Several years ago when I began writing more seriously, I made an important investment - a Bible!
No, not just any Bible - this one is a chronological Bible called The Life and Times Historical Reference Bible. It has increased my understanding of scripture immensely as I read through it day by day.
All of the chapters of Scripture are written in the chronological order in which they happened. It's a little disjointed, reading several Bible books at once when their content overlaps like Kings, Chronicles and the major and minor prophets; but it really helps put the whole Bible in perspective. I'm no longer reading individual books, but a more complete history, including maps and time lines.
Another neat feature of this Bible is the numerous cultural references which describe the various customs of the day, both in Israel and surrounding ethnic groups. References to customs like marriage, birth and even how they fought their battles are interspersed close by Bible passages that mention those issues.
There is an old saying that we shouldn't judge another until we have walked a mile in their moccasins . I think that's true for God's word too. In order to understand all of what God is saying to us today, we must be willing to walk in the sandals of those who walked before us - to see things from their perspective. It certainly does give richer hues and texture to the verbal pictures painted in God's word!