My Beloved Tome: A Poem

My Beloved Tome: A Poem

by Denis Kabi

 

My father gave it to me

many years ago when I was a lad.

It was a gift,

a gift that I treasured then,

and still treasure now.

It is bound by a hard cover

which is navy-blue in colour

and on its front cover, shiny gold-coloured letters

are engraved spelling out the title of it

– Good News Bible.

I thank my father for giving me this book.

I thank my Father for blessing me with His Word.

The first day that I opened it,

I marvelled at the whiteness of the delicate pages,

and the sharp contrast of the white paper

with the rich black ink

of its densely printed text and illustrations

and ancient maps.

The line drawings are comical

and sometimes make me laugh,

for they are like cartoons.

I began to worry about the book’s cover,

concerned that it would get worn

from constant handling,

and the gold-coloured  engravings on its cover

would  chip away.

To prevent this occurrence,

I decided to find manila paper

to cover the book with.

But I realized that the manila paper was not suitable,

since it got worn along the spine

and edges of the book due to constant use

and thus was exposing the original dark-blue cover.

That’s when I looked for a sheet of transparent polythene

and used scissors to cut it

to the right size of the cover,

and then used clear cellotape

to seal the hard cover neatly.

The polythene does not wear out easily

and it has preserved and protected the book’s cover

and its delicate title engravings

for many years now.

At the top of the spine of this book

there is a bookmark attached to it,

and it’s made of dark blue woven threads.

It’s very delicate and neat.

I used to slip it between the pages that I was reading

so that I could continue reading

from where I’d left off.

But I soon switched to other types of bookmarks,

mostly those made of hard paper.

I did this not only to preserve the integrity

of the original dark blue woven bookmark,

but also because I needed to bookmark several sections

of the books that I was reading contemporaneously.

Over the years the pure white pages

have gradually acquired a creamish shade,

but the blackness of the text hasn’t changed at all.

From the preface pages I read

that the New Testament of this particular English translation

was published in 1966,

and the Old Testament in 1976.

The New Testament was originally written in Greek language,

while the Old Testament was originally written

in Hebrew and Aramaic languages.

Apparently a group of translators prepared this translation,

and drafts of it were sent to prominent theologians

and Biblical scholars

and English-speaking Bible societies for review.

The translators’ task was to express the meaning

of the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts

in a manner and form that can be easily understood

by readers who use English as a means of communication.

In this translation the Hebrew name for God

– Jehovah –

is represented as LORD.

According to the preface,

the precise meaning of some sections

of the original text is in dispute.

Some of the text can be understood in two or more ways.

The chapters and verses in this translation are numbered

following the traditional system

of major English translations of the Bible.

I trust that the translators were faithful in their work.

There are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament

and twenty-seven books in the New Testament.

Millions of copies of the Bible

translated into many languages of the world

– and sold at an affordable price,

or given out free of charge –

are distributed in many parts of the world each year.

I’m glad and I feel honoured to have a copy.

“In the beginning God created the universe,”

is the first line of Genesis,

the first book of the Bible.

Prophet Moses probably wrote Genesis.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with everyone,”

is the last line of Revelation,

the last book of the Bible.

Apostle John wrote Revelation.

The most famous Bible verse is probably John 3:16:

”For God so loved the world

that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whoever believes in Him

should not perish but have everlasting life. “

Who really wrote the Bible?

Why was it written?

And why should I read it?

Was it Moses and the other prophets and apostles

whose names are written in the titles of the books?

Or was it God’s Spirit which spoke

through these anointed men and women?

Was it written simply as a historical account

of the ancient people of Israel?

Should I simply read it as a fine work of literature?

“All Scripture is inspired by God

and is useful for teaching the truth,

rebuking error, correcting faults,

and giving instruction for right living,

so that the person who serves God

may be fully qualified and equipped

to do every kind of good deed,”

it is written.

“Before the world was created,

 the Word already existed;

He was with God,

and He was the same as God.

From the very beginning the Word was with God.

Through Him God made all things;

not one thing in all creation was made without Him.

The Word was the source of life,

and this life brought light to mankind.

The light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness has never put it out,”

it is written.

“The word of God is alive and active,

sharper than any double-edged sword.

It cuts all the way through,

to where soul and spirit meet,

to where joints and marrow come together.

It judges the desires and thoughts of man’s heart,”

it is written.

“He did this to teach you that man

must not depend on bread alone to sustain him,

but on everything that the Lord says,”

it is written.

“Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to His word;

instead, put it into practice.

Whoever listens to the word

but does not put it into practice

is like a man who looks in a mirror

and sees himself as he is.

 He takes a good look at himself

 and then goes away

and at once forgets what he looks like.

But whoever looks closely into the perfect law

 that sets people free,

who keeps on paying attention to it

and does not simply listen and then forget it,

but puts it into practice

– that person will be blessed by God

 in what he does,”

it is written.

“My word is like the snow and the rain

that come down from the sky to water the earth.

They make the crops grow

and provide seed for planting and food to eat.

So also will be the word that I speak

 – it will not fail to do what I plan for it;

it will do everything I send it to do,”

it is written.

 “Happy are those who reject the advice of evil men,

 who do not follow the example of sinners

 or join those who have no use for God.

Instead, they find joy in obeying the Law of the Lord,

and they study it day and night.

 They are like trees that grow beside a stream,

that bear fruit at the right time,

and whose leaves do not dry up.

 They succeed in everything they do,”

it is written.

“Your word is a lamp

to guide me and a light for my path.

I will keep my solemn promise

to obey your just instructions.

My sufferings, Lord, are terrible indeed;

keep me alive, as you have promised.

Accept my prayer of thanks, O Lord,

and teach me your commands.

 I am always ready to risk my life;

 I have not forgotten your law.

Wicked men lay a trap for me,

but I have not disobeyed your commands.

Your commandments are my eternal possession;

they are the joy of my heart.

I have decided to obey your laws

until the day I die,”

it is written.

“Earth and sky, hear my words,

listen closely to what I say.

My teaching will fall like drops of rain

and form on the earth like dew.

My words will fall like showers on young plants,

like gentle rain on tender grass.

I will praise the name of the Lord,

and His people will tell of His greatness,”

it is written.

 “Heaven and earth will pass away,

but my words will never pass away,”

it is written.

Once a person reads the words of this book,

it becomes clear that the Bible is not an ordinary book.

The Bible is a living Word,

unlike other books

which are simply paper, ink and glue.

I thank God for blessing me with His Word;

this copy that I hold in my hands of the beloved tome.

What hope would a sinner like me have without it?!

 

© Denis Kabi, 2011

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