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Avoid the temptation to "speed read" a passage and seeking to mechanically mark each occurrence of a key word or reference to Author or Recipient if you are reading an epistle. You will become like the psalmist who cried "O how I love Thy law! For example Moses writes that manna was "fine as the frost on the ground. A radio communication to one of the support team's vessel said: One of the first questions we ask concerning any statement recorded in the Bible is, Who makes it? But if we say, "It is raining cats and dogs," we have used a sentence that means the same thing but is an unusual, more colorful way of expressing the same thought.


How, why, when a word was spoken or an act done, helps to explain it, is its local coloring. The natural tendency for most of us is to take a verse or verses out of context in order to support some point of view that we espouse or favor. Once you have carried out your own observations, you are in a much better position to read the commentaries and you will be amazed at how often you find yourself saying "That passage does say that! The problem is that many people do not know the "right questions" to ask or are either too lazy or too rushed to practice them! In the epistles ask Who is writing author? Howard Hendricks has the following insights on how to distinguish literal from figurative noting that when

Diana Nyad entered the history books after completing the swim without a shark cage. The grandmother appeared to he covered in salt after the length of time she spent in the water. Diana Nyad stands in the shallow waters of Smathers Beach after completing her life-long dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida.

Nyad embraces a supporter after finishing the grueling mile swim. It was Nyad's fifth try to complete the approximately mile swim. She tried three times in and She had also tried in Congratulatory messages began to pour in from around the world for the year-old grandmother.

Never give up on your dreams. Desperate Housewives actress Marcia Cross shared a video of Nyad swimming and wrote: Nyad's navigator said the above 'spot trackers' used by her critics to claim she cheated are not accurate. Nyad and her trainer hug after she makes it ashore on her fifth attempt at the world record. Nyad today broke swimmer Penny Palfrey's distance record in the Cuba to Florida swim.

The year-old's last attempt was cut short amid boat trouble, storms, unfavorable currents and jellyfish stings that left her face puffy and swollen. This time she wore a full bodysuit, gloves, booties and a mask at night, when jellyfish rise to the surface. Before the swim, she said the kit would slow her down, but she believed it would be effective. The support team accompanying her had equipment that generated a faint electrical field around her, which was designed to keep sharks at bay. A boat also dragged a line in the water to help keep her on course.

Diana Nyad pictured about two miles out from shore in the Florida Keys. Her critics feel that there is a chance she got out of the water and went on board the accompanying boat. Into the history books: Diana Nyad was surrounded by supporters and boats in Key West as she finally reached Florida following her epic swim. Nyad, 64, came into shore but not before she paused to thank her supportive team on Monday.

A live map has been documenting Diana's progress since she set off from Havana on Saturday morning. She is now only two miles from Key West. The swimmer paused on Monday to give a statement of thanks to her team before embarking on the final two miles of the grueling feat. Some on the team are the most intimate friends of my life and some of you I've just met. You pulled through; you are pros and have a great heart.

So let's get going so we can have a whopping party. Nyad told supporters a silicone mask she wore to protect her face from jellyfish stings caused bruises inside her mouth, making it difficult for her to talk. Doctors traveling with Nyad were worried about her slurred speech and her breathing, but they didn't intervene, according to her website. Nyad's journey began on Saturday morning when she jumped from the seawall of the Hemingway Marina into the warm waters off Havana.

She stopped from time to time for nourishment. More than just encouraging words? Some other swimmers say that an uptick in her speed mid race implies that she may have gotten a boost of oxygen from her team.

Nyad is trialed by kayakers as she completes the grueling feat without a shark cage. The swimmer's support team which includes kayakers, shark divers and five boats with crews, snapped into safety protocol when a storm hit at 11pm on Sunday.

Nyad however was 'still swimming strong' with the watchful shark divers by her side. A radio communication to one of the support team's vessel said: Diana Nyad began her swim on Saturday morning at Hemingway Marina to start her attempt at swimming from Cuba to Florida. She was just shy of 20 miles from completing the swim this morning. It was Nyad's fifth attempt in three years to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys without the aid of a shark tank - and she finally succeeded.

The swimmer will take regular breaks to eat, but must remain in the water and isn't allowed to touch the side of the boat that will be tracking her progress. A post on Nyad's blog said she was doing well and the crew is upbeat, though she expressed some fatigue during a pause to eat. Doctors examine her regularly and say 'she's looking very good. As of 9am Sunday morning, Nyad was over 38 miles into her swim, averaging 1. Nyad keeps hydrated and fueled with smoothies, 'shot blocks', peanut butter sandwiches and pasta.

At that point, the flow direction will change and that will help us big time. A group of boats are following Nyad on her journey, helping to spot jellyfish and sharks as she swims day and night to reach the Florida Keys.

One of the greatest dangers Nyad faces is the dangerous Box Jellyfish which could render her paralyzed if stung. It's Nyad's fifth attempt at the feat in the last three years. She also made an unsuccessful try with a cage in The swimmer expected to take about 80 hours to reach the Florida Keys. This attempt is different though, in that Nyad will be swimming at night with the aid of a silicon mask to protect herself from Box Jellyfish.

The Box Jellyfish is one of the world's most venomous creatures. They actively hunt their prey and their stings can send the body into paralysis. Since , more people have died from Box Jellyfish stings than from shark bites. This year she had prosthetics maker Stefan Knauss custom make a face mask that she could wear at night when the jellyfish are harder to see. She says it's harder to swim while wearing, but she tested it out in a swarm of hundreds of Box Jellyfish this past June and wasn't stung once.

