When studying a passage of Scripture, it's important to:
1. Identify the Purpose of the Book or Passage. Some people call this the author's intent. The ultimate author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit, and He used human authors to write for specific purposes. For example, the author of Proverbs explains the purpose HERE.(1)
2. Identify the Audience. You want to know if a command was given for everyone (Matthew 28:16-20) or only for a specific time or group (Matthew 10:5-6).(2)
3. Identify Figurative Language. The Bible uses poetic language especially in the poetical books(3). It shouldn't be taken literally. For example Psalm 98:8.(4)
4. Read in Context. This gives you a fuller understanding of the passage and prevents misunderstandings. Words taken out of context can lose their true meaning.(5)
5. Study Thoroughly. Find out everything the Bible says about a subject before drawing conclusions.(6)
(1) See Proverbs Aren't Promises
(2) See the 4 short articles: Which Old Testament Laws Apply To Us Today?
(3) The Poetical books include: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.
(4) See Can I Take the Bible Literally?
(5) For an example of a common out-of-context mistake read As A Man Thinketh.
(6) To see how easily we can misunderstand prayer, read Pieces Parts and its Insights.