Biblical Interpretation – Exercise

The Aim of this short exercise is to practice systematic Biblical Interpretation and application.

Scripture

Psalms 93:1-5

The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. 2  Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. 4  Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!

5  Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

Observation

1. Take a moment and identify the various nouns in this short text; how do they relate to one another?

2. What is the setting of this Psalm?  What picture does it sketch?  (Hint: in these type of Psalms you look at the middle thought / verse).

3. There are three parts to this short Psalm; what is the main theme of each and how do they relate to each other.

Part 1: The pronouncement of the Lord’s reign if followed by a description of how he reigns. In your own words explain what the Psalmist meant with each of the following phrases by unpacking the imagery

  • Robed in majesty
  • Belt of strength (hint Eph 613-14)
  • The world / Your throne established
  • Everlasting

Part 2: Then follows the announcement that the Floods have lifted uptheir voice …their roaring

  • What feelings does the Psalmist try to convey by these phrases?  (Image a raging flood).
  • List a few things what these floods could represent to a community or individual.
  • What comforts the Psalmist during this raging flood?

Part 3: With what two tangible things of God does the Psalmist comfort himself in God’s eternal reign over the flood?

4. Now in one sentence, summarize the message of the Psalm.

Psalm 93:4   Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!
Psalm 93:4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!

Application

1. The Psalmist wrote this song to pronounce over his / her flood “The Lord reigns! The Lord is Mightier than this storm!”  List a few situations over which you have no control – personal or national – and then take you time to declare loudly over it: “The Lord reigns! He is mightier than this storm!” (learn to do this habitually)

2. The Psalmist takes comfort during the metaphorical flood in God’s testimonies (Scripture). Think of a friend going through some storm, pray and ask God for a Scripture to send to him/ her now.

3. The Psalmist also finds comfort during the metaphorical flood in God’s house. We are God’s house.  Who needs comfort and strength from God that you can spend face time with to encourage in the next week?  Send someone a message right now to meet and comfort them – then invite that person with you to church or small group, trusting for a meeting with God.

Prayer

Look at the Psalm, think of a personal storm (or that of a friend), and pray to God in line of the Psalm over the situation.

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Biblical Interpretation – Preparing your heart 4

The aim this devotional study is to grown in appreciation for and understanding of God’s revelation through the Scriptures.

Scripture:

Psalms 19:1-14

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

2  Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

3  There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.

4  Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,

5  which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

6  Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

7  The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

8  the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

9  the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.

10  More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

11  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

12  Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

13  Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Observations

  1. What are names attributed to God in this Psalm? Write them down in your journal.
  2. In one sentence summarise this Psalm.
  3. Write down the three big thoughts in this Psalm. How do the three sections relate to each other?
  4. What do you read about creation as God’s revelation in this Psalm?
  5. In verses 7-9 David uses parallelism to list 8 attributes of the Word of God (hint: “perfect”, “sure”, “right”…). List them and then give a fitting synonym for each (so that you may make sure you understand what the author says).
  6. In verse 7-11 David lists 5 ministries (or what the Scriptures do for the reader). List them.
  7. The progression of the Psalmist’ view is from up there in the starts and sky, down to the book and then into the heart. How can you explain this response in the last section?

Application and Prayer

  1. (If you can look outside to creation now, do so now). What does creation reveal about God?  After making the list, use it to praise God and give thanks for this reflection of his might, character and nature.
  2. In verse 10 David writes how he desires and delights in reading God’s Word. How do you relate to this statement? (Write it down)  Speak to God about your affection and appreciation for His written word in response to your feelings and conviction.
  3. Pray the prayer of David in verses 12-14 (perhaps taking some time to memorize this short section).A section of the Book of Psalms found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Biblical Interpretation – Preparing your heart 3

The aim of this session is to cultivate a correct view of Scripture and to grow in an understanding of how to correctly interpret Scripture.

Look at this short Video link on “Accuracy and Reliability of Scripture” by the New York Apologists https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWxwfFNyVws

Scripture:

2 Peter 3:1-18

1  This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2  that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3  knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

5  For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6  and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7  But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

8  But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12  waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13  But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 14  Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

15  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16  as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

17  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Observations

  1. Peter had one major motive when he wrote this last part of his letter to the first readers. Summarize it in one sentence for yourself.
  2. There are several direct and indirect references to God’s Word / Scripture in this chapter, since it deals with the reliability of God’s promises. List these references.
  3. Peter addresses a specific erroneous argument of people who turn away from God in Christ in verse 4. Shortly write in your own words this erroneous argument, as well as how Peter corrects this error.
  4. Peter gives a few commands of holy living in response to Jesus’ pending return – list them.