Nyad's handlers were giving fans status updates on Sunday through her website. This is Nyad's first attempt using the prosthetic face mask custom-made to shield her from the paralyzing stings of the box jellyfish.

Has it made a difference? The mask was custom made by prosthetics maker Stefan Knauss to shield her entire face from the jellyfish. Last time she only wore panty hose and still got stung.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Thursday, Mar 15th 5-Day Forecast. One of the greatest dangers Nyad faces is the dangerous Box Jellyfish which could render her paralyzed if stung It's Nyad's fifth attempt at the feat in the last three years.

Share this article Share. Share or comment on this article e-mail. Most watched News videos Shocking video shows Danry Vasquez beating his girlfriend 'They have a week to leave': UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats Moment government heckle Corbyn's response to May's statement Hillary Clinton slips twice while walking down stairs in India Tomi Lahren talks about kicking her dog five times Father screams at accused killer of his daughter in court A Brief History: Stephen Hawking through the years Surveillance video shows bail bond agent fatally shoot client Shocking footage shows inside of cat meat farm in Vietnam CCTV shows Skripal drive through Salisbury before poisoning Putin refuses to deny Russia was behind Salisbury spy attack Trump says it 'looks like the Russians were behind' spy poisoning.

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The Webster's Dictionary says and "signifies that a word or part of a sentence is to be added to what precedes. This structure clearly means that each statement is sequentially and chronologically connected to the verses before and after. Each action follows directly upon the action described in the verse preceding it. Why does Paul conclude that one should not let sin reign in their mortal body?

To answer you will be forced to review the prior verse Ro 6: What is Paul explaining? Why is Paul not ashamed of the Gospel? What effect does this have on Paul? How does this impact Paul's boldness to proclaim the Gospel? To whom is he speaking? What is he explaining? What is he arguing? What is his goal? Is his explanation truthful? Notice how focusing on only one for prompts a veritable barrage of questions and greatly increases our insight into this important passage!

For term of explanation I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established. See Video from John Piper Ro 8: If you struggle with legalism, this video could be a powerful antidote for that "ism" which always counters grace and weakens our spiritual walk in the Spirit.

So pray, set aside 30 minutes and follow along with Dr Piper. What is the purpose of Paul's longing to see the saints in Rome? What is the purpose of his imparting a spiritual gift to them?

When found at the beginning of a verse the term is usually a term of explanation. Train your eye to observe the text carefully for these strategic words. Consider marking them in some distinctive manner underlining, boxing, using a symbol. From the table above, what is the likelihood of encountering one of these terms in a chapter or paragraph? If you have ever rock climbed, you know that you are observing carefully for a ledge, outcropping, crack or crevice which you can grasp or in which you can plant your foot.

The goal is to keep moving upward. How careful do you think you would be if you were several stories high on a large rock? The answer is obvious While the analogy is imperfect, the rock climber's observations clearly determine the outcome of the outing going up or down! Clearly each encounter could increase our level of understanding, firmly grounding us on the truth.

The more skilled rock climbers becomes at identifying strategic rocks, cracks and crevices, the higher they are able to ascend. And over time observation for these terms will become our reflex response. Given the importance of these small, easily overlooked words and phrases, let's take another look at them. Therefore - Every time you see a therefore always ask the question "What's it there for? Webster's Dictionary explains that " Inferences result from reasoning, as when the mind perceives such a connection between ideas, as that, if certain propositions called premises are true, the conclusions or propositions deduced from them must also be true.

For example, therefore in Ps 1: How would you determine the answer? Examination of the preceding context Ge 3: So - in order that, because the preceding is true or this being the case. So introduces clauses both of purpose We ordered our tickets early so that we could get good seats and of result The river had frozen during the night so people walked across it all the next day.

So is frequently found at the beginning of verses and when used as a term of conclusion should prompt you to ask " Why? What question does " so " prompt in this passage? How do you answer the question? Clearly you are forced to check the immediate context Ge 2: Your observations in turn will lead you to an accurate interpretation of the passage. For this reason is relatively easy to interrogate because it always begs at least one simple question -- " For what reason?

Remember when practicing interrogation of "for this reason" and for that matter, all of the connecting words , some passages will be easier to evaluate and yield more insights than other passages, so don't be frustrated if observation of some connecting words is not fruitful. You will always receive one benefit in that you are slowing down and "forcing" yourself to focus more directly on a particular text, in essence meditating on the passage, rather than "speed reading" it!

And as you slow down and meditatively interrogate a passage, you will give your Teacher, the Spirit, greater opportunity to speak to you cp the "still small voice" that Elijah heard - 1Ki Here are a few sample uses of for this reason NAS to study - Ge 2: John MacArthur gives us another reason to be alert to the therefore's , then's , etc The " thens ," " therefores ," and " wherefores " of the Bible are usually transitions from teaching to exhortation, from truth to application, from knowing to doing.

In the book of Romans, possibly Paul's most doctrinal letter, he focuses primarily on doctrine. But he does not let his readers "take it from there. It should make a difference, a change in our lives. Chapter 12 begins with something of a climax to all he has said before.

