From Pleasure and Profit in Bible Study
Don't be afraid to borrow and lend Bibles. Some time ago a man wanted to take my Bible home to get a few things out of it, and when it came back I found this noted in it:
Justification, a change of state, a new standing before God.
Repentance, a change of mind, a new mind about God.
Conversion, a change of life, a new life for God.
Adoption, a change of family, new relationship towards God.
Sanctification, a change of service, separation unto God.
Glorification, a new state, a new condition with God.
In the same hand-writing I found these lines:
Jesus only: the light of heaven is the face of Jesus.
The joy of heaven is the presence of Jesus.
The melody of heaven is the name of Jesus.
The theme of heaven is the work of Jesus.
The employment of heaven is the service of Jesus.
The fulness of heaven is Jesus Himself.
The duration of heaven is the eternity of Jesus.
BIBLE MARKING: IT'S NECESSITY
An old writer said that some books are to be tasted, some to be swallowed, and some to be chewed and digested. The Bible is one that you can never exhaust. It is like a bottomless well: you can always find fresh truths gushing forth from its pages.
Hence the great fascination of constant and earnest Bible study. Hence also the necessity of marking your Bible. Unless you have an uncommon memory, you cannot retain the good
things you hear. If you trust to your ear alone, they will escape you in a day or two; but if you mark your Bible and enlist the aid of your eye, you will never lose them. The same applies to what you read.
Bible marking should be made the servant of the memory. If properly done, it sharpens the memory, rather than blunts it, because it gives prominence to certain things that catch the eye, which by constant reading you get to learn of by heart.
It helps you locate texts.
It saves you the trouble of writing our notes of your addresses. Once in margin, always ready.
I have carried one Bible with me a great many years. It is worth a good deal to me, and I will tell you why; because I have so many passages marked in it, that if I am called upon to speak at any time I am ready. I have little words marked in the margin, and they are a sermon to me. Whether I speak about Faith, Hope, Charity, Assurance, or any subject whatever, it all comes back to me; and however unexpectedly I am called upon to preach, I am always ready. Every child of God ought to be like a soldier, and always hold himself in readiness. If the Queen of England's army were ordered to India tomorrow, the soldier is ready for the journey. But we can not be ready if we do not study the Bible. So whenever you hear a good thing, just put it down, because if it is good for you it will be good for somebody else; and we should pass the coin of heaven around just as we do the coin of the realm.
People tell me they have nothing to say. ''Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.'' Get full of Scripture and then you can't help but say it. It says itself. Keep the world out of your heart by getting full of something else. A man tried to build a flying machine. He made some wings and filled them with gas. He said he couldn't quite fly, but that he was lighter
than the air and it helped him over lots of obstructions. So when you get these heavenly truths, they are lighter than the air down here and help you over trouble.
Bible marking makes the Bible a new book to you. If there was a white birch tree within a quarter of a mile of the home of your boyhood, you would remember it all your life. Mark your Bible, and instead of its being dry and interesting, it will become a beautiful book to you. What you see makes a more lasting impression on your memory than what you hear.
HOW TO MARK AND WHAT TO MARK
There are many methods of marking. Some use six or eight colored inks or pencils. Black is used to mark texts that refer to sin; red, all references to the cross; blue, all references to heaven; and so on. Others invent symbols. When there is any reference to the cross, they put ''t'' in the margin. Some write ''G'', meaning Gospel.
There is danger of overdoing this and making your marks more prominent than the scripture itself. If the system is complicated it becomes a burden, and you are likely to get confused. It is easier to remember the text than the meaning of your marks.
Black ink is good enough for all purposes. I use no other, unless it be red ink to draw attention to ''the blood.''
The simplest way to mark is to underline the words or to make stroke alongside the verse. Another good way is to go over the printed letters with your pen, and make them thicker. The word will then stand out like heavier type. Mark ''only'' in Psalm 62 in this way.
When any word or phrase is oft repeated in a chapter or book, put consecutive numbers in the margin over against the text. Thus, in the second chapter of Habakkuk, we find five ''woes'' against five common sins; (1) verse 6, (2) verse 9, (3) verse 12, (4) verse 15, (5) verse 19. Number the ten plagues
in this way. When there is a succession of promises or charges in a verse, it is better to write the numbers small at the beginning of each separate promise. Thus, there is a seven-fold promise to Abraham in Gen. 12:2-3; ''(1) I will make of thee a great nation, (2) and I will bless thee, (3) and make thy name great; (4) and thou shalt be a blessing; (5) and I will bless them that bless thee, (6) and curse him that curseth thee: (7) and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.'' In Prov. 1:22, we have (1) simple ones, (2) scorners, (3) fools.
