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.
Jb 1 — "FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE"
"In the land of Uz there was a blameless and upright man named Job, who feared God and avoided evil." Job 1:1
The Lord permitted Satan to take away from Job, in a single day, his possessions, business, employees, and even his ten children. Did Job love God unconditionally under the worst conditions? Job said " 'Naked I came forth from my mother's womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!' In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God" (1:21-22).
Prayer: Father, may I love You in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.
Promise: "The Lord said to Satan, 'Have you noticed my servant Job, and that there is no one on earth like him, blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?' " 1:8
Jb 2 — "SKIN FOR SKIN!" (2:4)
" Put forth Your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and surely he will blaspheme You to Your face." Job 2:5
Satan thought Job would blaspheme God if he were afflicted bodily. "So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with severe boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head" (2:7). But Job said: " 'We accept good things from God; and should we not accept evil?' Through all this, Job said nothing sinful" (2:10).
Prayer: Father, may I praise You even in pain.
Promise: "The Lord said to Satan, 'Have you noticed My servant Job, and that there is no one on earth like him, faultless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?' " 2:3
Jb 3 — DEPRESSION
"Job spoke out and said: 'Perish the day on which I was born, the night when they said, "The child is a boy!" ' " Job 3:2-3
Job's wife advised him to curse God and die (2:9), and his three friends were about to lecture Job in theology. Job became extremely depressed.
Prayer: Father, may I keep my eyes on Your Son, Jesus, even when I'm becoming depressed.
Jb 4 — WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG?
"Reflect now, what innocent person perishes? Since when are the upright destroyed? As I see it, those who plow for mischief and sow trouble, reap the same." Job 4:7-8
Eliphaz maintained that Job must have sinned. He did not understand that we can suffer for the sins of others, as Jesus did.
Prayer: Father, may I repent of my sins and suffer redemptively for the sins of others.
Promise: "You have instructed many, and have made firm their feeble hands. Your words have upheld the stumbler; you have strengthened his faltering knees." 4:3-4
Jb 5 — WHEN IN DOUBT, REPENT
"Happy is the man whom God reproves! The Almighty's chastening do not reject. For He wounds, but He binds up; He smites, but His hands give healing." Job 5:17-18
Eliphaz maintained that, if Job were but to repent, the Lord would replace these terrible trials with blessings (see Rm 8:28).
Prayer: Father, may I not talk too much.
Promise: "You shall approach the grave in full vigor, as a shock of grain comes in at its season." 5:26
Jb 6 — THE INNOCENT AND THE BYSTANDER
"Teach me, and I will be silent; prove to me wherein I have erred." Job 6:24
Job insisted on his innocence and blamed Eliphaz for a lack of compassion.
Prayer: Father, may I never fall into false guilt and/or scrupulosity.
Jb 7 — INSOMNIA
"If in bed I say 'When shall I arise?' Then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn." Job 7:4
Job couldn't sleep. The seconds and minutes dragged on, while the months and years flew by. Even when he did doze off, he had terrifying nightmares.
Prayer: Father, thank You for a good night's sleep. May I not take it for granted.
Jb 8 — WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?
"Does God pervert judgement, and does the Almighty distort justice?" Job 8:3
When Job maintained his innocence, he implied, according to Bildad, that God was unjust. However, God is not unjust. But is it just when innocent people suffer? Then they must not be innocent. Or is there another explanation?
Prayer: Father, may I rely not on my own understanding (see Prv 3:5).
Promise: "Once more will He fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with rejoicing." 8:21
Jb 9 — MYSTERY
"Even though I were right, I could not answer Him." Job 9:15
Job agreed that he could say nothing to God, not because Job was guilty but because God is mysterious.
Prayer: Father, thank You for Jesus, Who removed the veil separating us from You (Mt 27:51).
Promise: "He does great things past finding out, marvelous things beyond reckoning." 9:10
Jb 10 — "LET ME ALONE" (10:20)
"I will say to God: Do not put me in the wrong! Let me know why You oppose me." Job 10:2
Job spoke to God from the bitterness of his soul (10:1): "Let me alone, that I may recover a little before I go whence I shall not return, to the land of darkness and gloom, the black, disordered land where darkness is the only light" (10:20-22).
