Is the Bible Boring?

Beautiful beautiful summertime. I saw it as an opportunity to stop being so stubborn and just join the group. Hah. Golden Opportunity, original oil painting at Steve Henderson Fine Art; licensed print at Great Big Canvas.

One summer when I must have been insane, I agreed to join a small women’s Bible study given by a deaconess at the church we then attended.

“You must be insane,” the Norwegian Artist commented when I told him. “You know that you don’t play well in groups like this.”

“But it’s a small group,” I replied. “I know everyone, kind of, in an acquaintanceship-sort of way, and maybe it will be a means of making our relationships stronger.”

Six weeks, one hour per week, theoretically studying King David in 2 Samuel. I say theoretically, because from the get-go we read all of one sentence, along the lines of,

“On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men.”

“The study book says to look at this sentence closely,” the leader said. “It wants us to circle all of the names, underline any prepositions, put triangles around the adjectives, and prayerfully consider what is being said here. Each of us will take turns reading the sentence aloud.”

At this rate, 2 Samuel was going to be a long, looooonnnnng book. And six weeks started to seem like a long time.

I was seriously ready for some thoughtful contemplation and meaningful discussion of Biblical issues. Thoughtful, licensed open edition art print at Great Big Canvas.

But then, amazingly — it must have been an oversight of the Bible study guide people — we hit the part about King David wandering around on his roof and espying the already married and incontrovertibly off-limits woman Bathsheba, in a state of significant dishabille,  bathing on the roof below, and when we got to the sentence,

“Then David sent messengers to her. She came to him, and he slept with her,” even the study guide couldn’t obfuscate the compelling, grittily earthy aspect of the story, although it did its best by insisting that we identify the direct object (messengers) by putting a star over it with an orange crayon.

“Was Bathsheba a willing partner in this?” one woman mused, “Or did she have no choice because the king had commanded her?”

For a brief moment, we escaped the study book and plunged into real life. Leave the Crowd Behind poster; see all the inspirational posters at Steve Henderson Fine Art.

“Did she know he was looking?” another woman countered. A lively conversation ensued, with actual animation in people’s features and voices.

None of our questions or observations were in the study guide, which was ready to move on to identifying conjunctions and compound predicates (I had no idea that grammar was so spiritual), but finally, in the third week of class, we had hit upon something interesting to talk about: real life, real people, real situations, real problems without easy answers.

And the leader desperately pulled us back to the task at hand, which had nothing to do with real life, real people, real situations, and real problems without easy answers:

“I don’t think we’re supposed to talk about this,” she said. “We need to move on to the spiritual meat of the passage.”

Back to grammar.

Was this boring? Yes. Did it need to be? No.

Is the Bible boring? Depends upon how you approach it. It’s got everything in it that you’d find in a juicy novel — intrigue, deception, incest, adultery, murder, theft and rage interspersed with mercy, compassion, understanding, longing, loss, love, joy, and hope, and if you allow yourself to read more than one sentence per day, and not worry about analyzing every single semi-colon for its placement and purpose, you can get something out of it.

The Bible is like the ocean — full of life and movement and color and action. Opalescent Sea, original painting at Steve Henderson Fine Art; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

If you read it for yourself, and don’t allow others to interpret it exclusively for you, you can learn, bit by bit, more about God, because He’s on every page, somehow. And you don’t have to read everything just because it’s there: if architectural blueprints don’t excite you, detailed plans in the book of Exodus for building the tabernacle will put you to sleep.

There’s poetry, prose, lists, stories, advice, history, genealogy, letters, prophecy. Some of it’s clear, some of it isn’t, but anybody who adores Jane Austen knows that you can’t understand everything, all the time. If the answers were easy, we’d have them all by now.

Read it how you want: bunches and bunches at a time; or one significant sentence, over which you muse for days; and a fusion of the two extremes. Don’t get stuck in a rut, and always remember what the book is: our only written resource about God, by God, using human writers.

God’s not boring. But we sure have the capability of making the book about Him that way.

Fine art by a very fine painter, Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art.

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This article is linked to The Chicken ChickMy Joy Filled LifeAlderberry Hill, Tough Cookie MamaA Blossoming LifeThe Prairie HomesteadMama DianeTeaching What Is GoodThe Character CornerMoms the WordMemories by the MileGrowing HomeA Wise WomanWalking RedeemedA Little R and RHope in Every SeasonWholehearted HomeDeep Roots at HomeRaising HomemakersSimply Helping Him, Thriving Thursdays, Thankful ThursdayLive Laugh Rowe, Jenny MullinixKatherine’s CornerGraced SimplicityHearts for HomeFamily fun FridayChristian Mom Blogger,

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7 Responses to “Is the Bible Boring?”

  1. Love this! Made me smile…no, the Bible is never boring! Great post! Love your site!

  2. Helene says:

    I laughed out loud and had to read selections to my husband. That was as true as it was hilarious!

  3. Love this! I totally agree – sometimes we try to debate or make things too theological when really, God can use one verse and say something different to each one of us – if we’re open to hearing! Great post!

    • Thank you, Jen — that’s the key — being confident enough in our relationship with Christ to accept that He can speak to us directly, without human intervention and interpretation. There’s a lot of good stuff in that book!

  4. Katherine says:

    Brilliant! I think I’ve used that Bible Study before, haha. I really dislike the whole shapes and colors and prepositions thing. I guess it’s useful sometimes, but you are right, in that we need so engage with the stories and just keep reading and let God speak.

    Love this!

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