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V. Get a right understanding of Scripture. Psalm 119:73: “Give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.” Though there are some knots in Scripture which are not easily untied, yet things essential to salvation the Holy Ghost hath plainly pointed out to us.

Not everything in the Scripture is easy to understand. There are many reason for this. First, there are thousands of years between us and the events described. A reference to a custom or place may simply be unavailable to us.

Second, some concepts are difficult: the difficulty may not lie in the explanation but in the difficulty of the thing itself. The Scripture calls to an understanding and life which is not “normal” in the world as it currently stands. The Scripture speaks of something fundamentally different than what we would normally experience: thus there are difficulties in the thing itself: It would be like explaining to a stone what it feels like to fly.

Third, some difficulty lies with us. Sometimes the difficulty is of a more intellectual nature. Certain ideas or phrases may be harder for some to follow than others. Not all people are born with the same abilities. (Commentaries and sermons help here.)

Fourth, some difficulties are moral. Hebrews 5:14. It was common for ancient theologians to think that piety was the most important element in theological study. One cannot understand another human being well without a certain affinity. Communion with God and a heart which longs for holiness will not be separated.

Fifth, some-things are difficult for our good. We profit by needing to struggle with the text, just like an athlete profits from a strong opponent.

Watson concludes:

The knowledge of the sense of the Scriptures is the first step to profit. In the Law, Aaron was first to light the lamps, and then to burn the incense; the lamp of the understanding must be first lighted before the affections can be inflamed. Get what knowledge you can by comparing scriptures, by conferring with others, by using the best annotators. Without knowledge the Scripture is a sealed book; every line is too high for us; and if the word shoot above our head, it can never hit our heart.

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), 21–22.