July 18, 2019
In the 119th Psalm frequent reference is made to God’s Word (statutes, precepts,testimonies, etc) and how it affects the lives of God’s followers. For instance, in verse 105 we read, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path”, speaking metaphorically about God’s word and application to how it should be used; that it is to be a guide to our lives. Another example is in the many times (13) the word meditate is used; "My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (vs 148). Meditating on God’s word is all about pondering what we read so that it might cause us to grow. It, along with other means, assists us in growing deep in God’s Word. But just what is “meditation”?
The concept of meditation, though often misunderstood and abused in our day, is critical to growing in grace. Listen to David Mathis as he explains this;“We were made to meditate. God designed us with the capacity to pause and ponder. He means for us to not just hear him, not only to read quickly over what he says, but to reflect on what he says and knead it into our hearts.
It is a distinctively human trait to stop and consider, to chew on something with the teeth of our minds and hearts, to roll some reality around in our thoughts and press it deeply into our feelings, to look from different angles and seek to get a better sense of its significance.
The biblical name for this art is meditation, which Donald S. Whitney defines as “deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.” It is a marvelous means of God’s grace in the Christian life—perhaps the most misunderstood, and most underrated, of the disciplines in the church today. And it is the high point of receiving God’s word.” — David Mathis. “Habits of Grace.” - pg. 77
I believe there may be a number of reasons this “art” has fallen on hard times within churches. The one reason that troubles me the most is how we have, in our fast-paced society, forgotten the importance of quiet. There are several people in my life who regularly remind me to slow down, to spend some quiet, uninterrupted time alone - with God. This is where biblical meditation, or pondering the truth of God’s word, has its greatest impact
You may not know that the biblical word for meditate has to do with the process by which a cow digests its food. (A shout out to my dad who taught me this during chapel time at Camp Susque). The fact is, a cow has two stomachs - it regurgitates the food from one stomach, re-chews it and deposits it in the second stomach, which facilitates proper digestion. Author Bill Gaultiere comments, "To meditate on God’s Word is to be like a cow chewing it’s cud. As it lays in the field and as it stands or walks about it chews its cud. The cow savors the grass in its mouth before filling its stomach. Then it sits down in the meadow and quietly regurgitates it, re-working it in its mouth before swallowing it. It sounds gross, but the process transforms grass into rich, creamy milk!”
While this is may be a less than appealing illustration, particularly when you sit down to dinner, it illustrates perfectly what we need to do with the Bible. Read it. Think about it. Read it again. Ponder it some more. Digest it fully. Through this process the Holy Spirit will transform our minds and hearts and give us rich lives of service. Let’s take the Bible seriously and make the changes in our lives in order to facilitate good meditation.