After setting forth the "mercies of God" for eleven chapters, he exhorts us to respond by commitment. After the truth that "each one of us shall give account of himself to God," he says, "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way" Rom.

After teaching that all food is clean in itself, he says, "Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil" Rom. In the book of Galatians, after spending several chapters setting forth the truth that Christians are free from the law, Paul exhorts, "Therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" Gal.

As soon as he finished explaining the doctrine of sowing and reaping, he says, "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially those who are of the household of the faith" Gal. John Piper on the edifying value of learning to observe and query the therefore's of Scripture One of the most important ideas in the universe is found in 1 Corinthians O death, where is your sting?

Therefore , my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Savoring the supremacy of God in all life. For and because are small words that is often overlooked, but which are frequently used in Scripture at the beginning of a passage e. Although listed under the category Terms of Conclusion , these words are more accurately classified as terms of explanation.

In other words, for because functions like a marker which shows the cause or reason for something, specifically expressing the reason for what has been stated before Be aware that for may sometimes be used to introduce a detailed description of something as alluded to earlier, so you will always need to examine the context to determine if it is being used as a "term of explanation".

In many if not most of the uses of for as a conjunction one can substitute the synonym because which in my opinion is somewhat easier to understand. And because there as so many occurrences of "for" in the Bible, the diligent inductive student will have many opportunities to pause and ponder passages.

Here is an example of interrogating " for " in Mark who records that as Jesus taught in the synagogue at Capernaum on the Sabbath,. What does for explain in this verse? Why were they amazed? How did the teaching of Jesus in the synagogue compare to the teaching the Jews normally heard? Note also the caveat that this discussion relates to " for " as it is used as a conjunction, and not when " for " is used as a preposition placed before another word or phrase to express some relation or quality, action or motion to or from the thing specified - "God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife".

Ask a Question What does Ezra setting his heart, etc, explain? Where does this question force you to go in order to answer the question? Clearly, it calls us to go to the preceding passage, so let's read Ezra 7: Now, what does the for explain?

Answer the Question For explains why " the good hand of his God was upon " Ezra. Observe another connective because in Ezra 7: As an aside, what is a simple list in Ezra 7: Don't forget to include set his heart which is like the " headwater " What truth does this simile convey? Do you see a progression in the list? What's another word for "practiced it"? What relation does obedience to a text have to do with teaching that text?

After you have arrived at your conclusions, you are now better prepared to go to the commentary on Ezra 7: So that so, that, in order that is used to introduce a subordinate clause which shows purpose or reason or gives an explanation. When a term of purpose or result is encountered, it behooves the reader to always ask at least - "What is purpose or result or effect?

Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. Notice also that in this passage so that is used to show an action sounding a trumpet when giving which produces an intended result honor from men. Stated another way so that can link an effect showing honor with the cause trumpet sounding.

Now prayerfully read Phil 3: What is the effect of him pressing on? What is the cause of his laying hold of that for which he was laid hold of by Christ? The point is not to make your Bible reading more work, but more of a joy, for the more you read it with careful observation , the more you love it.

The more you love it, the more you will desire to read it. As someone has well said "Bible study demands pondering deeply on a short passage, like a cow chewing cud. It is better to read a little and ponder a lot than to read a lot and ponder a little.

Here is one more example on which you can practice. Prayerfully read Matthew What question s does it stimulate? Pause a moment and ask some questions. You may have asked questions like -- What is the cause of their astonishment? Why did they ask about Jesus' wisdom? What is the result of Jesus' teaching?

Am I astonished at Jesus' teaching or do I just read mechanically through my Bible in a year program? If you have just actively participated in this short practice on Mt That being the case, is not Mt Aren't you more likely to remember it later in the day?

Sure, this slows you down, but that's exactly the point. Jehovah Himself instructed Joshua to "meditate on it the Word day and night," explaining that then he might "be careful to do according to all that is written in it" better able to apply the Truth , adding that "then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have success.

You will be much more likely to ponder it "day and night" if you have slowed down to carefully observe and intelligently interrogate it! You will become like the psalmist who cried "O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

As you read the Bible and spot words or phrases like so, so that, in order that or as a result, prayerfully pause and ponder and practice asking as many relevant questions as you can, over time, intelligent Spirit directed and controlled interrogation will become your "default mode" every time you open the Book.

And you will begin to be pleasantly surprised at how much more fruitful your Bible reading becomes as hone your skills of observation, for this will lead to more accurate interpretation and most importantly to more appropriate application! It's always too soon to quit! Some passages are more difficult to observe than others. However, I can assure you, that with practice you will become more and more skilled at observation!

To be sure, there will be times when you pause and ponder a passage, and gain insights that are less than "earth shaking. Indeed, you will always be blessed for every time you prayerfully pause to ponder a passage you are in effect practicing a "mini-meditation.

Note that the frequency of these terms will vary depending on which translation you use. For example, the ESV has only occurrences of so that , because it often substitutes so or that for the phrase so that.

We've probably read it many times before, but never stopped to "smell the roses" so to speak! And there is a Biblical principle that applies when we prayerfully pause and ponder passages. Paul called on Timothy to "Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding.

Does this mean we will understand every passage? Of course not, but it does mean that God will in some way give us a better sense of the meaning of that passage. Does that make sense?

Addendum - The Greek conjunction hina is usually translated so, so that, in order that and is used to express purpose, aim, or goal. Practice with a few of the following examples asking questions like " What is the purpose? Note that you cannot ask every question of every verse. You can also vary your question depending on the context. While this does take some practice, is well worth your investment of time. Pray, ask the Spirit to open your eyes to behold wonderful truths Ps Remember the benefit that as you carry out interrogation of the terms of conclusion and terms of explanation , you are in a very real sense practicing Biblical Meditation , a spiritual discipline which has been largely lost in our modern, fast paced society, which is sad because God promises such wonderful blessings to those who meditate on His Word.

For example see Psalm 1: Clearly filling oneself with the Word will facilitate being filled with the Spirit. In sum let the little word " for " become your good friend, one who continually guides you into the blessed practice of meditating on God's Word of Truth and Life day and night!

You won't regret it in time or eternity! Always consider marking these connective words by underlining or boxing them in or use three dots in triangle form for " therefore ". But even if you don't mark them, always take a moment to stop and question why they are there. You will be amazed at how the Spirit will illuminate the passage when you make the choice to pause and ponder the passage. Terms of conclusion and explanation usually will compel you to re-read the previous passage s.

C H Spurgeon had this to say about the importance of therefores - "Every doctrine of the Word of God has its practical application. As each tree bears seed after its kind, so does every truth of God bring forth practical virtues. Hence, you find the apostle Paul very full of therefores —his therefores being the conclusions drawn from certain statements of divine truth.

The following chart highlights the importance of careful observation and interrogation when you encounter connecting words or conjunctions. Conjunctions can greatly aid your understanding of the flow of thought in a passage, because they indicate relationships between the ideas that they link together. Just like the old spiritual "Dem Bones" where the "knee bone is connected to the thigh bone" etc, passages of Scripture are intimately connected.

Therefore it behooves the observer of Scripture to be on the lookout for these small but useful words. What's the reason or cause?

What time is it, what is the sequence, etc? Here are a couple of definitions of common conjunctions to help ask the correct questions when you observe the specific conjunction.

Because - for the reason that, on account of the fact that; for the cause which is explained in the next proposition. For - For the following reason. Note that many uses of "for" in Scripture function as a preposition instead of a coordinating conjunction. A good clue that "for" is a coordinating conjunction explaining the reason for something is that the "for" appears at the beginning of a sentence or clause.

The American Dictionary writes that "for" is used as "The word by which a reason is introduced of something before advanced. Contrast is the juxtaposition of dissimilar elements , things that are unlike. Contrast sets off their dissimilar qualities and in so doing makes something sharp and clear by highlighting the differences.

Contrast focuses on the differences, whereas comparison see below focuses on similarities. John Phillips once quipped "Oh, those revealing buts of the Bible. They are small hinges on which great truths and destinies swing.

While "but" is the main contrast be alert for other terms that highlight a contrast of uses are from version of the NASB. Note that in some cases the author may present a contrast without using one of the terms of contrast, and these instances are best discerned from the context. On the other hand. All words in blue are active links to allow you to examine the uses of the respective word or phrase.

Not all of the words or phrase in this table represent contrasts and therefore one must always examine the context Words of contrast are always important to note because they indicate a change in direction. When a verse begins with a contrast word like " but ", as a good inductive student, what should be your " natural reflex "? Clearly your attention should be drawn to re-read the preceding context to determine what the author is contrasting.

Once again you are forced to slow down and engage your thinking process rather than speeding through a crucial "intersection" without slowing down. Note that not all contrasts are identified or delineated by specific contrast words like but , yet , etc. Although they are more difficult to identify, be alert for contrasting thoughts.

For example, observe the following passage We are not of night nor of darkness". Then in Gal 5: The contrast is between two dramatically different lifestyles and ultimately two distinct destinies. Click here for an exercise on identifying, marking and questioning the contrasting truths in Psalm 1. Be on the alert for for words that express some element of time in parenthesis is frequency in NAS, but always check the context When did this happen? When will this happen?

Mark expressions of time with a circle or clock I use a green clock throughout my Bible and recommend Pigma Micron pens to keep from bleeding through the pages in your Bible margin. The Micron creates an even finer line but the thin tip is easily bent. Several useful colors are available in a six pack of 0. These pens are not cheap but last for many months in my experience. Time phrases are especially crucial when interpreting prophecy.

For example, practice this technique by reading Matthew Remember to check the context. Determine the context by interrogating the surrounding especially the preceding text. Do not look at commentaries or study notes to establish the context lest you be biased by their interpretation comments on this section of Scripture.

Let the text speak for itself i. Ask and answer questions like -- Where is this taking place? What genre of literature does this section represent? Who is speaking], [is the audience, what is their nationality? Now, you are primed and ready for this incredible and sadly oftimes very controversial passage Mt Remember that whenever you read a verse, a paragraph, a chapter, etc, read with a purpose -- in this section of Matthew 24 your purpose is specifically to observe for the chronology, marking the text with a green clock consider doing this in your Bible if you are neat, but remember that ballpoint ink will leak through the page - Micron pens are recommended.

Click here to study the uses of the "Day of the LORD" and make a list of what you observe, remembering to examine the context because not all the uses refer to the same time period. For some fascinating insights into what the future holds for Israel, observe the 40 uses of "in that day" in Isaiah click here but remember to read the text in context and the 19 uses in Zechariah for all 3 chapters click here or for the specific verses click here.