Prayer: Father, heal me of all bitterness.
Promise: "Grace and favor You granted me, and Your providence has preserved my spirit." 10:12
Jb 11 — TALKING TO THE WALLS
"Should not the man of many words be answered, or must the garrulous man necessarily be right?" Job 11:2
Zophar made the point that God's designs were too great to understand. Job had just made the same point. There was a lot of talking going on but very little listening.
Prayer: Father, may I be quick to hear and slow to speak (Jas 1:19).
Promise: "You shall be secure, because there is hope; you shall look round you and lie down in safety, and you shall take your rest with none to disturb." 11:18-19
Jb 12 — SOVEREIGN LORD
"Which of all these does not know that the hand of God has done this?" Job 12:9
Although we human beings have a free will, the Lord's will overshadows all human activity. He is not a victim of circumstances. He is in control.
Prayer: Father, may I not limit or delay You in even the least way.
Jb 13 — SHUT UP
"Be silent, let me alone! that I may speak and give vent to my feelings." Job 13:13
Sometimes the best thing to do is to shut up.
Prayer: Father, show me when silence is golden.
Promise: "Oh, that you would be altogether silent! This for you would be wisdom." 13:5
Jb 14 — DEATH RATTLE
"But when a man dies, all vigor leaves him; when a man expires, where then is he?" Job 14:10
Job was upset with his three friends because of their empty words. Then he made the same mistake by rattling on to God about death.
Prayer: Father, may I consider death to be a friend which opens the door for eternal happiness with You in heaven.
Jb 15 — A TONGUE-LASHING
"Your own mouth condemns you, not I; your own lips refute you." Job 15:6
Eliphaz chewed out Job and classified him with the wicked. There's nothing like a tongue-lashing to add to depression.
Prayer: Father, may I not further burden the overburdened.
Jb 16 — MORE HARM THAN GOOD
"But now that I am exhausted and stunned, all my company has closed in on me." Job 16:7
If Job's friends help him any more, they'll kill him.
Prayer: Father, may I not do more harm than good.
Jb 17 — JUST ONE PERSON
"If I must call corruption 'my father,' and the maggot 'my mother' and 'my sister,' where then is my hope?" Job 17:14-15
If Job could only have found one person who understood!
Prayer: Father, when I feel lonely and isolated, may I not be manipulated. May I turn to Jesus.
Jb 18 — EVERYBODY SHUT UP BUT ME
"When will you put an end to words? Reflect, and then we can have discussion." Job 18:2
Bildad, like Job's other friends, told Job to shut up. Job told them to shut up. Everyone was saying: "Shut up so I can talk."
Prayer: Father, may I be very aware that "where words are many, sin is not wanting" (Prv 10:19).
Jb 19 — PROPHECY IN MISERY
"Oh, would that my words were written down! Would that they were inscribed in a record." Job 19:23
In the midst of severe depression, Job prophesied and proclaimed his faith: "But as for me, I know that my vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; Whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another's shall behold him, and from my flesh I shall see God" (19:25, 27, 26).
Prayer: Father, may I prophesy life into the dry bones (Ez 37:4).
Jb 20 — MIXED UP?
"Therefore his prosperity shall not endure, and his hands shall yield up his riches. Though he has known no quiet in his greed, his treasures shall not save him." Job 20:21, 10, 20
Throughout the book of Job, some of the verses are out of place. This may be an indication that some of what is being said is also out of place.
Prayer: Father, may confusion in my words alert me to the confusion in my heart.
Jb 21 — WHY?
"They live out their days in prosperity, and tranquilly go down to the nether world. Yet they say to God, 'Depart from us, for we have no wish to learn Your ways!' " Job 21:13-14
Good people suffer terrible tragedies, and wicked people enjoy an easy life. Is there any justice?
Prayer: Father, may every thought be captive to Your Son, Jesus (2 Cor 10:5).
Jb 22 — JUDGING OTHERS?
"Come to terms with Him to be at peace. In this shall good come to you." Job 22:21
Eliphaz speculated about some of the sins for which Job was being punished. He judged Job, and the verdict he pronounced was later pronounced by God on him (Mt 7:1-2; Jb 42:8).
