How to Not Get Bored in the OT?

Discussion in 'OT Historical Books' started by Ryan&Amber2013, Jul 15, 2017.

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  1. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Sadly I must confess that I am growing bored of reading through the Old Testament. I'm going straight through and I'm in 2 Kings. I feel bad because I should love all of God's Word, but at times I can feel so detached from parts of the OT, and I have a hard time spiritually benefitting from it. Im looking forward to getting into the wisdom literature. Any good advice?
  2. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Luke 24 and John 5 ought to liven things up for you a bit. The OT is the story of Jesus Christ, and is therefore our story as well if we are in Christ.

    If you want more help, pick up the recent volume by DeRouchie entitled How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament.

    The other book is Vos's Biblical Theology. What you need is to see the organic unfolding nature of Scripture. Only then will you see that Christ is the bridge connecting us to the OT.
  3. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Sophomore

    Another good one that's an easy read is David Murray's, Jesus on every page.
  4. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    A good way to help avoid the boredom is to follow your cross references and see how the NT authors tied much of those passages now into the New Covenant understanding
  5. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    I'm not much help ... I listen to the scripture being read to me (app on my cell phone) never gets boring ... but then maybe it is because I listen to it rather than read it myself (I'm dyslexic, so reading is a chore, while listening is *so* much better ... I retain more, I don't have to struggle with it, it goes *way* faster (and like I said, I retain more). If you have anything that makes reading slow, it might be better to listen.
  6. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Interesting. OT historical narratives are among the favorite books for me to preach through, and my congregation tells me the same.

    One resource: buy every Dale Ralph Davis commentary on OT books you can get and read through them along with the text. He brings it alive.
  7. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    Read a little Calvin and Henry after you read through a block of scripture. Master Calvin will give you lots to think about and be humbled by and Pastor Henry's pious applications will be most beneficial. The more you read through the Scriptures (including the OT), the more connections you'll begin to see and make, and the more spiritual applications, also. :2cents:
  8. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    I think that part of the lesson here is, and no one should read this wrongly or misunderstand me, is that the Bible as a whole, and perhaps especially the OT, is not primarily to be grasped in your personal reading of it, but in its being preached and taught by those gifted and called to do so.

    I think Pastor Greco makes this point perfectly when he says what he does about his congregation: of course they love to hear the OT preached, because never does it so come alive for them and make so much sense for their lives as it does when preached. Dale Ralph Davis's commentaries are based on his preaching. You don't so much need to buy and read all of them (not likely for most laymen), as you need to hear good preaching on the OT.

    Also Brian's counsel about listening to the Word read is excellent: think for how many years saints heard the Word read and preached. We are privileged to be able to have it and read it, to be sure. But the primary way that it is to be understood remains in community. It was given to the saints in communion and it is to be received and understood in that fashion. It was not given to individuals to be read and understood in an idiosyncratic fashion. That is not a Roman Catholic notion but plain vanilla historic Christianity.

    I am not at all concerned by what you say here. I would be concerned if you had said that you don't ever care to hear it read or preached. Reading it is a challenge. Good brothers here have suggested many helps. But the best thing will always remain faithful expository preaching of the Word. It is there that it should be the clearest, most helpful, and most alive to you.

    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
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  9. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

  10. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Luke 24:27
    And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the [OT] scriptures the things concerning himself.

    Off subject a bit, but maybe this will help someone.

    I am dating myself but, I have read through the Bible well over a hundred times so far, and in my later years, I read more than in my former. I always spend more time in the OT than the New simply because there is so much more of it to enjoy. Presently I am leading a group through the book of Luke. Luke is great, but the study is also a source of sadness to me since I am reading so little else of the OT that I love so much. Instead, I am reading and re-reading Luke and only a little of the Psalms and Durham on the Song of Songs. For some time now my favorite OT book has been Deuteronomy [think covenant theology] with all the rest being close seconds. Isaiah drips with Christ, the savior of the world and the Gospel as victorious over all. Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar's statue and Christ as the stone that becomes a mountain that fills the whole world. Ezekiel’s waters that came from the right side of the altar that becomes a stream up to the ankles, then a river to swim in. Eventually, the river meets the oceans and heals them. This is Christ's ministry. Only small marshes remain unclean, given to salt. I'm just going to stop. I could pay tribute to dozens of OT books that are drenched with Christ, and how I love them so.

