How To Understand The Bible
Psalm 119 extols and exalts the Word of God. It is the source of joy (vs. 54), victory (vs. 45), growth (vs. 32), guidance (vs. 105), salvation, and hope (vs. 155, 81). The Psalmist prayed for understanding, “I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies” vs. 125.
This great Psalm emphasizes five great principles that will enable us to understand God’s word.
Principle 1: Pray over it. “Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me your statutes” (119:12). Have you ever asked God to teach you His word? When you come to a sticky problem in your study, is it your first impulse to ask God to help you understand? “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from your law” (vs. 18). When we approach the Word of God, the pride of intellect should be put aside, and we pray, “O God if you do not teach me I will not understand it.” Rich nuggets of truth can be discovered when we pray, “Teach me;” “Open my eyes;” “Remove the blinders!” When we pray with that spirit, some important things will happen. First, the heart will be stirred: “Incline my heart to Your testimonies …” (vs. 36). God will give you a hunger for His word. Second, your mind will be enlightened. Look at verse 73. “Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.”
Principle 2: Ponder it. Meditate upon it. Verse 97 says, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Throughout this psalm, you will see the word “meditate.” You really have to get into the word for the word to get into you! While going through the word, do not forget to let the word go through you! Unfortunately, many are not willing to pay the price. Many want to be zapped with the Bible, but knowledge does not come that way. When we hunger for the word as one would desire riches or food, then we will know and understand it. (See verses 127, 147, & 148).
Principle 3: Practice it. We need to practice what we learn to learn more. Knowledge of the word is for obedience. “My soul keeps your testimonies;” and “I keep your precepts and your testimonies for all my ways are before you” (verses 167 and 168). It is dangerous to learn what God says and not obey because it will harden our hearts and build resistance against the Word. When God has opened some great truth to our minds, there should be instant assimilation, obedience, and application. Then comes instant rejoicing and gratification because we have responded to the Word. The way to understand the part of the Bible you do not understand is to obey the part of the Bible you do understand. The principle is: Learn to practice what you learn, and then you will learn more.
Principle 4: Proclaim it. This is so important and, yet, we often miss it. God is not interested in making you a reservoir just to receive but to make you a channel through which His word will flow to others. His word is not just for your edification but to edify others. The Psalmist declared, “With my lips I have declared the judgment of Your mouth”, and “My tongue shall speak of your word for all your commandments are righteousness” (verses 13 and 172). Over and over the writer echoed the idea, “Just teach me, Lord, and I will tell it.” Here is the key to evangelism. Tell others what you have learned. The amazing truth is the more you give away, the more sticks to you! Telling it helps you to remember it! There’s someone who needs what you have learned. It could be a youth, a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, a member of your own family.
Principle 5: Personalize it. The Bible is primarily about a person, and His name is Jesus! “Make your face shine upon your servant” (verse 135). Study your Bible in a way that the face of Jesus will shine upon you. He is the living Word that gives substance to the written word. All of history is His story! He is the key; it all concerns Him (Luke 24:44). He is “Alpha and Omega” (Revelation 1:11). When the Bible is studied just for literature, history, or just to vindicate theological arguments, the face of Jesus will be missed, and it becomes a dead book.
These five principles will cause the Word of God to leap from the page into your heart: pray over it, ponder it, practice it, proclaim it, and personalize it. -2952 West Haven Dr., Cookeville, TN 38501.
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