There’s a quote about the Bible from Charles Spurgeon that I love. “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture,” he said. “The book widens and deepens with our years.”
I’ve seen these words proven true many times since I first began reading the Bible in 2005. Sometimes it’s a moment where something clicks, or you begin to connect the dots between passages and moments you never have before. Sometimes it’s how the Bible convicts or encourages you in an unexpected place. It doesn’t mean it’s always profound, but it is helpful.
I had one of those moments again recently. I was reading Job a while back and arrived at Elihu’s response to Job and his three friends. “He was angry at Job because he had justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2, CSB). I’ve read this passage many times over the years, but for some reason, I’d never noticed this statement. My eyes always immediately went to his burning anger at the three friends who failed to refute any of Job’s claims, but condemned him anyway. And this short sentence is what helps make the interaction between God and Job in the later chapters of the book make more sense.1
Job becomes a regular man, tempted to fail in the same ways we all do. He points to his deeds as the source of his merit before God. The same way we all tend to do when anything goes wrong in our lives. We do X, so we shouldn’t have Y happen. But this is self-defeating because fruit isn’t fruit if it’s something we’re using to define or justify ourselves. We don’t get to do that. That one sentences is a reminder that Job needs a savior as much as any of us. He wasn’t a special class of individual. He was a sinner, too.
That, I think, is what Spurgeon was talking about when he said that Scripture always widens and deepens with our years. He more experience we have with them, the older we get, our experience of reading the Scriptures changes. There are new insights to be had, each time we come to it. Maybe a simpler way to say it is the Bible is never boring and can never be boring because there is always more to learn. And that is good news for us all.
- And actually the entire pattern of Job’s defenses makes sense, too; there’s something of a shift as he faces the accusations of his friends, and he begins to justify himself by pointing to his actions instead of pointing to God. ↵