How to Read the Bible


The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.

Read Psalm 119. Right now. Read it.

Now that you have read it, how about some application?

That’s a pretty massive task, isn’t? You could create a list of 100 things we could do in regards to this passage couldn’t you? There’s way too many directions to go for application. Perhaps each verse could have a number of applications but I want to give you some simple counsel nonetheless.

A study of Psalm 119 ought to produce a more fervent, committed Bible student. So based upon a study of Psalm 119 (which I did in 2012), let me give you five approaches to reading the Bible. These are methods of Bible reading that cannot and should not be neglected by any of us.

First, read the Bible daily. Of course, I don’t want to shortchange you; if you want to read more, than read more. The psalmist rose early in the morning (vs. 147) and stayed up through the night with God (vs. 148). He did it even 7x a day (vs. 164). Discipline yourself to have a regular time in the Word of God – morning, afternoon or evening. Reading the Bible daily is like eating a meal. You can skip it every now and then, but eventually you will die from starvation if you don’t eat. Some of you may be spiritually starving yourself and thus making sinful, foolish decisions, having no way how to think through a temptation from the world or answer the atheist at work, etc. Find a time and stick to it.

Second, read the Bible systematically and comprehensively. Don’t be a random reader. Don’t be one of those people who just flips open his pages and reads what he sees or reads topically. If you do that with your life, you will take more and more things out of their context. The example of the psalmist was to read everything – laws, statutes, ways, precepts, decrees, commands, words, promises, etc. If you read what you want and not from Genesis to Revelation, book by book, there are commands in the Bible you are going to disobey because you never know they were even there. And ignorance is not bliss when you have to stand before God and give account for those portions you neglected. Postpone whatever you need to postpone to commit yourself to systematic Bible reading. All Scripture is inspired by Him and so we need to know it all comprehensively.

Third, read the Bible devotionally. Reading the Bible is not meant to be an academic exercise. It is worship. It is an act by which he express our love for the Bible and for God. We study the Bible to know God, hear from God, be changed by God, etc. You should never be doing anything with the word of God that is less than devotional. Steve Lawson has written in his commentary, “In every generation, those who have most treasured God’s word have been those most mightily used by God. Having a passionate devotion to his Word and being a powerful force for God are inseparably bound together. The former feeds the latter. One is the root, the other the fruit. Loving God’s Word is the cause; being used by the Lord is the effect. The fact is, no one can love God without loving the Word”

Fourth, read the Bible prayerfully. This is not a difficult concept; it just means that when you read the Bible, you also pray. John Piper has come up with a little acronym to use when reading the Bible prayerfully that you might find helpful. He uses the letters “I.O.U.S.”

      • I – Incline. To hear Him rightly in His Word, you have to be desirous – “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness” (Ps 119:36).
      • O – Open. To hear Him rightly in His Word, you have to ask for God’s assistance to understand the amazing things you read – “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (Ps 119:18).
      • U – Unite. To hear Him rightly in His Word, you have to have a unified, single focus on His Word – “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name” (Ps 86:11).
      • S – Satisfy. To hear Him rightly in His word, you have to be ready to produce more fruit – “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” (Ps 90:14).

Fifth, read the Bible reverently. The Bible is a Holy revelation of God’s will and to read it is to take your sandals off each time because you are on holy ground.

Love it, treasure it, learn it, memorize it, meditate on it, believe it, practice it. How you treat the Bible is how you treat God. Let me chose with this brief statement from John Wesley: “O give me that book! At any price give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book.”


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