Put a ''x'' in the margin against things not generally observed: for example, the laws regarding women wearing men's clothes, and regarding bird-nesting, in Deut. 22:5-6; the sleep of the poor man and of rich man compared, Ecc. 5:12.
I also find it helpful to mark: 1. cross-references. Opposite Gen. 1:1, write ''Through faith, Heb. 11:3'' because there we read ''Through faith we understand that the words were framed by the word of God.'' Opposite Gen. 28:12, write ''An answer to prayer, Gen. 35:3.'' Opposite Matt. 6:33, write ''1 Kings 3:13'' and Luke 10:42,'' which give illustrations of seeking the kingdom of God first. Opposite Gen. 37:7, write Gen. 50:18'' which is the fulfillment of the dream.
2. Railroad connections, that is, connections made by fine lines running across the page. In Daniel 6, connect ''will deliver'' (v. 16), ''able to deliver'' (v. 20), and ''hath delivered'' (v. 5) with ''come and hear'' (v. 16).
3. Variations of the Revised Version: thus Romans 8:26 reads ''the Spirit Himself'' in the R. V., not ''itself.'' Note also marginal readings like Mark 6:19, ''an inward grudge'' instead of ''a quarrel.''
4. Words that have changed their meaning, ''meal'' for ''meat'' in Leviticus. Or where you can explain a difficulty: ''above'' for ''upon'' in Num. 11:31. Or where the English does not bring out the full meaning of the original as happens in the names
of God: ''Elohim'' in Gen. 1:1, ''Jehovah Elohim'' in Gen. 2:4, ''El Shaddai'' in Gen. 17:1, and so on.
5. Unfortunate divisions of chapters. The last verse of John 7 reads ''And every man went unto his own house.'' Chapter 8 begins ''Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.'' There ought to be no division of chapters here.
6. At the beginning of every book write a short summary of its contents, something like the summary given in some Bibles at the head of every chapter.
7. Key words and key verses.
8. Make a note of any text that marks a religious crisis in your life. I once heard Rev. F. B. Meyer preach on 1 Cor. 1:9, and he asked his hearers to write on their Bibles that they were that day ''called unto the fellowship of His Son Christ our Lord.''
When a preacher gives out a text, mark it; as he goes on preaching, put a few words in the margin, keywords that shall bring back the whole sermon again. By that plan of making a few marginal notes, I can remember sermons I heard years and years ago. Every man ought to take down some of the preacher's words and ideas, and go into some lane or by-way, and preach them again to others. We ought to have four ears two for ourselves and two for other people. Then, if you are in a new town, and have nothing else to say, jump up and say: ''I heard someone say so and so''; and men will always be glad to hear you if you give them heavenly food. The world is perishing for lack of it.
Some years ago I heard an Englishman in Chicago preach from a curious text: ''There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise.'' ''Well,'' said I to myself, ''what will you make of these little things? I have seen them a good many times.'' Then he went on speaking: ''The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.''
He said God's people are like the ants. ''Well,'' I thought, ''I have seen a good many of them, but I never saw one like me.'' ''They are like the ants,'' he said, ''because they are laying up treasure in heaven, and preparing for the future; but the world rushes madly on, and forgets all about God's command to lay up for ourselves incorruptible treasures.''
''The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make these their houses in the rocks.'' He said, ''The conies are very weak things; if you were to throw a stick at one of them you could kill it; but they are very wise, for they build their houses in rocks, where they are out of harm's way. And God's people are very wise, although very feeble; for they build on the Rock of Ages, and that Rock is Christ.'' "Well,'' I said, ''I am certainly like the conies.''
Then came the next verse: ''The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands.'' I wondered what he was going to make of that. ''Now God's people,'' he said, ''have no king down here. The world said, 'Caesar is our king'; but he is not our King; our King is the Lord of Hosts. The locusts went out by bands; so do God's people. Here is a Presbyterian band, here an Episcopalian band, here is a Methodist band, and so on; but by and by the great King will come and catch up all these separate bands, and they will all be one; one fold and one Shepherd.'' And when I heard that explanation, I said; ''I would be like the locusts.'' I have become so sick, my friends, of this miserable sectarianism, that I wish it could all be swept away.
