“I really delight in the law of God.”
1-3. What benefits are gained from reading the Bible and applying its teachings?
“I THANK Jehovah every morning for helping me to understand the Bible.” The elderly Christian sister who made that statement has read the entire Bible over 40 times, and she is not stopping. A younger sister wrote that Bible reading has helped her to see that Jehovah is real. As a result, she has drawn closer to her heavenly Father. She stated, “I have never been happier in my life!”
2 The apostle Peter encouraged all to “form a longing for the unadulterated milk belonging to the word.” (1 Pet. 2:2) Those who satisfy that longing through Bible study and who apply Bible teachings have a clean conscience and a purpose in living. They develop enduring friendships with others who also love and serve the true God. All of these are valid reasons to “delight in the law of God.” (Rom. 7:22) But there are even more benefits. What are some of them?
3 The more you learn about Jehovah and his Son, the more your love for them and your fellow humans will grow. Having accurate Scriptural knowledge helps you to see how God will soon save obedient mankind from this dying system. You have a positive message of good news to share with people in your ministry. Jehovah will bless you as you teach others the things that you have learned from reading God’s Word.
READ AND REFLECT
4. What does it mean to read the Bible “in an undertone”?
4 Jehovah does not want his servants to rush through a reading of his Word. He told Joshua of ancient times: “This book of the law should not depart from your mouth, and you must in an undertone read in it day and night.” (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2) Does this instruction require that you literally utter in a low voice all the words you read from Genesis to Revelation? No. It means that you should read at a pace that allows for meditation. When you read the Bible “in an undertone,” it will help you to fix attention on portions that are especially useful and encouraging to you at that moment. On finding such phrases, verses, or accounts, read them slowly, perhaps forming the words with the tongue and lips. The full weight of a Scriptural point may strike you in a deeply personal way. Why is this important? Because getting the sense of God’s counsel gives you strong motivation to put it into practice.
5-7. Illustrate how reading God’s Word in an undertone might help you to (a) remain morally clean; (b) treat others with patience and kindness; (c) build trust in Jehovah even during difficult times.
5 Reading in an undertone is helpful when you consider Bible books that are unfamiliar to you. To illustrate, imagine three scenarios. First, think of a young Christian brother whose personal reading program has taken him to the prophecy of Hosea. In chapter 4, he pauses after reading verses 11 to 13 in an undertone. (Read Hosea 4:11-13.) Why? Those verses catch his attention because he has been struggling to resist immoral pressures in school. He reflects on the verses and thinks: ‘Jehovah sees the bad things people do even in private. I do not want to offend him.’ The brother resolves to remain morally clean before God.
6 In a second scenario, a Christian sister is reading Joel’s prophecy and comes to chapter 2, verse 13. (Read Joel 2:13.) As she reads that verse in an undertone, she reflects on how she should imitate Jehovah, who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness.” She decides to try to eliminate the sarcasm and angry words that she sometimes uses when she speaks to her husband and others.
7 Third, imagine a Christian father who has lost his job and worries about the well-being of his wife and children. At Nahum 1:7, he reads in an undertone that Jehovah “is cognizant of those seeking refuge in him” and protects them like “a stronghold in the day of distress.” That thought consoles him. He senses Jehovah’s loving care and stops worrying overmuch. Then he reads verse 15 in an undertone. (Read Nahum 1:15.) Our brother sees that by preaching the good news in difficult times, he demonstrates that he, indeed, views Jehovah as his stronghold. While the brother keeps on looking for secular work, he is now also moved to support midweek field service activity.
8. Briefly share a spiritual gem that you discovered in your Bible reading.
8 The beneficial points just mentioned are from Bible books that some may consider difficult to understand. As you examine the books of Hosea, Joel, and Nahum with a desire to learn, you will want to read other verses from them in an undertone. Imagine how much wisdom and comfort await you in the writings of those prophets! And what about the rest of the Bible? God’s Word is like a productive diamond mine. Work that mine well! Yes, read the whole Bible with the goal of finding gems of divine guidance and reassurance.
STRIVE FOR UNDERSTANDING
9. How can we increase our understanding of God’s will?
9 While it is important that you daily read a portion of the Bible, you also want to gain understanding and insight. Therefore, make good use of the publications of Jehovah’s organization to research the background of people, places, and events you read about. Or if you wonder how a certain Bible teaching might affect your life, you could ask a congregation elder or another mature Christian for help. To illustrate the importance of increasing our understanding, let us consider the example of one first-century Christian who strove to do just that. His name was Apollos.
10, 11. (a) How was Apollos helped to improve as a minister of the good news? (b) What can we learn from the account of Apollos? (See the box “Is Your Teaching Up-to-Date?”)
10 Apollos was a Jewish Christian who was “well versed in the Scriptures” and “aglow with the spirit.” The book of Acts relates about him: “He went speaking and teaching with correctness the things about Jesus, but being acquainted with only the baptism of John.” Without realizing it, Apollos had been teaching an out-of-date understanding of baptism. After hearing him teach in Ephesus, a Christian couple named Priscilla and Aquila explained “the way of God more correctly to him.” (Acts 18:24-26) How did this benefit Apollos?
