When navigating down an unknown river we would need to have a goal and some basic equipment such as a boat and oars, a map, life jackets, water, and food. A guide would be of tremendous importance. We also would need to know what to look for and what to avoid.
When navigating through the Scriptures we also need a goal, some basic equipment, a guide, and to know what to look for and what to avoid. Our goal should be to become spiritually mature that we may be able to do the good works that God sets before us. We need to pray and ask God to reveal His Word to us. After all He is the author. We also need the Holy Spirit to be our guide. We need a good translation of the Bible, a good study Bible, a Bible dictionary, a concordance, and some good commentaries.
However, we also need to know some basic principles of biblical interpretation. Here are a few:
1. Scripture interprets Scripture.If you would like a more complete list of principles of Biblical interpretation see: http://alternative-counseling.org/doc/navigating-script.html
2. Verse, cultural, and historical context are all important.
3. We should understand that different types of literature are interpreted differently.
4. We should learn who the author is and the purpose of the writing.
5. We should take the clear passage over the obscure, and the many over the few.