Interesting that "this immediately follows upon the law of loving God with all your heart; for those that do so will lay up His word in their hearts both as an evidence and effect of that love and as a means to preserve and increase it. He that loves God loves his Bible" (Henry, emphasis added).
I read that last sentence and it hit home. How often do we say we love God, we have a relationship with Him, and then we never take the time to spend in HIS WORD, the word He gave us? How can I love God with all of my heart and not want to take in everything He wants me to know?
Think about dating (whether you are now or you did 50 years ago) - when you first start falling for someone, you want to know all about them. You spend hours discussing their likes and dislikes, their passions, their childhood as you fall deeper and deeper in love. If they have something to say, you listen. If they write you a letter, you read it. Why? Because you love them and you truly care about what they have to say. You take everything they say and do to heart.
As Clarke puts it: "For where else can love be? If it be not in the heart, it exists not. And if these words be not in the heart - if they are not esteemed, prized and received as a high and most glorious privilege, what hope is there that this love shall ever reign there?" In other words, if we do not treasure God's word in our heart how can His love ever be there?
Today I challenge you to spend some time in God's words - soak it up! Dig into it, learn something new. IF you're not sure what a word means or you don't understand a reference to the culture - look it up! It is amazing how much you can learn from a single verse...even if you think you understood it in the first place. Here is a list of the websites I use when studying:
- Search Engine: www.biblegateway.com
- This is a simple search of the Bible. Looking for a particular phrase? Want to see where else that word is used throughout Scripture? Can't remember what that reference is? This is the place to find the answer.
- Parallel Translations: Online Parallel Bible
- This is where I go to discover how other versions might word a verse differently. If you search a passage, for instance, John 3:16, it pops up with over 10 different versions of that verse. Sometimes this can help me understand something a little bit better or even help me see it a little differently.
- Strong's Concordance/Lexicon: www.blueletterbible.org (must use NASB or KJV in order to access Strong's)
- I believe this is a truly vital step when studying the Bible. The languages used to write the Bible (Hebrew and Greek) were so very different from our modern day English. One word can hold so many meanings and when we are reading, it is important to know which of those meaning are relevant. For instance, there are four different words for 'love' in the New Testament Greek but we only have one word to translate for these. Their different words easily distinguish what kind of love, for example, brotherly love (phileo) or unconditional love (agape). The more I look into definitions of the Hebrew or Greek, the more I learn and the more I am amazed. Isn't that what God wants for us?
- Matthew Henry
- Adam Clarke
- Scofield (there are his reference notes, not quite a commentary)
- John Wesley (again, considered reference notes, not a commentary)
- The Expositor's Commentary
- As far as commentaries are concerned, sometimes they don't agree, sometimes you won't agree. And that is okay! For one, they will most often give you a better understanding of what you are reading, giving you the cultural contexts or pointing out something you may have missed. If you disagree with their interpretation, than good! That means you are learning to dig beneath the surface for yourself and have a firm grasp on what you believe. Make note of these things, I always write down why I disagree and what I believe is a better view.
It may also be helpful to grab a Biblical atlas if you're a visual learner. Then you can see where exactly what you are reading takes place. I don't always do this, but it is a really neat addition to any Biblical study.
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask! I love being able to help someone learn more about our glorious savior!
Updated: July 15th, 2013