Why OIA Matters
If you missed Monday’s important introductory note about the upcoming change regarding Time With God, please see it here: http://twg.austinridge.org/sola-scriptura.
From its beginning, the aim of Time With God has been to produce equipped, biblically-literate, Bible-valuing, God-loving believers in Christ. In order to do this, we set out to teach readers how to accurately handle Scripture through using sound Bible study methods. As Time With God’s writers studied each passage of Scripture and crafted a study, they intentionally used the methods of observation (O), interpretation (I), and application (A) in order to discover and convey the truths found in Scripture.
Some of you have been using this method of Bible study (OIA) for many years, while others of you may be thinking, “What does this even mean?” Today, we’re taking the opportunity to show you what our writers have been doing behind the scenes. And in doing so, we hope you’ll realize that you, too, have been honing your OIA skills as you read along with us.
- As you study the passage below, keep these questions in mind:
What does it say (observation)?
What does it mean (interpretation)?
How do I respond to this (application)?
Read the Word
Psalms 119:9-16 (ESV)
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
(The questions below are noted as observation (O), interpretation (I), and application (A). Also, when you begin a study of any passage of Scripture, it’s essential to first pray and then read both the text at hand and its surrounding context carefully. After you do this, search for the answers to “Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?”)
- (O) How did the psalmist say a person could maintain a pure path in life (vs. 9)?
- (O) What was the psalmist’s two-fold desire as he sought God wholeheartedly and stored God’s Word (revelation or law) in his heart (vss. 10-11)? (I) How would storing God’s Word in our hearts keep us from sinning against him?
- (O) Notice the praise of God and personal delight expressed by the psalmist (vss. 12, 14). (I) Why would an intimate relationship with God’s words and ways, found in Scripture, bring about these things?
- (O) What are the three “I will” statements the psalmist made in verses 15-16? (A) How do these declarations inspire you to take an active role in knowing God through studying his revealed Word?
Respond to God
When we purposefully study God’s Word in context, with the intent of understanding the larger narrative of God’s story and our place in it, we are able to best observe the truth it communicates. For example, if we read these verses from Psalm 119 in their extended context, we find that they are couched in the longest chapter of the Bible, written by a person experiencing persecution and longing for God’s comfort and deliverance (Psalm 119:23, 69, 81-82, 84). When studied on its own, the assigned passage is instructive and insightful. But what greater understanding do we have once we realize both the psalmist’s situation and his desire to know God and find hope in his words? The psalmist’s purposed focus on drawing near to God while enduring personal threat invites us, too, to pursue God, store his words in our hearts, and place our hope in him.
Through our observatory questions about this passage, we find that the psalmist chose to seek and internalize God’s Word with intentional goals in mind. From our interpretative questions, we learn that doing these things led the psalmist to praise and delight. And so, how can we respond to what we observe in and learn from this passage? By joining with the psalmist: purposefully and actively seeking to know God’s ways through his revealed Word.
- Spend some time meditating on the verses above, asking God how you can guard your heart against sin today.
- Pray this verse to God: “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!”
*For more information on inductive Bible study and OIA, see the following: