How to read Scripture with most spiritual
by Thomas Watson
1. Remove those things that will PREVENT you
(1) remove the love of every sin;
(2) take heed of the thorns which will choke the Word. These
Ďthornsí are those covetous cares that keep our minds on material matters when
they should be concentrating on spiritual things;
(3) take heed of joking with, or making light of Scripture.
2. Prepare your HEARTS before the reading of the Word (1 Sam
(1) Summon your thoughts to attend to this serious work;
(2) cleanse yourself of the unclean affections which take away the desire
3. Read the Scriptures with REVERENCE. Think about every line
you read. Realize that God is speaking to you!
4. Read the Bible with a METHOD, perhaps in order. Order and
method are a help to memory.
5. Get a right UNDERSTANDING of Scripture (Ps 119.73). Compare
texts with each other, talk to others, use other books and helps.
6. Read the Word with SERIOUSNESS. It is the savor of life to
those who read it with seriousness, for it deals with everything that is most
dear to us. Consider its subject matter--eternal life and death, heaven and
hell, the labor of faith. Who can read these things and not be serious? Read,
therefore, with a solemn and composed spirit.
7. Labor to REMEMBER what you read. Satan will try to steal the
Word from our minds; we should guard it jealously. If we cannot remember what
we read--our reading will be of no use to us.
8. MEDITATE upon what you read (Ps 119.15). This means to fix
your thoughts upon what you are reading. Meditation without reading is
foolish; reading without meditation is empty.
9. Come to read with HUMBLE hearts, acknowledging your
unworthiness to have God reveal Himself to you in His Word. An arrogant man
who feels he has nothing to learn, is unlikely to gain any profit.
10. BELIEVE that what you read is the very Word of God, that it
is all divinely inspired (2 Tim 3.16). All the countless excellencies of
Scripture testify that it is of God. Note the effect that the Bible has upon
the hearts of men, now and throughout history. You will not obey something
that you do not believe.
11. Highly PRIZE the Scriptures (Ps 119.72). Treasure it above
all other books. It contains the things we must believe and do. It is the
breeder and feeder of grace. A believer is born and fed by the Word of truth.
12. Get a fervent LOVE for the Word. Prizing refers to
the judgment of a man, but love means also the affections. We should
delight to be in the pages of Godís Word; we must learn to delight in its
comforts and in its reproofs and corrections.
13. Come to read the Word with HONEST hearts:
(1) read with hearts willing to know the whole counsel of God, and not
willing to have any truth concealed. You cannot pick and choose Scriptures;
(2) read in order that you might be made better. The Word is the means of
our sanctification. Go to Godís Word to find the truths that will make you
more like Christ.
14. Learn to APPLY Scripture; take every word as if it were
spoken personally to yourselves. When the Word talks of the punishment of sin,
it means my sin; when it tells me of duty, it means my duty.
15. Observe the COMMANDS of the Word, as well as its promises.
Use the commands to direct you, and the promises to comfort you. Do not look
more to comfort than to duty, or you might find your comforts false.
16. Let your thoughts dwell most upon the most USEFUL parts of Scripture.
Although all parts are excellent, some are more emphatic or vital than others.
Spend more time reading of faith and the new man in Christ--than in the
genealogies of dead kings!
17. COMPARE yourselves with the Word; see how Scripture and your hearts
agree. Is your heart a mirror of the Word? Is the Word written upon
your heart? By comparing ourselves with the Word, we get to know the true
state of our souls, and see what evidences we have for heaven.
18. Take special notice of those Scriptures that speak to your particular
CASE. Pay careful attention to those paragraphs of Scripture that
are most appropriate to your particular situation, such as affliction,
desertion, and sin. In reading, read all the Bible, but mark those verses
which apply most to your own self.
19. Take special notice of the EXAMPLES in Scripture, and make
the examples living sermons to yourself.
(1) Observe the examples of Godís judgment upon sinners: they are
warnings, lamps to keep us from the rocks;
(2) observe the examples of Godís mercy to saints: they are props to
our faith and spurs to holiness.
20. Do not stop reading the Bible until you find your heart WARMED.
Read the Word not only as a history, but strive to be heartily affected by it.
21. Determine to PRACTICE whatever you read. "Give me
understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart." Psalms
119:34. Christians should be walking Bibles, living the truths written. The
Word is not only a guide to knowledge, but a guide to obedience. A holy
reading of Godís Word results in our fleeing from sins and practicing the
22. Make right use of CHRIST in His prophetic office. It is one
thing to read a promise, another really to know it to be true. If we would
read with profit, we must have Christ as our teacher: when Christ taught, He
opened not only menís eyes, but their understandings (Lk 24.45).
23. Be at all the appointed SERVICES of the church, and spend much time in
hearing the Word preached. Be diligent in attending upon a
Biblical, faithful ministry. Ministers are Godís interpreters; it is their
work to open up and expound dark places of Scripture.
24. PRAY that God would make you profit (Is 48.17). It is when
Godís Spirit joins Himself to the Word that it takes effect in our hearts and
(1) Do not be content with simply reading the Scriptures, but labor to find
some spiritual benefit and profit. Get the Word inscribed upon your
(2) If you do profit from your reading, be sure to adore the grace of God.
Bless God that He has not only given you His Word, but some ability to
If you struggle to profit from your reading, then take note of the
(1) You can profit from reading the Scriptures even if you do not attain to
the level of others. Do not judge yourself according to the standard of
others. The Lord called it all good ground--whether it brought forth thirty,
sixty or a hundred-fold (Mt 13.8); so you may not get as much profit as
others, but the profit you do get is still most worthwhile.
(2) You can still profit from reading the Word, even if you are slow to
understand. You may even have a weak mind--but strong affections. A weak
understanding can keep you from sin, as weak sight can keep a man from falling
into deep water. If you have some vision, you cannot be all blind.
(3) You can profit from reading the Scriptures although you may not have an
excellent memory. You can have a good heart, without having a good memory.
Also, even if you donít remember all that you read, you can remember the most
important part. The lamp burns even when it is not full of oil; our hearts can
burn with love when our memories are not full of Scripture.