11 After preaching in Ephesus, Apollos went to Achaia. “When he got there, he greatly helped those who had believed on account of God’s undeserved kindness; for with intensity he thoroughly proved the Jews to be wrong publicly, while he demonstrated by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 18:27, 28) By that time, Apollos could correctly explain the meaning of Christian baptism. With his increased understanding, he “greatly helped” new ones to make progress in true worship. What can we learn from this account? Like Apollos, we strive to understand what we read in the Bible. However, when an experienced fellow believer suggests how we can teach more effectively, we want to accept that help with humility and gratitude. If we do so, the quality of our sacred service will improve.
USE WHAT YOU LEARN TO HELP OTHERS
12, 13. Illustrate how a tactful use of the Scriptures may help Bible students to make progress.
12 Like Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos, we can be a blessing to others. When your encouragement helps an interested person overcome an obstacle to his spiritual progress, how do you feel? Or as an elder, how do you feel when a fellow worshipper thanks you for Scriptural counsel that helped him or her through a difficult time? No doubt, using God’s Word to help others to improve their lives is a source of satisfaction and joy. * Notice how you might accomplish that goal.
13 Regarding true worship and false, many Israelites in Elijah’s day were sitting on the fence. Elijah’s counsel to those people could help an indecisive Bible student who is holding back from making spiritual progress. (Read 1 Kings 18:21.) Consider another situation: If an interested person fears the reaction of friends or family, you might strengthen his or her resolve to worship Jehovah by reasoning on Isaiah 51:12, 13.
14. What will help you to recall Bible passages when you need them to help others?
14 Clearly, the Bible contains many words that can encourage, correct, or strengthen its readers. But you may ask, ‘How can I have scriptures at the ready when I need them?’ Read the Bible and meditate on God’s thoughts daily. In that way, you will build a reserve of divine expressions that Jehovah’s spirit can help you recall when you need them.
15. What will help you to understand God’s Word more fully?
15 Like King Solomon, pray to Jehovah for wisdom in carrying out theocratic responsibilities. (2 Chron. 1:7-10) As did the prophets of old, make “a diligent inquiry and a careful search” of God’s Word for accurate knowledge of Jehovah and his will. (1 Pet. 1:10-12) The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to nourish himself “with the words of the faith and of the fine teaching.” (1 Tim. 4:6) By your doing so, you will be in an excellent position to help others spiritually. At the same time, you will build up your own faith.
SURE PROTECTION BASED ON GOD’S WORD
16. (a) How did “carefully examining the Scriptures daily” benefit the Beroeans? (b) Why is daily Bible reading so important to us today?
16 Jews in the Macedonian city of Beroea had the custom of “carefully examining the Scriptures daily.” When Paul preached the good news to those Jews, they compared his words with their knowledge of the Scriptures. The result? Many were convinced that he was teaching the truth, and they “became believers.” (Acts 17:10-12) This shows that daily reading of the Bible promotes strong faith in Jehovah. Such faith, “the assured expectation of things hoped for,” is vital if we are to survive into God’s new world.
17, 18. (a) How does strong faith and love protect a Christian’s figurative heart? (b) How does hope protect us from danger?
17 For good reason, Paul wrote: “As for us who belong to the day, let us keep our senses and have on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” (1 Thess. 5:8) A soldier’s heart needs protection from the enemy. Similarly, a Christian’s figurative heart requires shielding from the power of sin. What happens when a servant of Jehovah couples strong faith in God’s promises with love for Him and for fellow humans? Such a servant puts on a spiritual breastplate of the highest quality. It is unlikely that he will do anything to lose God’s favor.
18 Paul also mentioned a helmet, “the hope of salvation.” Without protecting his head, a soldier in Bible times could easily lose his life in battle. But with a good helmet, he could survive blows to the head without suffering serious injury. We build hope in Jehovah’s saving acts by studying his Word. Strong hope enables us to resist apostates and their gangrenous “empty speeches.” (2 Tim. 2:16-19) Our hope will also strengthen us to say no to those who would lead us into conduct condemned by Jehovah.
A KEY TO SURVIVAL
19, 20. Why do we highly esteem God’s Word, and how do we show our appreciation for it? (See the box “Jehovah Gives Me Just What I Need.”)
19 The deeper we get into the time of the end, the greater our need to rely on Jehovah’s Word. The counsel we draw from it helps us to correct bad habits and to control our sinful tendencies. With its encouragement and comfort, we will pass the tests that Satan and his world bring on us. With the guidance Jehovah provides in his Word, we will stay on the road to life.
20 Recall that God’s will is that “all sorts of men should be saved.” Jehovah’s servants are among “all sorts of men.” So are those whom we might help through our preaching and teaching work. But all who wish to attain to salvation must gain “an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) Thus, surviving the last days goes hand in glove with reading the Bible and applying its inspired instructions. Yes, our daily Bible reading shows how highly we esteem Jehovah’s precious Word of truth.
^ par. 14 What if you remember the key words of a passage but not the book, chapter, and verse? By looking up those words in the index at the back of the Bible, in the Watchtower Library, or in the concordance of the New World Translation, you will likely find the scripture.