How To Read The Bible
By F. B. Meyer (1847 – 1929)
The whole of Christian living, in my opinion, hinges on the way in which Christian people read the Bible for themselves. All sermons and addresses, Sunday School classes, all Bible readings, Christian magazines and books, can never take the place of our own quiet study of God’s precious Word.
We may measure our growth in grace by the growth of our love for private Bible study. And we may be sure that there is something seriously wrong when we lose our appetite for the Bread of Life. Perhaps we have been eating too many “sweets” or taking too little exercise, or breathing too briefly in the bracing air which sweeps over the uplands of spiritual communion with God.
Here are a few simple rules which may help you to acquire this holy art of private Bible study. May the Holy Spirit Himself own and use them!
Make Time for Bible Study
The Divine Teacher must have fixed and uninterrupted hours for meeting His scholars. His Word must have our freshest and brightest thoughts. We must give Him our best, and the first fruits of our days. Hence there is no time for Bible study like the early morning.
We cannot give undivided attention to the holy thoughts that glisten like diamonds on its pages after we have opened our letters, glanced through the paper, and joined in the prattle of the breakfast table. The children of Israel had to gather up the manna before the dew was off, and the sun was up, otherwise it melted.
We ought, therefore, to aim at securing at least half an hour before breakfast, for the leisurely and loving study of the Bible. To some this may seem a long time in comparison with what they now give. But it will soon seem all too short.
The more you read the Bible the more you will want to read it. It is an appetite which grows as it is fed. And you will be well repaid. The Bible seldom speaks, and certainly never with its deepest, sweetest words, to those who always read in a hurry.
Look Up for the Teaching of the Holy Spirit
No one can so well explain the meaning of his words as he who wrote them. If you want to read the Bible as you should, make much of the Holy Spirit, who inspired it through holy men. As you open the Book, lift up your heart, and say: “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law” (Psa. 119:18). “...Speak; Lord, for Thy servant heareth...” (1 Sam. 3:9).
Read the Bible Methodically
On the whole there is probably no better way, than to read the Bible through once every year. This may be done by reading some from the Old Testament and some from the New Testament each day. Read a Psalm daily for your personal devotion and worship. By reading Proverbs it will help you in your daily relationships with others.
Read the Bible with Your Pen in Hand
Frances R. Havergal’s sister wrote this about her Bible reading: “She read her Bible at her study table by seven o’clock in the summer and eight o’clock in the winter. Sometimes, on bitterly cold mornings, I begged that she would read with her feet comfortably to the fire. ‘But then, Marie, I cannot rule my lines neatly. Just see what a find I’ve got.’
“If only one searches, there are such extraordinary things in the Bible. She resolutely refrained from late hours, and frittering talks at night in place of Bible searchings and holy communings. Early rising and early studying were her rules through life.”
Underline and date special verses which have cast a light upon your path on special days. You may want to draw connections across the page, between verses which repeat the same message, or ring with the same note. Jot down new references, or the catchwords of helpful thoughts.
All these methods find plenty of employment for the pen and fix our treasures for us permanently. Our Bible then becomes the precious memento of bygone hours, and records the history of our inner life.
Read the Bible for Personal Edification
Do not read the Bible for others, for your Sunday School class or congregation, but for yourself. Bring all its rays to a focus on your own heart. While you are reading, often ask that some verse or verses may start out from the printed page, as God’s message to yourself.
Never finish your reading until you feel that you are carrying away your portion of meat from that Hand which satisfieth the desire of every living thing.
It is well, sometimes, to stop reading, and seriously ask, what does the Holy Spirit mean for me to learn by this? What bearing should this have on my life? How can I work this into the fabric of my character?
Above All, Turn from the Printed Page to Prayer
If a cluster of heavenly fruit hangs within reach, gather it. If a promise lies upon the page as a blank check, cash it. If a prayer is recorded, appropriate it, and launch it as a feathered arrow from the bow of your desire.
If an example of holiness gleams before you, ask God to do as much for you. If a truth is revealed in all its intrinsic splendor, entreat that its brilliance may ever irradiate the hemisphere of your life like a star. So shall you come to say with the psalmist, “Oh, how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psa. 119:97).