Psalm 1:2 says that the blessed man delights in the law of the Lord. Those who are godly delight to read and study the Word. The contrast between the righteous and the wicked in Psalm 1:1-2 is between those who are in love with sin and those who love God. The wicked is described in Psalm 1:1 as he who loves and follows sin’s way—the opposite of the “blessed” man. The righteous (“blessed”) man in Psalm 1:2, loves the Lord and seeks to know Him as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. Not only do the godly love to read and study the Bible, but they delight in meditating on the law—that is, on the Word of God—which brings us to our second point in Psalm 1:2, which says, …but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

The Word of God releases its flavor as we chew on it over time. The word “meditate” means to murmur, mutter, speak, muse, or imagine, and carries with it the idea of internally brooding over something in the heart. Meditation has the sense of talking to yourself, speaking under your breath as you ponder God’s Word. This is also an imperfect verb, which suggests that this is an ongoing action; we consider God’s Word “day and night” (Psalm 1:2), like a program constantly running in the background on a computer.

Psalm 1:2 is concerned with the idea that the godly person practices regular communion with God as the habit of his life. One of the best reasons for memorizing the Scriptures is to fuel biblical meditation. When we memorize a verse of Scripture, we can meditate on it anytime, day or night. Psalm 119:97 says, “Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.”

In Joshua 1:8, we see the connection between success and the practice of meditation when it says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Every Christian who wants to grow in grace meditates on the Word and thinks deeply about the Scriptures. Real success is not granted to those who stare off into space (with an empty mind), but instead to those who stare deep into the Word of God. Biblical meditation invites Christians into the world of God through the Scriptures, where real refreshment and joy begin.

The fruit of biblical meditation is action. As we hear, read, study, and memorize the Word, the power of Scripture, fueled by biblical meditation, inflames and enlarges our souls. The more we engage in biblical meditation, the more we see the Word giving off its heat onto us, illuminating its truth to us through the Holy Spirit, whose Word provides insight and understanding, resulting in a passion for obedience to God by His grace. Thomas Watson pointedly notes, “The reason we come away so cold from reading the Word is because we do not warm ourselves at the fire of meditation.”[i]

Biblical meditation is necessary for every Christian. Biblical meditation provides us spiritual discernment, improves our Bible reading and prayer lives, applies the general truths of the Bible personally and specifically, strengthens our hearts by focusing on biblical truths, and provides lasting benefit from dwelling on the truths we know from the Word. Thomas Watson said, “Without meditation, the truth of God will not stay with us; the heart is hard, and the memory slippery, and without meditation, all is lost; meditation imprints and fastens a truth in the mind. As a hammer drives a nail to the head, so meditation drives a truth to the heart. Without meditation the word preached may increase notion not affection.”[ii]

Biblical meditation is where we fill our minds with God’s truth and where our hearts and minds are inflamed with a passion for God. As George Mueller said, “The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts.”[iii] Mueller is right—how we view the Bible affects what we do with the Bible. It’s what we do with the Word of God and how we view it and believe it that will lead to having the right actions in light of biblical truth.

And that’s why hearing, reading, and studying the Bible is so essential and also why biblical meditation is so critical. These are lifelong pursuits, eternal things. So, we press on and grow, because if we have the correct view of the Bible, we’ll hold it in the right place in our hearts, thoughts, and lives. Thomas Watson once said, “It is better to meditate on one sermon than hear five sermons. Many complain that they do not profit from sermons; this may be the chief reason, because they do not chew on the cud; they do not meditate on what they have heard.”[iv]

Meditating on Scripture versus merely hearing it is the difference between true and false grace in a person’s heart.  Thomas Watson rightly states, “No man is converted without meditation for everyone that is converted hears the truth is convinced, considers and meditates upon them and is affected with them.” Bates, in his work titled, On Divine Meditation, remarks that David was called a man after God’s own heart. After all, he meditated because he was of the heavenly frame and temper of his spirit.[v]

Nathan Ranew, in his book, Solitude Improved by Divine Meditation, gave this statement:

“Not a watch set in the night but he had his meditation. Oh, most admirable frame of spirit. A king and a daily meditator, and a night mediator also. It was not family business, nor state affairs, nor war’s urgencies, and difficulties that so could crowd in and impose his thoughts, but he would have his spiritual retreats, his soul-repasts, in meditation, and mount up to heaven by it.”[vi]

