Study the Bible

Words have a power all their own
Image by waɪ.tiː via Flickr

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

Study.On the wall of the Palo Alto High School Main Library are bold signs: SQ3R.

SQ3R is a mnemonic device (memory helper) for a study method that has been used in education since the mid-1940s. Each letter stands for the first letter of a word (there are three “R” words). Here is the translation:

Survey (or scan) the material (homework or job-related work), looking for the most important points and the basic flow of the content — or just the headings.
Question — Write down several questions as if you were a teacher preparing a test for someone else.
Read the material, looking for the answers to the questions you wrote down. (Don’t underline.)
Recite — Write down the answers.
Review — Check the answers against the material.

This description of a method of study is taken from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation website. I want to adapt it to our study of the Bible. I will add a “P” before the “S.” This “P” is for pray. The Lord is with us; His Spirit resides within us. Yet we pray as we begin our study of His Word. Our pray is like greeting our teacher before class. We greet our Lord in an attitude of praise for His deeds and worship of Who He is. We commune with our Lord. We “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.” (Isaiah 60:1)

Now we open our Bible. Perhaps we continue from a previous reading, or we find ourselves led to a different place, a Psalm perhaps. We “survey” the material. Perhaps we don’t really know how much we will read. But we scan through a few paragraphs or a few pages looking for at headings. Anything pop out at us? Does a question form for which we will want to discover the answer?

As a bit of an aside, let me say that there are times when I read a chapter that I don’t want the chapter headings or sub-headings to interfere with what I read. I want to delve into the Word without preconceived notions of what the Word is going to say. And that’s okay, too.

The initial reading, or survey, should bring about some things that we want to know more about. We then jot down some thoughts, questions that arise. Then we actually read, looking for answers. It is during this reading of the scriptures that we can also read comments if we have a Bible that has comments. We can look at places that are referred, usually notes in the margins.

Now is the time we make our own notes in the margins, jotting down our own thoughts to go along with the questions. Hank Hanegraaff, who hosts a radio show on the Bible, promoted a Legacy Bible in which extra room was provided to make notes. These Bibles were intended to be handed down to our children so that they might see what we saw. It is a way to fulfill the command to teach our children: “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.” Deut 4:9.

Finally we must review. I really think this is conducted throughout the day. We review in our minds what we’ve read. We can return to the pages of our Bible later in the day, looking over the notes. We can reflect upon the Word that is sinks deeply into our soul. It becomes part of our life. It comes out of us in our actions. “For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:24, 25.

As Hank Hanegraaff often exhorts us, let us study the Bible for all its worth.

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

Image by sirwiseowl via Flickr

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