Like a Bee With Nectar
The eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will give attention. (Isaiah 32:3)
When we come to the Scriptures as a part of our conscious strategy to cooperate with God for the full redemption of our life, desire that His revealed will should be true for us. Next, we should begin with those parts of Scripture with which we have some familiarity. You may think that this is not a big beginning. But keep in mind that your aim is not to become a scholar or to impress others with your knowledge of the Bible- a dreadful trap. That aim will only cultivate pride and lay a foundation for the petty, quarrelsome spirit so regrettably, yet so commonly observed in those outwardly identified as the most serious students of the Scriptures.
Your aim must be only to nourish your soul on God’s Word to you. Go first to those parts of the Bible you already know, therefore, and count on your later growth and study to lead you to other parts that will be useful.
Do not try to read a great deal at once. As Madam Guyon wisely counsels, “You must become as the bee who penetrates into the depths of the flower. You plunge deeply within to remove its deepest nectar.” It is better in one year to have ten good verses transferred into the substance of our lives than have every word of the Bible flash before our eyes. Remember that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2Corinthians 3:6) We read to open ourselves to the Spirit.
Come to your chosen passages as to a place where you will have a Holy meeting with God. Read a small part of the passage and dwell in it, praying for the assistance of God’s Spirit in bringing fully before your mind and into your life the realities expressed. Always ask, “What is my life like because this is true, and how shall I speak and act because of this?”
Psalm 1 tells us that the blessed man thinks deeply about the Word of God constantly. He doesn’t just skim through it for the sake of the exercise of reading but he reads it and thinks about it and it guides him and directs his decisions.
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season; Its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].”
There is no implication the the Bible is to be read as any other book. It is said that wisdom is the application of knowledge. Our reading of the Bible is not just an exercise to gain knowledge but to gain wisdom. It is not so that we can have something with which to engage in discussions of truth as philosophers do nor is it’s knowledge to provide us some superior status.
It is a book designed to teach us to live in a manner that is pleasing to God. In short, it is a book of instructions with examples of those who applied its teachings and were blessed and those who ignored its teachings to their own hurt. It is a book that describes the master plan of the Creator for every human.
I have in my possession several instruction manuals for vehicles, equipment and tools. I don’t just pick them up and read through them for the sake of reading them. I’m not the least interested in being able to say I’ve read through them. They are for me a source, a place I go to when I need knowledge about how to use the tool. They are instructions about how to correct any problems they may have. They tell me the intended use that the inventor had for the tool. And since I don’t need to know how to repair it when it’s working, I just need to know how to operate it, I don’t read the manual in its entirety. I just read the relevant parts and apply what I read to the need.
For me the Bible is the same. It’s the place I go to find what God created me to do. It’s where I go to find out how I’m supposed to live and to operate correctly as I was designed to do. It’s the place I go to find out how to become repaired, renewed and made whole again after the damage of life.
I am by no means discouraging anyone reading the Bible with any kind of plan or schedule. I’m just asking whether we read with understanding and are we gaining wisdom or is it reading a book that frankly we have no clue with what it’s saying.
After the resurrection of Jesus, as the disciples were hiding in fear and confusion, He appears in their midst. Now remember they had been taught the Scriptures. They knew what they said but not what they meant. So Jesus opened their minds to understand.
“Then Jesus said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to trust and believe in everything that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and [only then to] enter His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and [throughout] all the [writings of the] prophets, He explained and interpreted for them the things referring to Himself [found] in all the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you, everything which has been written about Me in the Law of Moses and the [writings of the] Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to [help them] understand the Scriptures, and said, “And so it is written, that the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance [necessary] for forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 49 Listen carefully: I am sending the Promise of My Father [the Holy Spirit] upon you; but you are to remain in the city [of Jerusalem] until you are clothed (fully equipped) with power from on high.”
The apostle Pau speaks to this very issue:
“…….always learning and listening to anybody who will teach them, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. But as for you, continue in the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced [holding tightly to the truths], knowing from whom you learned them, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings (Hebrew Scriptures) which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus [surrendering your entire self to Him and having absolute confidence in His wisdom, power and goodness]. All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:7,14-17
The Bible tells us to not despise small beginnings. So if you only know John 3:16, start there and then read verse 17 and when you understand that verse read the next one and so on. This is not the idea of simple memorizing scripture but learning it and applying it with wisdom. Frankly, I would rather pastor a church that only knows a few verses of Scripture and practices them than a church where everybody knows and can quote massive amounts of Scripture but applies few or none of them to their daily living. Our goal of Bible reading is not to glean impressive knowledge but to grow in grace and the wisdom of God.
Hear, O children, the instruction of a father, And pay attention [and be willing to learn] so that you may gain understanding and intelligent discernment. For I give you good doctrine; Do not turn away from my instruction. He taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live. “Get [skillful and godly] wisdom! Acquire understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation]! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. “Do not turn away from her (Wisdom) and she will guard and protect you; Love her, and she will watch over you. “The beginning of wisdom is: Get [skillful and godly] wisdom [it is preeminent]! And with all your acquiring, get understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation]. “Prize wisdom [and exalt her], and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. “She will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty and glory.” Hear, my son, and accept my sayings, And the years of your life will be many. I have instructed you in the way of [skillful and godly] wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded [for your path will be clear and open]; And when you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; [actively seek it, grip it firmly and] do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.
Give instruction to a wise man and he will become even wiser; Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of wisdom [its starting point and its essence], And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding and spiritual insight.
So read God’s Word not just for the sake of reading but read to come to know His love for you and let each word sink deep into your soul for the Bible says that the Bible is life.
63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh conveys no benefit [it is of no account]. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life [providing eternal life].
My son, pay attention to my words and be willing to learn; Open your ears to my sayings. Do not let them escape from your sight; Keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, And healing and health to all their flesh. Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
Dr. John Thompson