And likewise, Richard Baxter said:

“And why so much preaching lost among us, and professors can run from sermon to sermon and are never weary of hearing or reading and yet have such languishing, starved souls, I know no truer or greater cause than their ignorance and unconscious neglect of meditation.”[vii]

Thomas Boston advised that after hearing the word preached, [one should] immediately begin meditation on it in your hearts, and yet you will find your memories surprisingly strengthened.[viii]

Richard Greenham instructed, “If we meditate of those general rules which we have heard out of the word, we shall many times see more clearly into the truth of it.”[ix]

James Ussher upholds these thoughts as well when he states, “Thus to meditate one hour spent thus is more worth than a thousand sermons and this is no debasing of the word but an honor to it. Thus the word is particularly applied, laid home.”[x]

Biblical Christian meditation is possible because of the grace of the Lord, in whom we can trust because He is wholly good, trustworthy, righteous, loving, and just in all His ways.

Philippians 4:8 encourages believers in this way, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” The word “think” here means to “to consider, take into account, weigh, meditate on.”

Gerald Hawthorne notes the Apostle Paul has asked the church at Philippi (and by extension us as well) to “continuously to focus their minds on these things, to give full critical attention to them, and so to reflect carefully upon them with an action-provoking kind of meditation. It was not his desire to ask them merely to think about such noble matters without putting them into practice in their lives.”

The entirety of Scripture is lovely and useful for our growth in the grace of God. Edmund Calamy shared some practical rules for choosing the right subjects for biblical meditation. He said the first biblical meditation should be simply picking out easy topics to meditate upon, such as the love of Jesus and His death on the cross.[xi]

Second, biblical meditation should be balanced, according to Calamy. He instructed that one should not get stuck on one subject but vary in your choices for biblical meditation.[xii] Third, be practical in your biblical meditation by choosing topics that stir your heart to greater holiness and godliness.[xiii] Four, be fitting in your biblical meditation by selecting subjects that are most appropriate to your current condition.[xiv]

One of his contemporaries, Thomas Manton, explained that topics of biblical meditation must primarily be those that are profitable and practical rather than those that are speculative, “The mind of man is the mill of God not to grind chaff but wheat. Matters practical are there to ground for bread to the soul; they that hunt after fancies do but misemploy their thoughts.”

Wilhelmus à Brakel encouraged the believer to choose for meditation divine matters of which he has prior acquaintance. By that, he meant that personal meditation is not the time for inquisitive thinking, but rather practical biblical meditation upon matters known to some degree.

Here are some helpful directions: First, choose one subject at a time, yet remain varied in your daily choices. Second, choose an appropriate subject that is suitable to your state of mind and circumstances of life. Lastly, choose a familiar subject that will practically benefit and advance your personal godliness.

Psalm 1 clearly distinguishes between the path of those who are wicked and godly, with the dividing line being one’s thinking, reasoning, and meditation. This is because what we think comes from our hearts and subsequently affects our behavior. Another way to say this is that our thoughts indicate the spiritual direction of our lives.

One cannot become a godly, stable Christian without biblical meditation. God promises that the one who meditates will become a “well-watered tree”. Thomas Watson says, “It gives us a true account why there are so few godly Christians in the world, namely there are so few meditating Christians.” Many hear sermons, read Christian books, observe a semblance of Bible reading, and listen to Christian music, yet remain weak in holiness, love, and service. We must ponder why and care about the conclusions! The answer is a lack of serious thinking about the Word, while also being constantly distracted by a 24/7 new cycle and a life dominated by entertainment.

God has ordained biblical meditation as a means for our growth in grace and the renewal of our minds. That is why Thomas Watson said, “A Christian without meditation is like a soldier without weapons or a workman without tools.” God graciously works practical change through the means of His Word, which His Spirit carries deeper into our hearts and lives, bringing biblical change. One cannot refuse to think about what is right and lovely and good, as Philippians 4:8 says, and still expect to do what Philippians 2:12-13 says, “to work our your salvation with fear and trembling.”

