Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Bible Study Tips
Here is the scripture that I want to study.
Proverbs 29:3 Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance. (KJV-King James Version)
Always begin by praying and asking the Holy Spirit to teach you and lead your thoughts as you study.
My first Bible Study tip is to read the scripture in different Bible translations. You can purchase a Parallel Bible that has 2-4 different translations for you to compare. If you have a Parallel Bible with 4 translations then each spread (2 pages) has 1 column for each Bible translation. Or you could buy multiple Bibles. But today, you can get Bible study tools online for free. There are websites that offer different Bible translations, commentaries, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, etc. I use esword which is a software that you can download and then you select different modules to download to work with that software program. The modules are include different Bible translations, commentaries, etc. All for free! Just do a Google search on "Bible Study tools".
So here is the same Bible verse in different translations.
Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots wasteth his substance. (RV-Revised Version)
If you love wisdom your parents will be glad, but chasing after bad women will cost you everything. (CEV-Contemporary English Version)
A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth. (NIV-New International Version)
If you love wisdom, you'll delight your parents, but you'll destroy their trust if you run with whores. (TM-The Message)
My second Bible Study tip is to re-write the scripture in your own words. If you journal your Bible Study, then write the verse in your own words. Here is my rendition of the verse:
Your parents can be proud of you if you show good sense and wisdom but if you party with loose women (and men) you will waste your life and resources. (My words)
My third Bible Study tip is to use a dictionary! If you aren't sure of the meaning of a word, look it up! If you have a dictionary, use it. But you can also look up words in online dictionaries. Do a Google search. For instance, in this verse I wanted to look up the word "harlot". So I went to Google and typed, "define harlot". It brought up several dictionaries. I looked at a couple of different dictionaries for the definition of "harlot". Read not only the different definitions, but the origin of the word and the list of synonyms in the Thesaurus. If you are journaling, write these definitions down.
And don't forget Bible dictionaries. Go to your Bible Study website or program and look up the word in some Bible dictionaries. Write down the words and phrases that catch your attention.
As you come across any word that you don't know, stop and look it up and add it to your definition.
For our scipture verse of the day, here is what I found out.
Regular dictionary, harlot = a prostitute or promiscuous woman (not restricted to one sexual partner, multiple sexual partners); The word harlot nowadays refers to a particular kind of woman, but interestingly it used to refer to a particular kind of man.
Origin of the word - 1175–1225; Middle English: young idler, rogue; early 13th century, "vagabond," from Old French herlot, arlot "vagabond, tramp" (usually male in Middle English and Old French). Used in both positive and pejorative senses by Chaucer; applied to jesters, buffoons, jugglers, later to actors. Sense of "prostitute" by 14th century. The word is first recorded in English in a work written around the beginning of the 13th century, meaning "a man of no fixed occupation, vagabond, beggar," and soon afterwards meant "male lecher." (a man who inordinately indulges in sexual activity)
Bible dictionary, harlot = The general Hebrew term zownahin stands for several words and phrases used to designate or describe the unchaste person, married or unmarried. (chaste means innocent and pure of sexual immorality.)
Thesaurus - demimondaine (a woman whose sexual promiscuity places her outside respectable society), whore, tramp, hussy, loose woman, streetwalker, floozy, hooker, coquette (a woman who endeavors without sincere affection to gain the attention and admiration of men, a flirt or tease), libertine (a person who is unrestrained by convention or morality; specifically one leading a dissolute life), vamp, prostitute, tempter/temptress
My fourth Bible Study tip is to check other scriptures that are referenced. Many Bibles have reference scriptures right there in a middle column or at the bottom of the page in footnotes. There is even a Bible translation that specializes in leading you from one scripture to another that reference the same topic. It's called the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. If your Bible doesn't have additional scripture references, it's easy to find them online. Look for a concordance called The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. Find your verse and see if there are scripture references.
For our verse today, these are the scriptures that I searched:
Proverbs 6:26, Prov 21:17, Prov 21:20, Prov 28:7, Prov 28:19
Gal 5: 19-21 Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you beforehand, as I also said before, that the ones practicing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
I Cor 6:9-10 Or do you not know that unjust ones will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be led astray, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous ones, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor plunderers shall inherit the kingdom of God.
My fifth Bible Study tip is to analyze what you've learned. Think about it. Ask yourself some questions like, "What did I get from this?"; "What did I learn?"; "How should this change my life?"; "Is there anything I need to repent of and ask Jesus' forgiveness for?" This is called meditating on the Word of God. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead your thoughts and your study so that you can understand it and apply it to your life. Journal your thoughts.
