Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"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.
2 Kgs 1 — CONSULTANTS
"Already fire has come down from heaven, consuming two captains with their companies of fifty men." 2 Kings 1:14
King Ahaziah was injured in an accident. He consulted the false god Baalzebub and died.
Elijah was in danger of arrest and execution. He consulted Yahweh, and fire consumed his enemies.
Prayer: Father, may I rely on You alone.
Promise: "You need not be afraid of him." 1:15
2 Kgs 2 — "POWER FROM ON HIGH"
"As they walked on conversing, a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind." 2 Kings 2:11
After Elijah was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind on a fiery chariot with flaming horses, Elisha received Elijah's anointed power.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, we also received the ultimate Power from on high, the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
Prayer: Father, clothe me with power from on high (Lk 24:49).
Promise: "When Elisha struck the water it divided and he crossed over." 2:14
2 Kgs 3 — ONLY SON
"He took his first-born, his heir apparent, and offered him as a holocaust upon the wall. The wrath against Israel was so great that they gave up the siege and returned to their own land." 2 Kings 3:27
The king of Moab was about to be killed after his army had been defeated and his land devastated. He was spared by sacrificing his first-born son. This is a strange prefigurement of our salvation through the death of Jesus, God's only-begotten Son.
Prayer: Father, thank You for loving me so much that You gave Your only Son to die for me (Jn 3:16).
Promise: "When the minstrel played, the power of the Lord came upon Elisha." 3:15
2 Kgs 4 — POWER LINE
"When Elisha reached the house, he found the boy lying dead. He went in, closed the door on them both, and prayed to the Lord." 2 Kings 4:32-33
Compare this chapter with 1 Kings 17 and you will see that Elisha had the power of Elijah and more.
Jesus said to us His disciples: "I solemnly assure you, the man who has faith in Me will do the works I do, and greater far than these" (Jn 14:12). We disciples have the Master's power.
Prayer: Father, give me great faith (Mt 15:28) in You.
Promise: "When they had eaten, there was some left over, as the Lord had said." 4:44
2 Kgs 5 — HEALING THE TERMINALLY ILL
"So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." 2 Kings 5:14
For the Israelite people, the greatest miracle was healing someone of the most dreaded disease, leprosy. Elisha healed Naaman, and we too can heal people of the worst maladies imaginable, such as cancer or AIDS.
Prayer: Father, may I fully use my authority in Jesus over all diseases (Mt 10:1).
Promise: " 'If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,' she said to her mistress, 'he would cure him of his leprosy.' " 5:3
2 Kgs 6 — SIGNS AND WONDERS
"When the Arameans came down to get him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, 'Strike this people blind.' " 2 Kings 6:18
Elisha could perform dramatic miracles, strike a whole army blind, and provide food for a nation through an amazing turn of events. Yet the least born into Jesus' Kingdom is greater than Elisha (Mt 11:11).
Prayer: "O Lord, open his eyes, that he may see" (6:17).
Promise: "The Israelite prophet Elisha can tell the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom." 6:12
2 Kgs 7 — STRANGE NOISES
"The Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses, the din of a large army." 2 Kings 7:6
The Lord made the Aramean army panic when they heard "the din of a large army." At this supernatural sound, they fled. Then "the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans; and then a seah of fine flour sold for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel, as the Lord had said" (7:16).
The early Church also heard a supernatural sound, "like a strong, driving wind" (Acts 2:2). This did not make the disciples panic but gave them courage to receive and live the life in the Spirit.
Prayer: Father, protect my ears from sounds not from you (Is 33:15) and open my ears to Your word.
Promise: "Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of the man of God to the king." 7:18
2 Kgs 8 — THE POWER OF PROPHECY
"I know the evil that you will inflict upon the Israelites. You will burn their fortresses, you will slay their youth with the sword, you will dash their little children to pieces, you will rip open their pregnant women." 2 Kings 8:12
As the tiny whispering sound had told Elijah (1 Kgs 19:12-15), Hazael became king of Aram. He would later destroy the Israelites because of their sins. The words of the prophets always prove true.
Prayer: Father, may I recognize and profoundly respect Your prophets and prophetesses.
Promise: "Just as he was relating to the king how his master had restored a dead person to life, the very woman whose son Elisha had restored to life came to the king." 8:5
2 Kgs 9 — "THUS SAYS THE LORD"
"This is the sentence which the Lord pronounced through His servant Elijah the Tishbite: 'In the confines of Jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel.' " 2 Kings 9:36
It may take a little time, but all prophecy is fulfilled. Witness the circumstances of the deaths of Ahab and Jezebel and the anointing of Jehu (see 1 Kgs 19:16).
