My son heads back to school today, so in honor of that, let's review the basics of good Bible study. In school, you start with the ABCs. When you study, you always come back to the OIAs (Awkward, I know) Observation, Interpretation, and Application. (At least they all end in 'ation'.)
Observation – What does the Bible SAY?
Let's look at a familiar example. "The Lord is my shepherd."
The- There is only one.
Lord- Ruler over all
My- personal pronoun
Shepherd-someone who tends sheep.
Interpretation – What does it MEAN?
Don't let this part throw you. You interpret Scripture all the time without realizing it. For instance, no one has to tell you you are not a sheep and God is not really a sheep-herder. Your command of language has already told you this is a metaphor, a word picture designed to make a point. So in comparing God to a shepherd, what does this mean? God selflessly cares for our every need. He protects us.
Putting that interpretation with what we observed, we find out The One Sovereign Ruler over all presently, currently takes care of me, personally.
Application – What do I DO?
Now that we know what the Bible SAYS and what that MEANS, how should we live as a result? Is there something that I need to change? If I know that God is taking care of me, maybe I won't worry about a rumor of layoffs, or test results from the doctor. Maybe I'll stop trying to do everything myself. Maybe I'll sleep better at night.
As you study this week, take some time and review those OIAs and see what you learn!