Why does this happen now? Observing then can be very useful in following the course of events in a chapter or paragraph, especially in eschatological prophetic passages - e. Compare the uses of then in the Olivet Discourse - Mt Example of until in Luke Luke says that the time allotted to the Gentiles to tread on Jerusalem is finite and will stop one day, the day when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. What is that property? But the small expression of time, UNTIL , tells us this day will come to an end some day in the future!

So hopefully you can begin to understand how important it is to observe carefully and interrogate intelligently when you encounter an UNTIL. Remember you can always ask "What time is it? Figures of speech "picture talk" are colorful expressions used for literary effect which may be a word or a phrase that departs from straightforward, literal language. Figures of speech are used for emphasis, freshness of expression or clarity.

However, clarity may suffer if the figure is not properly interpreted. A picture can be worth a thousand words, unless we let our imagination run wild and come up with a thousand possible interpretations!

Remember that all Scripture has a single intended meaning. Note how much more vivid the description of the wicked man is when linked with a picturesque simile see below The wicked are not so, but they are like introduces the simile or comparison to chaff which the wind drives away.

To the student trained in the art of observation, it is readily apparent that this passage calls for several interactions and interrogations, all of which serve to slow you down, to actively engage your mind and heart with the text and ultimately the Author of the text and to aid personal self discovery of precious pearls of wisdom in the passage cp Pr 2: Some observations and questions one might ask - Who are the wicked?

What does the phrase "are no so" force us to do? Check context to answer both of these questions What does "but" introduce note? What is being contrasted? How does the figure used to describe a godly man contrast with the figure used to describe a wicked man? How easy is it for chaff to blown away by the wind? What does this picture say about the fate of the wicked?

Once you have carried out your own observations, you are in a much better position to read the commentaries and you will be amazed at how often you find yourself saying "That passage does say that!

Clinton Lockhart Principles of Interpretation, has a simple rule for determining what is literal and what is figurative language in the Bible If the literal meaning of any word or expression makes good sense in its connections, it is literal; but if the literal meaning does not make good sense, it is figurative Since the literal is the most usual signification of a word, and therefore occurs much more frequently than the figurative , any term should be regarded as literal until there is good reason for a different understanding.

Figurative language refers to any words that are used with a meaning other than their common, literal sense. When dog is used of a human being e. All human languages are filled with talk that is not literal, but Eastern languages are especially full of figures of speech.

Since those languages are foreign to us, that is all the more reason to work hard at understanding exactly what the author had in mind Ed: There is the hurdle of distance in language and culture, and there is also the hurdle of figurative language. Consider the plight of a foreigner seeking to understand the English word hang.

A literal definition is easy to come by, but what is he to think when he hears, as a foreigner, that he has many hang-ups; that he should indeed hang loose and allow his true feelings to hang out?

If he searches out those idioms carefully, he still may be at a loss to know why someone is absent because of a hangover, or when he is told, in spite of all the obstacles to understanding, that he should not only hang on, but hang in there Picture talk is one of the greatest problems of interpretation. To treat figurative language as if it were literal and to treat literal language as if it were figurative, constitute two of the greatest hindrances to understanding the meaning of the Bible Robertson McQuilkin - Understanding and Applying the Bible.

In other words, while figures of speech can be enlightening, they can also be misleading if one mishandles them and uses them as an excuse to look for "hidden meanings" See Discussion of allegorizing in section on Literal Interpretation As discussed more in the section on interpretation, we must assiduously avoid all attempts to "go behind" the text.

Instead, our continual quest should be to seek to carefully observe and accurately interpret what God's penman meant by what he wrote, for all Scripture has only one correct interpretation.

If we say, "It is raining hard," we are using a normal, plain statement. But if we say, "It is raining cats and dogs," we have used a sentence that means the same thing but is an unusual, more colorful way of expressing the same thought. This is evident when Paul wrote, "Watch out for those dogs" Php 3: When a comparison is made between two things that are normally not alike or normally not compared, then surprise occurs. Similes and metaphors, for example, often have this element of unexpectedness.

Figures of speech are used in many languages because they are easily remembered and make indelible impressions. Because they are graphic, they eliminate the need for elaborate description.

They say a lot in a little. The well-known metaphor, "The Lord is my Shepherd" Ps When you read Psalm The same is true of Isaiah 1: It is also important to remember that figures of speech although "figurative" are always intended to convey literal truth.

As discussed below the literal meaning of a figure of speech is critically dependent on an analysis of the context in which is it used.

Let's take a non-Biblical example of the figurative use of a word like "crown". If someone declares "I am going to crown you" the literal meaning of this figurative use will depend on the context. And so it could mean:. As emphasized in the section on interpretation, Scripture should be understood in its literal, normal normative , and natural sense. Figures of speech always convey literal truth and that is the meaning we must seek.

Steve Lewis has a list of Reasons for Figurative Language, the first being that "Figurative language is often used to speak about abstract concepts in terms of concrete things. All human speech contains this type of language because it is intrinsic to the way people communicate. Very often when we are talking about something which is not perceptible by the five senses, we use words which in one of their meanings refer to things or actions that are.

When a man says that he grasps an argument he is using a verb grasp which literally means to take something in the hand but he is certainly not thinking that his mind has hands or that an argument can be seized.

To avoid the word grasp he may change the form of the expression and say, "I see your point," but he does not mean that a pointed object has appeared in his visual field. Everyone is familiar with this linguistic phenomenon and the grammarians call it metaphor.

