I’ve challenged you to add a commentary to you Bible reading plan, so that you gain insights into the original culture and world. This will help you understand the passage the same way the first hearers and readers did. Bottom line, beginning Bible study by understanding this FIRST MEANING of the passage helps us better interpret it for our lives in our day. Follow this link to find recommended commentaries on the Psalms specifically, and on other Bible books in general.
On 10/26/14 my challenge is to read the passage you are studying several times:
- Read the passage for yourself first without reading the commentary. Read it with a quite heart before God. listen for the Holy Spirit to whisper to you though the passage. Make a note in your journal regarding questions or “speed bumps” in the passage – things that you don’t understand or that are not clear in some way. I recommend you write them in your journal as a question to God. For example: “God, why is the Psalmist so angry in this passage? it seems like _________, however that seems like such a minor thing to be angry about.”
- Now read the passage to understand its original meaning. The commentary may refer you to other passages that help color in the picture of the original setting. Read those passages as well. Try to understand the original motives and emotions of the writer and the first hearers/readers. put yourself in their shoes.
- As you read the passage a third time, ask, “How might I apply this passage to my life, my setting in today’s world.” If the passage was a lament, how could it be a lament for you now? If it was a prayer, how might it be updated as a prayer now, if it’s a story or a parable who might the characters be now, what part are you in the story. You get the idea.
- In your fourth reading, listen for something in particular that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. This may have already come in a prior reading or it may come as you listen for such a personal application. This may be intensely personal. It may have little to do with the original setting, but it may be in answer to a recent prayer or a petition you have made to God. Don’t force this step. Wait on the Lord.
These steps are not going to happen in a half hour, probably not even in an hour. But, this is not about efficiency. This is about studying scripture so that you are increasing in your intimacy with your Savior and so that you are maturing as a Christian.
Remember mature adults feed themselves. This is also true of Christians. We begin our faith walk having to be fed by others. As we mature and become spiritual adults, our primary spiritual nourishment happens as we feed ourselves.
I’m praying that your Bible study muscles are being strengthened by the Holy Spirit and your diligent work,