How to Read the Bible (1)

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.  Joshua 1:8  NASB

Mouth/ meditate/ careful to do – Do you have a daily Bible reading plan?  Perhaps you follow some printed guide, a selection of passages, a chronology.  Maybe you choose to read a psalm each day, or part of the apostolic texts.  Maybe you wander through the Scriptures, pursuing a topic that interests you at the moment.  Did you know that God actually gives you a method for all this, a strategy for interacting with His word?  He gave it to Joshua, and it hasn’t changed since.

It starts with your mouth.  “Don’t let the Torah depart from your mouth,” God says.  We probably think that this means “think about it,” but that would be a Westernized view.  What God clearly says is this: speak it.  Make it audible.  Communicate it out loud.  Even if you’re alone. 

Why?  Because the word of the Lord is first and foremost spoken.  You and I need to see it and read it so we can hear it, with the nuances, the intonation, the expression that comes in audible communication.  We need to listen to the sound of God’s words even if it’s our own voice.  Oh, and by the way, memorization is part of this audible communication, and was clearly the way the Torah was taught in an age without books.  So, step one: speak the words.

Step two: meditate.  The Hebrew is וְהָגִיתָ (from hāgâ), that is, to give due diligence.  This is deeper than meditation.  It means to delve into, to constantly examine, to mine the text for all its treasures.  According to the Jewish commentators, this is accomplished with the mind.  What you’re reading right now is part of this step.

Step three:  šāmar and ʿāśâ, “to guard” and “to do.”  The final step takes us out of the realm of communication and consideration.  Nothing is completed until what you speak and what you think becomes what you do.  And not just doing the right thing.  In order to complete this step, you must “guard” against doing what is not just and “do” what is just.  This step requires two prongs: resisting what is evil and doing what is good.

And just in case you thought this was just for Joshua, there’s a little anomaly in the word “day.”  It actually reads, “their day,” a plural pronoun with a singular noun.  Why?  Because it is for all the generations—their day.

Now you have God’s Bible reading plan.  It doesn’t really matter where you start.  It matters that you speak, think and do.  So find a place to read aloud (better let them know you’re not crazy), then take the same words and dig deeper, much deeper, until you can see how they become a way to guard you from evil and direct you to do good.  When you’ve got that down, go to the next verse.  A lifetime of becoming saturated with His voice.

Topical Index:  mouth, meditate, guard, do, day, Joshua 1:8

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Richard Bridgan

This is succinct and a practical help… thanks, Skip!