Sunday, November 6, 2011

Favorite Bible Quotes

I suspect that everyone who reads the Bible has a favorite quote.

It is an extraordinary piece of literature, recording at least two millennial of speculation and insight. Though rising from the experience of a rather small nation, the biblical stories have a well-deserved reputation in the human search for wisdom.

I read somewhere that philosophers in second century BC Athens were inspired by the wisdom of the Septuagint when the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek.

King Solomon, of course, developed a reputation for wisdom. Three biblical books (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Wisdom) are said to have been composed under his patronage. 1 Kings 10 reports that the queen of Sheba, hearing of Solomon's reputation, came to visit him and posed many questions. And the Bible says, "King Solomon explained everything she asked about, and there remained nothing hidden from him that he could not explain to her" (v. 3).

The Book of Proverbs is inspiring. The wisdom is obvious. "A mild answer calms wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (15:1).  "Train a boy in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not swerve from it" (22:6). "Let another praise you --not your own mouth" (27:2).

I like the blessing attributed to Aaron: "The Lord bless you and keep you! the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24-26).

When I have parents in front of me, I call their attention to Leviticus 20:9, "Anyone who curses his father or mother shall be put to death."

Perhaps the most romantic quote in Scripture is in Genesis 29:20. Jacob agreed to work for his uncle for seven years in exchange for Rachel's hand in marriage. And the Bible says, "So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, yet they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her."

Maybe the funniest line is Genesis 30:22. God has been very busy giving Jacob one son after another through wife Leah and two maidservants, but Rachel has produced none. It strikes me humorous that in the midst of all this baby-making, we read "Then God remembered Rachel."

Of course the New Testament provides memorable lines as well. Recall Jesus' reluctance to help the couple who ran out of wine at Cana. He tells Mary, "My hour has not yet come," but his mother is not discouraged. She tells the servants, "Do whatever he tells you" (John 2:5).

Paul's first letter to the Corinthians contains the most beautiful and accurate description of love ever written, "Love is patient, love is kind; It is not jealous, is not pompous; it is not inflated...It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails" (13:4-8).

One line, however, makes me smile, gives me comfort, and will please me immeasurably if I ever get to hear it addressed to me. It was Jesus' invitation to his disciples after a long and fruitless night of fishing. He said to them, "Come, have breakfast" (John 21:12).

I suspect everyone who reads the Bible has a favorite quote. What is yours?

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