“Unit 1: Day 4, Studying the Scriptures,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 1: Day 4,” Old Testament Study Guide
This lesson can help you learn how to better understand the scriptures, identify the gospel truths they contain, and apply those truths in your life. Discovering and acting on eternal truths found in the scriptures can help you become more converted to the gospel.
List three ways good friends bless your life:
Have you ever thought of your scriptures as a friend?
Read the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and mark the blessings that he said we receive from the scriptures:
“[The scriptures] can become stalwart friends that are not limited by geography or calendar. They are always available when needed. … Learning, pondering, searching, and memorizing scriptures is like filling a filing cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon anytime, anywhere in the world.
“Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change” (“The Power of Scripture,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 6).
To deepen your understanding of how scriptures can help you, read each of the following scripture passages. Next to each one, use what you learn in that passage and complete the following phrase: If we study the scriptures they will … (The first one has been done as an example.)
Joshua 1:8 … tell me what to do to be prosperous and successful.
- In your scripture study journal, write about one of the blessings you identified that you have experienced through studying the scriptures. During the coming week, share what you wrote with a family member or friend.
Suppose that in an effort to use his time more efficiently, a young man decided to change how and when he brushes his teeth. Instead of brushing for a couple of minutes every day, he decided to brush for 15 minutes once a week. He also decided to use seven times the usual amount of toothpaste so that his teeth would be extra clean.
Think about whether or not this would be a wise way to care for your teeth. How do you think this can relate to your study of the scriptures?
President Howard W. Hunter taught the importance of studying the scriptures every day: “It is certain that one who studies the scriptures every day accomplishes far more than one who devotes considerable time one day and then lets days go by before continuing” (“Reading the Scriptures,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 64).
- In your scripture study journal, write a goal describing what you will do to improve your daily scripture study.
Imagine that you are exploring an area outdoors and something shiny catches your eye. When you look more closely, you discover that it is a large diamond. Ponder the following questions: What would you do with the diamond? How would your exploration of the area change after finding the diamond? Why would it be worth your time to search for diamonds in a place where you know diamonds exist?
Elder Richard G. Scott said that there are “diamonds of truth” in the pages of the Old Testament (“Four Fundamentals for Those Who Teach and Inspire Youth” [Church Educational System symposium address, Aug. 14, 1987], 1; si.lds.org). We refer to some of these diamonds as gospel doctrines and principles.
Doctrines and principles are fundamental, unchanging truths of the gospel and can guide us in making decisions. Understanding and applying doctrines and principles of the gospel bring blessings, deepen our conversion, and help us become more like the Savior.
The following methods and skills can help you identify, understand, and apply the doctrines and principles found in the scriptures.
Jewelers often display diamonds or precious gems on a dark background so the gem stands out more clearly.
An important part of identifying the doctrines and principles contained in the scriptures is to first understand the context and content of the scriptures. This includes understanding the historical and literary background, story line, people, events, and sermons in the scriptural text. The context and content of the scriptures provide the background that helps doctrines and principles stand out more clearly and helps us avoid faulty interpretations.
The following exercises can help you practice using tools to help you understand the context and content of the scriptures.
Use scripture study aids: Some languages of the LDS edition of the scriptures include scripture study aids like footnotes, chapter headings, topical indexes, the Bible Dictionary, the Guide to the Scriptures, and maps. A particularly helpful aid in studying the Bible is the Joseph Smith Translation. The Prophet Joseph Smith made inspired changes to the Bible that restore lost content and clarify certain passages. Many of these changes can be found in the footnotes or the appendix of LDS editions of the Bible. (They are found in the appendix of the triple combination in some languages.) If you have an LDS edition of the Bible, read Exodus 4:21 and use the footnotes to identify the correction that Joseph Smith made. (If the excerpts from the Joseph Smith Translation are in the appendix of the triple combination in your language, read and compare Exodus 4:21 in your Bible and JST, Exodus 4:21 in the appendix.)
How does this correction affect your understanding of what is happening in this verse?
Understand the setting: Knowing who is speaking in a scripture passage, whom he or she is speaking to, what he or she is speaking about, and when and where the event is occurring can increase your understanding of the scripture context.
Read Deuteronomy 5:22–24, and try to identify who heard the voice of the Lord speaking from Mount Sinai.
Understand the symbolism: The scriptures often use symbols to teach important gospel truths. Words such as like or as can help identify symbols. The footnotes, Bible Dictionary, Topical Guide, and Guide to the Scriptures can also help with the interpretation of some symbols.
Read Isaiah 1:18, looking for the colors Isaiah used symbolically.
What two colors did Isaiah use for sin?
What two things did Isaiah use to describe the color white?
- In your scripture study journal, record the message you learn from the symbolism of the colors Isaiah used.
Read the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott, and mark what he said we should do as we study the context and content of the scriptures: “As you seek for spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. … It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle” (“Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 86).
What did Elder Scott say we should do as we search for principles?
Some principles in the scriptures are clearly stated in the text and are easily identified by words and phrases such as “thus we see,” “therefore,” “wherefore,” and “behold.” Other principles may be contained in the scriptural story line, events, parables, or people’s lives. Finding these implied principles often requires time and careful thought.
Asking the following questions as you read can help you identify principles: What is the moral or point of this story? What can I learn from these passages? What gospel truths are taught in this passage?
To practice identifying doctrines and principles, read 1 Samuel 17:32–37, and ask yourself the suggested questions.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What gospel lesson do you learn from 1 Samuel 17:32–37?
As we identify doctrines and principles in the scriptures, we can ponder how they relate to our personal experiences. When we do this, we invite the Spirit into our hearts. When the Spirit testifies of doctrines and principles, we can have a greater desire to act on and apply them in our lives. Read the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “As you receive counsel and instruction, extract principles that will be eternally important in your lives and then make them part of your lives” (“How to Solve Problems,” New Era, July 2013, 48).
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: When have you identified a doctrine or principle from the scriptures and then made it a part of your life?
As you study the scriptures this week, search for doctrines and principles by using the tools outlined in this lesson.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied the “Studying the Scriptures” lesson and completed it on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: