The Dialogue: How to Read the Bible When it Bores You

Again I saw the young man sitting under the willow. He was awfully still and it was then that I noticed him fast asleep with the book lying wide open on his lap. I wondered what had incurred say sleep but I would have to wait. The scene was closed to me and when I saw again the young man was sitting on a chair inside the Old Man’s study.

Young Man: Old Man. I have tried to take your advice, but it does not work for me.

Old Man: What advice?

Young Man: To read this book for myself. Why every time I intend to I fall asleep. To be very honest I find it quite boring at times. At other times its language is confusing. What am I to do?

Old Man: I once heard the story of a young woman who found a book to be extremely uninteresting. Sometime later she fell in love with a man and eventually discovered him to be the author of that book. At night she read the entire thing! Now the book remained the same, but something changed. What was it?

Young Man: I suppose it was two things: She met the author and she fell in love with him.

Old Man: Exactly! This is why David, who both knew the Author of the book and loved Him said, “I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.”[i]

Young Man: Well. I suppose I love God and know Him and want to know His word. But I have a difficult time assimilating it. What then?

Old Man: A common struggle young lad, a common struggle. For you see, there is an enemy that wants you to remain ignorant of truth for his power is in your ignorance and his weakness is in your lack thereof.

Young Man: Then what am I to do?

Old Man: Allow me to offer some practical suggestions. Firstly, you must understand that the Bible can be quite boring at times.

Young Man: I beg your pardon? Are you, an old man, proposing the Bible to be boring? Why I thought for sure you would rebuke me for even mentioning such a possibility, yet now I hear you say it!

Old Man: There are those who in their hurry to defend God would find offense at such a thing. But I am in no hurry to defend God. He is quite capable of defending Himself.

Now, once again I would like to suggest that the Bible can in fact be boring at times. Allow me to elaborate. The Bible is filled with many different literary genres. There is history, poetry, prophecy, and wisdom among others. Within these we find other categories such as genealogies and social customs or laws. An advanced Bible student may find the genealogies and social customs interesting. A historian or a scholar may be quite intrigued by them. However, your average young man would find them to be, for lack of a better word, dull. Now I am not intimating that you will never find these to be riveting, but that depends on what stage you are in life. For now, you are just beginning your study of the Bible so I would suggest that you skip anything you find boring and stick to what you find interesting.

Young Man: That makes so much sense! I find myself dreading the long lists of genealogies. Likewise, I came upon the book of Leviticus and found it most confusing! However, I felt it an insult to God had I skipped it so I read through it anyways. Not only did I not comprehend any of it, but I found myself asleep each and every time. However, I was intrigued by books such as Genesis, Exodus, and Samuel.

Old Man: Of course you were! They are interesting books. While the others are not inherently boring, you are simply not ready to read them and that is quite alright. Just move on to something else. In due time, you will find yourself reading those genealogies and social customs with great interest, but until then just pass them over.

Young Man: I feel ripe for the reading already! What other counsel can you give?

Old Man: Another obstacle many face when reading the Bible is its language. Some find it confusing and difficult to decipher. This is mostly due to the version they are reading. For example, the old versions of the Bible use archaic words no longer utilized in modern language. When a young man reads a book riddled with unfamiliar words it can pose a formidable challenge. However, there are more contemporary versions that convey the same message but in modern vocabulary. Therefore, I suggest that you find a good contemporary version that is easy to read instead of crawling through a maze of dead phrases.

Young Man: (Laughs) Why that is so simple I am surprised I had not thought of it before! That is certainly one of my struggles. I don’t mind reading a book with new words that I had not known before, but when I have to pause every fifteen seconds because I am confused it becomes extremely tedious.

Old Man: Indeed! Allow me to illustrate. The King James Version of the Bible, which I love and often quote, renders 2 Corinthians 8:11 like this, “Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.”

Now what on earth is that saying? However, the Good News Translation, which is more contemporary, puts it this way, “On with it, then, and finish the job! Be as eager to finish it as you were to plan it, and do it with what you now have.” Now tell me, which of those would you find easier to read?

Young Man: Why the contemporary one of course. While I do appreciate the eloquence of the older translations, I must admit the language is a barrier between the message and I.

Old Man: The last counsel I would give you is that you would never read this book without first asking God to give you wisdom to understand. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.[ii] We cannot expect to fully comprehend Gods word with carnal eyes. We must read it with spiritual eyes. Those only God can provide and He does so freely.[iii]

Young Man: Old Man, I must say, I am fully indebted to your wisdom. You have blessed my Christian journey immensely and for that I am grateful.

Old Man: The debt I owe God is much greater than any debt you would owe me. Therefore, consider it my joy to walk with you.

Young Man: Done!

Old Man: Done.


[i] Psalms 119:162
[ii] 1 Corinthians 2: 14
[iii] James 1:5