How to Study the Bible 101

We are coming to the Bible together and learning the three steps of Bible study method: observation, interpretation, and application. (In this series we’re hitting a few highlights of how to study the Bible, but if you’d like to jump in with both feet exploring all the details of each step a good resource I recently came across is at Knowable Word.)

Last time, we saw that the more time we spend in observation the more accurately we will interpret the text and the better we will be able to apply it to our need. One key to making good observations is meditating on your Bible.

Meditation can sound intimidating or maybe thoughts of New Age practices pop into your head. But meditation in the Bible means something very different and very simple. When we meditate on God’s word, we slow down and pick up the jewels of Scripture in our hand, as it were, and turn over each gem carefully. We notice each little thing about it. We notice that the color is much deeper than we thought at first. We’re surprised that the stone isn’t smooth but rough in places. We see that it’s curved on one side and more jagged on the other.

So how does that work when we come to the Bible? When God uses a metaphor, we slow down to really get the picture he’s using in our mind. We notice what’s surprising, what’s puzzling, and what–if we’re honest–we don’t really like about what he says.

Charles Spurgeon shows us what it’s like to meditate on a few promises:

Downcast and troubled Christian, come and glean today in the broad field of promise. Here is an abundance of precious promises, which meet your needs exactly. Take this one: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench.” Is that not helpful to you? A reed, helpless, insignificant, and week, a bruised reed, one of which no music can come, weaker than weakness itself–yet He will not break you, but on the contrary, will restore and strengthen you. You are like the smoking wick: No light, no warmth, can come from you, but He will not extinguish you. He will blow with His sweet breath of mercy until He fans you into a flame. […] Our Master’s field is very rich, as you can see. Plenty of promises lie before you, believer! Gather them up, make them your own, for Jesus wants you to have them. Do not be afraid; only believe! Grasp these sweet promises, thresh them out by meditation, and feed on them with joy!

Below is a passage we can practice meditating on together; it’s Proverbs 2:1-5. Slow down and think on what it says. Examine it. Wonder at what’s surprising. Form the images he uses in your mind. Don’t rush through it quickly. Don’t be afraid to spend a long time on a few verses. Ask God to help you while you’re reading. Labor and sweat over the words. And, like Spurgeon says, “Feed on them with joy!”

My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.

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