Personal growth and practicing meditation are twins that cannot be separated from each other apart from each of their deaths. Nathan Ranew explains, “Meditation is necessary to be a keeper out of evil and vain thoughts and dislodge them.” Meditation is a positive assault against sins in one’s life it works with the goal of replacing them with biblical truth and sincerity. Biblical meditation is how lasting change, growth in grace, and victory over sin takes place. Biblical meditation is the replacement of vain thoughts with the renewal of one’s spirit.

Ephesians 4:20-23 also encourages believers in like manner: “But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Ranew also wrote, “Meditation is to be exercised not only as an exclusive of bad thoughts, but for an instruction of good thoughts, good thoughts in a way for an arriving at habitual heavenly mindedness.”

The purpose of memorizing and meditating on the Word of God is for the sake of proper application. Perhaps you can’t possibly add another moment of your time to Scripture reading and memorization; I get it, and I understand. Take what time you do have to spend in the Word and focus on it. Read less, but use a more focused method to read, study, memorize, and meditate on the Word. You can meditate any time on the Word (there is no specific minute or hour). Unlike how we need sleep as finite creatures, the Lord is infinite and doesn’t need time to sleep. The best time to encounter the Word of God occurs as we read and delight in Him. 

You need to delightfully read and meditate on the Word to help you with your busyness, to help you with your responsibilities in life, to help you with a clouded mind, and wandering thoughts, feelings of guilt and discomfort, living for passing pleasure, being distracted by technology and entertainment, the influence of ungodly friends, help with your relationships, and your stagnant growth in the grace of God. Biblical meditation will help you to be grounded in the good soil of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit desires to take the Word you hear, read, meditate upon, and memorize, and drive it deeper into your life so that you will grow in the grace of God.

David Dickson remarks, “The blessed man maketh the word of God in holy Scripture to be his counselor concerning the remedy of sin and misery and to be the rule to walk by till his blessedness be perfected; for the Scripture to him for the obedience of faith is a law and that fenced with supreme authority is the law of the Lord. In that measure that a man is godly and blessed he maketh the word of God which holdeth forth the way of reconciliation with God through the Messiah Christ, the way of growing in communion with God through him the matter of his chief delight and contentment, his delight is in the law of the Lord. In the measure that a man delighteth in the law of the Lord he verseth himself therein upon all occasions in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

And John Calvin rightly sums up this article by saying, “From his characterizing the godly as delighting in the law of the Lord, we may learn that force or servile obedience is not at all acceptable to God and that those only are worthy students of the law who come to it with a cheerful mind, and are so delighted with its instructions as to account nothing more desirable with its instructions as to account nothing more desirable or delicious than to make progress therein. From this love of the law process constant meditation upon it which the prophet mentions as the last clause of verse 2; for all who are truly actuated by love to the law must feel pleasure in the diligent study of it.”[xv]

We don’t need to empty our minds as Eastern Mysticism and “Christian mysticism” suggest today. All we need is the application of Sola Scriptura as we put into practice daily meditation upon God’s Word. No more excuses, Dear Christian; take these instructions and begin applying them to your life today, for the glory of God.

References:

[i] Thomas Watson, “How We May Read the Scriptures with Most Spiritual Profit,” in Puritan Sermons (1674; reprint, Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, 1981), 2:62.

[ii] Thomas Watson, Gleanings from Thomas Watson, ed. Hamilton Smith (1915; rep., Morgan, PA.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1995), 106-107.

[iii] GeorgeMuller.org – George Muller Quotes. https://www.georgemuller.org/quotes

[iv] Thomas Watson, The Christian on the Mount: a Treatiste on Meditation, ed. Don Distler (1657; repr., Orlando, FL: Northampton Press, 2009), 85.

[v] Bates, “On Divine Meditation,” 3.113.

[vi] Nathan Ranew, Solitude Improved by Divine Meditation (1839; repr., Morgan , Pa.: Soli Deo Gloria),, 4-5

[vii] Richard Baxter, Everlasting Rest, 549.

[viii] Boston, “How the Word Is to Be Heard and Read,” 2:433.

[ix] Greenham, “Grave Counsels and Godly Concerns,” 39.

[x] Ussher, Meditation 43.

[xi] Edmund Calamy, The Art of Divine Meditation (London: for Tho. Parkhurst, 1634, 164-169, 172.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Psalm 1 Calvin’s Commentaries – Bible Hub. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/calvin/psalms/1.htm

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