But it is a serious mistake to think that metaphor is an optional thing which poets and authors may put into their work as a decoration and plain speakers can do without. The truth is that if we are going to talk at all about things which are not perceived by the senses, we are forced to use language metaphorically. There is no other way of talking. Anyone who talks about things that cannot be seen, or touched, or heard, or the like, must inevitably talk as if they could be seen or touched or heard.

Some topics can only be discussed using this type of language. For example, almost all of the Bible language used to describe God involves metaphor because that is the only way that finite creatures can speak about the Infinite Creator.

See also excellent related resource by Tony Garland - Interpreting Symbols. Howard Hendricks has the following insights on how to distinguish literal from figurative noting that when People talk about a 'literal interpretation of Scripture. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? Or Joseph standing by a creek with roots going down into the soil "Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; its branches run over a wall. Or Benjamin as some sort of uncontrollable werewolf "Benjamin is a ravenous wolf.

In the morning he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil. As one person has put it,. On the other hand, when He calls Herod a fox Lk Living by the Book.

Only compelling reasons makes the words figurative. It is given by God to demonstrate His intention for the romance and loveliness of marriage, the most precious of human relations. Thomas Nelson Bolding and caps added Recommended resource. For example Moses writes that manna was "fine as the frost on the ground. If the statement would obviously be irrational, unreasonable, or absurd if taken literally, the presumption is that it is a figure of speech.

Common sense tells us that Jesus is not a literal door, a literal vine, etc but that He is pointing to a literal truth about Himself. When taken in isolation, the expression or statement might be either figurative or literal, but in the context the author indicates that he does not intend the meaning to be taken as literal. David is certainly not saying that God has wings for that would be an absurd interpretation.

Examination of the entire Psalm the context , leads one to a clearer understanding of the picture of God's protection for His children with the same watch care as a mother eagle for her helpless eaglets. As a corollary, when read in context, there is usually a plain and ordinary meaning for the figure of speech.

In many cases, the Scripture will even immediately explain the figure. Because of the integrity of the Scriptures, one can be confident that the ultimate truth in view will correspond to the plain and ordinary sense of the words used. Avoid the temptation of trying to make the figure of speech say something that God does not intend.

Stated another way, although it is a figure of speech, it still will have only one "literal" meaning and that is always to be our goal in inductive Bible study. Terms of comparison are the most common type of figurative language in the Bible, usually expressing similarity between things that are otherwise dissimilar. The basic idea of comparison is to take something with which everyone is familiar and use give the reader insight into something which is unfamiliar or less familiar.

In everyday life, when we see two of anything alike, the similarity immediately draws our attention and this same phenomenon is true in Bible study. How often do you see children out in public and don't pay that much attention? But when we see twins, our attention is heightened and more focused. In the same way, similarities stand out thus the Bible frequently uses comparison things well known and understood, in order to give insights into truths which may not as well known or understood.

The writer could have just said the godly man prospers, but he compares him to a tree near water, which gives us additional insight into the character and course of the godly man. With what word does Jer What question does that it suggest? Why will this man be like a tree?

How does Jeremiah amplify the comparison of this man to a tree? What two things won't happen to him? What two things will happen to him?

How does this description help us understand what it means to be blessed? Why is this man blessed What does anxious mean be sure and read the origin or derivation of our English word anxious for a great word picture which describes how we feel when we are anxious - or see the original Greek word - merimnao - be anxious.

In sum, we know that the Bible uses figures of speech like terms of comparison simile, metaphor or "picture talk" to expand or amplify the meaning of the passage. But how can we easily recognize and accurately interpret figurative language? Below are a few guidelines to help you figure out the figurative:. Simile is a figure of speech which draws a comparison between subjects which may or may not otherwise be alike and is introduced and identified by use of as or like.

For example if I say I am "as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs", the picture is much more forceful than if I simply say "I am very nervous.

What is the comparison. Stop for a moment an practice questioning this passage before you read on. What does the psalmist compare to what? The deer to my soul. Water brooks to God. Why does a deer pant for the water brooks? It cannot live without water. So as water is to the deer's physical sustenance, the very person of God not just knowledge about Him Himself sustains us spiritually. Only God will fulfill our deepest longing. What does this simile say about one's attitude toward God?

It is clearly an intense longing, not a casual or passing fancy. David was experiencing a severe "divine drought" MacArthur. Have you ever seen an animal panting after running hard and then being offered some water? This is the picture is of an intense longing for God even as the deer longs for water.

Made in the image of God image, men and women find the essence of life in the presence of God and His word. Note the preceding context 1Pe 2: As after a long drought the poor fainting deer longs for the streams or rather as the hunted deer instinctively seeks after the river to bathe its smoking flanks and to escape the dogs, even so my weary, persecuted soul pants after the Lord my God.

Debarred from public worship, David was heartsick. Ease he did not seek, honour he did not covet, but the enjoyment of communion with God was an urgent need of his soul; he viewed it not merely as the sweetest of all luxuries, but as an absolute necessity, like water to a stag.

Like the parched traveler in the wilderness, whose skin bottle is empty, and who finds the wells dry, he must drink or die -- he must have his God or faint.

His soul, his very self, his deepest life, was insatiable for a sense of the divine presence. As the deer utters a loud cry so his soul prays. Give him his God and he is as content as the poor deer which at length slakes its thirst and is perfectly happy; but deny him his Lord, and his heart heaves, his bosom palpitates, his whole frame is convulsed, like one who gasps for breath, or pants with long running.

