How to study the Bible and enjoy it-4

James K Sebastian

February 22, 2016


Bible clearly states that righteousness and justice are the foundations of God’s throne (Psalm 89:14). It further states that the LORD is fair in all his ways (Psalms 145:17).

The Lord himself proclaimed that He is merciful, gracious, and abundant in goodness truth.

However, some of the incidents and statements in the Old Testament puzzle the reader because they contradict the nature of our Heavenly Father as revealed in both the Old and the New Testaments.

The annihilation of the armies of Pharaoh, the flood during the time of Noah, and the tower of Babel are few of them.

To understand such passages, one must understand the idiomatic expressions of the Hebrew language. An idiom is a usage of words in a culture which have meaning different from its dictionary meaning. For example, when someone says, “I hit the sack early last night,” It means he or she went to bed early.

In the Old Testament, God uses the “Idiom of Permission,” to conceal the enemy.  In his book, “Figures of Speech used in the Bible”, E W Bullinger explains the Idiom of permission in this manner: “Active verbs were used by the Hebrews to express not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do.”

So, when we read “God killed someone,” it means God allowed him to be killed. When anyone breaks the law of God, he or she gets the just wages of their action (see Romans 3:23). In other words, the enemy kills, harms, hurts, and destroys.

Why does God speak in this manner? One of the reasons, I believe, is not to glorify the devil. God commanded His people, in Exodus 23:13 not to take name of other gods. So, in the OT, the enemy is named only in few instances. The adversary was not revealed until Jesus Christ came to this earth.

Passages such as Job1:21, 1 Sam 2:6, Isaiah 45:7 should be understood in the light of the idiom of permission.

2Sa 24:1 The LORD became angry with Israel again, so he provoked David to turn against Israel. He said, “Go, count Israel and Judah.” (GW)

In the above passage, God apparently provoked David. Now read the parallel passage in the book of Chronicles.

1Ch 21:1 Satan attempted to attack Israel by provoking David to count the Israelites. GW

The books of Chronicles are written from God’s point of view in contrast to the books of Kings and Samuel which are from man’s point of view. Therefore, the passage in the book of Chronicles nails the culprit, so to speak, while in the book of Samuel, he is not named. Please understand all the books under discussion are inspired by the Holy Spirit.

A difficult passage in Luke 22:31-32 becomes easy and clear, when we study it in the light of what we have learned so far.


I have a collection of books on various subjects. When I read a book, I keep my bible handy. I try to put everything I read through a litmus test of the Bible. In some cases, I do not read a book until I have first studied the subject on my own.

However, sometimes, a book sitting on my book rack catches my attention.  A word in the title of the book keeps flashing before my eyes. In such cases I pull it out of the rack and begin to read. As I read along (I do not always begin from chapter one), I am prompted to pause at a certain place, and Holy Spirit downloads a new insight or a complete teaching on the same subject.

You may be led to a different, yet unique experience, as you study the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Resources such as Orientalisms of the Bible, Manners and customs in the Bible, and Figures of Speech used in the Bible also can help in our study the Word. We will talk about them some other day.


Study Bibles and chain reference Bibles provide a wealth of cultural, social, historical, and geographical information. However, the interpretations they provide do reflect the doctrinal position of the publishers or editorial board.


We study the Bible to know the author, God, and His ways. When I say, “Know,” I use it in the way it is used in the Eastern Culture. That is, to experience something or someone by association and application. So, apply the truths as you learn them.

The Word will transform (Rom 8:29; 12:2) and set you free (John 8:31-32)