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When I Read the Bible Through

I supposed I knew my Bible
  Reading piecemeal, hit and miss,
Now a bit of John or Matthew,
  Now a snatch of Genesis,
Certain chapters of Isaiah
  Certain Psalms (the twenty-third!);
Twelfth of Romans, First of Proverbs—
  Yes, I thought I knew the Word!
But I found that thorough reading
  Was a different thing to do,
And the way was unfamiliar
  When I read the Bible through.

Oh, the massive, mighty volume!
  Oh, the treasures manifold!
Oh, the beauty of the wisdom
  And the grace it proved to hold!
As the story of the Hebrews
  Swept in majesty along,
As it leaped in waves prophetic,
  As it burst to sacred song,
As it gleamed with Christly omens,
  The Old Testament was new,
Strong with cumulative power,
  When I read the Bible through.

Ah! Imperial Jeremiah,
  With his keen, coruscant mind;
And the blunt old Nehemiah,
  And Ezekiel refined!
Newly came the Minor Prophets
  Each with his distinctive robe,
Newly came the Song idyllic,
  And the tragedy of Job;
Deuteronomy, the regal,
  To a towering mountain grew,
With its comrade peaks around it,
  When I read the Bible through.

What a radiant procession
  As the pages rise and fall,
James the sturdy, John the tender
  O the myriad-minded Paul!
Vast apocalyptic glories
  Wheel and thunder, flash and flame,
While the church triumphant raises
  One incomparable Name.
Ah, the story of the Saviour
  Never glows supremely true
Till you read it whole and swiftly,
  Till you read the Bible through.

You who like to play at Bible,
  Dip and dabble, here and there,
Just before you kneel, aweary,
  And yawn thro’ a hurried prayer;
You who treat the Crown of Writings
  As you treat no other book—
Just a paragraph disjointed,
  Just a crude, impatient look—
Try a worthier procedure,
  Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in very rapture
  When you read the Bible through!

—by Amos R. Wells (1862-1933)

I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. Psalm 119:162

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