Follow the Royal Pattern
“He must write in a book for himself a copy of this law . . . And it must continue with him, and he must read in it all the days of his life.”—DEUTERONOMY 17:18, 19.
1. A Christian might want to be like whom?
YOU may hardly think of yourself as a king or a queen. What faithful Christian and student of the Bible would imagine himself or herself acting with royal authority, like good Kings David, Josiah, Hezekiah, or Jehoshaphat? Yet, you can and should be like them in at least one special way. What is that? And why should you want to be like them in that regard?
2, 3. What did Jehovah foresee regarding a human king, and what was such a king to do?
2 In Moses’ day, long before God approved of a human king for the Israelites, He foresaw that the desire to have a king would arise among His people. Therefore he inspired Moses to include relevant instructions in the Law covenant. These were royal instructions, directions for a king.
3 God said: “When you eventually come into the land that Jehovah your God is giving you, . . . and you have said, ‘Let me set a king over myself like all the nations who are round about me’; you should without fail set over yourself a king whom Jehovah your God will choose. . . . And it must occur that when he takes his seat on the throne of his kingdom, he must write in a book for himself a copy of this law . . . And it must continue with him, and he must read in it all the days of his life, in order that he may learn to fear Jehovah his God so as to keep all the words of this law and these regulations by doing them.”—Deuteronomy 17:14-19.
4. What did God’s directions for kings involve?
4 Yes, the king that Jehovah would choose for his worshipers was to make a personal copy of writings that you can find in your Bible. Then the king was to read in that copy daily, repeatedly. That was not a memory exercise. It was study, and it had a beneficial objective. The king who would have Jehovah’s approval needed to pursue such study to develop and retain the right heart attitude. He also needed to study those inspired writings to be a successful, insightful king.—2 Kings 22:8-13; Proverbs 1:1-4.
Learn Like a King
5. King David had what parts of the Bible to copy and read, and how did he feel about this?
5 What do you think that would have entailed for David when he became king over Israel? Well, he would have had to make a copy of the books of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). Think of what an impression it must have made on David’s mind and heart to use his own eyes and hands to write out a copy of the Law. Likely, Moses also penned the book of Job as well as Psalms 90 and 91. Would David have copied these too? Perhaps. Also, he would probably have had available the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. So you can see that King David would have had a good part of the Bible to read and absorb. And you have reason to believe that he did just that, for note his comments about God’s Law, now found at Psalm 19:7-11.
6. How can we be sure that Jesus like his forefather David had an interest in the Scriptures?
6 The Greater David—Jesus, the Son of David—followed a similar pattern. It was Jesus’ custom to go to the local synagogue weekly. There he heard the Scriptures read and commented on. More than that, on occasion Jesus himself publicly read aloud from God’s Word and explained its application. (Luke 4:16-21) You can easily get a sense of his familiarity with the Scriptures. Just read the Gospel accounts, and note how often Jesus said “it is written” or in other ways referred to specific passages of Scripture. Why, in his Sermon on the Mount as recorded by Matthew, Jesus quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures 21 times.—Matthew 4:4-10; 7:29; 11:10; 21:13; 26:24, 31; John 6:31, 45; 8:17.
7. How did Jesus differ from the religious leaders?
7 Jesus followed the counsel at Psalm 1:1-3: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked ones, . . . but his delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night. . . . Everything he does will succeed.” How that contrasted with the religious leaders of his day, who had “seated themselves in the seat of Moses” but who ignored “the law of Jehovah”!—Matthew 23:2-4.
8. Why was it to no avail that the Jewish religious leaders read and studied the Bible?
8 Some might be puzzled, however, by one passage that could be interpreted as though Jesus were discouraging the study of the Bible. At John 5:39, 40, we read what Jesus said to some in his day: “You are searching the Scriptures, because you think that by means of them you will have everlasting life; and these are the very ones that bear witness about me. And yet you do not want to come to me that you may have life.” By that comment Jesus was not discouraging his Jewish listeners from studying the Scriptures. Rather, he was showing up their insincerity or their inconsistency. They realized that the Scriptures could guide them to everlasting life, but the very Scriptures that they were searching also should have led them to the Messiah, Jesus. Nonetheless, they refused to accept him. Studying was thus of no profit because they were not sincere, teachable.—Deuteronomy 18:15; Luke 11:52; John 7:47, 48.
