Some people feel overwhelmed when they approach the Bible. “How in the world am I supposed to make sense of all this?” they ask. “And what does it all mean?” It is sometimes difficult to interact with the Scriptures, even when we sincerely believe they are the Word of God and inspired, indeed authored, by God Himself. Cultural differences challenge us as we try to understand the deeds and words of Biblical people. Even God can seem distant and strange, especially in the Old Testament, and we have trouble reconciling His actions with the loving Father we know Him to be.
How can we untangle the puzzling mysteries of the Bible and discern in the text God’s personal message for each one of us? We can begin with three simple questions:
1. What does this text tell me about God?
2. What does this text tell me about myself and my life?
3. How can this text enrich and deepen my relationship with God?
Let’s look at an example. Psalm 95:6-7 reads, “O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”
So what does this text tell us about God? He is our Creator and our Shepherd. He made us, and He cares for us. What does a shepherd, at least one who is good at his job, do anyway? He watches his sheep carefully and tends to all their needs. He leads them to fresh waters and nice green pastures. He heals them when they are sick or injured. He keeps them out of trouble. He rescues them when they ignore him and get into trouble. He protects them from predators. He leads them back when they stray. Doesn’t God do all those things for us? Of course He does! We’ve just learned quite a bit about God and His gentle care by meditating on only two Bible verses.
What, then, does this text tell us about ourselves and our lives? If we are like sheep, then we need the guidance of our Shepherd. Let’s face it. Sheep aren’t very bright, and sometimes humans aren’t either. We need God to help us in every aspect of our lives. Also, we need to worship Him, to kneel before Him in prayer and adoration. Constantly!
Finally, how can this text enrich and deepen our relationship with God? All of us will answer this question differently based on where we are in our spiritual journey. We know, however, that the more we praise God, the more we pray to Him, and the more we learn to rely on Him for all our needs, the closer we will become to our loving Shepherd.
Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? These three simple questions work for every single Bible passage, large or small. If we keep them in mind as we read, they can greatly enhance our experience with God’s wonderful Word.