The first step is to pay close attention to what the text actually says. “Observations” are things you notice about the text that everyone else looking at it can see and agree on. At first, you might think that after you’ve read the passage once there is nothing left to observe. But, the inductive approach has developed some categories to help you look more closely at the text and deeply observe a passage.
The interpretation step is centered on asking questions of the text. What do you find intriguing, confusing, or troubling? What questions does the author seem to want the readers to wrestle with? Honest and thoughtful questions push us back into the passage and help us engage it deeply.
The word “application” can be misleading here because it sounds like you can lift out of the Bible what you would like to apply to your own life, like applying lip balm. Instead, think of application as God inviting you to align with his Word. Our part is to listen, discern, and then to obey. The Holy Spirit inspires and empowers our response.