9. What fine example did the apostles and earlier prophets set?
9 How different the picture was with Jesus’ disciples, including the apostles! They studied “the holy writings, which are able to make [one] wise for salvation.” (2 Timothy 3:15) In this they were like the earlier prophets who made “a diligent inquiry and a careful search.” Those prophets did not consider that search to be just one zealous burst of study for a few months or a year. The apostle Peter says that “they kept on investigating,” particularly about the Christ and what glories were involved in his saving role for mankind. In his first letter, Peter 34 times quoted from ten Bible books.—1 Peter 1:10, 11.
10. Why should each of us be interested in Bible study?
10 Clearly, then, careful study of God’s Word was a royal assignment for the kings in ancient Israel. Jesus followed this pattern. And studying it was an undertaking for those who would rule with Christ as kings in heaven. (Luke 22:28-30; Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:10; 20:6) This royal pattern is just as necessary for all today who look forward to blessings on earth under Kingdom rule.—Matthew 25:34, 46.
An Undertaking for Kings and for You
11. (a) What danger as to study exists for Christians? (b) We would do well to ask ourselves what questions?
11 We can emphatically and honestly say that each true Christian should be making his or her own examination of the Bible. That is not something needed merely when you first study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Each of us ought to be resolved to avoid being like some in the apostle Paul’s day who in time slacked off in personal study. They learned “the elementary things of the sacred pronouncements of God,” such as “the primary doctrine about the Christ.” Yet, they did not keep up their studying and thus did not “press on to maturity.” (Hebrews 5:12–6:3) We can accordingly ask ourselves: ‘How do I feel about personal study of God’s Word, whether I have been associated with the Christian congregation for a short while or for decades? Paul prayed that Christians in his day keep “increasing in the accurate knowledge of God.” Do I show that I have the same desire?’—Colossians 1:9, 10.
12. Why is an ongoing fondness for God’s Word important?
12 A key to your having good study habits is that you develop a fondness for God’s Word. Psalm 119:14-16 points to regular, purposeful reflection upon God’s Word as a means by which you come to take delight in it. Again, that is true no matter how long you have been a Christian. Underscoring that, recall the example of Timothy. Though this Christian elder was already serving as “a fine soldier of Christ Jesus,” Paul urged him to do his utmost in “handling the word of the truth aright.” (2 Timothy 2:3, 15; 1 Timothy 4:15) Clearly, doing your “utmost” involves having good study habits.
13. (a) How might more time be made available for Bible study? (b) What adjustments can you see yourself making to gain time for study?
13 A step toward good study habits is regularly to set aside time for Bible study. How have you been doing in that regard? Whatever your honest response is, do you think that you would benefit from spending more time in personal study? ‘How,’ you may wonder, ‘could I arrange time for that?’ Well, some have increased their effective Bible study time by getting up a bit earlier in the morning. They might read the Bible for 15 minutes or work on a personal study project. As another possibility, what about making a slight adjustment in your weekly schedule? For example, if you are in the habit of reading the newspaper most days or watching the evening news on television, would it be possible to skip doing that just one day a week? You could use the time on that day for increased Bible study. If you replaced the news one day and devoted a time slot of 30 minutes or so to personal study, you would gain over 25 hours a year. Imagine the benefits of 25 hours of additional Bible reading or study! Here is another idea: Over the course of the coming week, analyze your activities at the end of each day. See if you can find something that could be omitted or curtailed to allow time for more Bible reading or study.—Ephesians 5:15, 16.
14, 15. (a) Why are goals important when it comes to personal study? (b) What are possible goals involving reading the Bible?
14 What will make studying easier for you, more appealing? Goals. What realistic study goals could you set? For many, an admirable first goal is that of reading the entire Bible. Perhaps up till now, you have read sections of the Bible on occasion and have benefited from it. Could you now make it your determination to read the entire Bible? Your initial goal to that end might be to read the four Gospels, followed by an intermediate goal, such as then reading the rest of the Christian Greek Scriptures. Once you have the resulting satisfaction and benefits, your next goal might be a progressive reading of the books of Moses and the historical books through Esther. Accomplishing that, you will see it is realistic to complete the rest of the Bible. One woman, who was about 65 years old when she became a Christian, wrote on the inside cover of her Bible the date when she began to read it through and later the date when she finished it. She now has five pairs of dates! (Deuteronomy 32:45-47) And rather than read from a computer screen or printout, she had the Bible in her hands.
