In a Sunday school class I'm teaching we have started a study called "Decisions." We are looking at different people in the Bible and the decisions they were faced with what happened and why.
The first week we looked at Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. It sparked a pretty interesting discussion. With a story like Adam and Eve its easy to bring our preconceived notions to the text. The first question I asked is what do we know about the serpent. Someone immediately answered that its Satan. And I asked, from just this story, how do you know that? They knew what I was getting at, its not clear just from reading Genesis 3 that the serpent is Satan. Its something that we know based on the unity of the scriptures, but its not something we know from that particular text alone. What we do know is that the serpent was crafty. We also know that this particular serpent was somehow different from all the other animals because its the only one we have a record of that spoke. I wonder how eve reacted to a talking serpent?
Anway, this is just to say that when you read or study the bible, try to remove the preconceived notions you have and look at the text in its context. Once you ask about what the text meant to the original author and audience, then, you can ask what the significance is for your life based on a correct understanding about it in its correct context.