"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice
of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a
prophetic, life-changing power for you.
"He is found by those who test Him not, and He manifests Himself to those who do not disbelieve Him. For perverse counsels separate a man from God." Wisdom 1:2-3
Sin separates us from God and introduces us to death. We then begin a "dating game" with death. If we don't repent, death eventually possesses us. "It was the wicked who with hands and words invited death, considered it a friend, and pined for it, and made a covenant with it, because they deserve to be in its possession" (1:16).
Prayer: Father, I choose the gospel life and renounce the culture of death.
Promise: "For the Spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all embracing, and knows what man says." 1:7
"By the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it." Wisdom 2:24
Secular humanism is based on the refusal to face death. It is a form of escapism. Secular humanism can be reduced to the maxim: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!" (1 Cor 15:32)
A just person is a living witness that convicts the secular humanist of cowardly escapism. The secular humanist judges the Christian: "To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, because his life is not like other men's, and different are his ways" (2:14-15). Therefore, the secular humanist persecutes the believer, "because he is obnoxious" to them and sets himself against their doings (2:12).
Prayer: Jesus, give me a strong faith that You have conquered death. Because of this faith, may I refuse to run away from life.
Promise: "For if the just one be the son of God, He will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes." 2:18
"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them." Wisdom 3:1
The secular humanist is turned off to God because God doesn't seem fair. Both the just person and the evil one die. Some people are even deprived of having children. Why? Is there any method to God's "madness"?
The writer of Wisdom explains God's plan by referring to the afterlife. Then the just will be blessed and the wicked punished.
Prayer: Father, I look forward to spending eternity with You.
Promise: "They shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their King forever." 3:8
"For they see the death of the wise man and do not understand what the Lord intended for him." Wisdom 4:17
The secular humanist is especially confused by the death of a young person. He thinks: "Why try to live a righteous life when the Lord may take your life at any moment?" "But the just man, though he die early, shall be at rest" (4:7). "For his soul was pleasing to the Lord, therefore He sped him out of the midst of wickedness. But the people saw and did not understand, nor did they take this into account. Yes, the just man dead condemns the sinful who live, and youth swiftly completed condemns the many years of the wicked man grown old" (4:14-16).
Prayer: Father, may I trust You in life and in death, when I understand You and when I don't.
Promise: "He who lived among sinners was transported snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind or deceit beguile his soul." 4:10-11
"The just live forever, and in the Lord is their recompense." Wisdom 5:15
All our questions will be answered and all accounts will be justified on Judgment Day. The just will be given an eternal reward and a splendid crown, while the wicked will see that they have wasted their lives. Finally, the universe will war with God against the wicked (5:20).
Prayer: Father, I choose to receive Your mercy now instead of Your justice later.
Promise: "See how he is accounted among the sons of God; how his lot is with the saints!" 5:5
"Authority was given you by the Lord and sovereignty by the Most High, Who shall probe your works and scrutinize your counsels!" Wisdom 6:3
The first part of this book began by addressing those "who judge the earth" (1:1). As this first section concludes, the judges of the earth are again addressed. The writer proclaims that God will punish the judges for not judging rightly: "Terribly and swiftly shall He come against you, because judgment is stern for the exalted for the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test" (6:5-6). "For those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends" (6:8). Finally, the writer warns the judges: "If, then, you find pleasure in throne and scepter, you princes of the peoples, honor Wisdom, that you may reign as kings forever" (6:21).
Prayer: Father, may our humility deepen as our power increases.
Promise: "Desire therefore my words; long for them and you shall be instructed." 6:11
"Therefore I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me." Wisdom 7:7
Wisdom turns an average person into a great one. For in wisdom "is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle" (7:22). Wisdom "is an aura of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty" (7:25). "For she is the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of His goodness" (7:26). "For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom. For she is fairer than the sun and surpasses every constellation of the stars. Compared to light, she takes precedence" (7:28-29).
Prayer: Father, without doubting, I ask for wisdom (Jas 1:5-6).
Promise: "Passing into holy souls from age to age, she produces friends of God and prophets." 7:27
"Knowing that I could not otherwise possess her except God gave it and this, too, was prudence, to know Whose is the gift I went to the Lord and besought Him." Wisdom 8:21
Wisdom is the source of all blessings. Whatever we need, whatever the circumstances, wisdom provides. Wisdom is the first gift of the Spirit (see Is 11:2; 1 Cor 12:8).
Prayer: Father, I seek wisdom from above rather than earthbound, devilish wisdom (Jas 3:15).
Promise: "For association with her involves no bitterness and living with her no grief, but rather joy and gladness." 8:16
"Who ever knew Your counsel, except You had given Wisdom and sent Your Holy Spirit from on high?" Wisdom 9:17
Pray the following prayer for wisdom until you see the difference wisdom is making in your life: "Give me Wisdom, the attendant at Your throne" (9:4). "Send her forth from Your holy heavens and from Your glorious throne dispatch her that she may be with me and work with me, that I may know what is Your pleasure" (9:10).
Prayer: Father, may I never settle for anything less than Your will.
