Thursday, July 9, 2009

Four Levels of Interpretation part 4

To see how this works, we can take these 4 levels and apply them to a single scriptural idea.

The 4 Levels Applied to John 10:11, 14

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine."

Plain ­ P'shat

Reading at this level we can learn another one of the Savior's titles.
We learn that one of the job descriptions of a good shepherd was a willingness to give his life for his sheep.
We can see that he has a close relationship with his flock.
We note that the title "good shepherd" appears three times and the word "sheep" appears twice. (word emphasis)

Story ­ Drash

At this level we can extract and expound principles. We can read about other shepherds in scripture and compare them to Christ's example. We can study the lives of Moses, David, and Ammon, and use their actions to illustrate how different virtues can be incorporated into our lives.

Hint ­ Remez

Remez is the level that is a foreshadowing of Christ's redemptive sacrifice. Here we can frequently make many profound "ah-hah!" connections.

Anciently, shepherds fought to defend their flocks from predators. Nephi, speaking of the great blessing of the atonement and what our awful fate would have been without the protection of our Good Shepherd, Christ, said:

"O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit." (2 Nephi 9:10)

Lastly, we have the

Hidden ­ Sod level.

As a reminder, at this level, knowledge is received by personal revelation as a result of covenant faithfulness, diligent study, yearning prayer, and strict obedience.
There must be reciprocal trust and confidence that knowledge will be held sacred. Quoting Bruce R. McConkie: "The Lord does not talk to blabbermouths."

Using word-links, we can discover a possible sod level in this verse. Listen:

"I know my sheep, and am known of mine."

These words are echoed in a verse found in the Doctrine and Covenants.

"They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known..." (D&C 76:94)


  1. Love it! Especially the Bruce R. Quote!

  2. I am thankful for this amazing lesson in studying scriptures at many levels. While many of the lessons the Spirit will teach us at the Sod or mystery level are truly to be held close to our hearts, some things can be shared through gentle hints as Donna has done here. Then those who have eyes to see and ears to hear will be greatly enlightened.

  3. blessed be those who serve God