Is It Hard for You to Find Scriptures?
HAVE you ever felt a little frustrated at not being able to locate a particular scripture when you wanted it? You may have experienced this while discussing the Bible with someone or while doing private study. We can all improve our ability in finding and remembering scriptures.
Your being able to find scriptures will bring many blessings. For instance, it will help you when faced with problems or when in need of information. It will help you when others turn to you for God’s viewpoint on matters. And Christians, of course, look to Jesus Christ, who set a fine example in using the Scriptures to teach others. During the time of his temptation by Satan the Devil, Jesus quoted appropriate scriptures three times, saying, “It is written.”—Matt. 4:1-11.
What will help you in finding scriptures? There are a number of things.
READ THE BIBLE FOR OVERALL PICTURE
One of the first things you can do, if you have not done so, is to read the Bible from cover to cover to get an overall picture of its contents. This takes time, but if you work at it steadily you will gradually become familiar with what the Bible contains.
When you read the Bible for the first time, you will find that you do not understand all of it, but you are establishing the framework for remembering or finding scriptures.
As you read the Bible, you will come across certain scriptures that you will no doubt want to remember. Try to do so. Of course, memory powers vary greatly. Just as some persons have healthier bodies than others, so some have better memories. But this does not mean that a person cannot improve his memory. He can if he tries.
LEARNING THE GROUPINGS OF THE BOOKS
There is something else you can do: familiarize yourself with the groupings of the sixty-six books of the Bible. Starting with the Hebrew Scriptures, we find that there is a natural threefold division: (1) the Historical books, (2) the Poetic books and (3) the Prophetic books. These, of course, are only general divisions.
The historical section includes seventeen books from Genesis to Esther. The poetic books are easy to remember, since the following five appear consecutively: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and The Song of Solomon. The prophetic section includes four major books: Isaiah, Jeremiah (also Lamentations), Ezekiel and Daniel. These large prophetic books are followed by twelve shorter ones—Hosea to Malachi.
The Christian Greek Scriptures may also be divided into three main parts: (1) the Historical books, (2) the Letters and (3) the Revelation. Included in the historical section are the four Gospels and the book of Acts. The letters include twenty-one by certain apostles and disciples. Finally, there is the Revelation to John.
Knowing these groupings will be an advantage to you when you wish to find a text. If you can recall the section where the scripture might be located, you have a far smaller area in which to look, and you will save time.
PRACTICE TURNING TO BIBLE BOOKS
Practice is vital in learning to locate scriptures quickly. What will help you to get the needed practice?
When you listen to Bible discourses, make it a practice to follow along with the speaker in your Bible. The more often you turn to key scriptures, the easier it will be for you to locate both the Bible books and specific texts.
MARK KEY TEXTS
Another aid in finding scriptures is to mark certain ones. For instance, if you are reading the Bible and come across a text that delights you and that you feel sure you are going to want to locate again, it would be good to mark it. Similarly, if someone else points out a text that you believe you will want on some future occasion, take a moment right then and mark it.
Of course, if a person marks his Bible carelessly, it may appear to others to whom the verses are shown that he has crossed certain things out, as if he did not agree with them. That would be an undesirable impression to leave. It might be better to use the firm edge of a card or something else that is handy, so that a straight line can be drawn under the portion that is to be underscored.
Also it can be helpful to you in locating a text quickly at some future time if you do not try to underscore the entire text. Rather, if you determine the reason why you will want the text on some future occasion and then underscore simply the word or phrase that highlights that aspect, you will not have to reread the entire verse to ascertain whether it is the one you want. Your eyes will immediately go to the key portion.
Further, if there is a subject on which you would like to be ready to talk to someone else who may be interested, you might beneficially select two or three especially appropriate texts. Decide on the order in which you would prefer to read them. Then, inside the cover of your Bible you can note these subjects and next to each of them show the location of simply the first one of that series of texts. This will make it easy for you to get the discussion going when you want the scriptures again. Next to the first text in the series, you can neatly write the location of the second text in the series; and next to the second scripture, the location of the third, and so forth.
