Second Part of Inductive Bible Study – Interpretation

Posted by on Jul 7, 2017 in Bible study | 0 comments

Welcome back to Ruth!

Now, let’s move into the second part of inductive Bible study – INTERPRETATION.

Remember how observation asks the question, “What does this say?” Interpretation asks, “What does this mean?”

At this point, I want you to go back to each chapter and rather than relying on what your Bible may say give your own title to each chapter of Ruth.

In doing this, you review the key events, people, and places in each chapter and base your title for each on the main thing using words from that chapter.

Another thing, I would like for you to do is to pick a key verse from each chapter. This verse should relay the pivotal moment or highlight a major event in the lives of the key people, or it can expound upon an attribute of God. This may be when you get to exercise a bit of license here as your key verse, may be different from that of your neighbor. Usually, the key verse for a chapter goes along with the title you’ve given a chapter. Give it a try.

I understand, this may be a bit uncomfortable for you, because you are not accustomed to doing this. But let me tell you, if you will get in the practice of doing this in the future, the books you read in the Bible will begin to stick better in your mind and you’ll be building up biblical addresses in your memory. It’s a neat thing! Even as I type this I am smiling thinking about inductive studies I’ve done in the past and how they are better sealed in my heart and mind because of doing these things.

Something else that is important to do in this interpretation period is to get a better grasp more of the cultural context in this narrative (or any book in Scripture).

In the case of Ruth, you would do this by understanding what the Bible says about how foreigners (sojourners) were to be treated among God’s people, how widows were to be cared for, what the laws were for settling an estate when a woman was bereft of any male remaining in her lineage. So much pertaining to these very things can be found in the books leading up to Ruth. So go ahead and read all 7 if you don’t mind. I’ll wait…

Silly you, don’t be ridiculous. If you have prior knowledge to these things then draw from your memory bank and make some notes. Otherwise, go to a reliable Bible encyclopedia or look at the cross-references in a Bible that has them. You’ll find more information in commentary, but don’t read too much past those topics above as it will spoil the discovery of other things for you.

Because I like to know meanings of names, I often grab my Bible dictionary for indulging. So go ahead, and look up the meanings of the names of the main people in Ruth. Next, look up the meaning of the key places in Ruth.

As you get to work on these things, pray first. Remember to engage with God in prayer before setting out to study.

Don’t be frustrated that this may be more involved than you are accustomed to regarding studying the greatest words ever penned. What a privilege you and I have to even be able to study them! Share your delight with God in this and share your exhaustion of it, too. Tell him your heart’s desire for even studying the Bible. Ask for his help through the power of that resident tutor Holy Spirit that indwells every Christian. Ask for time to study it and ask him to help you remember it. Ask him to move knowledge from your head to your heart to your hands to live it out.

Until next week, be blessed in your time in the Word. If you have any specific questions, as always, contact me via the form at the end of today’s post.

In summary, your assignments for this week are:

  • Pray as you begin your time of studying and note making each day this week. Secure your necessary resources for the week. If you missed my resource recommendation post, here it is.
  • Assign a title to each chapter of Ruth using words from the chapters
  • Pick a key verse from each chapter of Ruth
  • Get a better grasp on what Scripture says about cultural situations found in Ruth by looking at other books in the Bible using the cross-references next to specific verses, looking at your Bible’s concordance on topics, seeing a Bible encyclopedia, or reading commentary in a study Bible or a commentary on Ruth.
  • Look up meanings of the names of key people and key places in Ruth by doing a biblical word study if you know how, or looking at a Bible dictionary, or an English dictionary.
  • Send any questions you may have by using the contact form below. If you need a phone call to help you, leave your phone number in the message of the contact form, and I will call you.

An update on my dad: he was moved to a physical therapy rehab facility last night. So that’s good! Please pray that he will do the therapy required to regain lost strength and to be able to resume his normal activities at home at the conclusion of therapy’s duration. Please continue to keep him and my mother in your prayers as he is at this facility.





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Observing Observation with Ruth

Posted by on Jul 3, 2017 in Bible study | 0 comments

Here we are back at inductive Bible study using Ruth as our book in helping us learn the basics of this helpful and purposeful method of reading biblical text slowly.

But first, a few words about the object of studying the Bible. I posted this note on Instagram last week and wanted to share the text with you here:

“O B S E R V A T I ON is the first step in inductive study. It’s where you’ll spend the bulk of your time in studying Scripture. 
Most want to rush through or forego this part yearning to find the application for self as their main purpose in studying. Well…that makes little of God and much of self. Another fallacy in studying the Bible is the attempt to find passages of scripture to fit one’s own needs, a snatch and patch approach, so to speak. This causes the reader to ignore context and again makes little of God and much of self. Lastly, we are part of a world that yearns for quick everything, even quick Bible study among the body of Christ. So please take your time to invest in slowly and methodically reading Ruth with me as I share the basics of inductive Bible study at Gracious Goodness.” 

Observation takes time and effort. But it is time well spent. I encourage you to make the reading of Scripture a priority as you set out to better understand the Word, but more importantly, as you nurture the need to worship God.