15 Some who have already met the goal of reading the whole Bible take other steps to make their ongoing study increasingly productive and rewarding. One way is to include selected study material prior to reading each successive Bible book. In “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial” and Insight on the Scriptures, one can find excellent information about the historical setting, style, and potential benefits of each Bible book.*
16. We should avoid following what example as to Bible study?
16 During your study, avoid the approach common to many so-called Bible scholars. They focus excessively on analyzing texts as if the Bible were of human origin. Some of them try to fix a distinct audience for each book or to conjure up an objective and supposed viewpoint that a human author of each book had in mind. The effect of such human reasoning may be that of relegating Bible books to mere history or viewing them as reflecting evolutionary approaches to religion. Other scholars give themselves over to word studies, like the philology of Bible literature. They get more involved in studying word origins and citing Hebrew and Greek meanings than in the import of God’s message. Do you think that such approaches are likely to impart deep and motivating faith?—1 Thessalonians 2:13.
17. Why should we view the Bible as having a message for all?
17 Are the scholars’ conclusions even valid? Is it true that each Bible book has but one key point or is intended for one audience exclusively? (1 Corinthians 1:19-21) The fact is that the books of God’s Word have permanent value for people of all ages and backgrounds. Even if a book was initially addressed to one person, such as Timothy or Titus, or to a particular group, perhaps the Galatians or the Philippians, all of us can and should study those books. They are important for every one of us, and a given book may treat many themes and benefit many audiences. Yes, the message of the Bible is universal, which helps us to understand why it has been translated into the tongues of people around the globe.—Romans 15:4.
Profit for You and Others
18. As you read God’s Word, on what should you be reflecting?
18 As you study, you will find it very profitable to seek an understanding of the Bible as well as to try to see details in their right relationships. (Proverbs 2:3-5; 4:7) What Jehovah has revealed through his Word is intimately connected to his purpose. So as you read, relate the facts and counsel to that. You might ponder how an incident, idea, or prophecy relates to Jehovah’s purpose. Ask yourself: ‘What does this tell me about Jehovah? How does it bear on God’s purpose being carried out through his Kingdom?’ You might also reflect: ‘How can I use this information? Can I employ it in teaching or advising others based on the Scriptures?’—Joshua 1:8.
19. Who benefits as you relate to others the things you learn? Explain.
19 Thinking of others is of benefit in another respect too. In the process of your Bible reading and study, you will learn new things and gain new insights. Try to include these in upbuilding conversation with your family members or others. If you do so at appropriate times and in a modest way, such discussions unquestionably will be rewarding. Your sincere, enthusiastic recounting of what you gained or the aspects you found interesting will likely make such more impressive to others. More than that, it will be of profit to you personally. In what way? Experts have noted that a person will longer remember what he has learned or covered if while it is fresh in his mind, he uses or repeats it, as when relating it to others.*
20. Why is it profitable to read the Bible repeatedly?
20 Each time you read through a Bible book, you certainly will glean new information. You will be struck by passages that previously did not say as much to you. They will take on new meaning. This should underscore that rather than being mere human literature, the books of the Bible are treasures fit for your repeated study and benefit. Remember, a king, such as David, was to “read in it all the days of his life.”
21. What reward can you expect from increasing your study of God’s Word?
21 Yes, those who take the time for deep study of the Bible profit immensely. They gain spiritual gems and insights. Their relationship with God becomes stronger, richer. They also become an increasingly valuable asset to family members, to brothers and sisters in the Christian congregation, and to those who have yet to become worshipers of Jehovah.—Romans 10:9-14; 1 Timothy 4:16.
These study aids are published by Jehovah’s Witnesses and are available in many languages.
Do You Recall?
• What were the kings in Israel supposed to do?
• Jesus and the apostles provided what example as to Bible study?
• What adjustments can you make to increase your time for personal study?
• You should approach a study of God’s Word with what frame of mind?
[Box on page 15]
“In Our Hands”
“If we want . . . a concordance to the Bible, we can find no better medium than the Internet. But if we want to read the Bible, to study it, think about it, reflect upon it, we should have it in our hands, for that is the only way of getting it into our minds and our hearts.”—Gertrude Himmelfarb, distinguished professor emeritus, City University, New York.