not.
From our ancient earthly beginnings man has learned from God by repetition. God has not given men His law but once, and closed the book for nothing more to be written, nothing more to be read. The Almighty made a point of instructing His prophets to write down and to preach the commandments to God’s people over and over again. In the covenants God made between He and His children, there is much repetition, if in no other thing just the frequency with which we perform these memory invoking ordinances.
Take for example the celebration of the Passover, to be done every year, to remind Israel of their deliverance, provided by God. Is not Christianity’s partaking of the emblems of the sacrament, communion, a holy reminder of our deliverance from sin by the sacrifice of the Savior Jesus Christ? The covenants we make, ordinances we perform, by design help us to forget not the Lord and His mercy.
It is wonderful that the scriptures can be new to us every time we read. I have found personally this to be true. By having the faith to read even when we feel like we have read it all, we demonstrate our willingness to be prompted by that Still Small Voice who teaches all things, and can show us far beyond our own understandings what the Lord has for us.
As we read from the Savior’s own words, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). All we need to do is provide a good setting for the presence of the Holy Ghost, and He will teach us all things. What better invitation can we make to the Spirit of God than by reading or listening to His word?
If you do not now read the scriptures daily, it is not too late to start. We can begin today, we can begin tomorrow, we can begin next year, but the sooner we begin the sooner we will have greater access to the light that only the Holy Ghost can provide. This was a lesson learned by an ancient king in Israel who found that opening up old scriptures can unlock doors of new life and happiness.
Many years after the days of Moses, Joshua, Samuel, King David, King Solomon, Elijah and Elisha, the Lord’s people had lost their way and dwindled in unbelief. Even the great Temple constructed to the Lord by Solomon had fallen into disrepair and the children of Israel were in the midst of being carried away by other kingdoms, losing their freedoms and grace before the Lord.
There was a king in Judah by the name of Josiah, who unlike most of his predecessors walked uprightly before the Lord, and ruled in righteousness. He desired to make things right once again, so he commanded the high priest, along with carpenters, builders and masons, to go up to the House of the Lord, repair its breaches, and repair the whole House, and once again honor the Lord.
In the process of this work of repair, they discovered the Book of the Law in the House of the Lord and delivered it unto King Josiah. He read it and sought wisdom in the Lord, for he and his people. Ultimately he shared the scriptures with all of his people seeking to enlighten their minds as his understandings had been opened by the word of the Lord.
“And the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the Book of the Covenant which was found in the house of the Lord. And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant” (2 Kings 23:2-3).
After many years the word of the Lord lost to Judea, it was restored, it was read, and covenants were made in a new generation.
Because Josiah turned to the word of the Lord and invited the guiding Spirit of God into his life, doing everything the Lord commanded of him, it is written of King Josiah, “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:25).
A prophet of our day, President Spencer W. Kimball, said of King Josiah and the blessings of turning to the scriptures, “I am convinced that each of us, at some time in our lives, must discover the scriptures for ourselves—and not just discover them once, but rediscover them again and again. …I feel strongly that we must all of us return to the scriptures just as King Josiah did and let them work mightily within us, impelling us to an unwavering determination to serve the Lord. …I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns” (Ensign, Sept 1976).
“I feel strongly that we must all of us return to the scriptures just as King Josiah did and let them work mightily within us, impelling us to an unwavering determination to serve the Lord.”
President Spencer W. Kimball
There is a beloved children’s hymn that teaches the importance and process of daily scripture reading. “Search, Ponder and Pray” was written by Jaclyn Thomas Milne, with music by Carol Baker Black:
I love to read the holy scriptures,
And, ev’ry time I do,
I feel the Spirit start to grow within my heart-
A testimony that they’re true.
Search, ponder, and pray
Are the things that I must do.
The Spirit will guide, and, deep inside,
I’ll know the scriptures are true.
So, prayerfully I’ll read the scriptures
Each day my whole life through.
I’ll come to understand.
I’ll heed the Lord’s command
And live as he would have me do.
I love reading the scriptures each and every day. I have not always read them daily for all of my life, but it has been many years since the last time I missed. For me it is a perfect way to start a day, and with days rarely perfect as they develop, I know that starting each one by reading the word of God, the day is better than it might have been had I not. I read a chapter a day, but I urge you to do what you can, what you feel comfortable to do. If it be only a verse, then read it. The Lord will enlighten your mind and bless your life in ways untold, in ways that I cannot foretell, but I know He will.
There may be temptation to think, “I have already read this, I have gotten everything I can.” In that you will be mistaken. If you just open the pages of the scriptures, open your mind and open your heart, the Lord will bless you with wisdom, even hidden treasures of knowledge, by His Spirit, and light and power will come into your life as never before. I know this to be true for I am a personal witness that the Lord blesses us with light beyond the words on a page, when we read His word and seek His understandings. Read today and forget not, that we might know His will for us now and always. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.