Psalm 19:14: "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer."

Psalm 1:2-3: "His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."black and white drawing of a man reading on a table with a tiger in the front of the room

"Studious Readers" in Christian Art

A typical image in Christian art is that of the Studious Reader. Such images tend to stress both the close study of the text as well as the reflective meditation upon the text. Christian reading is extensive, systematic, and analytical, as well as intensive, close, and intuitive. The first focuses on learning and ordering the parts, getting the big picture, making connections across categories.

The other focuses on a few things, experiencing them deeply, chewing on each and every nuance. Both seek to internalize the truth in the thought, imagination, and life of the follower of Jesus. Both of these kinds of careful, patient reading mold and shape us. The more we study and meditate upon God's truth, the greater opportunity for these matters to be imprinted on ourselves.

Scripture's Power

In a very real sense, scripture reads and writes our lives. We are read by the truth of God's Word. In our spiritual blindness, we cannot see or understand who we are. It interprets us, teaches us to know who we are in all our limits and possibilities. Equally, the Holy Spirit writes us, composes us as we internalize Scripture. We are a composition, an essay, a text that God revises and perfects by study and meditation.

This same kind of active, patient reading of scripture also carries over in a more limited sense to our reading of texts in general. We engage them carefully and thoughtfully. We bring to bear a close study, and we at times meditatively mull over a truth until it becomes part of us. Frankly, not every text deserves such meditation; some don't even deserve close study, but we should at least give all texts careful consideration.

Central Insight: The process of reading reminds us that God calls for us to be both active and contemplative in our faith; this process internalizes in us the work of spiritual formation. It suggests a model for some reading in general.

Suggestions for Application: Give an example of a passage from a text that requires a close reading to make sense of it. Or show why a particular truth in a work is worth repeated reflection.