Q. When reading the Bible, how can one claim a verse of scripture for themselves? For example, Jeremiah 29:11. I have heard so many claim this verse as their own, believing that God intended this for them and their current situation. But as you read this chapter, it is specific to Israel and God releasing them from Babylonian captivity. As I write to you on this, my heart is pounding. I want to claim or pray a verse for my situation, but I am thinking that it is just futile worthless hope. How can I apply verses of God’s word to my situation today when they are part of a bigger issue and theme. Do you understand what I am saying?
A. The context in which a verse appears will usually tell us whether it’s for general application or was intended for a specific audience. In the case of Jeremiah 29:11, the context of the chapter tells us it was meant for the Babylonian exiles. In the previous verse the Lord made that clear. He said they would spend 70 years in Babylon and after that He would come and fulfill His gracious promise to bring them back to the Promised Land (Jeremiah 29:10). Then in verse 11 He said He would do that because He had plans to prosper them and not harm them, plans to give them hope and a future. This promise was fulfilled right on schedule at the end of the 70 year captivity.
There are plenty of verses in both the Old and New Testaments that have general application and can be appropriated by anyone for personal use. The Psalms and Proverbs are full of them, as are the Gospels and Paul’s letters. Devote some time to reading and ask the Lord to lead you to those that will have special meaning for you. Over the years He has given me several, such as Matt. 11:28, Luke 6:38, Romans 8:28, 2 Cor. 9:11 and others. Of all of those He has led me to, Psalm 37:4 is my all time favorite. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.