Reading and Meditating on scripture

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Stephen L Smith

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Friends,

I have been reflecting on the balance between reading and meditating on scripture. One desires to read through the scripture in a year. I like the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan. Now, if one reads through the Bible in a year. obviously it is not practical to meditate on every verse. On the other hand if one meditates on every verse that one reads, they probably will not get through the Bible in a year. How do you strike the balance?

My approach is to use the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan and select a small number of verses each day to meditate on.

Thoughts?
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
That seems like a good idea. I do not believe every verse must be meditated on. Perhaps in the gospels, or Paul's letters. But in a lot of the Old Testament I suspect you will not meditate on each verse describing the number of cattle one possesses, or the descriptions of Joshua's battles with foreign kings. That is not to call those verses insignificant, but rather they are a part of larger cohesive passage.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
I indict myself first as one who needs to fix a bad habit... To meditate on every verse shows a backwards way of approaching a text in the first place.

No verse means anything apart from the larger work in which it appears.

So ultimately, for proper meditation you must be familiar with the whole of Scripture. And then you must be familiar with the book in which the text appears, and the immediate time, place, circumstances, and situation the book is addressing. Then you can understand the place of the passage, then the place of the verse. That will produce the real meaning.

The verse referencing system is useful for navigating the Bible, but I wonder if it gives the false impression that texts can readily stand alone.

Maybe we picked it up from the Puritans, who at times preached sermons upon sermons from single lines of the Bible.

I wonder if feeling an obligation to meditate on single lines all the time gives the impression that the work of studying the Bible is more laborious than it really is. God requires us to dig deep for sure, and to exercise great diligence (Proverbs 2), but I also have to think that true and experiential familiarity with all of Scripture is meant to be attained with a reasonable effort.
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
My approach to general “reading” of the Bible is I listen to it during my commute to and from work (Bible on CD). My one-way commute is roughly 20-25 mins, so I get in about 45 mins of hearing God’s word which takes me through the entire Bible in a little over half a year.

I can then spend my sit down time studying various parts and meditating more deeply without... er with less worrying about losing grasp of the entirety of the Bible.
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
Right now the Lord has answered my prayers by allowing me to have a relatively consistent reading plan. Two chapters a day! One in the morning and one in the evening. I am currently in Joshua. I believe I will probably speed up the reading once I hit some of the books with shorter chapters, like the Psalms or Pauline letters.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I use a plan to read through the Bible consistently. I use Professor Horner's plan, a bit modified, to read through 5-10 chapters a day, across different genres. One disadvantage of this plan is that it is not meant to be a "Bible in a year" plan, so I don't hit the normal cadence most Christians do, or at least seem to strive for (though it doesn't take much longer than a year). However, I like reading some parts of the Bible more frequently (like Psalms, wisdom literature, and the NT) and keeping all of the Bible in view. I do not meditate on each verse I read, or even dive into each theological question I have. I treat it as a way to keep all of the Bible in view and see connections across texts. I've used this plan to read through the Bible all the way through several times in the past few years.

I then also will have other sections of Scripture I am studying in more depth. This can give time for meditation. I can spend a long time studying a book like Galatians, but you can easily read it through in one sitting in relatively little time. I think both are appropriate.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
No verse means anything apart from the larger work in which it appears.
I probably should have clarified better. I do believe there are real benefits in reading the scriptures through at least once a year. But take the Psalms as an example. The M'Cheyne system sometimes have you reading 2 Psalms a day. But sometimes the Psalms are so spiritually rich one wants to spend a week on each Psalm. Now, if I did that on a regular basis I would never get through the Bible in a year! I see a tension - one desires to read through the Bible in a year. But sometimes one wants to spend a prolonged period in one passage.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
I probably should have clarified better. I do believe there are real benefits in reading the scriptures through at least once a year. But take the Psalms as an example. The M'Cheyne system sometimes have you reading 2 Psalms a day. But sometimes the Psalms are so spiritually rich one wants to spend a week on each Psalm. Now, if I did that on a regular basis I would never get through the Bible in a year! I see a tension - one desires to read through the Bible in a year. But sometimes one wants to spend a prolonged period in one passage.

I see.

Singing helps with that :)
 
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