Do you desire, as the Psalmist says, for God to lead you by green pastures, or to drink from cool and clear waters (Psalm 23)? Do you desire for God’s great compassionate and moving presence to shake the room whenever you read the Bible? Do you long to thrive?
You are not alone.
David fled in the wilderness of En Gedi, he was seeking protection from his foes. He did this because it was a strategic: there are many caves and good places to hide, as well as wild game to kill for food, and fresh water sources to drink from.
But he hid there knowing that his true shield was the Lord. Because of his understanding of God being central and most important, he was able to pen some of the most amazing writings the world has ever seen–the Psalms.
It is that focus- God being central, that I want to remind us about. This is a great truth to know in general, that everything should have God at the center, but I am narrowing the focus right now.
When you read the Bible, it is not about you. It is about God.
So, when you read the Bible, the first question you need to ask is this:
- What does this passage say about God?
Now, this question can also be framed in these two manners:
- What does this passage say about the Holy Spirit?
- What does this passage say about Jesus?
In answering these questions, I want you to look at the words of the text itself first. Do not try to make an interpretive statement, don’t try to “be deep,” and don’t go beyond the actual statements of the text.
From there, as these questions:
- What does the passage say about humanity in general?
- What does this passage say about those who follow God?
After you have asked these three questions, then ask yourself about how it can “apply” to your life, your current situation, or see if it comforts or challenges you.
Why does application come last?
Because the Bible is not about you, me, us, or them. It is about God. If we want to know Him, to love Him, and to live for Him, then we must keep Him first.
We must do this in every passage. Sometimes this means reading the passage inside of the larger unit. Sometimes the entire book is needed to be read for the context to be seen, or for these questions to be answered (think the books of Ruth, or Esther, or Job). Other times it is units of 6 or more chapters (Think about those genealogies!). Other times it is simply reading the previous 5 or 10 verses (think about the parables).
I want to encourage you. You can see God and know God through His Word. Just remember, it is His Word, not words that you can make to mean anything you want.