My daughter always gets me laughing. One day we went to get some ice cream from the local Dairy Queen and I barely could leave the drive thru area. My daughter read the cup and it said, “Flip over.” This was some sort of marketing thing Dairy Queen did where they flip over the cup for a moment to show that the Blizzard is made properly.
My daughter took the ice cream and turned it upside down. My son found it hilarious and took out his phone to take a quick photo and my daughter; oblivious to what could happen, she posed for the photo, continuing to hold the ice cream upside down. The drive thru attendant stared puzzled. I was concerned that the ice cream I just purchased was going to spill all over the interior of the car. What was she doing?
My son soon told my daughter that she misunderstood what “flip over” meant, that you aren’t supposed to just hold it like that so long. The workers do a quick flip over. We all had a good laugh. It took awhile to leave the area because I couldn’t stop laughing. It provided a good laugh but also a warning of caution. It is so easy to read something and take it one way, when it is meant to be taken another way. This is true for many things including God’s Word. It is important to read Scripture in context and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You may find yourself flipping over a cup, when you should simply turn it around.
“But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14 [NLT]
“They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.” – Nehemiah 8:8 [NIV]
I love this scene. They were gathered together reading God’s Word, and there were actually people there trying to make sure that the people understood what was being read to them. Some people cannot read. Some people cannot understand what they read. They may pronounce the words properly. They may be able to read everything on the page, but they might not understand what they just read. The comprehension is important. The NLT says “clearly explained the meaning” and “helping the people understand each passage.” Each passage. I just love this.
It is important for us to understand what we read, whether it is a letter from our insurance provider, our bank statements, an article in the newspaper, a work memo… and it is crucial that we understand what the Bible says. We can read it every day, but we need to be able to understand it to actually apply it.
If you notice in Nehemiah 8, first they read the Law, then they interpret the Law, and then they apply the Law. This is what Bible reading is all about. This is exactly how we are to read our Bibles. First we read His word, then we see what God has to say to us in the context of the passage, and then we then apply it to our lives—we do what He says. Read – Understand – Apply! That’s why it is important that we understand. If you don’t understand, don’t hide and pretend; seek out some godly assistance, purchase a reputable Bible commentary, and pray about it. Read – Understand – Apply!