How are we supposed to read the bible?
I start each day reading the Scriptures and am now in the habit of the McCheyne bible reading method of four chapters a day. Currently, one of my journeys is through the book of Judges which is always a lively adventure.
Sometimes I just read the story. That is, I think, a fine and necessary thing to do. However, the other morning I came across the account of Ehud (Judges 3:12-27) and ended the chapter thinking this.
"What on earth is all that about?"
Then I moved rapidly on. At the end of my 4 readings I then felt prompted and indeed compelled to go back to Ehud and revisit his story.
This is what I did.
Then I took my journal and read each verse slowly and pondered its meaning. And here I mean REALLY read (excepting that to really really do this it would be in Hebrew which is beyond me). I looked at each word and lingered on the detail- names, places, unusual phrases and the things that struck me.
I then numbered my points so that I had a skeleton of the plot. Here are my journal notes.
1. Repeated evil
2. Loss of power (18 years)
3. Crying out
4. A deliverer provided
5. The deliverer is left-handed
6. A hidden double-edged sword
7. 'secret message' for the King
8. King alone in summer palace
9. Sword ...plunged into the King's belly
10. Fat envelopes the sword
11 Servant thinks King 'relieving' himself
12. Ehud escapes
14 Strikes down Moabites
15 Israelites rule for 80 years
Now one could conclude the following:
God doesn't like fat people and on-balance prefers left-handers with swords. Given that I am left-handed and although not in prime shape I am probably not as hefty as the King of Eglon so I will probably be cut some slack.
So, all in all, I win.
That'll be it then.
As I began to think more and set this narrative in the plot line of the bible and in the context of what other things I know about God I noticed some things:
A. About history
B. About authority
C. About land and covenantal promises
D. About obedience
E. About prayer
F About the detail ('Left-handed)'
I then spent a little more time imagining preaching Christ from a starting point of Judges 3.
It struck me that we can all have a go at this.
I didn't pull huge commentaries of my bookshelves, I just cleared a bit of space and lingered a while with the story and its detail.
I then set it in the light of Jesus.
I think I will probably be doing more of this.
In fact, I am currently reflecting on a dream about a bread roll rolling down a hill......