Prayer: Father, may I never judge the character of another person.
Promise: "You shall entreat Him and He will hear you, and your vows you shall fulfill. When you make a decision, it shall succeed for you."
Jb 24 — THEY ONLY COME OUT AT NIGHT
"By day they shut themselves in; none of them know the light, for daylight they regard as darkness." Job 24:16-17
Much of the text of this chapter is poorly preserved, obscure, or out of place. The condition of the text mirrors the condition of Job and his friends.
Prayer: Father, if not for Your love and Your Son's death, my life would be rapidly deteriorating. Thank you for salvation and mercy.
Jb 25 — SHORT, BUT NOT SWEET
"How much less man, who is but a maggot, the son of man, who is only a worm?" Job 25:6
This is one of the shortest chapters in the Bible. Is Bildad learning to be quiet, or is part of the text lost?
Prayer: Father, erase from the memories of other people things I shouldn't have said.
Promise: "Dominion and awesomeness are His Who brings about harmony in His heavens." 25:2
Jb 26 — REFOCUS
"Lo, these are but the outlines of His ways, and how faint is the word we hear!" Job 26:14
Job began to change his focus from his suffering to God's omnipotence.
Prayer: Father, may I fix my eyes on You (see Ps 123) and never let anything take my attention away from You.
Jb 27 — DISORDERLY CONDUCT
"Behold, you yourselves have all seen it; why then do you spend yourselves in idle words!" Job 27:12
The last half of this chapter is probably Zophar's last speech, and Job's reply precedes the speech. Now not only are the verses mixed up but the very structure of the book. Once again, this mirrors the breakdown of Job's conversation with his friends.
Prayer: Father, re-order every aspect of my life according to Your will.
Promise: "I will teach you the manner of God's dealings, and the way of the Almighty I will not conceal." 27:1
Jb 28 — THE ANSWER IS A PERSON
"But whence can wisdom be obtained, and where is the place of understanding? Man knows nothing to equal it, nor is it to be had in the land of the living." Job 28:12-13
The series of speeches by Job concludes with a beautiful description of wisdom. The final word is: "Behold, the fear of the Lord is wisdom" (28:28).
"God it is Who has given you life in Christ Jesus. He has made Him our Wisdom" (1 Cor 1:30). The answer to life's questions concerning suffering and retribution is not a theory but a person, Jesus.
Prayer: Father, "give me Wisdom, the attendant at Your throne" (Wis 9:4).
Promise: "Then he saw wisdom and appraised it, gave it its setting, knew it through and through." 28:27
Jb 29 — "THE GOOD OLD DAYS"?
"Oh, that I were as in months past! as in the days when God watched over me." Job 29:2
Job thought of "the good old days." Comparing the present with the past usually isn't a good idea. "Give no thought to what lies behind but push on to what is ahead" (Phil 3:13). "Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not" (Is 43:18). See, God is "doing something new!" (Is 43:19)
Prayer: Father, may I live in the present moment of Your love.
Promise: "I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame was I; I was a father to the needy." 29:15-16
Jb 30 — DIGNITY
"My dignity is borne off on the wind, and my welfare vanishes like a cloud." Job 30:15
Of all Job's sufferings, his loss of dignity seems to have been the worst.
Prayer: Father, may I have a profound respect for the dignity of every person.
Jb 31 — GRACE AND GOODNESS
"This is my final plea; let the Almighty answer me!" Job 31:37
Job again went through an examination of conscience and found himself innocent. Job had been a very good man, but obviously "good" is not good enough.
Prayer: Father, may I see that life depends on Your grace and not my goodness.
Jb 32 — PRE-EMPTING GOD
"Like a new wineskin with wine under pressure, my bosom is ready to burst. Let me speak and obtain relief; let me open my lips, and make reply." Job 32:19-20
Before God could get a word in edgewise in response to Job, Elihu decided to talk for six chapters. Just what Job needed!
Prayer: Father, may I not talk instead of You.
Promise: "It is a spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding. It is not those of many days that are wise, nor the aged who understand the right." 32:8-9
Jb 33 — HARANGUE
"Speak out! I should like to see you justified. If not, then do you listen to me; be silent while I teach you wisdom." Job 33:32-33
Elihu told Job to speak out but never gave him an opportunity to talk.
Prayer: Father, may I listen at least twice as much as I speak.
Promise: "He shall pray and God will favor him; he shall see God's face with rejoicing." 33:26
Jb 34 — LOOK IN THE MIRROR
"For he is adding rebellion to his sin by brushing off our arguments and addressing many words to God." Job 34:37
Elihu found fault with Job's implication that God was unjust. Furthermore, as Elihu rattled on for six chapters, he faulted Job for talking too much.
Prayer: Father, may I shut up before I make an even bigger fool of myself.
Promise: "For His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He beholds all his steps." 34:21
Jb 35 — RAMBLINGS AND RUMBLINGS
"Yet Job to no purpose opens his mouth, and without knowledge multiplies words." Job 35:16
Although Elihu didn't let Job talk, he blamed Job for talking too much. Yet Elihu in his ramblings stumbles on to the truth when he says: "It is idle to say God does not hear or that the Almighty does not take notice. Even though you say that you see him not, the case is before Him; with trembling should you wait upon Him" (35:13-14).
Prayer: Father, give me discernment to sift out the truth from a morass of confusion.
Jb 36 — THE RIGHT WORDS AT THE WRONG TIME
"For indeed, my theme cannot fail me: the One perfect in knowledge I set before you." Job 36:4
Elihu said: "Repent and praise the Lord." This sounds good, but it wasn't what God wanted said at the time.
Prayer: Father, may I speak what You want when You want it, not what I want when I want it.
Promise: "Remember, you should extol His work, which men have praised in song."36:24
Jb 37 — HE FINALLY STOPPED
"The Almighty! we cannot discover Him, pre-eminent in power and judgement; His great justice owes no one an accounting. Therefore men revere Him, though none can see Him, however wise their hearts." Job 37:23-24
Elihu ended his six chapters of haranguing by talking about the weather and making some profound insights. Even the best ideas and words can't save us from life's problems.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the Savior. Alleluia!
Promise: "He does great things beyond our knowing; wonders past our searching out." 37:5
Jb 38 — A STORM OF QUESTIONS
"I will question you, and you tell me the answers!" Job 38:3
We've gone 36 consecutive chapters without God saying anything. No wonder Job had problems! After God has been questioned for 38 chapters, He asked Job nearly about thirty questions (just in this chapter). "The Lord addressed Job out of the storm" (38:1).
Prayer: Father, may I not obscure Your plans with words of ignorance (38:2).
Jb 39 — "IT'S ALL HAPPENING AT THE ZOO"
"Do you know about the birth of the mountain goats, watch for the birth pangs of the hinds, number the months that they must fulfill, and fix the time of their bringing forth?" Job 39:1-2
After having asked questions about the weather (like Elihu did), the Lord started to joke around by getting into the field of zoology. He asked Job some very poignant questions about mountain goats, wild asses, oxen, ostriches, horses, hawks, and eagles.
Prayer: Father, may I laugh at Your jokes.
Jb 41 — LAUGHING WITH GOD
"When he sneezes, light flashes forth." Job 41:10
The Lord thinks it's funny when a crocodile sneezes. He thinks the crocodile is the king of beasts rather than the lion (41:26).
God's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Is 55:8). This applies especially to His sense of humor.
Prayer: Father, may I let You have fun with me.
Jb 42 — "HAPPILY EVER AFTER"
"After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; and he saw his children, his grandchildren, and even his great-grandchildren." Job 42:16
Job answered the Lord: "I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes" (42:6). Job's friends should have said the same thing. The Lord told them: "Let My servant Job pray for you; for his prayer I will accept, not to punish you severely. For you have not spoken rightly concerning Me, as has My servant Job" (42:8). "And the Lord accepted the intercession of Job. Also, the Lord restored the prosperity of Job, after he had prayed for his friends; the Lord even gave to Job twice as much as he had before" (42:9-10). "Thus the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his earlier ones" (41:12). "Then Job died old and full of years" (42:17).
Prayer: Father, may the ending of my life be glorious.
Promise: "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be hindered." 42:2
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
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