Study Bibles and Commentaries

II Timothy 2:15 — Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

I got thinking about the study Bibles that I have.  

Here they are:
Wesley Study Bible
Life Application Study Bible
New International Study Bible
Ryrie Study Bible
Morris Study Bible
MacArthur Study Bible
English Standard Version Study Bible
New Living Translation Study Bible.

I wonder if I need any more?

Some would say Yes, and some would say No.  And there is a whole range in between I’m sure.

Not to mention commentaries.  There are numerous commentaries online that one can avail himself of — and I do.

But …

At times in my mind, I go back to the days when all I had was Matthew Henry, the New Scofield Study Bible and an old Webster dictionary.  Truthfully, those were exciting times for me.  That’s all I had, plus the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  

I know I didn’t get some of the finer details that are “needed” to preach expository messages.  As a matter of fact, all I pretty much had was my own gleanings from the Scriptures.  However, those were some of my richest times in the Bible.  I was forced to think and conclude on my own.  I had to be willing to do the best I could and … perhaps be “wrong.”  

What I had more of then and less of now is … the personal dimension of God communicating to me without the interference of what everybody else has to say.  I’m finding that at times, I place more confidence in study Bibles and commentaries than I ever thought I would.  After all, I have to preach and I can’t appear ignorant, can I?  People are looking to me to exposit the “deep” things in the Scriptures.  After all I went to Bible college, didn’t I?

Yes, I did go off to Bible college.  Soon I became aware of the world of commentaries and the many opinions that goes with it all.  But I found I got more confused and less blessed.  Why?  Because commentators don’t always agree with each other.  At times, they disagree in huge ways.  So, instead of getting clarification I got more uncertainty.  Who is correct?  Who should I latch onto??  What commentary sets should I buy???  

Interestingly, I find myself arriving back at this point once again — but in a different field of study.  What Messianic teacher should I listen to?   Whose writings should I read?  What CD series should I purchase?  Whose cruise should I go on?

I long for the days when I had the “freedom” to just read the Scriptures, passing over those parts I didn’t understand, and rely on God alone to give me what He knew I needed for right then.  Now, I find myself so far into the “woods” of academia that I “can’t see the forest for the trees.”

So, what am I to do?  Get rid of my Study Bibles?  Stop pursuing commentaries? Put away my iPad?  Get a Bible with no notes at all — maybe just some cross references?  Toss my Messianic books and CDs?  Keep ‘em all and buy more?  “Rely” on the Holy Ghost? 

Please don’t misunderstand me here.  It is a good thing that so much material is available — I think.  But I just wonder if we aren’t, to some degree, missing the personal touch from God because we don’t even give Him a chance before we’re off to some commentary or teacher to find out what they have to say.  

It’s risky to come to God on one’s own and conclude for one’s self.  But, that is where the true blessings come upon us.  To know that God Almighty has just opened the Scriptures to you — it doesn’t get any better than that.

Which has brought me back to George Mueller.  I give you what he said and let you choose your course.  

George Muller — “And, further, that the Holy Spirit alone can teach us about our state by nature, show us the need of a Saviour, enable us to believe in Christ, explain to us the Scriptures, help us in preaching, etc. It was my beginning to understand this latter point in particular which had a great effect on me; for the Lord enabled me to put it to the test of experience, by laying aside commentaries, and almost every other book, and simply reading the word of God and studying it. The result of this was, that the first evening that I shut myself into my room, to give myself to prayer and meditation over the Scriptures, I learned more in a few hours than I had done during a period of several months previously. But the particular difference was, that I received real strength for my soul in doing so. I now began to try by the test of the Scriptures the things which I had learned and seen, and found that only those principles which stood the test were really of value.”

Don’t you wonder what Timothy did?