I must say that I’ve enjoyed doing some Bible study on Psalm 1. There were a lot of interesting things going on in the text that I had previously overlooked. Four days into this experiment, the goal of writing to enrich my devotional life is a total success. One of the other things I want to make sure I’m doing is writing a response to each psalm after studying it.
The phrase I want to focus on this time is “on his law he meditates day and night.” Meditation on the Word of God is something that I’m definitely struggling with. I do my devotions fairly regularly (missing a day here and there for various unacceptable excuses), but generally speaking, when I close the Bible, my mind closes on the Word as well.
Part of writing this blog is to change all that. Bible study is one way I can think of to increase my daily amount of meditation on Scripture. After a decently thorough study of Psalm 1, I can attest to the fact that I have been thinking about this passage a lot more than anything else I’ve been reading in my devotions.
Another way to increase the amount of meditation in your life is through memorization. This is an area I sorely lack in. No…that’s an understatement. I’m pathetic at memorizing passages or even single verses of the Bible. This needs to change. I’m just not sure I know how to change it. At various times in the past, I’ve tried memorizing one verse per day or spending a period of time memorizing a larger passage of Scripture. I’ve had limited success with each approach. I’m looking for more ideas on how to go about memorizing Scripture and how to make it stick.
Finally, in consideration of the bigger picture with meditation, I need to do something about the purpose of meditating on Scripture in the first place. Since God’s Word is powerful because it’s the voice and will of God, there is value in simply memorizing it. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you,” (Ps. 119:11).
However, when we read God’s Word, hearing His will for our lives, something needs to change in us. These are the very words of God Himself. We should be rushing to obey them.
If you remember back to the first post on Psalm 1, the Septuagint used a word for “meditate” that seemed to imply there was a certain level of activity—of practicing what it is we’re reading. This is where the law comes in, but in an entirely different way than we’ve been discussing up until now.
Basic Lutheran theology teaches that there are three uses (or functions) of the law. First, there is the civil law that everyone in the land must obey and that curbs criminal activity. Second, the main function of the law, is to drive sinners to despair by causing them to realize that they have sinned against God and stand condemned for all eternity. This activity of the law drives them to the point when they’re ready to hear the gospel news that Jesus has paid the price for their sins.
There is also a third function to the law. The law serves as a guide for Christian behavior by revealing the will of God. This is how I need to be letting the law work on my life in my meditation on God’s word.
As I dwell on Psalm 1, I need to realize that God wants me to entirely avoid walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing in the way of sinners, and sitting in the seat of scoffers. I need to spend time not only thinking about the fact that Psalm 1 says these words, but thinking about what is involved in avoiding these activities. I need to daily examine if I am failing in some area of my life that places me in one of those three areas I should be avoiding.
There is a final step to this, however. Once I’ve realized my error and confessed it to the Lord, I need to let His promise of grace and forgiveness wash over me. I need to not let myself get defeated by sin in my life, but remember that Christ has paid for my sins (1 John 2:1-2). And I need to respond not only to God’s promises of grace and mercy, but also to his commands which reveal his will, with thankfulness and worship.