November 1 I Friday
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to Your Word.” —Psalm 119:9
Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the Bible. Out of 176 verses that David beautifully penned, what is more intriguing is that more than 150 of those verses refer to the Word of God either as laws, statutes, words, decrees or commands. David writes, “I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You. Praise be to You, LORD; teach me Your decrees” (Psalm 119:10-12). David tells of an utmost importance to seek and know God through His Word so that he may not sin against God. As we echo David’s sentiments, how should we go about interpreting the Scriptures accurately?
There are hundreds of sects and cults that trace their roots back to the Bible and claim, to some extent at least, to be giving biblical teachings. The message that many of these cults and sects have is vastly different to mainline Christian denominations. But even within mainline Christian denominations, there are still many varied interpretations as to what the Bible means. These disparities can become so confusing that there are some people who conclude, “Unless you are an expert, you really can’t interpret the Bible with any reliability yourself.” But that is far from true.
We can all understand the Bible as it was intended by using hermeneutics, which is the science of interpretation. Simply put, hermeneutics is about studying, understanding and interpreting the Bible within its context. Hermeneutics may sound like a fancy methodology reserved for seminary students, theologians and pastors but everyone has the ability to study and know God’s Word.
Studying the Word of God is like a building; there are different components that constitute its overall structure. These elements include words, sentences, paragraphs, subjects, books, testaments and the Bible as a whole. The context for each of these individual units must be considered in order to appropriately interpret what Scripture is saying. The next couple of devotions will be dedicated to exploring each of these units in more details to give us a greater depth into our reading and understanding of Scripture.
As we endeavour on this journey to study Scripture, may our hearts and souls reflect David’s words, “Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).
Prayer: Lord God, grow in me my ability to read, interpret and understand Your Word in its context. Deepen my relationship with You. Thank You, Lord.