Here is an explanation from a famous preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), about what it means to study the Word.
Search the Scriptures
The Greek word search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search, such as men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in earnest after game (a hunt). We must not rest content with having given a superficial reading to a chapter or two, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the hidden meaning of the Word. Holy Scripture requires searching—much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babes, but also meat for strong men). No man who merely skims the book of God can profit thereby; we must dig and mine until we obtain the hid treasure.
The door of the Word only opens to the key of diligence. The Scriptures claim searching. They are the writings of God. He who despises them despises the God who wrote them. The Word of God will repay searching. God does not bid us sift a mountain of chaff with here and there a grain of wheat in it, but the Bible is winnowed corn—we have but to open the granary door and find it.
Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye it glows with splendor of revelation, like a vast temple paved with gold, and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems. Lastly, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: “They are they which testify of Me.” No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: He who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, all things. Happy is he who, searching his Bible, discovers his Savior.
Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotional
What is the difference between just reading the Bible and studying it? When you study something, you show you want to know more about it and learn all you can from it. When we study the Word we show that we’re hungry for it, we want to understand it, and we want to apply it to our life. That pleases God.
Have you ever wondered why people read the Word of God over and over again even when they are already familiar with what it says? Why is reading the Word of God different than reading any other book?
A young lady was asked by her friend, “Could you explain what devotional reading of the Bible means?”
“Yes of course. Yesterday morning I received a letter from my fiancé, who I am deeply in love with. Well, I have read that letter five times, not because I did not understand it the first time I read it, nor because I wanted to impress the author by frequently reading his message. It wasn’t about duty; I simply did it out of pleasure. I read it because I am crazy about the one who wrote it.
“To read the Bible with the same attitude and desire is to read it devotionally, and to the person who reads it in that spirit it really is a love letter.”