Finding Delight in Jehovah’s Word
“Happy is the man . . . [whose] delight is in the law of Jehovah.”—PSALM 1:1, 2.
1. Who have been assigned to teach others “the things revealed” by Jehovah?
SINCE “the things revealed” are so vital for our salvation, Jehovah has often assigned responsible ones to be teachers of revealed truth. (Deuteronomy 29:29) In Israel, the priests and Levites fulfilled this role. (Leviticus 10:8-11; 2 Chronicles 35:3) Israelite parents, too, taught their own children. (Deuteronomy 11:19; Proverbs 6:20) In the first century C.E., duly appointed elders served as teachers in the congregation of anointed Christians, and Christian parents were urged to instruct their children. (Ephesians 6:4; 1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:2) Additionally, each individual Christian was responsible to make known Jehovah’s revealed things to those yet outside the Christian congregation.—Acts 1:8.
2. Is it enough to rely on others to teach us Jehovah’s Word? Explain.
2 But is it enough to rely on others to teach us God’s Word? No. Each of us is also personally responsible to study “the things revealed” by Jehovah. Thus, the psalmist wrote to fellow Israelites: “Happy is the man . . . [whose] delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.” (Psalm 1:1, 2) The apostle Peter, too, encouraged fellow worshipers, writing: “Form a longing for the unadulterated milk belonging to the word, that through it you may grow to salvation.”—1 Peter 2:2.
3. The natural inclination of many toward study calls for what?
3 How do you view Bible study? If you regularly attend Christian meetings, you doubtless get to hear many fine Bible-based discussions. And if you were ‘brought up in the truth,’ as some say, doubtless your parents taught you many of “the things revealed” by Jehovah. But apart from that, do you study the Bible personally? The psalmist evidently enjoyed that kind of study, but perhaps you personally do not find it easy. If so, you are not alone. The fact that Peter was inspired to urge fellow believers to “form a longing for the . . . word” suggests that personal study would not come naturally to many. But we can learn to enjoy it. How?
4. What illustration shows that personal study can be made more appealing?
4 Well, what if you were told to dig a deep hole in the ground? Unless you were naturally inclined to do hard, physical work, you would not look forward to the task. But suppose you were told that there was treasure buried in the ground? Now the work of digging would not seem so arduous! It might even be exciting, as you anticipated uncovering the buried treasure. Similarly, even if you are not studious by nature, study can be interesting and even exciting if you have the right attitude. And there are ways to develop this attitude.
Cultivate the Right Attitude
5, 6. Describe some of the incomparable blessings we get through Jehovah’s revealed Word.
5 First, we should constantly reflect on what a treasure we have in the Bible. The apostle Paul exclaimed: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!” (Romans 11:33) Jehovah’s purposes, gradually revealed over thousands of years, are awe-inspiring, opening up for us a hope that is as wonderful as it is sure. The counsel for living that Jehovah has had recorded in the Bible will always bring success when applied. (2 Timothy 3:16) No wonder the psalmist sang: “The very disclosure of your words gives light, making the inexperienced ones understand”!—Psalm 119:130.
6 Moreover, the Bible contains God’s thoughts, and by taking in these thoughts, we draw closer to him. (James 4:8) Also, we are commissioned to teach others to be disciples of Jesus. (Matthew 28:19, 20) Since the Bible is our chief tool in this work, we need to study it in order to use it well. (Ephesians 6:17; 2 Timothy 2:15) Finally, filling our mind with Bible-based thoughts protects us, helping us to walk in our integrity and avoid faith-weakening doubts and wrong ideas.—Proverbs 4:5, 6; 20:7; Philippians 4:8.
7, 8. With regard to “the things revealed,” why are we more blessed today than God’s servants were in times gone by?
7 Consider, too, that today we are able “to grasp mentally with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth” of the truth in a way that God’s servants could not do in the past. (Ephesians 3:14-18) But remember, Abraham abandoned his home city and lived out his life in tents although he would never in his lifetime see the fulfillment of God’s promises. (Hebrews 11:8-10) And Daniel pleaded for an understanding of the visions he had witnessed but was told: “The words are made secret and sealed up until the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:8, 9) Today, the Seed that Abraham looked forward to has long since appeared. Now, we are living in “the time of the end” when the meaning of much of what Daniel saw has been added to our understanding of “the things revealed.”
