God’s Word is a gift to His people, but just as His, “ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 there are times when we read a passage and think, “I have NO idea what God is trying to say in this verse.” Typically, rereading the verse over and over doesn’t bring clarity.
Before we get frustrated or gloss over a portion of Scripture we find confusing, here are three simple ways for understanding the Bible better.
Seems like a no-brainer, but this is an easily missed step when it comes to understanding God’s Word. When I have trouble with making a budget, I call up my friend Angie who is an accountant and she is able to give me great advice. If I’m questioning a fashion choice, I call my sister Sarah who will give it to me straight…I don’t look good in neon polka dots (bummer). Then it makes sense that if we are having a little trouble understanding God’s Word…we need to ask Him for help! Before, after, and even during a time of reading His Word, go to God in prayer. Ask for understanding and clarification. Be sure to pause and listen for His answer! Be patient, understanding will come, if not right away.
2. Parallel Read.
Most Bible websites have the option to place two translations next to each other as you read. I have a few students who struggle with ESV and even the NIV translation, so I have encouraged them to parallel read a passage with the MSG. The Message
a translation, but having that simplified version alongside
a translation helps anyone of any age to grasp a passage which may seem confusing or uses terms we don’t utilize in our day-to-day speech. Besides, The Message
is beautifully written.
3. Cross reference.
Scripture reinforces Scripture. Study Bibles have a wonderful tool called a Concordance which helps us find verses that relate to the specific verse or topic we are studying. Other Bibles have footnotes letting you know where you can find similar verses to help you understand the perspective and purpose of the verse. This gives us a better understanding of what God wants to communicate.
So there you have it. Three simple ways to understand the Bible better! What tools do you use to understand God’s Word?