Meditating On God's Word

by Tom Wacaster

The first chapter in the Psalms is a wonderful description of the “blessed” man in contrast with the pitiful plight of the ungodly. In the first verse the Psalmist tells us that the righteous man is careful in his daily walk. He refuses to listen to the counsel of the ungodly. If he finds himself being inundated with unholy advice, he refuses to stand in the way of the sinner who gives such advice. In addition he will not sit with the scornful, knowing that fellowship with such individuals is forbidden by God’s word. 

On the positive side of the ledger, the Psalmist tells us this regarding the righteous man:  “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psa. 1:2). There are some wonderful lessons to be drawn from this short verse.  Consider the following.

First, the righteous man has a single delight that far exceeds all other joys in his life.  There are many things we delight in. Some delight in golf; others in fishing; some in their jobs or their families. And while these things certainly can bring joy and cause us to delight, there is one thing in which we should delight that excels the pleasures of these mundane things. The Psalmist’s delight was bound up, not in the counsel of the wicked, but the law of the Lord.

Second, it should be noted that the Psalmist uses a term to refer to God’s word that most people today find repulsive. It is the word “law.” The political correctness and pluralism that has infected the thinking of many disdains any reference to law. The word suggests an absolute standard. It suggests that there are some things that are “negative” insofar as our responsibility to God is concerned. Unfortunately too many people turn a deaf ear to any command of God that even hints at law. Consequently our generation is, to a large degree, antinomian (against law). But not all “law” is bad. What would society be like if we did not have laws?  Chaos would rule supreme.  Society would, in fact, be “lawless.”  We should be grateful that our nation is a nation of laws. We should be even more grateful that our God has, in His Divine wisdom, chosen to give us laws that protect us and guide us in our daily life.

Third, it is said with regard to that law that the Psalmist does “meditate night and day.”  There are three words in the Bible that convey the thought process and its involvement with the word of God. The first word is “read.” Paul told Timothy, “Till I come, give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Tim. 4:13). Reading is the assimilation of facts.  As sergeant Joe Friday used to say, “Just the facts, sir; just the facts.” The second word we find is “study.”  Paul also wrote to Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2 Tim 2:15). Study is much more than reading. Study calls for investigation, determination of the meaning of words, and careful harmonization of the words to determine the meaning. Study is hard work. The third word we find is this word “meditate.” It is the word that a Jewish farmer might use to describe a cow that chews its cud. Once one has read, and carefully studied to determine the meaning of the words thus read, he then meditates upon that word to determine how this applies to his life. 

Now please consider this. Very few in our generation ever get around to reading the Bible.  I read this week that only 1% of adult Americans read the Bible more than once a day, and less than 15% read the Bible on a regular and consistent basis. Of those who do read, fewer still ever take the time to seriously study. They are satisfied with looking at the facts, with little concern about the meaning of what they are reading. Of those who may happen to read and study, fewer still take the time to meditate on how that word applies to their life. Take a look at any congregation of the Lord’s body and you may find those who are very strict in their doctrinal stand but whose lives are in shambles, morally speaking.  

Until one takes the time to read, and study, and meditate upon God’s word, he will not profit from the message of God’s word as he otherwise might. Let me present a challenge to each of us. Keep up your daily reading of God’s word. Then, in addition, select one passage a week (say a chapter), and seriously study that chapter. Spend some time researching dictionaries, commentaries, and reference books to help you get a good understanding of what that passage really teaches. Then at week’s end, spend the same amount of time you spent each day in research simply meditating on what you have studied. If you studied on the passage for fifteen minutes each day, take fifteen minutes to meditate on what you have learned. It may surprise you how your life will change and how much more you will enjoy the riches of God’s word. 
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I make a concentrated effort each morning to spend about an hour in the reading of God’s word, personal prayer, and meditation. These private moments provide me with strength for the day, and serve as a reminder that the day granted to me, and which now lies before me, is given by God. A few days ago it was my opportunity to read and meditate on the 46th Psalm. It is a Psalm of peace and tranquility. “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth do change, and though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas” (Psa. 46:2). While that verse is certainly comforting, there is another one that particularly caught my attention: “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psa. 46:10). Someone once suggested that one of the chief hindrances to really knowing God is the rush of modern life. We are so busy doing something we don’t see what God is doing.

When I was in the Coast Guard I served two years on board a weather cutter. I enjoyed taking a blanket and pillow from my bunk and lay out on the fan tail at night (that is seaman talk for the deck on the back of the ship), and gaze up at the stars. It not only reminded me of the power of God and His constant watch-care over me, but it gave me opportunity to meditate on many of the spiritual truths that I had learned in my youth. It is an undeniable fact that our world is changing, and not for the better. It would be easy to be anxious, to fret and fear over what shall become of our culture and our nation. If you are tempted to do so, go back to the 46th Psalm and read verse 7: “Jehovah of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” In fact, go back and read and meditate on the whole of this Psalm. Then follow God’s advice: “Be still, and know that I am God!”
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On the lighter side: Pancho was a well-known outlaw to Texans. A lesser-known story involves his demise in a Mexican bar. A tough Texas Ranger had trailed him through the desert and caught up with Pancho in a small village. With both guns drawn, the ranger approached the criminal and ordered him to turn over the one million dollars he had recently robbed from a train. From the other side of the bar a small man said, “Se├▒or, Pancho does not speak English. I am his translator.” The ranger growled, “Tell Pancho I came to get the million dollars he robbed from the train. If he doesn’t hand over the money, I’ll fill him full of holes.” The man translated. Frightened, Pancho told the interpreter the money was two miles outside of town buried thirty paces east of an old abandoned well. The translator turned to the armed ranger and said, “Pancho says, ‘I’m not telling—go ahead and shoot.’” “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…” —Prov. 17:22