8 The apostle Peter wrote: “Concerning this very salvation a diligent inquiry and a careful search were made by the prophets who prophesied about the undeserved kindness meant for you. It was revealed to them that, not to themselves, but to you, they were ministering the things that have now been announced to you . . . Into these very things angels are desiring to peer.” (1 Peter 1:10, 12) Since Jehovah has now shed light on so many things that those early prophets were longing to know, let us truly value these truths and not take them for granted.
9, 10. What examples should make us appreciate the freedom most of us have to engage in personal Bible study?
9 To get the right attitude, we should appreciate how hard some have had to fight in order to study the Bible. In William Tyndale’s day, it was a crime for any Englishman to sell, buy, or read a translation of the Greek Scriptures in his own language. John Foxe, the 16th-century Puritan preacher, reported what happened when a newly converted Protestant smuggled some Bibles into Spain. He was betrayed and burned at the stake, and 800 of those who purchased the Bibles were arrested. Twenty were roasted on spits. Others were imprisoned for life, publicly whipped, or sent to the galleys. A small number were acquitted.
10 In modern times, too, Jehovah’s Witnesses have sometimes had to study the Bible in the face of grave dangers. When in concentration camps or prisons, they have risked punishment or death to get ahold of a Bible. One missionary, thrown into solitary confinement because of his faith, wrote down all the scriptures he could remember and then scoured the “religion” columns in newspapers for the isolated Bible verses that would appear. For years, that was his only access to a Bible. Yes, when the Bible is banned, Christians go to great lengths to read it. Should we be less diligent when, in most cases, all we have to do is reach out and take it down from a bookshelf?
11. Should the fact that some information is discussed repeatedly make us less concerned about Bible study?
11 Some have said that they can answer the questions in the Watchtower magazine without too much difficulty because some material is repeated. Hence, they do not see the need for personal study. Such ones underestimate the value of repetition. The psalmist loved Jehovah’s reminders, and so should we. (Psalm 119:119) Remember, the world keeps deluging us with the same immoral, materialistic propaganda. So we need to fortify our minds against it with repeated Biblical reminders.
Work to Overcome Problems
12. Give some practical suggestions for overcoming the problem of finding time for Bible study.
12 A person with the right attitude toward Bible study will usually find a way to study, but this may not be easy. There may be problems to overcome. For example, where in today’s busy life do we find time for personal study? The first step in solving this problem is to recognize that Bible study is a necessity, like the field ministry and meeting attendance. (1 Timothy 4:15) Then we can examine our daily routine to find a place for it. Some manage to study while traveling by public transportation. Others listen to recordings of Bible readings while driving or when working around the house. There are those who study during their lunch break at work. Others get up a little earlier in the morning and study a while before the day’s routine begins or spend time studying in the evenings after the children are in bed. Often we have to buy out time from other activities—perhaps even from periods of relaxation—for study. (Colossians 4:5) But many find that soon they do not need those other forms of relaxation quite so much because study itself relaxes them.
13. How can we be helped to concentrate on what we study?
13 Some find concentration to be a problem. It is difficult for them to stop thinking about their day-to-day problems and to concentrate on Bible study. Prayer can help overcome this. Before starting to study, why not thank Jehovah for the things he has revealed and ask for his help to concentrate on them and discern their value? (Philippians 4:6; 2 Timothy 2:7) Such a prayer is fully in harmony with Jehovah’s will for us. (1 John 5:14) Self-discipline, too, is indispensable, especially at first. (1 Corinthians 9:25) The Beroeans examined God’s Word daily. (Acts 17:10, 11) Theirs is a good example. Regular study will soon become interesting, and likely you will come to look forward to it, not having to force yourself to do it.
14. Why is a quiet environment desirable when we engage in personal study?
14 Concentration is also helped by an appropriate environment. Isaac went out into the fields when he wanted to meditate—away from the hustle and bustle of the tents. (Genesis 24:63) True, not all of us can find a place to study in that is as free of distractions as an open field, but we can usually reduce the distractions around us. Studying in front of a switched-on television or with a noisy stereo in the background will be far less productive—or interesting—than studying in a place that is quieter. We cannot always escape distractions, but most of us can surely find a relatively quiet corner for study.
