Who Needs Instructions? (by Ed Martin)

Voice by Ed Martin

Psalm 1: 1-3 (CEB)

1The truly happy person doesn’t follow wicked advice, doesn’t stand on the road of sinners, and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful. Instead of doing those things, these persons love the Lord’s Instruction, and they recite God’s Instruction day and night! They are like a tree replanted by streams of water, which bears fruit at just the right time and whose leaves don’t fade. Whatever they do succeeds.

Who needs instructions?! How many of you have said this at least once? Come on men, be honest! We’re told we’re the worst offenders. If we still used VCRs, would your clock be flashing 12:00? Have you ever read your car owner’s manual? Do you even use the picture instructions provided with Legos or IKEA furniture?

Success in using all the features of your car, building that Lego Millennium Falcon, assembling your IKEA bookcase, or even setting your VCR clock, among a myriad of other tasks, depends on using the instructions provided. Paying heed to instructions has the effect of making our lives easier, more efficient, more fruitful.

Today’s scripture tells us that the truly happy person loves the Lord’s Instruction – so much so that they recite it day and night. And what is the Lord’s Instruction? The Hebrew word Torah, the term encompassing the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, literally means “instruction, doctrine, or teaching”—implying some sort of guidance in life. 

I have often heard Christians say that the Bible is God’s instruction manual. For every question and problem in life, there is an answer in the Bible. For me, as a Biblical non-literalist, this was often troubling. Rather than an instruction manual, I like to think of the Bible as the love story of God with God’s people. And as is true in any loving relationship, the partners seek to learn from each other with the goal of treating each other honestly, respectfully, wanting only the best for the other partner.

So, I see the Scriptures as God’s instructions, or more nuanced, teachings about love. The Ten Commandments can be regarded as a legal code, but I see them as teaching how to love God and love neighbor. Micah teaches us that to love God we must do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Isaiah and Jesus teach that to love God we need to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts…shar[e] your food with the hungry, invit[e] the homeless poor into your homes, [ put] clothes on the shivering ill-clad, [be] available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. (Isaiah 58:6-7, 9b-10 MSG) 

Who needs instructions? We all do. As we live through world events today, it seems as if our clocks are always flashing 12:00. Applying the fullness of Scripture as instruction on love, we can rejoice with the Psalmist: How well God must like you— you don’t walk in the ruts of those blind-as-bats, you don’t stand with the good-for-nothings, you don’t take your seat among the know-it-alls…[you’re] always in blossom. (Psalm 1:1, 3b MSG)

This day: Consider taking a deeper plunge into Scripture using a guided daily devotional which immerses you into the totality of Scripture. https://biblethroughseasons.com/ebook-and-paperback-editions/ 


  1. It is my great fortune to be a preacher, because this obligates me to read the scriptures and teach them in a number of settings each week. Let me honest, were it not for this responsibility I would most likely not be immersed in bible passages on a regular basis. My discipline is the result of my vacation. I have great respect for those who study scripture because they love it and thirst for it. Thanks Ed.


  2. Thank you Ed. I will check out that resource, as I have no discipline to stay on any sort of read the bible in a year plan, but do appreciate devotionals.


  3. In hiking many trails are marked by blazes…colored painted patches on trees…follow them and one does not get lost….fortunately the Bible gives us many patches, marking the path that leads us to life. Thank you, Ed!!


  4. Thank you, Ed, for uplifting the BibleThrough the Seasons. I hope that many others can find the energy of the Holy Spirit in following this approach, which was at work within me to develop it. Most especially, thank you for your friendship!


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bravo Ed! I love this; Oh my gosh if I had a VCR it would most certainly be blinking 12:00. Since you recommended Nick’s devotional last summer I have been daily in the Word. It has made a big difference in my faith journey. Thank you.


  6. I love this so much— you do not have to be a “Bible literalist” to feel the love and gain the wisdom the Bible shares. Thank you for writing this!


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