I recently ran across an old but extremely helpful illustration from the Navigators that helps believers understand the wide array of ways to interact with and learn from the Bible. It’s called “The Word Hand“.
With their permission, I reproduce their helpful text and illustration and below. (You can also print their PDF.)
Hearing / Romans 10:17
Hearing the Word from godly pastors and teachers provides insight into others’ study of the Scriptures as well as stimulating your own appetite for the Word.
Reading / Revelation 1:3
Reading the Bible gives an overall picture of God’s Word. Many people find it helpful to use a daily reading program which takes them systematically through the Bible.
Studying / Acts 17:11
Studying the Scriptures leads to personal discoveries of God’s truths. Writing these discoveries helps you organize and remember them.
Memorizing / Psalm 119:9, 11
Memorizing God’s Word enables use of the Sword of the Spirit to overcome Satan and temptations…to have it readily available for witnessing or helping others with a “word in season.”
Meditating / Psalm 1:2, 3
Meditation is the thumb of the Word Hand, for it is used in conjunction with each of the other methods. Only as you meditate on God’s Word–thinking of its meaning and application in your life–will you discover its transforming power at work within you.
I love how meditation brings it all together—to a heart level. Hearing, reading, studying, and memorizing are all great—but the heart that delights in Scripture doesn’t stop at any of those; it makes the Word it’s constant meditation. And that, according to Psalm 1, is blessed by God.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.