Reading and Meditating on Scripture

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Stephen L Smith

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I read a quote some time ago that Spurgeon read the scriptures right through 4 times a year. I have been thinking of challenging myself to read the scriptures right through 2 times a year.

However, it seems to me the danger of reading large portions of scripture a day without meditating on it will bring little spiritual benefit. On the other hand it seems to me there is benefit in reading through scripture at least once (if not more than once) a year.

Has anyone reflected on the tension between reading large portions of scripture versus slowing down to meditate on it?
 

Kinghezy

Puritan Board Sophomore
  1. I follow the M'Cheyne, in audio form, to get that general survey of the bible. I think there is still value in regularly hearing the full breadth of scripture.
  2. For a more in-depth study, I read a passage from the bible during family devotion, that I had read the day before. I am generally use Matthew Henry as my basis for that. Big picture, we are choosing a book of the Bible and reading it from beginning to end. Not sure if that fits your definition of mediation, but that is the closest I get
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
It's funny you post this today. Last night during our devotional time, my wife and I read this together:

"Read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it. Think not for a moment that the great object is to turn over a certain quantity of printed paper, and that it matters nothing whether you understand it or not. Some ignorant people seem to fancy that all is done if they clear off so many chapters every clay, though they may not have a notion what they are all about, and only know that they have pushed on their mark so many leaves. This is turning Bible reading into a mere form. It is almost as bad as the Popish habit of buying indulgences, by saying an almost fabulous number of ave-marias and paternosters. It reminds one of the poor Hottentot who ate up a Dutch hymn-book because he saw it comforted his neighbours’ hearts. Settle it down in your mind as a general principle, that a Bible not understood is a Bible that does no good. Say to yourself often as you read, 'What is all this about?' Dig for the meaning like a man digging for Australian gold. Work hard, and do not give up the work in a hurry."

—John Charles Ryle, Practical Religion: Being Plain Papers on the Daily Duties, Experience, Dangers, and Privileges of Professing Christians (London: National Protestant Church Union and Charles Murray, 1900), 131.​

So, yes, there is a tension. I've experienced it myself a good deal even in my young life. I guess the trick is to find a balance. Read as much as you can, yet read in order to understand and, once you have read all of it once, to understand it better.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
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Quick reading and slow reading are both important for understanding. One of the practical ways to balance that is to listen to a fairly large portion of the Scriptures (e.g., Book II of the Psalter), while including time for a slow reading of a much smaller portion at some other time.
One year I read a few chapters daily as usual, but also incorporated reading through an entire book in one sitting one day of the week. I felt that combination was beneficial.
 

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
Keep in mind too that Spurgeon was also involved in regular preaching. That requires wrestling with the passage at an exegetical level and much meditation and personal application to make it experiential and applicable to the congregation. Spurgeon's sermons show the fruit of a man who clearly was meditating on Scripture. If all we are doing is reading quantity, I agree there is less (little?) profit. But when there is a commitment to meditation (even if not on the whole portions of what is read) the quantity helps keep us in touch with the vast content of Scripture which can be an aid in our meditation. As in everything in the Christian life, balance and motivation are key.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
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Thank you everyone for your contributions. I note the common theme of understanding scripture - understanding with the mind. Certainly this is the opposite of the mindless meditation of secular thinking.

My thought is that we also have to consider feeding the soul and the mind. It is possible to understand scripture but it remains in the understanding only, one will be a hearer of the word only but not necessarily obey it. Note James 1:22-25
 

pressing_on

Puritan Board Freshman
I wish my reading and focus sitting at home was even 1/10th the strength it is sitting at church in accompaniment to a solid sermon.
 

Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

Puritan Board Sophomore
I see a new Puritan book on meditation is coming out soon "Solitude Improved by Divine Meditation" (Nathaniel Ranew). It is over 300 pages so looks to be a substantial Puritan work.
“Meditation stands between the two ordinances of reading and praying, as the grand improver of the former, and the high quickener of the latter, to furnish the mind with choice materials for prayer, and to fill the heart with holy fervency in it.“

Nathaniel Ranew
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
I've done it in 6 months before and felt it was way too fast. I was reading to hit a time goal and not a "knowing and loving God" goal. Doesn't mean anyone would have the same issue but for me, it wasn't the most edifying approach.

I was literally just looking for Bible reading plans when I came across your post. I finished my usual Bible in a year plan yesterday and was thinking I needed a change of pace as I have used that particular one for a long time. I am trying to think through what entire Bible reading plan would provide the optimum pace for me that also provides some depth and meditation.
 

pressing_on

Puritan Board Freshman
You should be able to get through the NT once a month if you have this as a goal.

Johnny Mac's recommendation of choosing a NT book and reading through it every day for a month, or breaking it down into halves or thirds, has been helpful during the years. Reading Romans every day for a month builds you up.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
I am trying to think through what entire Bible reading plan would provide the optimum pace for me that also provides some depth and meditation.
Here is a link to the Ligonier Ministries Bible reading plans. There are a good variety there so I'm sure there would be one that suits you.

You will notice they include one of the very best plans - designed by the godly Scottish pastor Robert Murray M'Cheyne. With this plan you read through the whole Bible but the New Testament and Psalms twice. I use this plan but modify it so I also read the book of Proverbs twice.

You might like to use a plan with the Ranew book on meditation I mentioned above.
 

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
Stephen,
I like to mix it up a bit - so mostly I'll read a Psalm, a chapter of OT (sometimes 2) and a NT chapter. Maybe every couple of months I'll drop one reading (either NT or OT) and read through a biblical book and an associated commentary. I'll usually go for a more sermonic or practical commentary rather that a technical commentary, (Bible Speaks Today, Welwyn, Mentor or such like). I can usually go into a fair amount of depth using those models in about an hour, or a bit less if I'm, pushed (and I use the original languages and keep a journal both of which slow things a bit, but are profitable for me) - but will spend longer if I can.

It's a while since I worked it out, but I get through the Psalms twice a year, the NT about 11/2 times and the OT I get through in about 11/2 years I guess maybe a bit less.

I've been doing this for maybe 15 years and can't bring myself to change!
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
I'll usually go for a more sermonic or practical commentary rather that a technical commentary, (Bible Speaks Today, Welwyn, Mentor or such like).
I am actually experimenting with the idea of using a Bible reading plan plus reading a specific book of the Bible with a devotional commentary.
It's a while since I worked it out, but I get through the Psalms twice a year, the NT about 11/2 times and the OT I get through in about 11/2 years I guess maybe a bit less.
Maybe you should use the Bible reading plan by a fellow Celt - Robert Murray M'Cheyne. It seems similar to the plan you describe.
 
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