As we once again open Ruth for this week’s assignments, I encourage you to pray that God would open the eyes of your understanding even in a small historical narrative that doesn’t seem to have much to say about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I hope that you went through the weekend opening Ruth and finding answers to the observation questions from Friday’s post.

You should have the key people, places, and happenings firmly in your mind. But not so firmly that you don’t see God at work.

Know that we are not done with this first part of inductive study. Now, we set out to further observe each chapter more closely paying better attention to the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY. We’ll pick up on the HOW later.

Grab your text, your pencils, a pen, and notepaper. Participate in the following prompts answering as directed:

  • Who are the main people in this chapter? (Hint, they remain through all 4 chapters.) Mark these in different ways (underlining or circling each in different colors is fine, or at least be aware of them and don’t worry about marking them). Make a list of things you learn about them on that notebook paper or in the margins of the text.
  • Is God mentioned at all in this chapter? If so, in what capacity? If you learn anything about him, jot it down.
  • What are the highlights and low points in the lives of the main people in this chapter?
  • What situations do they face/confront?
  • Write down in a bullet list the sequence of events in this chapter.
  • Underline in green the names of  geographical locations.
  • Jot down some details about the historical context of Ruth as found in chapter 1 (the general time when this is occurring) and in finding out more about the history during the days of the judges using a commentary or watching the video below.

In the midst of cycling days of obedience, disobedience, God’s judgment, appointing judges, and repentance, then a repeat of it all over and over, is a story tucked into the timeline of the days of the judges telling of a family in the days of famine looking over the fence at greener grass far away.

Get busy on chapter 1 of Ruth. As we read chapter by chapter,  observation is more specific. Read that chapter and pay special attention to the Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

These are the basics of observation in a nutshell, especially when reading historical narrative.

You now have in your hands (or on this screen, at least) how to complete the other 3 chapters of Ruth from the standpoint of observation. So go ahead and do that with each of those remaining chapters.

In addition, note any other words that are key to the storyline of Ruth. I’ll give you one:redeemer“. When you come across that word, mark it with a circle or underline it in a specific color consistently. Do the same with any other words you believe to key. In Ruth, there shouldn’t be too many so as to not clutter up your text with too much color and to help you succeed at practicing this method.

I’ll be back Friday with the next component of inductive study – Interpretation which asks the question, “What does this mean?”

Shoot me a question if you have one in the comment section below.

PS – Pray for my Daddy (Mr. Dickson) as he continues to recuperate in hospital from surgery June 26. My family and I covet your prayers for his appetite to improve and strength to return via various therapies. Thank you.




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Observing Ruth

Posted by on Jun 30, 2017 in Bible study | 0 comments

Welcome back to Ruth. It has been a week since your first assignment to listen to and read the little jewel in its entirety. Hopefully, you have all your supplies, too. By the way, in case you missed it, I wrote about my favorite tools and resources Monday.

Let’s dive in…

As you think about this small book, here are some questions I want you to answer right off the bat (grab your paper and pen and make a few notes). Work through these over the weekend and then Monday, we’ll move into our next assignment.

Read all of Ruth. What type of biblical genre is Ruth? Right now, watch the video below and make a note on your page about the primary literary style of Ruth.

  • Now, having read and listened to Ruth so much this past week, jot down some notes about when this book takes place? Although you may not have specifics of the year, at least mark the general time of this book.
  • Go back and list the key people in this book.
  • Summarize in one sentence the gist of this book. What’s it about?
  • What are the geographical spots on the map where this is occurring?
  • Make a list of some of the key words and/or phrases that you have seen. Key words and phrases are most often repeated and important words. No need to think of a ton of words here, but what are some important words that have grabbed your attention?
  • Why would this book have made it into the canon of Scripture? If you’ve ever ventured through Matthew, you may have scorned the first 17 verses, but oh my, these are really neat verses in Scripture. Go there and read them and note who you see.
  • Remember the metanarrative of Scripture? That the Bible reveals that promise about the offspring he made to Adam and Eve and reveals the fulfillment a morsel at a time over the course of 66 books? See Genesis 3 and read about the promised offspring. Who is this offspring? Well, each book of Scripture begins to enlighten us as to the one who is THE offspring. It’s not Cain and Abel, nor any of Eve’s other children. And so we read about Noah, then Abraham, and then the next book in the Bible and find out it’s not Moses, Aaron, nor Miriam nor any of their children, and so the books go…until God reveals more things about this offspring (aka Messiah). It’s fascinating and it’s life altering and I’m all excited! So, how does Ruth fit into the meta narrative of Scripture?
  • Lastly, what are some questions you have about this book? If you have some, list them. Also, are there any words you don’t quite understand? Jot them down and look up their meaning in a Bible or English dictionary.

Make sure you have the rest of your supplies ready for Monday at which point I’ll return for further observation into Ruth.

And after all this reading about gleaning in the fields and harvesting of grain, I’m craving a nice warm fibrous loaf of homemade bread and a smidgen of honey butter…






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