The Parable of the Lexicon

Photo: “New Bookshelf, Old Books” by David King, Creative Commons

[The term Lexicon, as used in seminary: dictionary of Greek and Hebrew words.]

            As the hands placed it on the crowded bookshelf for the first time, the lexicon felt somewhat apprehensive. “These are new environs for me. I wonder if my neighbors will be friendly. How will my landlord treat me?” he speculated as he squeezed his way through the first night and day.

            His landlord had just begun seminary. The lexicon didn’t expect to be used heavily at first, but was glad to have been purchased at the beginning of the first year along with other basic works. His maker had said something about being a light that could shine on God’s Word, and the lexicon appreciated the caring hands with which the landlord had treated him. He was into his second week, now, and knew that the hands would lift him into use as the need arose.

            He had seen the hands place into service his neighbors but had almost begun to doubt his own worth when his first moment came. He knew his maker would be happy as the careful hands cradled him. Here he was, being used to illuminate individual words in Scripture. The hands moved quietly but with intent. Occasionally, when his little light needed to be multiplied or focused, he noticed the hands pause, move toward each other, and rest together. This was a curious practice, and he observed it frequently in the early months.

            About midyear an unaccustomed air began to be noticed. The hands moved more quickly now and with somewhat more skill. Although called upon more frequently, the lexicon felt less able to help his landlord. The hands seemed tighter, less sensitive and in a greater hurry. The tender touch was gone. 

            Pausing less often, the hands even reached for the lexicon less frequently. From his vantage point on the shelf, the lexicon observed that the hands were restless. Fidgeting replaced facts, sloth superseded solid study.

            As the lexicon groped for a reason for his lack of use, he tried to think if he had changed.  He was just as capable of performing his function as ever; it’s just that the hands rarely reached for him anymore. Gone were the moments of rest, when one hand settled into the other. They now were like paws, clawing at one another. The work was accomplished but without the joyful touch.  The lexicon wondered what the hands were like outside the study. Far from utilizing the lexicon with care, the hands were even abrupt with the Scriptures.

            The lexicon now waits in silence. He wonders when he will be called upon again to shine his special light. He longs for those diligent, caring hands.

Jim DeCamp