Any time we ask questions of a text, it helps us interact with its message. Gloriously, this particular text interacts back!
I received a list of six interactive questions almost ten years ago, and they remain some of the best questions I have found to help me interact with Scripture. The person who shared them with me said she learned them from her time spent working with Campus Crusade. I cannot find them published anywhere, but I am certainly willing to share the credit with Bill Bright!
Remember to pause before reading and invite the Source of Wisdom to pull out the words, phrases, and ideas he wants you to notice. Then as you read, ask:
- What did I like about this passage?
- What did I not like about this passage?
- What does this passage teach me about God?
- What does this passage teach me about the human race?
- What stands out to me?
- What might God be trying to teach me?
1-2. These questions encourage me to be honest and admit, “I don’t like that” about a phrase or event. Often I have found that the things I don’t like continue to rattle around in my brain until I stop and ponder them more fully. And pondering almost always results in a spiritual revelation.
3-4. Another thing I enjoy about these questions is the way we consider God and his interaction with the human race, before considering self. It seems that often our first response to a passage is, “What does this have to do with me?” While the Bible was written to be applicable, we lose a lot of depth when we neglect to consider God and the big picture before examining self to see where we fit.
5-6. The questions leave open the possibility of a “nothing” answer. Perhaps this particular passage teaches little about the human race, but focuses entirely on attributes of God. However, when you find your answer to question 5 comes up with “nothing” it may mean you have not yet spent enough time camping on this passage. It is amazing to see the richness of Scripture when you approach every passage with question 6: “What might God be trying to teach me?”
Remember how we looked at Psalm 19 last week with our Breakfast Bible time? Let’s use the same Psalm, and ask it these questions:
1. What did I like about this passage?
I love the imagery of verses 1-6. The picture of the sun, joyfully running its course through the sky, fills my heart with a sense of wonder.
2. What did I not like about this passage?
When I first studied this passage, I didn’t understand it much. I got bored with the middle part, about the Law of the LORD. And I surely didn’t understand how it could be sweeter than honey. To be honest, I also don’t really understand what the word picture at the beginning, about the sun in the heavens, has to do with the end, about letting the meditations of my heart be pleasing to God.
3. What does this passage teach me about God?
God is so great, even the stars in the sky proclaim his glory.
4. What does this passage teach me about the human race?
v. 12-13, we have a tendency not to notice our own errors. All we can do is ask the LORD to keep us from them and point out to us when we do commit them.
5. What stands out to me?
v. 10 “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” I want God’s words to be that to me. As I read the Bible in 90 Days, as I study for my small group, as I write this series, and every day all the time.
6. What might God be trying to teach me?
I know I need to cling to God and ask him for everything. I sincerely desire that my words and thoughts be pleasing to him. But even reading the Bible every day has not automatically created this sense of beauty within me that I see described here. But since I am dependent for everything, I bet this is something I can ask God for instead of trying to grasp it for myself.
See how asking six questions helps me get into the text more than just asking one or two questions? Why don’t you pick a text and see where it gets you? I’d love to hear about it if you do.
Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you more about the Psalms as literature.