Learning to Meditate on the Word of God

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January 8, 2020

Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV)

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

CONSIDER THIS

Yesterday we introduced the first formative, Spirit-empowered practice of engaging the Word of God: Reading, and more properly, hearing, the Word of God. Today we take on the second practice: Meditating.

Because you know my propensity to engage in all manner of mnemonic and alliterative devices, you could have predicted that I would do the same here. By the time we are done with this exercise we will have five practices, each of which begin with the letter R and which also correspond with one’s five fingers. Let’s begin with the First Word-Last Word-God’s Word portion of today’s text.

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

Meditation is definitely in vogue these days. All the cool kids are doing it; however, before we go any further we need to establish the difference between the Bible’s idea of meditation and the kind of meditation getting so much attention these days. While meditation is common to many religious traditions, there is a clear distinction with biblical meditation. Most common conceptions of meditation involve the attempt to empty one’s mind of all things distracting and enter into a state of relaxation or higher consciousness. Meditation, in the biblical sense, is actually just the opposite. It means to fill one’s consciousness with the Word of God; to relish and even devour it with deep delight.

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

The Hebrew term behind the English term “meditate” in Psalm 1 offers the word picture of a lion hovering over the carcass of an animal it has caught with a growling delight over its deliciousness. I love to watch our little dog with a meaty bone. “Lucy,” (short for Lucinda or Lucifer depending on the day) loves to meditate. First she takes the bone off to a quiet and relatively private place where she can meditate without distraction. After a good hour of getting every shred of anything resembling meat off the bone she will take it out in the yard where she hides it for later. Later she will retrieve the bone, bring it back into the house and continue gnawing on the bone until she breaks into the marrow. This is interspersed with interludes in which she will hide the bone again so she can re-approach it later. Little by little, the bone disappears until completely consumed and incarnated in her fifteen pound Chihuahua-Jack Russell-and only God knows what else-frame.

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

Take the above example, inserting yourself as Lucy and the Word of God as the bone and we have a brilliant image of biblical meditation. So what is the R word for meditate? Thanks for asking. How about ruminate? Cows ruminate. They have four different stomachs which involve a digestive process in which they swallow food, digest it a bit and then regurgitate it back into their mouth in the form of a “cud” that they then chew on more, extracting more goodness. They ruminate. I love this example because of the ongoing processing nature of it. It is happening all the time and over the course of a long period of time. Cows are always grazing, always digesting, and consequently always ruminating. In this light, note the precise description given in the text for when we meditate or ruminate.

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

It can’t be compartmentalized into a tidy little practice we tuck between coffee and breakfast. It doesn’t even let us off with our “First Word-Last Word-God’s Word” practice. The Psalmist reveals the time for meditation as “day and night.” In other words, it gets back to the Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ALL-IN-ALL-THE-TIME mentality. Finally, notice how delighting in the Word of God leads to the deepest desire of our hearts in its outcome.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

First Word. Last Word. God’s Word.

THE PRAYER

Our Father in Heaven, thank you for your Word, which endures forever, is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey and which always accomplishes the purposes for which you send it. Cultivate in me a deep delight in your word. Train the taste buds of my spirit to savor your word; to meditate and ruminate on it continuously. This feels challenging and even overwhelming to me, so grant me a humble start or a gracious next step on the journey. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 

THE QUESTION

How can you make a small start or take a next step with this practice of rumination (biblical meditation). How might this coincide with the First Word-Last Word practice we are cultivating?

P.S. I’ll try to post some photos of Lucy on the Seedbed Daily Text Facebook Group Page for your further delight. ;0)

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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