Of course, we of this generation cannot know by firsthand experience how the Word of God was read in other times. But it would be hard to conceive of our fathers having done a poorer job than we do when it comes to the public reading of the Scriptures. Most of us read the Scriptures so badly that a good performance draws attention by its rarity. It could be argued that since everyone these days owns his own copy of the Scriptures, the need for the public reading of the Word is not as great as formerly. If that is true, then let us not bother to read the Scriptures at all in our churches. But if we are going to read the Word publicly, then it is incumbent upon us to read it well. A mumbled, badly articulated and unintelligent reading of the sacred Scriptures will do more than we think to give the listeners the idea that the Word is not important. We do not, however, concur in the belief that because the Word has attained such wide circulation we should not read it in our public meetings. We should by all means read it, and we should make the reading a memorable experience for those who hear. Every man who is honored with the leadership of public worship should learn to read well. And do not imagine that anyone who can read at all can read well. Even learned men break down here. We are all familiar with those public figures who talk fluently on almost any subject but flunk out miserably when they try to quote the Scriptures. Reading the Bible well is something not picked up overnight.
He [Ezra] read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. Nehemiah 8:3
Ezra read the Book of the Law of Moses to the people from daybreak till noon. There was no public address system. Ezra must have read well. The people stood and listened attentively.
O God, help us to read Your Word well and to listen attentively, for it is Your Word.