Each week we will study a particular Bible character and Bible story that highlight a biblical principle relating to our walk with God. This section focuses on observation, the foundation of inductive Bible study. These observation questions are designed to encourage you to notice the details in the story. Ideally, you will enter the story, step into the biblical world, and identify with the people you are reading about.
Occasionally, I will ask other types of questions to stimulate your curiosity. I am not as concerned with your exact answer as I am with your thinking through an issue. Because of the length of the study, I am leaving out some interesting interpretive issues that do not directly relate to the topic of walking with God. I encourage you to delve further into any questions that are raised in your mind by your study of these passages. I would be thrilled to know that you went to the church library or a Christian bookstore to learn more about a particular subject!
The second section in each lesson focuses on interpretation, the second step in inductive Bible study. I have chosen a principle in each story for our focus on walking with God. Since we are dealing with narratives, special guidelines apply. First, repetition is the most reliable guide to the interpretation of a story. What is repeated in the story is what we need to know in order to understand it.1 Second, we look to see if that principle is taught in other passages of Scripture. Not everything in a story applies to us today. Any interpretation must be in agreement with the rest of the Bible.2 Interpretation is the bridge between the biblical world and our present-day contexts or situations.3.
These sections focus on application, the third step in inductive Bible study. The goal of studying Scripture is not knowledge but a transformed life. That transformed life occurs as we apply the biblical principles we have studied. In the parenting section, I will give an example or I may ask you to share ideas with the other members of your Bible study or small group. Most of the ideas I am giving you came out of a Bible study or small group in which moms shared parenting philosophy and parenting tips. Take an idea, change it a little, and make it work for you!
I began this study wondering what the individual biblical characters believed about God and how this belief impacted each one’s life. So as I studied, I looked for what the story said about God. How did God reveal Himself? What did the characters say about God? What did the narrator tell me that God did? This section highlights what I found.
Several years ago, I looked at how God had changed my life and what He had used to make me more like Him. I realized that learning about, dwelling on, and reminding myself of the sovereignty of God had made me less fearful. As I went against my emotions and gut feelings and was obedient to Him in spite of my fears, my faith was strengthened.
As you look at the names and descriptions of God from these stories, allow them to penetrate your heart. Hold God’s hand as you walk up a steep slope or cross a ravine. Cling to Him with every fiber of your being. Remind yourself of who He is!
Thus says the LORD,
"Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.”
Jeremiah 6:16a (NASB)
1 Leland Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 59.
2 Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation. (Colorado Springs: Victor, 1991), 284-5.
3 Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature, 288.