Psalm 119:7 (NIV)
7 I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.

David wanted to refine his religious beliefs in that as he grew in his true understanding he would be able to praise God with an upright heart.




A book titled The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible came out a few years ago. It was written by a non-Christian named A. J. Jacobs. It is a funny book, and he is a great writer. He spent an entire year committed to obeying Bible commands as literally as he could.

He lives in New York. He grew a beard, dressed like Moses, and started to eat kosher. The Bible in the Old Testament commands stoning Sabbath-breakers, so he would prowl around Central Park, looking for offenders. He did not want to get arrested, so he would stealthily pelt them with tiny pebbles from behind and then look the other way. Of course, it is absurd, and that is the point of the book.

He writes, "Millions of people say they take the Bible literally. A 2004 Newsweek poll put it at 55 percent, but my suspicion was that almost everyone's literalism consisted of picking and choosing. People plucked out the parts that fit their agenda." Part of what he intends to show is no one can take the Bible literally.

Of course, many people do pick and choose, so his critique is fair. It is a humorous book, but he is dead wrong. He missed the whole point of the Bible. If, like he did, you treat the Bible naively, like a list of disconnected rules as though it was an owner's manual, you are not taking the Bible literally. You have to know the whole story.

In April 1945, the German army surrendered to the Allies. The war continued. Japan still fought, even though Germany had surrendered. At this point, Allied soldiers who had been fighting against Germany began rebuilding Germany, all during the same war.

Imagine somebody looking back on World War II and saying, "That's odd. Sometimes Allied soldiers attacked Germans, and sometimes they helped Germans. I guess they randomly picked and chose what they wanted to do." But that is not literalism; that is "stupid-ism." That sort of conclusion comes from misunderstanding the story.


[John Ortberg, from the sermon "The Bible Alone"]