    Around the first of the year, I see many people asking about Bible reading programs. Here's an example (see image) of mine from 6/24/16 to about 8/17/16. The hen-scratched notes are the next day's reading. The rows are the books, and the columns are each day. The penmanship is meant for my eyes only. It's a simple plan.

    OT history or prophets - 3 chapters
    Sing one Psalm - 1 chapter
    Poetry: Job to Song - 1 chapter (or 2)
    New Testament - 3 chapters

    That's eight chapters a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It works for me and has so for years. To allow time for prayer I need to rise about 4:30 AM which gives me three hours of devotions before I have to get ready for work. Sometimes it's just not enough.

    I should add that it took time before I reaped a reward for the reading. At first, I couldn't even stay awake, so I would force myself to stand and read aloud. My prayer time was too short and cold, but I persevered. I would not let him go until he blessed me.

    [​IMG] log.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  11. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    I've thought that a bit more here to clarify what I said in #8 above might be helpful.

    My purpose in responding as I did was to encourage Ryan in two regards:

    1. The OT historical material is challenging for us who are at so far a remove from it historically. This is simply the case. Yes, the Spirit helps us to understand it (but not abstracted from the teaching ministry of the church). And many of you rose to help him with the challenge in most helpful ways, so I felt no particular need to add to that.
    2. Ryan was being honest and candid. We should encourage more of this in our circles. Such candor about oneself is rare and refreshing. We are good as Calvinists as confessing that we are miserable sinners, but no so good in admitting to particular needs, faults and weaknesses.

    I want to be clear, then, that I brought up the preaching and teaching of the OT in the ministrations of the church (whether in public worship or Bible studies) not to pit it against our personal study of it and to downplay such personal study, but to put the problem in its proper context. The Word contains many challenges and the average churchgoer does well to admit such.

    My encouragement to Ryan is not that he should not study the OT, but to realize that there's nothing wrong if he finds it difficult at places (I agree with Ed and others to "hang in there"). Rather than simply suggesting more ways to make his personal study fruitful, I chose to remind him that the chief way God's people are to come to understand His Word (WLC 155) is in its being exposited in the public worship (including Bible studies and other Church education opportunities) that many of us will be attending momentarily.

    May the Lord richly bless us all as we hear the Word read, preached, and taught this Lord's Day!

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  12. Brian Withnell

    Brian Withnell Puritan Board Junior

    One other thing that I think is *extremely* helpful is to get a Bible that has no chapters and verses (or headers). Paul's letters where just that, letters. He did not put in chapters and did not mark verses. The OT is much the same originally. If I am *reading* the Bible, I read sections that I have copy/pasted that have no verse marks (or headers) so that they do not distract (or detract) from the Word. Many of the times I've taught Sunday School I do this for those in the class (printed out the section I'm going over). Many of the people in the class find it *very* helpful. Without the distracting verses/headings/chapters the Bible comes closer (even in translation) to what it ought be.
  13. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    In addition to all the good things said, I find a connection with people in the Old Testament as they face the same problems and so forth. One way of finding things of this sort is to look at scripture references in the Larger Catechism on the Ten Commandsments, particularly those in narratives, the prophets and such; this provides a very relatable understanding of what these people were like during the Old Testament writing... not very different it seems
  14. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    It is OK to find the Bible tedious in different places and at different times. But God's Word does not always have to feed your interest or excitement (these two words are the opposite of boredom). Much of my daily reading through the Bible has nothing to do with me learning something new. It has to do with the discipline of reading. I have found over time that on a particular Scripture which does catch my interest I will often remember the same thing said in other places because I simply read those other places. So it is possible that in reading Scripture there is more going on within you than boredom. I sometimes think of reading those parts as a spiritual discipline; bending my will of wanting something different to the act of reading Scripture.

    That isn't to say I don't find genealogies and numberings tedious, and I don't know why God put them there for us. But I leave that in God's Hands.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  15. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    It is interesting what people find difficult or boring. Some people love the OT narratives and would rather read them than practically any other part of Scripture. On the other hand, Leviticus and Numbers have been the death of many Bible reading plans.

    I agree with regard to listening. Reading the text out loud can help. A good Study Bible can be helpful too (as can a relatively brief commentary.) Those with in-text maps can help keep engage you in the narratives when it comes to battles, the wilderness wanderings, etc. The study notes can help if you find that you sometimes have a "what difference does it make?" attitude about certain texts. The notes for family worship in the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible can help with this.

