PRAY FOR UNDERSTANDING. The Psalmist declares, “The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). The purpose of His Word is to guide and enlighten all men. As one seeks this understanding, let us not forget to ask the Father for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). “Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things” (2 Timothy 2:7).
THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT WHAT YOU READ. The Bible cannot be read in the same way someone would flip through a magazine. It must be carefully examined. In relation to study, the Bible itself uses words such as “to reason” (Acts 17:2, 17, 18:4, 19:8) and “to search” (Acts 17:11). These terms bring with them the idea of using one’s mind to investigate, discern, and examine. One has said, “Read through the text once to become familiar with it, and then read it again for a deeper look.” It is a misconception to think that just reading through the Bible will make one wise. A good student of the Bible will be careful and diligent in his/her study with the goal of rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
DO NOT ABUSE FAMILIAR PASSAGES. A person can easily skim through a familiar text and miss the great truths found within. Familiarity can cause one to overlook certain elements of the scripture. One can also bring certain misconceptions to familiar verses. It is an easy trap to make certain assumptions about familiar verses, however, close examination of it’s context is always needed to reveal truth.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS. Understanding the context is vital to the study of any text. One must consider who is speaking, who is being addressed, and the circumstances that gave rise to the passage under consideration. Most verses are part of a larger thought or argument. To understand the context sometimes it is necessary to back up to a previous verse or chapter. One seeking truth will desire to know the entire thought not simply a part of it. Paying close attention to these details will greatly help in conquering the text.
MAKE PRACTICAL APPLICATION. The Bible is meant to be applied to our lives. A successful study of it will end with one comparing the commands and principles that they have found with how they are living. “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only (James 1:22)
REMEMBER IT IS GOD’S BOOK. By studying the Bible you are peering into the mind of God. This is not the product of man’s imaginations, but the revelations of God. Paul praised the Thessalonians for their understanding of this, when he said, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). This is no ordinary book! Therefore the study of it must be done with much care and diligence.
- Josh Allen (Pikeville, KY)