There is great wisdom in reading others from different ages. They inform us and show us where our weaknesses and strengths are. When we read of Christians who have lived faithful Christian lives their testimony also encourages us to continue to persevere and also shows us what is possible. This excerpt from Table Talk by Martin Luther is no exception. One thing that ought to convict our generation to the core is how much we do not know God’s word. Ours is such an age of distraction that we have neglected the word of God which is living and active. Though we have many Bibles on our bookshelves we live in an age where the famine of the word of God is common (Amos 8.11). Let’s hear his words and be encouraged to follow his and the example of many other men and women from church history. May we be pleased immensely with God’s word and may our hearts be aglow every time we approach it.
Once when he was a young man, he [Martin Luther] happened upon a Bible. In it he read by chance the story about Samuel’s mother in the Books of the Kings. The book pleased him immensely, and he thought he would be happy if he could ever possess such a book. Shortly thereafter he bought a commentary; it also pleased him greatly, for it contained more Gospels than it was customary to preach on in the course of a year.
When he became a monk, he gave up all his books. Shortly before this, he had bought a copy of the Corpus Iuris, and I do not know what else. He returned these to the bookseller. Besides Plautus and Vergil, he took nothing with him into the monastery. There the monks gave him a Bible bound in red leather. He made himself so familiar with it that he knew what was on every page and when some passage was mentioned, he knew at once just where it was to be found.
“If I had kept at it,” he said, “I would have become exceedingly good at locating things in the Bible. At that time, no other study pleased me so much as sacred literature. With great loathing, I read physics, and my heart was a glow when the time came to return to the Bible… I read the Bible diligently. Sometimes one important statement occupied all my thoughts for a whole day. Such statements appeared especially in the weightier prophets, and (although I could not grasp their meaning) they have stuck in my memory to this day. Such is the assertion in Ezekiel, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ etc. [Ezek. 33.11].