How to Approach Difficult Parts of Scripture

How to Approach Difficult Parts of Scripture

by: Scott Dickson

I love the Bible. I love reading it, studying it, meditating on it, teaching it, and getting to write about it. My happy place is sitting in a coffee shop with an open Bible and an open journal next to me, ready to write down my thoughts about what I read or simply to write down verses that stood out to me. 

 

But if I may state the obvious: there are parts of the Bible that aren’t easy to read. Some parts I have found to be confusing, strange, or—dare I say it—kind of boring (I’m looking at you, 1 Chronicles 1–9!). Maybe you have found this to be true as well. There might be parts that resonate deeply with you, such as the Psalms, the Gospels, or the New Testament letters. But then we may struggle to know what to do with Leviticus or Ezekiel’s lengthy description of a restored temple in Ezekiel 40–48. How should we approach sections of Scripture that we find more challenging to read? 

 

How to Approach Challenging Sections of Scripture

 

I have found Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16–17 helpful to remember when reading these sections. In these verses, Paul writes: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Notice the effect of God’s Word in our lives: it teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us in righteousness, all so that we would be “equipped for every good work.” In short, Scripture transforms our lives. 

 

But notice also how Paul says that “All” Scripture does this. If we’re honest, many of us—myself included!—find it very easy to see how, for example, Ephesians is inspired by God and is profitable, or how the Psalms equip us for every good work. But the remarkable thing about Paul’s words here is that God intends for our lives to be impacted by every part of His Word, even the parts that cause us to fall behind on our Bible reading plan. 

Now, to be clear, it will not always be immediately clear how God wants us to be impacted by what we’re reading! I once heard a pastor say that when it comes to Bible reading, diamonds are not always found on the surface of the ground. Sometimes you have to dig for them, and this is where tools like a good study Bible (and patience) will come in handy. 

Diamonds are not always found on the surface | TDGC

But when we truly embrace and believe 2 Timothy 3:16–17, it will change the posture with which we come to these difficult sections. It will help us to approach all portions of the Bible with the assumption that God wants to use it to encourage us and form us. We will read books like Obadiah and ask not, “Is God trying to tell me something through this book?” but rather, “What is God trying to tell me through it?” When we approach all of Scripture with the assumption that there is treasure to be found there, we will approach it with patience, determination, and an eager expectation to hear from God, even when reading books whose treasures aren’t immediately obvious. 

 

So when you come to a section of the Bible that might be challenging to read, approach it with a humble, teachable posture. According to 2 Timothy 3:16–17, God wants to communicate something to you through it, so come expectant. Trust that He wants you to be formed by it. And then, as the psalmist does, pray that God would open your eyes, that you “may contemplate wondrous things from [His] instruction” (Psalm 119:18). 

Come expectant | TDGC

 

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