Here are my thoughts on the above scripture: The idea that I'm getting is not just a prostitute who sells herself/himself for money as a profession, but a man/woman who sleeps around in a life of sexual immorality. Partying, carousing, excessive drinking, drugs, a shallow lifestyle of following anyone to a party. The only thing they are interested in is "hooking up" (in modern parlance) and having a "good time". This lifestyle is a rebellious lifestyle. One of rebelling against God and His commandments but also rebelling against all wisdom and commonsense. A life lived like this invites all kinds of consequences such as disease, unwanted pregnancies, addictions, heartbreak, etc. God tells us in black and white what sin is and we have no excuse when we sin and we reap the consequences of our sin. It's why I'm so thankful for what Jesus did for me and how He forgives me of my sins. If I sin but I repent and ask forgiveness then I'm forgiven! I may still suffer the consequences of my sins but I won't spend eternity in hell! God is so good! But, without Jesus, the results of sin is heartache in this life and eternal damnation in hell.
My last Bible Study tip is to make use of Bible encyclopedias and Bible commentaries. Again they are free online or use the esword program with it's modules. There are concise commentaries which means they use less words and concentrate on the most important information. These are good for quicker studies but don't neglect longer commentaries because they can give you a lot of gold. You can see these books as a treasure trove where you can dig for gold! We live in the twenty first century and we don't know all the customs and culture of Biblical times so reading Bible encyclopedias can put so many things into perspective. For instance, we don't use the word "harlot" much any more. What did it mean in the time of King Solomon (who wrote Proverbs)? Did you know that some ancient religions used official temple prostitutes to "worship" their god? These are things you can learn with encyclopedias.
In Matthew Henry's Commentary, I read this, "Nothing will beggar men sooner than the lusts of uncleanness; and the best preservative from those ruinous lusts is wisdom."
Here are a few other Bible Study suggestions.
* Use a Study Bible which is a Bible with notes and references on every page.
* If you draw, then doodle in the margins of your Bible or in your spiritual journal. I do stick figure cartoons and will draw little vignettes of what I'm reading about. It's a way of visualizing the truths that I'm learning.
* Use devotional guides. These are books that have a short devotion for each day of the week. There are so many out there to choose from. And don't neglect the older devotional books like A.W. Tozer's Pursuit of God, Mrs. Charles E. Cowman's Springs In the Desert. You can even use old hymnals as devotionals. Those old songs are poems that can be read and not sung.
* Use color coding. For instance, decide on some parameters. For instance, you want to learn about how to love God, how to love others and how/why God loves us. Choose a yellow highlighter for scriptures about how we can love God, use a pink highlighter for how we can love other people and a green highlighter for how God loves us. If you are journaling, then copy the scripture in your notebook (if you are journaling on your computer, use copy and paste) and use the different colors to highlight what you are studying. But don't be afraid of writing in your Bible. Go ahead and underline, circle words, draw a picture that focuses on the verse, jot notes in the margin.
* Do a topical Bible study. This means choose a topic such as "harlot" and look up everything you can on that subject. First use your dictionaries. This will give you additional words to look for such as "prostitute", "adulteress/adulteror", etc. Now go to a Concordance. A concordance is an alphabetical index of all the words in a text, showing every contextual occurrence of a word often with the immediate context and an account of the meaning. Your Bible may have a small concordance in the back but sometimes you need a big concordance that lists all occurences of a word. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is the most well known for Bible study. Beginning in Genesis through Revelation, it lists every scripture (within the selected Bible translation whether it's King James Version or New International Version, etc) in which the word appears. Be sure to check your concordance for the additional words (in our example, "prostitute" and "aduleress"/"adulteror"). Actually read these scriptures to learn more about your topic. As you go along, following your concordance scriptures, use your dictionaries, commentaries and encyclopedias. Journal all your findings (or blog them like I do now). You will learn Bible stories that feature a harlot. You will learn how God used the term "harlot" for Israel because they left their first love and ran after idols. You will learn why God commands us not to indulge in sexual immorality. It's sort of like making a good cup of tea. Your picking of a subject is like picking a good tea bag. Your research is like pouring in the hot water and letting it steep. Your journaling is like adding the sugar and stirring. Your meditation and prayer is the actual enjoying the aroma and taste of the tea.
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