I am enjoying your bimonthly magazine, the Standard Bearer, and look forward to more thought-provoking articles. I would like to zero in on the article “The Scripture Reading” (April 15, 2007), by Rev. Daniel Kleyn, not to be critical, but to add a dimension not expressed in the article.
I refer to the “way” the Bible is read by many preachers, at least those of my acquaintance (and none are PRCs because there is no PR church close at hand).
I find that, of the many preachers whom I hear, many of them read very badly, rushing over commas, and putting commas where there should be none, and a failure to inflect the meaning, perhaps because they have read the passage so many times that the excitement is gone. I do recall one preacher, though, who was different, who made even the Creed sound like he was reading it for the first time.
I know that there are many passages that are difficult to read with any excitement, but if the important words were stressed, as they would do their own words in the sermon, their Bible reading would take on a new dimension.
I am thinking of John the Baptist. Was he as excited about seeing Christ as I believe I would have been if I were there? John 1:29, 30: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.” I think of John being unable to control his excitement as he said those words.
I also think of Ruth’s marvelous confession, Ruth 1:15-18: “And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.” Can this be read without a tear in the eye, or a crack in the voice?
Or are PR preachers different? I don’t know, but I write this as an avenue that ought to be explored. Perhaps Rev. Kleyn could elaborate.
Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada
I appreciate the comments you make concerning the way in which the Bible ought to be read. Your observations are correct. The Word of God needs to be read well, and proper attention should be given to this by every minister of the gospel (as well as by anyone else who is called upon to read the Bible aloud, such as elders, heads of households, society presidents, and so on).
Such reading of the Scriptures involves having proper emphasis and expression. Mistakes must also be avoided. On the other hand, one should also maintain and convey due respect for God Himself as he reads the Bible. I would caution against being overly dramatic, for this could detract from the power of the Word itself.
As far as the training of Protestant Reformed ministers goes, the professors in our seminary point out the importance of reading Scripture well, specifically in connection with practice preaching. The students are instructed to prepare carefully also for this part of the public worship of God. And while I believe this part of the training has borne good fruit, yet there is, I am sure, room for improvement.
It is good therefore that we be reminded of the importance of reading God’s Word well. Of all that is ever read aloud, the Word of God deserves to be read the best.