Promise: "Now with You is Wisdom, who knows Your works and was present when You made the world; who understands what is pleasing in Your eyes and what is conformable with Your commands." 9:9
"She preserved the first-formed father of the world when he alone had been created; and she raised him up from his fall, and gave him power to rule all things." Wisdom 10:1-2
All salvation history can be seen as the workings of Wisdom. This is ever more clearly recognized in the New Testament which proclaims that Jesus is our Wisdom.
Prayer: Jesus, our Wisdom, I give my life to You and I adore You.
Promise: "Wisdom opened the mouths of the dumb, and gave ready speech to infants." 10:21
"For by the things through which their foes were punished they in their need were benefited." Wisdom 11:5
"A man is punished by the very things through which he sins." Wisdom 11:16
The second half of this book uses the events of the Exodus to illustrate the triumph of God's wisdom over a secular government. The Lord won this victory by causing things to have double and opposite effects. For example, water and animals were used by God to punish the Egyptians but benefit the Israelites.
Prayer: Father, may I let You love me so You won't have to punish me.
Promise: "You spare all things, because they are Yours, O Lord and Lover of souls." 11:26
"You rebuke offenders little by little, warn them, and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in You, O Lord!" Wisdom 12:2
The ten plagues of Egypt and the seven seals, trumpets, and plagues of the Book of Revelation may seem to be severe, but actually they show God's mercy. He could have wiped out the Egyptians in one second. Instead, He gave them maximum opportunities to repent.
Prayer: Father, thank You for giving me so many chances to repent.
Promise: "For Your might is the source of justice; Your mastery over all things makes You lenient to all." 12:16
"For if they so far succeeded in knowledge that they could speculate about the world, how did they not more quickly find its Lord?" Wisdom 13:9
Although the writer of Wisdom tries to have all the answers and show there's order in life, he breaks up the order of the book with two digressions. In the next three chapters, he digresses on the topic of false worship. His first point is that false worship is not only idolatrous; it is illogical. It doesn't make sense.
Prayer: Father, may I put my faith in You so I won't have to put faith in false gods, or even demons.
Promise: "From the greatness and beauty of created things their original Author, by analogy, is seen." 13:5
"The worship of infamous idols is the reason and source and extremity of all evil." Wisdom 14:27
The writer now shows that idol worship is based on vanity, manipulation, and greed. It eventually deteriorates into various perversions and even the worship of demons.
Prayer: Father, I love You as a Person, and not just as a thing or force.
Promise: "For blest is the wood through which justice comes about." 14:7
"He esteemed our life a plaything, and our span of life a holiday for gain; 'For one must,' says he, 'make profit every way, be it even out of evil.' " Wisdom 15:12
The writer further traces the roots of idol worship to business. "The love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tm 6:10).
Prayer: Father, may I repent of a life-style that may lead to worship of "the god of the present age" (2 Cor 4:4).
Promise: "For even if we sin, we are Yours, and know Your might; but we will not sin, knowing that we belong to You." 15:2
"The universe fights on behalf of the just." Wisdom 16:17
"For Your creation, serving You, its Maker, grows tense for punishment against the wicked, but is relaxed in benefit for those who trust in You" (16:24).
Prayer: Father, may I repent and let Your creation bless rather than curse me.
Promise: "For indeed, neither herb nor application cured them, but Your all-healing word, O Lord!" 16:12
"It is Your word that preserves those who believe You!" 16:26
"For those deserved to be deprived of light and imprisoned by darkness, who had kept Your sons confined through whom the imperishable light of the law was to be given to the world." Wisdom 18:4
The Egyptians were afflicted with the plague of darkness while the Israelites were spared. Later, the chosen people were even given a pillar of fire to guide them through the darkness. They even became the light of the world (Mt 5:14) and light in Christ (Eph 5:8).
Prayer: Father, may I be a light to the world in practical and powerful ways (Mt 5:14).
Promise: "For wickedness, of its nature cowardly, testifies in its own condemnation, and because of a distressed conscience, always magnifies misfortunes." 17:11
"For when You punished our adversaries, in this You glorified us whom you had summoned." Wisdom 18:8
Some people read history and conclude that there is no justice in the world and no meaning to life. The writer of Wisdom looked at the death of the Egyptian first-born and came to the opposite conclusion: God is just, and He manifests His justice in a beautifully designed plan.
Prayer: Jesus, Lord of history, I adore You.
Promise: "For when peaceful stillness compassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, Your all-powerful word from heaven's royal throne bounded, a fierce warrior, into the doomed land." 18:14-15
"For all creation, in its several kinds, was being made over anew, serving its natural laws, that Your children might be preserved unharmed." Wisdom 19:6
The events of the Exodus show that God will do anything to help His people. If necessary, He will even change the normal course of creation. He will even change bread and wine into His body and blood.
Prayer: Father, alter some physical laws to help Your people and build Your kingdom.
Promise: "For every way, O Lord! You magnified and glorified Your people; unfailing, You stood by them in every time and circumstance." 19:22
When you finish reading this booklet, give it to someone else. Pray for that person to be motivated to read God's word and make a total commitment to the Lord. Use this book as a tool for evangelization. Right now pray to know the person with whom you are to share this book.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, November 17, 1997
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, November 19, 1997
The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com