In my own regular Bible reading recently I was encouraged to find a reference that affirmed the importance of daily Bible reading. It came to me in Deuteronomy 17, not a passage to which I had previously attached much significance. (It’s amazing what one finds sometimes even after having read a passage many times previously. It also helps to read Scripture in a different version.)
The context, Deuteronomy 17:14-20, anticipates Israel’s desire to someday want a king to reign over them. (1 Samuel 8 tells us how this actually came to be.) At this point in Deuteronomy God is telling Israel through Moses about some important features they should keep in mind about the kind of king to choose. He should be of the Lord’s choosing, someone from among themselves and not a foreigner to Israel. He is not to have large numbers of horses or acquire any from Egypt. Also, he was not to take many wives — who might lead his heart astray. And he should not be one who would accumulate large amounts of wealth.
These are simple instructions in which we can easily recognize wisdom. If Israel’s kings had paid closer attention to the last piece of instruction that God passed on at that time the people might not have disobeyed the ones already mentioned and gotten into the trouble they did. That last piece was simply an emphasis for the king to copy the law already given, to keep it by his side, AND TO READ IT DAILY.
I was actually reading this last week one morning in the New Living Translation. Here are the exact words of Deuteronomy 17:18, 19: When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees.
I’ve always believed daily Bible reading to be one of the most important spiritual disciplines that a Christian could practice. I have the ministry of the Navigators to thank for encouraging me in this discipline many years ago. They pointed to, among others, the example of David in Psalm 5:3, and to that of Jesus in Mark 1:35. These people evidently had the habit of spending time daily in the God’s presence — some of that time, no doubt, being marked by meditation on God’s law.
If it was important enough for God to emphasize this point for the kings that would rule in Israel, how much more should we who are followers of Jesus take time to meditate daily in God’s Word? It seems right that the true servant of Christ and those who would reign with him (as kings) should take time for this daily habit — preferably at the start of each day. It is a way of centering one’s soul before busyness of the day crowds in.
In recent years I read Scripture much more slowly — going over the same passage often more than once. My custom is to read a Psalm and alternately from the New Testament and Old Testament. I try to combine this with a journal entry almost every day about what I read, and a time of prayer, often referring to a written list of needs for others.
I know it sounds like a pretty basic comment. But there really is no substitute for daily Bible reading in the life of anyone who wants to stay alive to the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit in his or her life.