Read it three times.” That was the advice William Faulkner gave when readers of his novel The Sound And The Fury complained that they couldn’t understand it.

That’s good counsel. Some books require a first reading, a second reading, and still another reading before they yield their meaning. If we believe that a book has value, we may be willing to spend time and effort in deciphering and grasping its message.

Faulkner’s advice surely can be applied to passages in the Bible that initially puzzle and perplex us. After all, the apostle Peter commented that Paul’s letters contained some things that are “hard to understand” (2 Pet. 3:16). While some concepts may be difficult, they’re not impossible to comprehend.

But suppose you encounter texts that continue to baffle you even though you read them over and over. What then? Ask the Lord to open your understanding (Lk. 24:45; 1 Cor. 2:10-16). Consult a commentary. Ask your pastor. If no light dawns, temporarily set those passages aside. Then wait patiently for the Holy Spirit to illuminate what may be baffling to you now. As you grow in grace, you will also grow in understanding. Meanwhile, put into practice the teachings you do understand.