Prayer: Father, may I never quench the Spirit by despising prophecies (1 Thes 5:20).
Promise: "Then the young man poured the oil on his head and said, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel.' " 9:6
2 Kgs 11 — OUT OF HIDING
"She concealed him from Athaliah, and so he did not die." 2 Kings 11:2
Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, ruled the land for six years after killing off the royal family. However, the baby Joash was hidden in the Temple and escaped the slaughter. Seven years later, Jehoiada the priest proclaimed Joash as king and killed Athaliah. "All the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet, now that Athaliah had been slain with the sword at the royal palace" (11:20).
Prayer: Father, protect our children from the attacks of our society. May they be great leaders in Your kingdom.
Promise: "Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord as one party and the king and the people as the other, by which they would be the Lord's people." 11:17
2 Kgs 12 — REPAIR JOB
"Why do you not repair the temple?" 2 Kings 12:8
After the Temple is cleansed, it must be repaired. After repentance, we, the temples of the Spirit, need to be healed and to make reparation.
Prayer: Father, heal, repair, and restore me.
Promise: "The priest Jehoiada guided him." 12:3
2 Kgs 13 — THE PAUSE THAT REFRESHES
"So they cast the dead man into the grave of Elisha, and everyone went off. But when the man came in contact with the bones of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet." 2 Kings 13:21
In the midst of several chapters recording the deterioration of God's people due to a long line of sinful, murderous kings, we once again meet Elisha shortly before his death. He still was powerfully anointed by the Lord. Even after his death, Elisha raised a dead man whose body was thrown into his grave.
Prayer: Father, use me for Your purposes in life and in death.
Promise: "So the Lord gave Israel a savior, and the Israelites, freed from the power of Aram, dwelt in their own homes as formerly." 13:5
2 Kgs 14 — TOTALS
"He pleased the Lord, yet not like his forefather David, since he did just as his father Joash had done." 2 Kings 14:3
Amaziah, king of Judah, was successful in the early part of his reign. However, he did not totally remove the high places for idol-worship. Because he was not totally committed to the Lord, he could not receive God's total power; therefore, he was defeated and eventually murdered.
Prayer: Father, may You have total victory in my heart so I can have total victory in my life.
Promise: "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; each one shall die for his own sin." 14:6
2 Kgs 15 — LEPER-KING
"He pleased the Lord just as his father Amaziah had done." 2 Kings 15:3
Azariah of Judah reigned 52 years in contrast to the brief reigns of most of the kings of Israel. For example, Zechariah reigned for six months, Shallum one month, and Pekahiah two years.
However, Azariah, like his father Amaziah, was not totally committed to the Lord. "The Lord afflicted the king, and he was a leper to the day of his death" (15:5).
Prayer: Father, may I love You with all my heart.
2 Kgs 17 — THE END OF ISRAEL
"They did evil things that provoked the Lord." 2 Kings 17:11
"In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria, and deported the Israelites to Assyria" (17:6). "This came about because the Israelites sinned against the Lord, their God" (17:7). "They followed the rites of the nations whom the Lord had cleared out of the way of the Israelites" (17:8). "They did not listen, but were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who had not believed in the Lord, their God." (17:14) "Finally, the Lord put Israel away out of His sight as He had foretold through all His servants, the prophets; and Israel went into exile from their native soil to Assyria, an exile lasting to the present. The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the Israelites" (17:23-24).
Prayer: Father, may I repent before I make matters worse.
Promise: "The covenant which I made with you, you must not forget; you must not venerate other gods." 17:38
2 Kgs 18 — BAD NEWS OR GOOD NEWS?
"He pleased the Lord, just as his forefather David had done." 2 Kings 18:3
In contrast to the annihilation of Israel, Judah flourished. King Hezekiah pleased the Lord, abolished idol-worship, and put his trust in the Lord. "Neither before him nor after him was there anyone like him among all the kings of Judah. Loyal to the Lord, Hezekiah never turned away from Him, but observed the commandments which the Lord had given Moses. The Lord was with him, and he prospered in all that he set out to do" (18:5-7).
Prayer: Father, I will never turn away from You.
Promise: "He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him." 18:7
2 Kgs 19 — "THE BATTLE IS THE LORD'S" (1 Sm 17:47)
"I will shield and save this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David." 2 Kings 19:34
Sennacherib and the Assyrian army were about to annihilate Judah. Hezekiah went up to the Temple to pray, and he called for Isaiah the prophet. "That night the angel of the Lord went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp" (19:35). "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rm 8:31)
Prayer: Father, fight my battles.
