Is the Bible your puppet? Exegesis vs. Eisegesis
So what are the implications of 1 Kings 22? How does this text play itself out for us today? Paying attention to God’s Word means reading God’s Word with the right approach. There is a right way to read the Bible and there is a wrong way. There are two basic ways to read the Bible. We can read the Bible with a God-centered approach, or we can read the Bible with a man-centered approach. A man-centered approach gives the authority to the reader. A God-centered approach gives the authority to the author. A man-centered approach reads meaning into the text (eisegesis). A God-centered approach reads the meaning out of the text (exegesis).
A man-centered approach to Scripture takes the Bible and uses it as a means to validate my own ideas. I don’t care about what the Bible actually says. Instead I manipulate the Bible. I twist it to represent my own agenda. So when I use this approach to Scripture, the Bible becomes my puppet and I become a ventriloquist. The puppet moves its mouth, but my words come out.
The problem with this approach to the Bible is that it doesn’t take too much work to see that the ventriloquist’s lips are moving. When we read the Bible like this, we make ourselves to be the authority. God’s Word becomes a tool to rationalize, to justify, to validate the opinions of men.
However, when I read the Bible from a God-centered point-of-view, I have to realize that the Bible might have different ideas than me. The Bible might have a different agenda than my agenda. And so, I don’t change the Bible to fit my agenda. I change my agenda to fit the Bible. Scripture takes precedence over my ideas. I put myself under the authority of Scripture. And my goal is to listen. To listen carefully. I want to be a careful reader of God’s Word. Our prayer is, “Lord, speak! We want to hear from you. Correct our thinking. Change our agenda. Not our will, but yours be done.”
This was King Ahab’s problem. He summons the prophets and inquires of God. But what’s his goal? Is it to hear from God? No! His goal is to get a divine endorsement on his own agenda. If we do not want the truth in Scripture, we will not get it. This is not because God is unreliable, or arbitrary. It’s because God will not allow us to use His Word to justify own agenda. If we pay close attention to God’s Word, we will read the Bible with the right approach.