15. What are some informal ways of gaining Bible knowledge?
15 There may be another problem: Some may not know how to study. These days especially, it cannot be taken for granted that children learn to study at school, and those who left school some time ago may have lost the study habit. But, really, study is not that difficult. It can be as simple as reading articles that interest you in the book Aid to Bible Understanding or reading the New World Translation Reference Bible. Listening to the Bible recordings on cassette tapes or following up personal research projects are other ways to study. Have you tried just browsing through past issues of the Watchtower or Awake! magazine and reading articles that catch your interest? True, this is not concentrated study, but it will help to build up your delight in Jehovah’s Word.
16. What should be our purpose in studying for the weekly Watchtower Study?
16 But what about more formal study, as, for example, when you are preparing for the weekly Watchtower Study? For such study, the student needs to have an objective in mind. What kind of objective? In the case of preparing for the Watchtower Study, he should want to get the maximum benefit from the “food at the proper time” that has been provided through “the faithful and discreet slave” and should also desire to help others by his comments at the meeting. (Matthew 24:45) How can he go about this? There are no rules, but here is a suggestion:
17, 18. (a) Give some suggestions as to how a student could prepare for the weekly Watchtower Study. (b) Give other suggestions that you have found helpful in personal study. (See footnote.)
17 First, read the whole article through, perhaps soon after you get your copy of The Watchtower. Such a preliminary reading may take only 20 minutes, but it will give you a general idea of the main points and the thrust of the article. When the time comes to study the article in earnest, sit down with a Bible and a pen or some kind of marker. Then, read the first paragraph carefully, noticing the arguments and the way the thoughts are developed. Check any scriptures that are cited but not quoted in the paragraph and see if you can discern why they are listed there. Next, read the question for the paragraph and see if you know the answer. Having identified the answer, underscore a few words in the paragraph that will remind you of the answer when you attend the Watchtower Study. In the margin, you may also wish to make short notes about the scriptures you looked up, points you want to do more research on, and so forth.
18 When you have finished the whole article in this way, look through the questions in the teaching box at the end of the article and see if you have grasped the main points. If there are any questions you cannot answer, check back into the article to find the answer for yourself. If you do this a few days before the weekly Watchtower Study, you may find it good to glance over the article on the day of the study to refresh your mind on the material.*
The Need to Meditate
19. How can meditation help to build up a love for Jehovah’s Word?
19 Remember that study should include meditation. Study without meditation is like eating without digesting. Hence, ponder over what you study. Try to relate it to other things that you know. How does it affect your life? How can you use it to help others? (Proverbs 15:28) Learn to pay attention to details. Talk to others about what you learn. Share your new discoveries. (Proverbs 27:17) This, too, will build up the delight you find in the Bible.
20. Describe the deep appreciation that King David had for Jehovah’s revealed Word.
20 King David had outstanding appreciation of Jehovah’s Word. He wrote: “The law of Jehovah is perfect, bringing back the soul. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise. The orders from Jehovah are upright, causing the heart to rejoice; the commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine. The fear of Jehovah is pure, standing forever. The judicial decisions of Jehovah are true; they have proved altogether righteous. They are more to be desired than gold, yes, than much refined gold; and sweeter than honey and the flowing honey of the combs.”—Psalm 19:7-10.
21. What blessings will we reap if we develop a real love for “the things revealed” by Jehovah?
21 By following the counsel of the first psalm, and studying the Bible on a regular basis, you, too, will develop this kind of appreciation for “the things revealed” by Jehovah. And this, in turn, will lead to your enjoying the blessing promised in that psalm for one whose delight is in Jehovah’s Word: “He will certainly become like a tree planted by streams of water, that gives its own fruit in its season and the foliage of which does not wither, and everything he does will succeed. . . . Jehovah is taking knowledge of the way of righteous ones.”—Psalm 1:3, 6.
For suggestions on other aspects of study and how to go about preparing talks, see the Watch Tower publication Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook.
How Would You Explain?
□ Why is it not enough merely to rely on others to teach us God’s Word?
□ What blessings will we receive from studying the Bible?
□ How can time be found to study the Bible?
□ What are some aids to concentration when we are studying?
□ What should be our objective when preparing for the Watchtower Study?
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People have died for reading the Bible
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We should find time to consider God’s Word somewhere in our busy lives