Promise: "Do not be frightened by the words you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. I am about to put in him such a spirit that, when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own land, and there I will cause him to fall by the sword." 19:6-7
2 Kgs 20 — A TRAGIC HEALING
"I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you. In three days you shall go up to the Lord's temple; I will add fifteen years to your life." 2 Kings 20:5-6
The Lord lavished His love on Hezekiah. He healed him and gave him fifteen more years of life. However, Hezekiah used his extra fifteen years to set the stage for the tragic exile of Judah to Babylon. Hezekiah also fathered Manasseh, who became one of the worst kings ever. Hezekiah and the chosen people would have been much better off if Hezekiah hadn't lived an extra fifteen years.
Prayer: Father, heal many people reading this from very serious diseases, if these healings will further Your kingdom.
Promise: "So the prophet Isaiah invoked the Lord, Who made the shadow retreat the ten steps it had descended on the staircase." 20:11
2 Kgs 21 — "INNOCENT BLOOD"
"I will bring such evil on Jerusalem and Judah that, whenever anyone hears of it, his ears shall ring." 2 Kings 21:12
Like David, Hezekiah could do almost anything except raise his family for the Lord. Manasseh, Hezekiah's son, "did evil in the sight of the Lord, following the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord had cleared out of the way of the Israelites" (21:2). "In addition to the sin which he caused Judah to commit, Manasseh did evil in the sight of the Lord, shedding so much innocent blood as to fill the length and breadth of Jerusalem" (21:16). In our "culture of death," we shed "innocent blood" in unprecedented numbers.
Prayer: Father, may I have no part in the shedding of innocent blood.
Promise: "I will not in future allow Israel to be driven off the land I gave their fathers, provided that they are careful to observe all I have commanded them, the entire law which My servant Moses enjoined upon them." 21:8
2 Kgs 22 — TREMBLE AT HIS WORD (Is 66:2)
Josiah "pleased the Lord and conducted himself unswervingly just as his ancestor David had done." 2 Kings 22:2
The people were so far away from the Lord that they even lost part of the Bible. Hilkiah the priest found the book and informed Josiah. "When the king had heard the contents of the book of the law, he tore his garments" because of the nation's disobedience (22:11). This was pleasing to the Lord.
Prayer: Father, give me a deep sorrow and a righteous anger when Your word is disobeyed.
Promise: "You shall go to your grave in peace." 22:20
2 Kgs 23 — GOOD, BUT NOT GOOD ENOUGH
"Before him there had been no king who turned to the Lord as he did, with his whole heart, his whole soul, and his whole strength, in accord with the entire law of Moses; nor could any after him compare with him." 2 Kings 23:25
Josiah "had the entire contents of the book of the covenant that had been found in the temple of the Lord, read out to them. Standing by the column, the King made a covenant with the Lord that they would follow Him" (23:2-3). Josiah put an end to all involvement in idolatry, the occult, and the signs of the Zodiac (23:5). He fulfilled the prophecies uttered against Jeroboam.
He once again observed the Passover. He was faithful to God's word. "Yet, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had given, the Lord did not desist from His fiercely burning anger against Judah" (23:26), and Josiah died a tragic death in a battle at Megiddo.
Prayer: Father, only Your Son can save me.
Promise: "No Passover such as this had been observed during the period when the Judges ruled Israel, or during the entire period of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, until the eighteenth year of King Josiah, when this Passover of the Lord was kept in Jerusalem." 23:22-23
2 Kgs 24 — INTO EXILE
"The Lord's anger befell Jerusalem and Judah till He cast them out from His presence." 2 Kings 24:20
After Josiah's death, Judah quickly deteriorated. This was a delayed reaction to Manasseh's sins, "especially because of the innocent blood he shed, with which he filled Jerusalem" (24:4). The Babylonians attacked Jerusalem and conquered it. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, "deported all Jerusalem: all the officers and men of the army, ten thousand in number, and all the craftsmen and smiths" (24:14). He also deported Jehoiachin the king of Judah and replaced him with Jehoiachin's uncle Mattaniah, whose name he changed to Zedekiah.
Prayer: Father, may I repent before I am sent into exile.
2 Kgs 25 — DOOM'S DAY
"He had Zedekiah's sons slain before his eyes. Then he blinded Zedekiah, bound him with fetters, and had him brought to Babylon." 2 Kings 25:7
Ten years later, the remnant left in Jerusalem were also deported. The people were reduced to starvation and every large building in the city, including the Temple, was burnt. Even the Temple furnishings were taken to Babylon. This was the worst day in the history of the Jewish people. Once they were God's people, now they were no people (see 1 Pt 2:10).
Prayer: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46)
Promise: "Jehoiachin took off his prison garb and ate at the king's table as long as he lived." 25:29
Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, June 20, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 1996
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