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IV. Read the books of Scripture in order.

We often forget that the Scripture is a book and in many important ways it is book like any other book. There are long stories, like Genesis. There are letters, like 1 Peter. There are poems, like Psalm 23. While these stories and poems and letters deserve our most dedicated attention, those who intend to be serious in their reading often read so closely that they miss the over all flow. This is made worse by chapter and verse markers.

Such detached reading does serious damage to understanding. I have seen this very often with counselors who snatch a line they think useful to a matter at hand and then rob it of its value. There is a reason that Peter and Paul have long discussions before and after their marriage counsel. When a counselor (or a preacher) parachutes into the middle of Ephesians or 1 Peter and starts giving instruction to a family, they can easily miss the context in the instruction is to be given. They can distort the meaning and hurt the one they aim to help.

And thus, in reading, it is best as a general rule to just read the story or letter or whatnot:

Though occurrences may sometimes divert our method, yet, for a constant course, it is best to observe an order in reading. Order is a help to memory. We do not begin to read a friend’s letter in the middle.

Thomas Watson, “How We May Read the Scriptures with Most Spiritual Profit,” in The Bible and the Closet: Or How We May Read the Scriptures with the Most Spiritual Profit; and Secret Prayer Successfully Managed, ed. John Overton Choules (Boston: Gould, Kendall and Lincoln, 1842), 21.