Application:

  1. In this last chapter of 2 Peter, the author comfortably places the authority of God’s Creative Word (Genesis 1:3), history of Noah (in the book Genesis), the commands of Jesus (primarily found in the Gospels), the writings of the prophets (with specific reference to the destruction of the world and the New Creation) and apostles (mentioning Paul), and even the final Word of Judgment on equal footing – equating all these as the Word of God.
    1. What do you think when you read this statement?
    2. How do you feel about this statement?
    3. If this is true, how does it affect your approach to and regard of the Bible?
  2. If someone said to you today “It has been 2000 years since Jesus ascended into heaven. He said he will come back soon, but I wonder if that is true. Do you think he will come back literally?” Remembering Peter’s second letter, what will you answer him?
  3. Peter urges his readers to a life of holiness and deliberate growth in the knowledge and grace of Christ. Write down what the Spirit is pressing on your heart in response to this call.
  4. Peter writes that Jesus is coming soon, and he will judge the world – we will either be found in him and live, or the ungodly will be destroyed. When you read this text, who are you concerned about?  What will you do about it?  When?

Prayer

Look at your application points and pray through each point as your heart responds to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Biblical Interpretation – Preparing your heart 2

The Aim of this devotional study is to rightly adjust our understanding and regard for Scripture.

Scripture

2 Peter 1:13-2:3

13  I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14  since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15  And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

16  For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17  For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18  we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

19  And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2:1  But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2:2  And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 2:3  And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Observation

  1. List the names attributed to God and those attributed to Jesus in this section.
  2. Peter speaks of a specific “prophetic word” and also of prophesy and Scripture in general – what specific prophetic word does he refer to? When was this word delivered and by whom?
  3. We are reading from Peter’s last words. Looking at 2 Peter 1:13-21 write down what Peter intentionally wanted his readers to think of the message he wrote down, i.e. why was he sure this message is of God and why did he write it to them?
  4. What does Peter say about the interpretation of Scripture and relation to the Holy Spirit? What does that mean?
  5. Compare true ministers (prophets and teachers) with false ministers (false prophets and teachers) – what does this text teach of them?

Application

  1. Regarding you view this letter of Peter:
    1. When you start reading, what is your attitude and regard of this writing? And then – what should it be? Write it down.
    2. Peter writes these things down as “reminder… so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things” and that he was “eye-witness [of Jesus and his teachings]” that “also heard this very voice borne from heaven”. Do you believe it when you read it?  Why?  Why not? And how does that affect your reading of it today?
  2. Peter writes that false teachers twist scripture because of “sensuality” and “greed”. Search your heart to find to what degree the love for pleasure, power and money on earth influences your interpretation of the Bible.  Write down what you feel or think about this.

(Tell your Bible School Buddy or accountability partner about what you write down in Application 1 and 2).

Prayer

Worship God and Christ by the names listed in this section.  And then, ass you look at the text we read with your observations and application remarks, bring your thanks and/ or praise and/or doubts about the to God Bible to God and ask him for faith and understanding.

Biblical Interpretation – Preparing your heart

The Aim of this devotional time is to reflect on the condition of your own heart and to ready your heart for God’s Word and respond appropriately towards God’s Word.

For a memorable summary on why you can trust that the Bible is reliable and accurate, see this 2min video clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmA6kOWwfWI

Scripture

James 1:17-25

17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

18  Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

19  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

20  for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

21  Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

23  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.

24  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

25  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Note: in reflecting on this text you might also compare it with Jesus’ parables of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-23) and the house on sand / rock (Luke 7:24-27).

Observation

  1. Write down what you observe about our relationship with “the Word” as James notes it in this section.
  2. James writes to his readers that they should clean their hearts of “filthiness and wickedness” to “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save [your] souls.” How do you understand that? (Compare with Matthew 13:22).
  3. In v22 James says one who listens but does not “do” the word is in danger of “deceiving himself”. How do you understand that? (Compare with Matthew 7:24-27)
  4. James promises one who “perseveres” in doing the word is “blessed in all he does”. What do you understand in “perseveres” in this section?  (Read James 1:2-4 to understand the situation of the readers; Compare Matthew 13:20-21).

Application and Prayer

  1. James addressed uncontrolled speech and anger throughout his letter, calling it “filthiness and wickedness”. What “filthiness and wickedness” must you “put away” for the Word of God to produce fruit in your heart?  Write the specifics down and repent of it.
  2. Is there anything righteous that you do / have done but you have felt resistance and have already given up, or want to give up? James says you need perseverance.  Write it down and pray for strength and patience – but don’t give up!
  3. Pray and allow the Holy Spirit time to show you where you have become a hearer and not a doer. Write it down, and commit to God in prayer to become a doer of the word.

(It is strongly recommended that you discuss with your Bible School Buddy / accountability friend these application points, so that you may encourage one another to continue in it).