It is generally best not to make these series too long. A few well-chosen texts usually do the job. To start, you might want to work out chains such as these for four or five subjects on which you most enjoy talking to others. Then, as time goes on and circumstances require you to look up material on other subjects for persons who especially request it, you can add these to your collection; and over a period of time your list will grow.
CONCENTRATE ON REMEMBERING THE CHAPTER
If you wish to remember a key Bible scripture, you may find it helpful to concentrate on remembering the chapter. If you have marked the verse so that it will be easy to spot, you will find it quickly.
Appreciating that the Bible contains 1,189 chapters and 31,173 verses, you can see that the task of remembering them all would not be an easy one. So, many have found that it is best to concentrate on remembering the chapter where the key scriptures are located. Since the memory of most persons is limited, they find that they increase the number of scriptures that they can readily locate by concentrating on the chapters. Thus they do not generally concern themselves with trying to remember the verses, for once they locate the chapter, it is usually a simple matter to locate the verse they want, especially if it is marked.
PUBLICATIONS TO HELP YOU
If you are looking for a scripture on a particular subject, you can make use of the 512-page book “Make Sure of All Things; Hold Fast to What Is Fine.” This book’s principal subjects are in alphabetical order, with texts arranged in logical sequence, and they are quoted right there in the book.
Similarly helpful is Sermon Outlines. This little booklet of thirty-two pages contains 244 sermons designed to answer the Bible questions most frequently heard around the world. Thus Sermon Outlines is an aid in helping Bible students to locate scriptures on various topics. The scriptures, however, are not quoted but merely cited, and you must look up the scripture in your Bible. As an example, if you wish to show that at God’s own time the earth will be transformed into a global paradise, just look under the subject “Earth.” Here you find headings such as “God’s purpose for the earth” and the subheading “Paradise to be restored by Kingdom ‐‐‐‐‐ Mt. 6:9, 10; Isa. 65:21-23.” These references may be all you wish at present, but if more are needed you will find them right there under the same main heading.
The study aid most often used for finding scriptures is the concordance. Here is how this aid in finding scriptures is defined: “An alphabetical index of words, showing the places in the text of the Bible where each principal word may be found, with its immediate context or surrounding words in each place.” There are large concordances, but you probably have a smaller one in the back of your own Bible.
Many persons find themselves frustrated, however, when they start to use concordances; they just do not find the scriptures where they look for them. The problem is that they think in terms of subjects, instead of trying to remember the actual words in the scriptures themselves. And, of course, when they are using a small concordance, they will not find all the texts listed. So, if you do not find the scripture under one of the words that you recall from the text, it might be beneficial to look under another word, such as a noun or a verb, that you remember.
Were you trying to remember where the Lord’s prayer is located? If you turn to the concordance in the back of the New World Translation of the holy Scriptures, for example, you will find it listed under “Father,” “Name,” “Sanctified,” “Kingdom” and “Will.”
But before you start looking for a text in a concordance, try to remember the book of the Bible in which the scripture is found. Asking the question, Who said it? may help you to identify the book. This will save you time, especially when using a large concordance.
TEACH OTHERS GOD’S WORD
One of the best ways to become skilled in finding scriptures is to use your Bible in teaching others. Familiarity through use is the best way to remember anything. So the more you use your Bible the easier it will become to find scriptures.
Children, for example, ask many questions of their parents. If the parents take the time to look up the answer in the Holy Scriptures with their children, reading it directly from the Bible, this will help to instill respect for God’s Word in the youngsters. And it will help the parents to improve in their ability to find scriptures.
Or your reading of the Bible may move you to want to share your hope for a peaceful new order of things with some of your friends. Use your Bible when doing so.
You will gain much pleasure as you familiarize yourself with God’s Word and become proficient in using it to help others to appreciate what a treasure it is. (Heb. 5:14) Your being able to find scriptures readily will give you much personal satisfaction and bring honor to Jehovah God, the great Author of the Bible.