It is good to have (or at least to begin) a list at this time of the year of books to read during the year. Do you have one, or at least in mind? It’s been well said that leaders are readers, although it seems that with the onset of social media, people are filled with “snippets” rather than the content of books.
It’s interesting how the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes concluded this book that is in the cannon of Scripture declaring how he was careful to assemble just the right words to have an impact upon the reader, but he also points out that there seems to be no end to the number of books written, and studying just everything that comes along can become a “weariness to the flesh.”
Ecclesiastes 12:9–14 (ESV) — 9 Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. 10 The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. 13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
If there was ever a time we should be selective about what we read and study, it is today. We can easily be overwhelmed by the slander, opinions, and falsehoods on the internet and not have any time for the reading and studying of things that really count and can really make a difference in our lives. Notice then the way Ecclesiastes concludes the matter in verses 13 and 14 above:
“13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
If that be the case it would make sense to have God’s word at the top of your reading list, especially considering the benefits that are described therein.
Psalm 19:7–11 (ESV) — 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
The longest psalm, Psalm 119, is an entire psalm describing the benefits of reading, memorizing, and particularly living by the word of God.
Psalm 119:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! 2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
Psalm 119:9–10 (ESV) — 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
Psalm 119:11 (ESV) — 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:50 (ESV) — 50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
Psalm 119:89–90 (ESV) — 89 Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. 90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
Psalm 119:105 (ESV) — 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Paul reminds Timothy of the benefits of continuing in the word of God because it is just that, the word of God.
2 Timothy 3:14–17 (ESV) — 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
As you think about books you’d like to read, need to read, or have to read in the coming year, remember the most important book that is to be read and even studied because it’s more that a “quick verse” or “cute saying” posted on social media, it’s the given and preserved word from God, Himself. Read it, study it, memorize it, and apply it and you’ll find great benefit throughout the year.