I recommend choosing just one of these questions, maybe two; then practice using that question (or questions) on a regular basis. As you will notice from the sample study below, the answers to each of these five questions end up expressing esentially the same truth. (They ought to do this, because the passage has one basic meaning as intended by God.) The different questions are simply different ways of approaching the passage and of organizing one’s thoughts.
With the question in mind before reading, answering the question during or after reading requires just a few extra minutes. Those few minutes, however, can make a huge difference in the amount of profit received from the time in the Word. The difference may not be obvious after one or two days, but it will emerge when this thoughtful examination is done on a regular basis. Writing down the answers is highly recommended – not only because it helps the reader to clearly formulate his answers, but also because it provides a ready reminder of truth and a potential springboard for future study.
The paragraphs below show what answers to the five questions might look like when applied to Psalm 23.
Why did God put this passage in the Bible? What is it supposed to teach?This passage illustrates how completely God meets every need of His children. It shows how He meets practical needs and how He gives guidance, protection, and comfort. God gives blessings beyond mere needs, and His wonderful care will never end. The passage teaches Christians that they have a caring God they can trust and depend on.
How can I summarize this passage in one to three sentences?God is like a shepherd who carefully cares for his sheep. God supplies His children with everything they need and keeps them safe in the face of danger. God’s blessings extend from this life into eternity.
What does this passage teach me about God?God cares for me. God meets all my needs. God leads me in good and peaceful paths. God strengthens me when I am weary. God is with me in the darkest times. God gives me comfort. No threat or enemy can stop God from doing what He wants to do. God gives blessings to His children. God gives blessing in this life and for eternity.
What things can I pray based on this passage?Father, supply X physical need that I have. Lead me peacefully. Restore my soul, as I am fainting. Guide me so that I will stay on the right path and not stray from You. Walk with me through this very frightening and threatening stage of life. Help me not to fear the situation I face.
Father, thank You for supplying X need. Thank You for Your guidance. Thank You for protecting me. Thank You for the many blessings You have given me. Thank You for the blessings of heaven I can look forward to.
How should this passage impact my life?I need to look to God as the source that can meet my needs. I need to stop worrying about how the money/food/clothing/car/house/job will be provided. I need to trust God and have confidence that He will supply. In the decisions that are before me, I need to look to God for guidance, asking that He would show me the path that is pleasing to Him. Instead of being afraid in this time of unemployment/illness/opposition/uncertainty/family struggle, I need to be aware of God’s presence with me and of His ability to protect. I need to thank God for the many blessings that He showers on me every day.
Each of these answers is fairly brief, but there is not a right or wrong length. Someone else’s answers might be more concise or more thorough. A single statement above could be expanded into a full paragraph or even a lengthy discussion with God. There doesn’t have to be a limit. Prolonged focus simply means deeper interaction and communion with God.
“Blessed are You, O LORD; teach me Your statutes.” Psalm 119:12 (NASB)