Effective Personal Bible Study

Read Psalm 119:97–104. In almost every verse of this psalm the psalmist speaks of God’s word, law, testimonies, ways, precepts, statutes, commandments, or judgments. But these words are not limited to the ten commandments, although they are certainly included. Rather, in this psalm the psalmist praises God’s word—the Holy Scriptures. For us, who live in the New Testament, all of these words stand for God’s word from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.

Consider the psalmist’s devotion to the study of the Bible: “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (vs. 97), “…thy testimonies are my meditation” (vs. 99). He hid God’s word in his heart (vs. 11) and said, “I will not forget thy word” (vs. 16). God’s word was delightful to him (vs. 103); it was the rejoicing of his heart (vs. 111). In sum, the psalmist loved to study God’s word. Do we love to do the same?

Luther said, “The devil is a greater rascal than you think he is. You do as yet not know what sort of fellow he is and what a desperate rogue you are. His definite design is to get you tired of the Word and in this way to draw you away from it. This is his aim.” Alas, how often are we drawn away from it, whether by the devil, the world, or our own flesh! How often do we grow tired of reading and studying God’s word on our own!

But this is God’s word—God’s word to us. How shall we not then read it? This is God’s word to us as a body, as a church. And, this is God’s word to us as individuals. We each, personally, stand in a covenant relationship with our God and Father. He has made us his sons and daughters. What child neglects his father’s word to him? No, the child who loves his father listens to him when he speaks. Our Father has spoken to us in his word. Let us hear Him, by studying the Bible.


Beginning question

  1. What are some challenges when it comes to personally studying the Bible, both challenges from within and challenges from without?


The need for personal Bible study

  1. Why do we study the Bible? Why do we need to study the Bible, personally?
  2. Think about the connection between our physical health and physical food and drink. God has appointed food and drink to be the means whereby we are nourished physically. What happens to a man who neglects to eat and drink? Apply these thoughts to our spiritual health, to our faith, and to the study of the Bible. How is it that studying God’s word is a means that God uses to strengthen our faith? Consult John 5:39 and Luke 24:27.
  3. Is personal Bible study all about us? What is a purpose of personal Bible study that we too easily overlook? Consider Psalm 86:12.
  4. In Psalm 143:10 we read, “Teach me to do thy will.” What is the importance of personal Bible study for Christian living?


The method of personal Bible study

  1. The topic of the discussion is effective personal Bible study. What are some ineffective ways of studying the Bible?
  2. What is the difference between reading scripture and reading scripture with understanding? What are some ways to study the Bible with greater understanding? What does it mean that scripture interprets scripture? How can the context help us understand a passage?
  3. In Psalm 119 the psalmist speaks of meditation. What is meditation? What is the importance of meditation? How does memorization of scripture serve meditation? Consider Psalm 119:11.
  4. Some practical matters to consider are the time, place, and plan of personal Bible study, as well as length of passage. Discuss these and other practical matters.
  5. When we study the Bible personally, it is necessary to apply what we are reading to ourselves. What does this mean?
  6. Luther said, “He who would correctly and profitably read Scripture should see to it that he finds Christ in it; then he finds life eternal without fail.” Discuss the importance of finding Christ in personal Bible study in light of Jesus’ statement in Luke 24:27.
  7. In John 6:45 we read, “And they shall be all taught of God.” In Psalm 119, the psalmist prays to God, “Teach me,” nine times, and prays, “Give me understanding,” five times. What does this tell us? On whom must we depend in our personal Bible study? Discuss the connection between personal Bible study, prayer, and the Holy Spirit.


The blessing of personal Bible study

  1. Discuss the blessing of personal Bible study in connection with John 17:3.
  2. Revisit #3, and now discuss the blessing of personal Bible study.
  3. Discuss the blessing of personal Bible study in light of 1 Timothy 6:3.
  4. Discuss the blessing of personal Bible study in light of 2 Timothy 3:16.
  5. What is the blessing of personal Bible study pointed out in Psalm 119:97-104?