Five Bible Tools: The Interpretation Flashlight

Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
— Psalm 119:18 ESV

I could try to wow you today. I could drop fancy words in an effort to impress:

  • Exegesis
  • Eisegesis
  • Hermeneutics
  • The perspicuity of Scripture

I could take a verse and make it do analytical gymnastics. I could analyze it:

  • Historically
  • Literarily
  • Grammatically
  • Contextually
  • Theologically

I could do all of this, but it would do me (and you) absolutely no good without the Flashlight.

What Is The Flashlight?

The Flashlight is the Holy Spirit, specifically the work of the Spirit whereby he illuminates the meaning of Scripture. In the same way a flashlight helps me see things I would not, the Spirit enables me to understand the Bible in a way I could not apart from his help.

We find this truth in many places in the Scriptures. Here are three:

  1. Jesus taught it: "I will send him to you. . . . When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth." John 16:7, 13 ESV
  2. Luke highlighted it: "Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45 NIV
  3. Paul emphasized it: "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12 ESV

What God is telling me is that I cannot understand the Bible on my own. The Bible is a spiritual book and I need the Spirit's help to understand it.

Matthew Henry drives home this point when he writes:

Jesus Christ by his Spirit operates on the minds of men, on the minds of all that are his. He has access to our spirits, and can immediately influence them.

Even good men need to have their understandings opened; for though they are not darkness, as they were by nature, yet in many things they are in the dark . . . . Christ’s way of working faith in the soul, and gaining the throne there, is by opening the understanding to discern the evidence of those things that are to be believed.

This truth is both simple and profound. It is simple: I need the Spirit's help every time I open my Bible. It is profound: Every time I open the Bible, I have access to the very Spirit of God to help me understand it.

This why the Psalmist' prayer should be our prayer every time we open the Bible:

Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.
— Psalm 119:18 ESV

Go ahead, give it a try. Pray Psalm 119:18 and then begin to read God's Word. If you are searching for a place to start, click here.

God has given you the most powerful Flashlight. So take it out of your Bible Toolbox every day. Let the loving and illuminating Spirit of God enlighten your understanding.


  • If you missed Part 1 of FIVE BIBLE TOOLS, you can get "The Bible Checklist" by clicking here.
  • Jesus Christ by his spirit . . . from Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume (1914). Peabody: Hendrickson.