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In many places in the Scriptures, the believer is encouraged to study the written Word as the foundation for a holy, godly and fruitful life before God and man. But how are we to study this unified, but daunting, compilation of sixty-six books written by over forty authors between nineteen hundred and thirty-five hundred years ago in languages and cultures that may be totally foreign to us? Enter the science of hermeneutics.
To understand hermeneutical principles is to be equipped for an intelligent study of the Word of God, tending greatly to our approval before God as workmen that do not need to be ashamed.
In our previous twelve Shofars, we've been treated to sound instruction by Dr. David L. Cooper, founder of the Biblical Research Society, in interpreting Scripture, a critical skill to master, particularly in an age in which the Babel of interpretations is legion. With "Rules of Interpretation," a study that will span perhaps seventeen Shofars, we are engaging what will be our most extensive and detailed study thus far on the topic and continuing to hone our skills in rightly dividing the Word of Truth that we might be clear and accurate voices for the Lord. To read or review prior studies, please see links in our Library. Let us apply ourselves. - Editor
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RULES OF INTERPRETATION
III. The third rule of interpretation is as follows:
1. The sum and substance of this most important rule is that one should take every statement of the Scriptures at its face value, if possible.
B. Seek the figurative meaning only when the facts
1. Modernism and rationalism are the logical outgrowth of forcing a figurative meaning upon a passage that is clearly literal, or vice versa.
C. Study every statement of the Scriptures in context
Then study the facts of the context in the light of related passages and axiomatic fundamental truths. No prophecy of scripture is of private (special) interpretation (II Peter 1:20); The sum of thy word is truth (Psalm 119:160).
D. Study the following texts and apply
1. Zechariah 9:9,10: 9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.
3. Ezekiel 34:20-24 (Will David be king over Israel?): 20. Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them, "Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21. "Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns until you have scattered them abroad, 22. therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another. 23. "Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. 24. "And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken.
(The Golden Rule of Interpretation is one of the most important principles governing us in our interpretation of the Scriptures If we follow this rule, we shall never go very far wrong; but if we fail to follow it, we shall never go right.)
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Links to prior studies in the "Rules of Interpretation" series may found in our Library.
Reprinted by permission of the Biblical Research Society, where other outstanding studies by Dr. Cooper may be found.