The Arrangement of the Bible 

The Holy Spirit used writers to arrange the Bible carefully

Ecclesiastes 12.9–12

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • March 8, In the year of our Lord, 2015

Scripture Reader and Reading: Michael Crisp – Ecclesiastes 12.9–12

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Phil Joseph – Anything on the word of God


  1. Look carefully at the wording of Ecclesiastes 12.9–12,

    9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright—words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. 12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh (Ecc 12.9–12).

    1. As Solomon wrote the Books of Ecclesiastes, most of Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, and Psalms 72 and 127,
      1. he thought on what to say,
      2. spending time looking for the right words,
      3. setting everything in a particular order.
    2. He looked for acceptable words
      1. that would convey the meaning,
      2. capture the attention,
      3. deliver the truth,
      4. goad us into action,
      5. hitting the nail on the head!
    3. Such is
      1. the endless task of the preacher and
      2. full of labor.
        1. This is why putting together new sermons every week,
        2. takes so much time and creativity.
          1. So far I have delivered about 1,663 sermons and classes here.
          2. That presents a challenge of knowing to stay fresh.
    4. Therefore, please do not see the biblical message
      1. as various disconnected truths thrown together, but
      2. learn to see the unsurpassed masterpiece that it is.
        1. The arrangement of the Bible did not happen by accident.
        2. I mean the literary nature of it, and the Books of the Bible.
  2. Psalm 12 pictures the complete and perfect nature of the word of God,

    6 The words of the Lord are pure words,
    Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
    Purified seven times.
    (Psa 12.6)

    1. Consider the intentional arrangement of the Bible,
    2. that you might know why it captures your attention.


  1. The Literary Nature of the Bible 
    1. Surely you have noticed that the Bible is not one kind of literary piece.
      1. Almost every other book that you pick up,
      2. you will find one literary method.
        1. It might be a story.
        2. It might be an exposition.
        3. It might be poetic.
      3. However, the Bible has many forms of literary work, and
        1. uses many literary devices.
        2. By this means, the Holy Spirit captures our attention.
    2. The Bible has narratives, including
      1. stories of heroes,
      2. epics, and
      3. tragedy.
    3. You can find poetry, even whole Books devoted to it:
      1. Psalms
      2. Song of Solomon
    4. Also, you will find
      1. dissertations (Romans),
      2. proverbs,
      3. satire,
      4. drama, and so on.
    5. There are also chiastic statements and chiastic stories:
      1. Mark 2.27 shows a reversal of word order,

        27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2.27).
      2. Sometimes it is only apparent in the original language,

        ∆En aÓrchØv h™n oJ lo/goß, kai« oJ lo/goß h™n pro\ß to\n Qeo/n, kai« Qeo\ß h™n oJ lo/goß.

        1. In our English Bibles that reads,

          1 In the beginning was the Word, and
          the Word was with God, and
          the Word was God
          (John 1.1).
        2. However, a literal translation gives,

          1 In beginning was the Word, and
          the Word was with the God, and
          God was the Word.
      3. Much of the biblical narrative follows a chiastic form,
        1. a reversal of the order of things,
        2. a, b, c, d, then a center point, followed by d, c, b, a.
    6. Consider this chiasm from biblicalchiasmus.wordpress.com:

      A  Triad of afflictions: curse, confusion, and cumbrance (Deut 28:20-22)
      B  Agricultural Disaster (drought and hardening soil) (Deut 28:23-24)
      C  War:  Defeat leading to Israel becoming an object lesson (Deut 28:25-26)
      D  Boils of Egypt sent from Yahweh (Deut 28:27)
      E  Madness and blindness (Deut 28:28-29a)
      F  Oppressed and robbed all the days (Deut 28:29b)
      Undoing of the blessings in 28:4, 8, 11 (Deut 28:30-31)
      F’  Oppressed and crushed all the days (Deut 28:32-33)
      E’  Madness from what one sees (Deut 28:34)
      D’  Boils sent from Yahweh (Deut 28:35)
      C’  War:  exile leading to Israel becoming an object lesson (Deut 28:36-37)
      B’  Agricultural disaster (crop-destroying pests) (Deut 28:38-42)
      A’  Economic collapse – impoverishment and debt (Deut 28:43-44)

  2. The Chapter and Verse Divisions 
    1. The Bible writers did not write in chapters and verses.
      1. Somewhat of an exception would be the following:
        1. The Book of Psalms.
          1. Each Psalm stands alone.
          2. It is not really proper to say Psalm chapter 2, but
            1. Psalm 2 or
            2. the 2nd Psalm, as Paul did in Acts 13,

              33 “God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:

              “You are My Son,
              Today I have begotten You.’”

              (Acts 13.33)

        2. Some psalmists wrote their Psalms in alphabetic acrostics.
          1. Yet, they still did not use the numbering system.
          2. The Book of Lamentations does something similar.
    2. Unfortunately we have allowed the chapter and verse divisions
      1. to divide up our thoughts,
      2. leading us to miss the biblical message.
        1. For example, some people try to fit evolution into the creation account,
        2. doing so by the doctrine known as the Gap Theory.
          1. They believe that between Genesis 1.1 and Genesis 1.2,
          2. a huge gap of time, even billions of years, can be inserted.
            1. They see it in the following way,

              1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

              Time for evolution

              2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

            2. However, Moses did not write with the chapters and verses,

              In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
            3. Does it seem now that you can insert the ages of evolution?
    3. How we would treat other literature, if we did to it, what we do to the Bible?
    4. The complicated appearance of a page in most Bibles frightens away potential Bible readers.
      1. It just looks confusing.
      2. What is the word of God and what is not?
        1. To us who know the Bible,
        2. we can discern what is Scripture, and
          1. what are the comments of the publisher.
    5. I have heard people complain about someone not quoting all the verse.
      1. This is judging us by some man’s work.
      2. New Testament writers frequently quoted part of a verse.
        1. For example, look at the screen for a comparison of
        2. Acts 8.32–33 with Isaiah 53.7–8.
      3. It is not the verse that counts, but
        1. the thought, or
        2. the sentence.
    6. The versification of the Bible has also led to the “Sound-Bite” mentality.
      1. Many people do not want to hear a biblical story or argument, but
      2. they want a single verse that will give them what they want.
        1. A woman who used to work with Kerri when she was at the bank,
        2. wanted to find a single verse that would show Jesus is God,
          1. so that she could refute the “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
          2. I showed her arguments in the Bible for the deity of Christ.
            1. That did not make her happy.
            2. She did not want to have to develop a thought.
              1. She wanted a biblical sound-bite
              2. that would easily solve her problem.
      3. Sometimes the versification does not make sense.
        1. It breaks up sentences.
        2. It has more than one sentence.
        3. Some translations makes each verse a paragraph.
          1. We understand that paragraphs represent different thoughts.
          2. Therefore, we do not see the connection with all the verses.
      4. Chapters in other books represent new episodes or a different topic.
        1. Sometimes that happens in the Bible, and
        2. sometimes it does not.
      5. Versification keeps us from seeing the Bible as a single story.
      6. Are there advantages to the versification?
        1. Yes.
        2. We can pinpoint something that we want to say.
  3. The Number of Bible Books 
    1. Ask any of our children how many Books does the Bible have, and
      1. they will answer 66.
      2. They will tell you
        1. the Old Testament has 39 and
        2. the New Testament has 27.
    2. That gives a total of 66 for a complete and perfect Bible.
      1. However, numbers are important to God.
      2. You can see it in nature and you can see it especially in the Bible.
        1. Consider the passage I quoted earlier from Psalm 12,
        2. that the purity of the words of the Lord
          1. compare to silver that has been refined seven times.
          2. The numbers 3, 7, 10, 12, 40, and 1000 and multiples of those numbers, fill the Bible.
      3. Another important number to God is 22.
        1. In the Hebrew Bible, this number plays an important part.
        2. Psalm 119 uses the Hebrew alphabet
          1. with every grouping of 8 verses beginning with
          2. the successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
        3. The Book of Lamentations does something similar.
        4. Keep this in mind, because I will bring it back up.
      4. Also, the New Testament argues
        1. that it is the final and complete revelation of God,

          3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

          8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away (1Co 13.8–10).

          1. Why then did God give us 66 Books,
          2. a number that is not a multiple of seven?
    3. Then in 1993, I went to Russia.
      1. When I helped the people understand the Bible,
      2. I noticed that their Old Testament differed from ours.
        1. At first, I thought something was missing.
        2. Our Old Testaments have 39 books, but
        3. theirs only had 22 and the order differed.
          1. Of course, I was suspicious of their Bible initially,
          2. until I learned that it has the same material.
      3. I investigated more and discovered something fascinating.
    4. Our English Bibles have 39 books for the Old Testament, because
      1. someone split
        1. Samuel,
        2. Kings, and
        3. Chronicles, and
      2. we count
        1. Ezra,
        2. Nehemiah, and
        3. the 12 Minor Prophets as separate books.
    5. Here is the order and grouping of the Hebrew Bible:

      The Five Books of Moses

      1. Genesis
      2. Exodus
      3. Leviticus
      4. Numbers
      5. Deuteronomy

        The Former Prophets

      6. Joshua
      7. Judges
      8. Samuel
      9. Kings

        The Latter Prophets 

      10. The Major Prophets (as one book)
        1. Isaiah
        2. Jeremiah
        3. Ezekiel
      11. The Twelve Minor Prophets (as one book)
        1. Hosea
        2. Joel
        3. Amos
        4. Obadiah
        5. Jonah
        6. Micah
        7. Nahum
        8. Habakkuk
        9. Zephaniah
        10. Haggai
        11. Zechariah
        12. Malachi

          The Writings

      12. Psalms
      13. Proverbs
      14. Job
      15. Song of Solomon
      16. Ruth
      17. Lamentations
      18. Ecclesiastes
      19. Esther
      20. Daniel
      21. Ezra-Nehemiah
      22. Chronicles
    6. Now the number of Books in the Bible makes sense to me.
      1. 27 in the New Testament and
      2. 22 in the Old Testament.
        1. That gives us 49, which is a multiple of 7 x 7!
        2. You hold in your hands, the ultimate perfect and complete Book!


  1. Be aware that someone did not just throw together the Bible. 
  2. Get a Bible without verse divisions if you can. 
    1. The Reader’s Bible
    2. Bibliotheca
    3. The Saint John’s Bible (Where the verse numbers are de-emphasized)
    4. ESV (Where the verse numbers are de-emphasized)
  3. Follow the punctuation rather than the verses. 
  4. I conclude with the words of James, the Lord’s brother,

    21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (Jam 1.21–25).