October 31, 2020
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.
Lam 1 — SPIRITUAL ADULTERY AND EXILE
"Come, all you who pass by the way, look and see whether there is any suffering like my suffering, which has been dealt me when the Lord afflicted me on the day of His blazing wrath." Lamentations 1:12
Lamentations is composed of five poems. The first four are acrostic poems. This is an attempt at literary order in the midst of national chaos. Even the literary order pathetically but appropriately breaks down at the end.
After the catastrophe of the Babylonian exile, Jerusalem is pictured as a faithless wife who became a bitterly weeping, lonely widow. This may analogous to our relationship with the Father.
Prayer: Father, have mercy.
Lam 2 — STARVATION THEN AND NOW
"Rise up, shrill in the night, at the beginning of every watch; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord; lift up your hands to Him for the lives of your little ones." Lamentations 2:19
Here is a picture of utter devastation and starvation. It describes not only Jerusalem in 587 B.C., but millions of people today. Now there is even more reason to cry tears of repentance.
Prayer: Father, give me Your heart for the lost and starving, and the lost and affluent.
Lam 3 — HOPE
"But I will call this to mind, as my reason to have hope: the favors of the Lord are not exhausted, His mercies are not spent; they are renewed each morning, so great is His faithfulness. My portion is the Lord, says my soul; therefore will I hope in Him." Lamentations 3:21-24
Despite misery, hope springs forth. Although it seems that God has wrapped Himself "in a cloud which prayer could not pierce" (3:44), "let us search and examine our ways that we may return to the Lord! Let us reach out our hearts toward God in heaven!" (3:40-41)
Prayer: "I called upon Your name, O Lord, from the bottom of the pit; You heard me call, 'Let not Your ear be deaf to my cry for help!' You came to my aid when I called to You; You said, 'Have no fear!' " (3:55-57)
Promise: "Good is the Lord to one who waits for Him, to the soul that seeks Him; it is good to hope in silence for the saving help of the Lord." 3:25-26
Lam 4 — CANNIBALISM
"The hands of compassionate women boiled their own children, to serve them as mourners' food in the downfall of the daughter of My people." Lamentations 4:10
After the rays of hope in the last chapter, Jeremiah returns to an eerie description of the starvation in Jerusalem just before its fall. We could not endure reading this without knowing of our redemption and victory in Jesus.
Prayer: Jesus, You are our only Hope, but the only Hope we need.
Lam 5 — TO BE CONTINUED
"For now You have indeed rejected us, and in full measure turned Your wrath against us." Lamentations 5:22
Lamentations ends in unrelieved agony. It's best to immediately read the next book, Baruch. Here the people of God in exile pray for forgiveness and deliverance.
Prayer: "Lead us back to You, O Lord, that we may be restored: give us anew such days as we had of old" (5:21).
Promise: "You, O Lord, are enthroned forever; Your throne stands from age to age." 5:19
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 3, 1997
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 8, 1997
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