When we think of filling in the blank, we fill in the blank. The phrase itself doesn’t tell us in what sense we mean it. Is it a reference to the kind of test we took in school? If so, it we are reading in our recall of a testing method that was used by one or more of our teachers to determine what we knew. Or are we thinking of a questioning device that is commonly used by interviewers to help us get to know what the person who is being interviewed. If more than one possibility comes to mind, then we are moving to see in the phrase— an idea that has a range of meanings.
When the first Psalm refers to the enviable person who avoids certain practices and instead delights in the instruction of the Lord— and meditates on it day or night, the Scriptures lead us into a practice of filling in the blank.
In other words, enough information is given to us in the law of Moses, the songs and prophets of Israel, or the Gospel and apostles of Christ to give us a life-changing experience of filling in the blank— to find in a given context a meaning that has a range of necessary, probable or possible applications or implications.
While it’s possible to not make it a life long process of filling in the blanks when we read Scripture, it is impossible to not fill in the blanks any time we read the Bible. Saying the Bible says what it means doesn’t change the fact that we all tend to see the Bible not only as it is but as we are.
Even now you must fill in the blanks as to what I’m saying or implying. So it’s important for me to say some of what I don’t mean. I’m not suggesting that the Bible means whatever we want it to mean. Nor am I suggesting that the God of the Bible is whoever, or whatever we think of him when we read inspired words.
Just as Jonah knew his God well enough to fill in the blank, with the result that he tried to run from God… and to angrily resist him (Jonah 4:2), so we have an opportunity to get to know our God in the glory of the One who suffered and died to be the last Adam, the fulfillment of God’s warning to Satan (Gen 3:15); the One who lovingly became like Moses’s bronze serpent on a pole (John 3:14-15) and Savior of the world (John 3:16).
But these too are just words (and possibly even misleading words to us), until we get to know the God of the Cross well enough to delight in him, reflecting day and night on the necessary, probable, and possible implications of what he was revealing in his life, death, and resurrection about his love for us—and our troubled, dying world.