How to study the Bible
It is always best to buy a good study Bible. The recommendation for this study is the New Revised Standard Version with the apocrypha. You may find that having one or two other bibles of different translations handy to help give you a different perspective on a difficult passage. When you study scripture, it is always wise to use the same time of day and often the same place to study. This sets a pattern and if the pattern is kept to, you’re more likely to complete any course of Bible study. Having got your Bible and decided on a place to study and on a time of day, it is now time to pray. You may like to use a formal prayer that you already know, or you might like to make your prayer up as you go along. If you are doing this it is always good to start with worship of God. Then ask God to send his Holy Spirit to guide your understanding and to show you any passages that he thinks you need to know that are relevant at this time in your life.
How to get the most from scripture
Read with curiosity. Ask the questions who? what? where? when? how? and why? as you read. Learn as much as you can about the passage you are studying. It will help you hear God speak to you through the scripture. Trying to discover what the writer was saying for the time in which the passage was written. Read the surrounding verses and chapters to establish the setting or situation in which the action or teaching took place.
Pay attention to the form of the passage, because meaning exists not only in what is said but in the form in which it is said. How you read and understand poetry, or a parable will differ from how you read and understand historical narrative.
Don’t force your interpretation on the biblical text. Let the scripture speak for itself. Question the scripture but also learn to read scripture so you find answers to your questions in the scripture itself. The biblical text itself will solve some of the problems you have with a particular passage. Some problems additional reference material will solve, and some will remain a mystery.
Come to the Bible with an eagerness to listen to scripture as the word of God and a willingness to hear and obey it. Trust the Holy Spirit to instruct you and to empower your thought on what you are reading.
Three week planned reading
Week One. Ecclesiastes
Week Two. The Prayers of David
Week Three Philippians
Day and reading Thoughts, notes, questions, prayers
|Monday Ecclesiastes chapters 1, 2 and 3|
|Tuesday Ecclesiastes chapters 4, 5 and 6|
|Wednesday Ecclesiastes chapters 7, 8 and 9|
|Thursday Ecclesiastes chapters 10, 11 and 12|
|Friday About the book of Ecclesiastes |
Why read this book?
If you are the kind of person that finds intrigue in the deep and perplexing issues of life, then take a good look at Ecclesiastes and be prepared for a few surprises. On the surface, Ecclesiastes seems to challenge essential biblical truths. It dares to face hard questions. It shows the unglamourised life of a sinful world. It offers a glimpse of a secular mind. It looks at suffering and struggles to find meaning. But most importantly, in the end Ecclesiastes points us towards God.
Author and Date written?
In the past many thought the author of Ecclesiastes was Solomon or if not Solomon, another son of King David. Some believe the author to be a teacher or assembly leader. Other still say that a wise man collected the views of the teacher as a means to instruct his son.
Due to there being no dateable material within its pages, those that believe the book to be written by Solomon or a sibling, place it in the tenth century BC. Others think it was compiled sometime later.
Why was it written?
Ecclesiastes offers a philosophy of life and shows how God fits into it. Part of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, Ecclesiastes was used by the Hebrews as a book of instruction, showing them how to find spiritual significance in a life that would otherwise be meaningless.
What to look for.
Expect surprises. Ecclesiastes has lots of them: honest Confessions of doubts, struggles with faith and disillusionment. A prologue and an epilogue frame its contents to reveal a proper, God fearing attitude towards life. Watch out for isolated statements. They must be understood within the context of the whole book, and ultimately, that of the whole Bible.
1. Author (1:1)
2. Theme: the meaninglessness of man’s efforts on earth apart from God. 1:2)
3. Introduction: the profitlessness of working to accumulate things to achieve happiness (1:3-11)
4. Discourse, part 1: in spite of life’s enigmas and meaninglessness, it is to be enjoyed as a gift from God. (1:12-11:6)
5. Discourse, Part 2: since old age and death will soon come, man should enjoy life in his youth, remembering that God will Judge. (11:7-12:7)
6. Theme repeated. (12:8)
7. Conclusion: reverently trust in and obey God. (12:9-14)
Looking back on your own life and experiences, can you identify a time or situation when, like the teacher, you became disillusioned with your life. Did knowledge of God or a turning /returning to God help? Write about this experience.
One of the Ignatian exercises to help us to see where God may have been active in our lives, is to map out your life, from birth to now, as a river. Remember that a river can flow fast or slow, meander, form oxbow lakes, be shallow or deep, have boulders and drops over hard outcrops. Outside influences can change the direction of flow, a mill or canal, viaduct or tunnel. Your river may be joined by other rivers or split into many directions or be redirected by town planers. You may need a long sheet of paper for this exercise, wallpaper liner is suggested and don’t forget to use colour, it can make all the difference to your life map.
The Prayers of David
|Day and reading||Thoughts, notes, questions, prayers|
|Monday 2 Samuel 7-18-29 David’s prayer after Nathan’s revelation|
|Tuesday 2 Samuel 22:1-51 David’s song of praise for deliverance|
|Wednesday 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 David’s prayer as the Ark enters Jerusalem|
|Thursday 1 Chronicles 29:10-19 David’s prayer for Solomon|
|Friday See Below. The Psalms of David. Choose 3 and compare. How do these compare with your own prayers.|
|Saturday Write a prayer in the form of a psalm for the Lockdown.|
There are seventy-three psalm written by David. These are:-
3 Confidence facing the enemy 4 Thoughts in the night
5 A morning prayer 6 Prayer for mercy during trouble
7 The prayer of a wronged man 8 God’s glory and man’s honour
9 Praise for deliverance 11 God our refuge
12 Good thoughts for bad times 13 The deserted soul
14 The future of the fool 15 The happiness of the holy
16 Joy in God’s presence 17 Deliverance from the wicked
18 Calling upon God in distress 19 The works and word of God
20 A prayer for the king 21 Splendour and success of the king
22 Psalm of the Cross / Hind of the morning 23 The Shepherd Psalm
24 Song to the King of Glory 25 Prayer for guidance and protection
26 The basis of judgement 27 David’s song of confidence
28 A prayer for help 29 Song of the thunderstorm
30 Dedication of the temple site 31 My times are in Thy hands
32 A prayer during distress 34 A psalm of praise and trust
35 A plea for judgement 36 Wickedness confronts God’s love
37 Blessings to the righteous 38 The burden of suffering
39 In time of trouble 40 Delight in the will of God
41 Psalm of the compassionate 51 The Penitent’s Psalm
52 The fate of the wicked 53 The fate of the fool
54 A prayer for deliverance 55 The Lord will sustain
56 A song for the distressed 57 The mercy and truth of God
58 The punishment of the wicked 59 Triumph over enemies
60 Prayer for national deliverance 61 The prayer of a troubled heart
62 Confidence in God 63 The thirsty soul
64 Appeal for help against enemies 65 God’s provisions for the earth
66 God’s power and works 68 The God of Israel
69 The prayer for deliverance 70 Deliverance from persecutors
86 Prayer for deliverance 101 A perfect heart
103 The benefits of the Lord 108 A song of confidence in God
109 A cry to God for help 110 The king as priest and victor
122 The peace of Jerusalem 124 God’s deliverance
131 A song of the humble 138 The Lord is Faithful
139 The prayer of a believing heart 140 For protection against enemies
141 Conduct amidst trials 142 The Prisoner’s prayer
143 The prayer of the soul in distress 144 The warrior’s psalm
145 The goodness of the Lord