    As for preaching in the OT, sadly it is too often neglected in churches of all kinds of persuasions. Sometimes you'll see a Minor Prophet or selected portions of the Psalms or Proverbs exposited. But I've rarely come across churches that regularly preach from the OT. More often it is one Epistle after another, with a Gospel maybe every 2-3 years.
  16. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    You all have given me great encouragement to continue to find joy in reading the OT. What a blessing you are. Thank you so much! May you be rewarded for your help.
  17. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    A good way to get theological value from the OT is by using Family Worship Bible Guide, edited by Joel R. Beeke. There are brief theological applications for every chapter of the Bible (all 1,189 of them). I'm using it myself right now, daily. I think it makes an excellent Bible-reading companion.
  18. KeithW

    KeithW Puritan Board Freshman

    I thought of another tip I use daily. My morning reading is when I read through the Bible. In my evening reading I go to different parts of the Bible. For example, if I am reading through a part of the Bible in the morning which I find tedious, I will sometimes specifically turn to the Psalms in the evening to read about God's majesty. This helps make my attitude more balanced.
  19. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    That is remarkable. How did you learn such discipline and be able to keep with it?
  20. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I don't how remarkable it is... I'm somewhat bipolar and I just can't make it alone, so I have the need of God's help all the more. I have been a Christian for over 45 years and learned, often the hard way, that I need God just to be normal. The Lord often makes his presence known at these times so I guess I am spoiled. I think the Lord actually likes fellowshiping with me. That's a great feeling.

    Also, I own my own business and can often work from home, so I don't have to start work until about 8:30. That helps a lot.
  21. TrustGzus

    TrustGzus Puritan Board Freshman

    Ryan, I'm curious if you have a reading plan you follow or what method and what pace are you reading through the OT?
  22. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    At this time I am just reading through it like a book. Anywhere from 5-20 chapters a day.
  23. TrustGzus

    TrustGzus Puritan Board Freshman

    You're reading quite a bit. I've used several reading plans. What I use now is the Grant Horner reading plan (Google it). It's 10 chapters per day. Six are in the OT but each of the 10 chapters is from a different book. So in the OT you read one chapter from

    1) Pentateuch
    2) historical (Joshua - Esther)
    3) poetic (Job, Ecclesiastes, Song)
    4) Psalm
    5) Proverbs
    6) prophets

    And for the NT just if you're curious

    7) gospel
    8) Acts
    9 & 10 are two different lists of epistles.

    I find this advantageous because every day you read a variety of biblical literature: historical narrative, poetry, Proverbs, letters, etc.

    Another advantage is if you find a book in the Bible a difficult read, you only have one chapter instead of say three or more. So you get to 1 Chronicles and you have 9 chapters of one chapter and onto the next section.

    And while I would never discourage buying commentaries (I own quite a few series for a layman), that can be a lot for a working man with a young family. Often when reading a lot of Bible just having a good study Bible is helpful without bogging you down. This works along with Alan's comments about sitting under pastors who exposit the Word. Sproul's Reformation Study Bible or the ESV Study Bible are great options.

    I also like listening as has been mentioned. I have a 45 minute ride each way to work (and 45 minutes to church as the church I go to is one block from my work). I like listening to the Word of Promise which is a dramatized NKJV. Since I don't read the NKJV, it's interesting to listen to something I don't normally read.

    I hope one or more of these things can help you.
  24. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Maybe you're reading too much. That amount may work for some of the historical accounts, but I find the wisdom literature and prophets mean more to me (and end up being more interesting) if I read small amounts at a time and chew on them a bit.

    The tendency in our culture is to read quickly, for broad coverage, rather than slowly for depth of meaning. But I suspect much of the Old Testament was not intended to be read quickly. You might have to learn the nearly-lost art of reading poetry, one stanza or one bit of imagery at a time, pausing to dwell on what you've read lest the beauty rush past you unnoticed.
  25. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    That is so wise! Thank you. I am going to try this. As well, I now know how to read poetry. I always wondered why much of it didn't make sense. Lol
  26. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I will surely try some of these. Thanks!
  27. aleksanderpolo

    aleksanderpolo Puritan Board Freshman

    Reading alongside Dale Ralph Davis' commentaries has been a great joy to me.
  28. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Just an update: I'm currently in Esther, and then I will be done with the historical books, and out of the tough waters for myself. I'm so thankful to be getting into the poetry and wisdom literature. Thanks for your encouragement.
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