A major reason why many Christians struggle with biblical literacy is that they don’t know how to approach Bible study. They might recognize their need for God’s Word but don’t know how to remain in it. The outcome can result in frustration over Bible reading that only causes them to go back to a closed Bible.
The mistake a lot of believers make in their approach to Bible study is that they don’t give themselves enough time in the Word. They may spend 5 minutes quickly scanning a passage and then be finished thinking they have done enough because they at least opened their Bible, right? To return back to the analogy we considered in my first article, with dehydration, a thirsty person is not going to be quenched by a single sip of water. They must keep drinking until their body is full.
Believers must keep drinking by filling themselves up with God’s Word over and over again. They must not settle for quick scans but dedicated study. Throughout Psalm 119, David presents us with four ways we can quench our thirst for God’s Word: delighting in the Word, meditating on the Word, surrounding yourself with lovers of the Word, and living out the Word.
Delight in the Word
David describes his love for God’s Word by mentioning his delight in it. He writes, “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” (v. 14) “I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (v.16) Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” (v.24)
Before we begin our study of God’s Word we must first see it as something to delight in. To begrudgingly open the Bible is not going to result in a fruitful time. We must see it for what it is: God’s revelation to us. The fact that God has chosen to reveal himself to us should cause us to be in awe that the creator of the universe wants us to know him in such an intimate way. This should move us to delight because every time we open God’s Word is an opportunity to know him deeper and deeper.
However, there are times in the Christian life that we may struggle to delight in God’s Word. This shouldn’t be an excuse to remain closed off from it, but it will take discipline to open it up even if we don’t want to. It is in these times that we must turn to God in prayer and ask Him to give us delight over His Word.
Meditate on the Word
David writes, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (v.11) and “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” (v.15)
In Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney compares the reading of God’s Word to steeping a tea bag. He writes, “meditation is like immersing the bag completely and letting it steep until all the rich tea flavor has been extracted…meditation on Scripture is letting the Bible brew in the brain.”We will not experience its richness if we simply dip the bag in and take it back out, we need to let it steep. To meditate on Scripture is to soak in the words in which we’ve just read. It is to dwell on what God is communicating to us and what this means for our lives. Scripture memory is a helpful component of meditation. As we memorize God’s Word we take in its meaning and can recall it as we go about our days.
Surround Yourself with Lovers of the Word
David writes, “I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts” (v.63). If we desire to delight and dwell in God’s Word we need to surround ourselves with people who have that same desire. If our companions are only those who don’t believe in God and scoff at His Word it will become too easy to wander away from Scripture.
Surrounding ourselves with others who love God’s Word brings about natural accountability to be in it. We need others who regularly encourage us to dedicate time studying Scripture and who point us to truths from it. Being with other believers that uphold God’s Word will also help to sharpen our theology as we read. We need others to help answer questions we have over the things we read and to graciously guide us when we have interpreted something incorrectly.
Live out the Word
David writes, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” (v.1) and “I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.” (v. 112)
One of the most important elements in studying God’s Word is to live out what we read by applying it to our everyday lives. God has given us His Word not just to read but to live out. If we only ever read Scripture but never apply the things that we read, are we really quenching our thirst? To read but never apply God’s Word is to appreciate what God has given us but not be shaped by it. To keep ourselves from putting into practice what God has shown us in his Word is to keep ourselves from truly living for Him. We must take what God is teaching us from scripture and walk in it.
 Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014), 47.