Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn't need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15 HCSB

 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn't need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15 HCSB

 Have you ever read a passage of Scripture and thought, “So what?” Or, perhaps even worse, you shrugged your mental shoulders and wondered, “What the heck did that mean?” Have you ever left your prayer closet, prie-dieux (a prayer kneeler), meditation pillow or kitchen table with the nagging feeling that there was more to what you just read in the Bible but you just couldn’t put your finger on it? Me too!

That’s why I approach every passage cautiously and try to perform a midrash upon it. No, midrash is not a nasty red skin abrasion on your belly. It’s a form of Biblical exegesis. It’s a way of taking the passage apart to make sure you get it all.

Midrash can involve explaining a Scripture passage’s simple meaning (peshat), its application (derash) and possibly, its deeper, symbolic or metaphorical meaning (sod).

First, try to establish the peshat – the simplest meaning of the passage. Determine it’s most literal, historical and grammatical meaning. For example, “An angel appeared to Zacharias” means simply that. The angel doesn’t represent a concept or force. Zacharias does not represent the nation of Israel. An angel appeared to a man named Zacharias. That is the “peshat” of that verse.

Then seek the derash, which is the application of a verse. For example, we read, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

A missionary might consider the “derash” of this verse to be that, like the Master, he too needs to attempt to live like the natives he is trying to reach, condescending to be one of them though he has the right to live a more comfortable life.

Or, a person who is struggling with their tongue might possibly consider the “derash” to be that he needs to work at balancing grace and truth in his conversations with others.

There are probably an unlimited number of scriptural derash and we need to be sensitive to both the leading of the Holy Spirit and the plain teaching of the Scriptures in order to get the best derash possible.

Finally, dig until you find the sod – the spiritual, symbolic or metaphorical meaning of a Scripture passage. For example the sod of the story of Isaac, Abraham’s beloved son of the promise, bearing the wood of his own sacrifice up Mount Moriah is a prophetic type of God’s only begotten, well-loved son bearing the wooden cross to his own sacrifice on Mount Calvary.

Be diligent. Study hard. Apply what you learn. By disciplining your mind to midrash the Scriptures instead of just reading them, you will gain pearls of wisdom not possibly arrived at by any other means.

For a fully referenced and hyperlinked version of this article search the archives at