Dear reader, dost thou know what this is, by personally having felt the same? It is a sweet bitterness. The next best thing to living in the light of the Lord's love is to be unhappy till we have it, and to pant hourly after it -- hourly, did I say? When it is as natural for us to long for God as for an animal to thirst, it is well with our souls, however painful our feelings.

We may learn from this verse that the eagerness of our desires may be pleaded with God, and the more so, because there are special promises for the importunate and fervent see note. The Psalms and Proverbs are filled with comparisons, with over fifty uses of the word like NAS in similes. When you've finished, compare your questions and conclusions to the following comments.

What is compared to what? What is a city like when it is broken into? What happens when it has no walls? What will the city be like? Now carry that picture over to a man's spirit. When a city is broken into, there is death and destruction. When there are no walls ancient cities always keep the historical context in mind were basically defenseless!

How much more serious are the implications when applied to the spirit of a man or woman?! In summary, the writer is using the picture of a defeated, overrun city as a comparison to help us understand the gravity of a soul that is overrun by the world, the flesh and the devil because we have elected to let down our guard "wall"!

Not a pretty site! Now you can go to the commentaries to see how they handle this passage. Biblical illustrator Charles Bridges' comments. What does a "trampled spring" picture? Is the water clear and inviting? How is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked like a muddied, polluted spring?

What is a spring? A spring speaks of the source of the water. If the source is polluted, so too will be all that comes from that source! What are the implications for a righteous man or woman? How will this effect their usefulness to a holy God Recalling that the best commentary on Scripture is Scripture compare 2Ti 2: And remember to apply the truths illuminated to your life beloved. In analyzing Pr In the desert, when a spring or a well has been contaminated, the problem is that it may never be pure again.

Therefore it will thereafter disappoint those who come to it for a drink. By comparison when a righteous man or woman defects to sin disappoints others who look to him. Remember that another aid in analyzing a text is to examine it in a different translation - in this verse, the Amplified translation expands on what it means to "give way", rendering it as "yields, falls down, and compromises his integrity.

And all of these insights have been gleaned by slowing down and chewing on the passage using the tools of Inductive Bible Study. Can you imagine what treasures await you, as you begin to hone your skills of Inductive Bible Study and utilize them on every Scripture you read for the rest of your life?! Consider doing this over a period of several days as a devotional exercise, recording your insights.

Don't forget to check the context. Ask what is being compared and what insights you glean from the comparisons. Some of these uses are difficult to evaluate without a knowledge of the historical or cultural context - eg Ps When I encounter one of these passages, I will refer to the NLT which is a reasonably accurate paraphrase which can provide a clue regarding the meaning see Ps Note that the passages below do not include every use of like or as in the Psalms and Proverbs.

I have read through and extracted those I felt would not be as useful to practice observing terms of comparison. Other passages were not included as they were somewhat difficult to interpret. Notice that I have added links to commentaries denoted by N. Most of these will link to a commentary by Charles Bridges' which is older but still very highly respected. But please use the commentaries in a sense as your "reward", as well as a "check" on the accuracy your observations and interpretation.

You do not want to spoil the joy of self discovery! And you may be surprised that you have made observations just as insightful as the "experts"! Use of like - Pr 1: One comparison is simile, the other is a metaphor N ; Pr Use of like - Ps 1: To reiterate, as you observe the preceding passages ask questions like what is being compared to what.

Always remember to read the immediate context. Write down notes on the insights you receive from questioning the comparison e. And don't forget that figures of speech always convey literal truth seek the literal truth that is brought out by the comparisons, using the context to help guide your interpretation notice how observation merges almost imperceptibly with interpretation.

While you will want to be open to the Holy Spirit's illumination of the passage, be careful not to let your "sanctified imagination" run wild to the point that you try to discern things that do not reflect the original intent of the passage. To encourage as the the value of this exercise, read Ps 2: The psalmist could have simply said "You shall shatter them" but note how the addition of the simile emphasizes the completeness and ease of their shattering!

So take a moment and practice your skills of observation using the similes in the psalms. You will be blessed and challenged by the truths you discover.

And you will begin to experience the Psalms and Proverbs coming alive in "3-D and Technicolor" in a way you may have previously thought possible only for "Bible scholars"!

In simple terms, a metaphor is a term or phrase which in some way shows comparison between two things but without using the words as or like.

It is an implied comparison, a word or phrase applied to something it is not, to suggest a resemblance. Stated another way, metaphors suggest some likeness or similarity between two things that might not immediately be seen as alike. The value of metaphors and similes is that they give the reader a greater understanding then he or she would have had without the use of "word picture. Patzia defines metaphor as "In general usage, an implied comparison in which the characteristics, qualities or actions of one thing are applied to another e.

Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies. E W Bullinger in his classic work on figures of speech explains that "while the simile gently states that one thing is like or resembles another, the metaphor boldly and warmly declares that one thing IS the other. This is the distinction between the two It is He who tends his People, and does more for them than any earthly shepherd does for his sheep Metaphors are so numerous in the Old Testament, that it is impossible to give more than these few to serve as specimens and examples.

Read pages for Bullinger's full discussion of "Metaphor" - in his classic book "Figures of speech used in the Bible, explained" - online. Figures of speech used in the Bible. What metaphors does Jesus use in the following verses? What do they teach us about how believers should live in this present, passing world?

Note how Jesus uses two common metaphors to "explain" His main metaphor. Meditate on these passages asking these and similar questions before you read what the "prince of preachers", Charles Haddon Spurgeon observed in the passage.

Notice how Spurgeon takes the passages and prays them back to the Lord - this is a discipline an "application" if you will we should all continually seek to practice! Why is this practice so fruitful? You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. We are to remove the darkness of ignorance, sin, and sorrow. Christ has lighted us that we may enlighten the world. It is not ours to lie in concealment as to our religion. Household piety is the best of piety.

If our light is not seen in the house, depend upon it we have none. Candles are meant for parlors and bedrooms. Let us not cover up the light of grace: At least let me shine in my own home. The light is ours, but the glorification is for our Father in heaven. We shine because we have light, and we are seen because we shine. By good works we best shine before men. True shining is silent, but yet it is so useful, that men, who are too often very bad judges, are yet forced to bless God for the good which they receive through the light which he has kindled.

We need not object to be seen, although we are not to wish to be seen. Since men will be sure to see our excellences, if we possess any, be it ours to see that all the glory is given to our Lord, to whom it is entirely due.

Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name, O Lord, be praise! Another definition - Metaphors are comparisons that show how two things that are not alike in most ways are similar in one important way. Metaphors are a way to describe something and are used make a passage more understandable by painting a word picture.

In other words metaphor is the comparison of one thing to another without the use of like or as. Thus "that man is a fox," is a metaphor; but "that man is like a fox," is a similitude or simile. So when I say, "the soldiers fought like lions," I use a similitude simile. In metaphor, the similitude is contained in the name; a man is a fox, means, a man is as crafty as a fox. So we say, a man bridles his anger, that is, restrains it as a bridle restrains a horse. In the preceding examples from the beatitudes Mt 5: As we have stated figurative language always calls for careful attention to the context so that we can derive an accurate picture of what the simile or metaphor was intended to picture by the author.

In Jesus' day salt was the major means of arresting corruption in meats, and thus the audience clearly understood Jesus' charge to them. Light on the other hand calls for less understanding of the ancient culture, for we all know that physical light dispels physical darkness.

We know that when we cannot see, we are in trouble! From the context of other Scriptures, we know that the whole world lies in spiritual darkness brought on by Adam's sin. Jesus charge is to shine forth our light in the spiritual darkness so others might see our good works pictured here as "the lights" that shine forth and give glory to God.

In other words, God is invisible to our physical vision, but believers are to live in such a supernatural way, that others see the tangible supernatural evidence that clearly points to a supernatural Source, i.

As an aside, if you are a believer and you question your value or your purpose in God's Kingdom work, then you need to meditate on Mt 5: Clearly Jesus is using a well known horticultural figure of speech which would have been familiar to His listeners and which served to emphasize His relationship to His Father.

The interpretation is dramatic -- Abide in Jesus and bear much fruit. Fail to abide in Him and bring forth absolutely nothing. A vine branch has one great purpose which is to bear fruit. Vine branches are useless for making furniture or building homes. Vine branches are good for fruit bearing, but only as long as the branch remains attached to the vine!

What is the application to every believer? As this process takes place, you are learning to abide in the Vine. What bread does in supporting natural life is a representation of what Christ does in supporting and nourishing the new, Divine, spiritual life Jesus is also saying I am what a door is.

I am the entrance to the sheepfold, and to the Father. Yes, a door, and not a flight of steps. A door, through which we pass in one movement from one side to the other. In each of the following examples pause and ponder the passage, asking yourself what is the hyperbole or exaggeration and what does it mean in context. Our brethren have made our hearts melt, saying, "The people are bigger and taller than we; the cities are large and fortified to heaven.

And besides, we saw the sons of the Anakim there. What is the hyperbole? What is the purpose or effect of this hyperbole?

What is the application? When we take our eyes off of the majesty and greatness of our God, the temporal, earthly obstacles often become "exaggerated" in our imagination and reasoning! Clearly "all" does not signify every single person in Judea was going to John the Baptist, but Mark does emphasize that Jews were streaming out to John from everywhere in the region.

Mark's emphatic point is that this "church service" did not just have one or two new baptisms but that multitudes were being baptized! What are the hyperboles? Before we explain those, did you see any other figurative language?

Who is "you" in the passage? We would have to go and read the chapter and it would become apparent that Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees. Now were they literally "blind guides"? Jesus is not referring to physical blindness, but to spiritual blindness, for here was the very "Light of the World" in their eyesight, and yet they failed to see Him as their long awaited Messiah!

Now the interpretation of the hyperbole not as simple and requires some understanding of the cultural context which forces us to go to other resources. In this case, I had to consult 4 Bible dictionaries before I found a useful explanation of the custom in Jesus' day of filtering wine to remove impurities symbolized by "gnats" Easton's. In difficult cases like this one might then consult a trusted commentary such as that by Dr John MacArthur who explains that Some Pharisees would strain their beverages through a fine cloth to make sure they did not inadvertently swallow a gnat—the smallest of unclean animals Lev The camel was the largest of all the unclean animals Lev Clearly one's soul cannot be literally crushed so this represents the exaggeration, to emphasize the great degree of the psalmist's longing for God's ordinances.

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