''Well,'' he went on again, ''the spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in king's palaces.'' When he got to the spider, I said, ''I don't like that at all; I don't like the idea of being compared to a spider.'' ''But,'' he said, ''If you go into a king's palace, there is the spider hanging on his gossamer web, and looking down with scorn and contempt on the gilded salon; he is laying hold of things above. And so every child of God ought to be like spider, and lay hold of the unseen things of God.
You see, then, my brethren, we who are God's people are like the ants, the conies, the locusts, and the spiders, little things, but exceeding wise.'' I put that down in the margin of my Bible, and the recollection of it does me as much good now as when I first heard it.
A friend of mine was in Edinburgh and he heard one of the leading Scotch Presbyterian ministers. He had been preaching from the text, ''Every Eye shall see Him,'' and he closed up by saying: ''Yes, every eye. Adam will see Him, and when he does he will say: ''This is He who was promised to me in that dark day when I fell; Abraham will see Him and will say: 'This is He whom I saw afar off; but now face to face'; Mary will see Him, and she will sing with new interest that magnificat. And I, too, shall see Him, and when I do, I will sing: 'Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.' ''
Turn to Exodus 6:6, 7, 8. In these verses we find seven ''I wills.''
I will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians.
I will rid you out of their bondage.
I will redeem you with a stretched-out arm.
I will be to you a God.
I will bring you unto the land (of Canaan).
I will give it to you for a heritage.
Again: Isaiah 41:10. ''Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God, I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.'' Mark what God says:
He is with His servant.
He is his God.
He will strengthen.
He will help.
He will uphold.
Again: Psalm 103:2: ''Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.'' If you can not remember them all, remember what you can. In the next three verses there are five things:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities.
Who healeth all thy diseases.
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction.
Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies.
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things.
We can learn some things about the mercy of the Lord from this same Psalm:
v. 4 Its quality, ''tender.''
v. 8 Its measure, ''plenteous.''
v. 11 Its magnitude, ''great,'' according to the height of the heaven above the earth.'' See margin.
v. 17 Its duration, ''from everlasting to everlasting.''
Twenty-third Psalm. I suppose I have heard as many good sermons on the twenty-third Psalm as on any other six verses in the Bible. I wish I had begun to take notes upon them years ago when I heard the first one. Things slip away from you when you get to be fifty years of age. Young men had better go into training at once.
With me, the Lord.
Beneath me, green pastures.
Beside me, still waters.
Before me, a table.
Around me, mine enemies.
After me, goodness and mercy.
Ahead of me, the house of the Lord.
''Blessed is the day,'' says an old divine, ''when Psalm twenty-three was born!'' It has been more used than almost any other passage in the Bible.
v. 1 A happy life.
v. 4 A happy death.
v. 6 A happy eternity.
Take Psalm 102: 6-7: ''I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. I watch and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop.'' It seems strange until you reflect that a pelican carries its food with it, that the owl keeps its eyes open at night, and that the sparrow watches alone. So the Christian must carry his food with him the Bible and he must keep his eyes open and watch alone.
Turn to Isaiah 32, and mark four things that God promises in verse 2: ''And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.'' There we have:
The hiding place from danger.
The cover from the tempest.
Rivers of water.
The Rock of Ages.
In the third and fourth verses of the same chapter: ''And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.'' We have eyes, ears, heart and tongue, all ready to pay homage to the King of Righteousness.
Now turn into the New Testament, John 4:47-53.
The noble heard about Jesus.
went unto Him.
knew that his prayer was answered.
Again: Matthew 11:28-30:
''Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.''
Someone has said these verses contain the only description we have of Christ's heart.
Something to do, come unto Jesus.
Something to leave, your burden.
Something to take, His yoke.
Something to find, rest unto your soul.
Again: John 14:6: ''I am the way, the truth, and the life.''
The way, follow me.
The truth, learn of me.
The life, abide in me.
Do not buy a Bible that you are unwilling to mark and use. An interleaved Bible gives more room for notes.
Be precise and concise: for example, Neh. 13:18: ''A warning from history.''
Never mark anything because you saw it in some one else's Bible. If it does not come home to you, if you do not understand it, do not put it down.
Never pass a nugget by without trying to grasp it. Then mark it down..
Chapter Twenty-three || Table of Contents for The Best of D.L. Moody