Meditation-a Lost Art
J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield
We are living in extremely busy days, and everybody and everything seem to be going at a very fast pace. We seem to be too busy, running here and there, with very little time to sit down and think on what progress we are making in divine things.
Yet various sects and religions emphasize the beneficial effects, physical and mental, of meditation. God commands us to meditate, and the men of God were enriched by it, Josh. 1. 8; Psa. 1. 2-3.
In a Crisis,Gen. 24. 63. Abraham was greatly concerned to find a suitable bride for Isaac. He arranged with his servant to seek a wife for his son among his own kindred in Mesopotamia. Isaac possibly knew nothing of this mission, and would wonder why the secrecy. But he went out to meditate in the field at eventide. There are many lovely things in this story worthy of our meditation; the guidance of God to the well, v. 11; the gifts for the bride, w. 22, 53, (all evidences of riches and love); the response of Rebekah, v. 58.
As Isaac meditated, the answer was on the way. When he lifted up his eyes, he saw the camels coming, and on one of them rode the bride through whom the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham would be realized. What we do in a crisis is a revelation of our character. The answer to our problem can come through quiet meditation on God's Word and waiting in His presence.
In a Conflict,Josh. 1.8. Joshua began humbly as a servant and ended gloriously as a leader. He was assured of the enabling presence of God, v. 5b. In the joy of it, he went forth conquering and to conquer, v. 5a. He had divine resources and grave responsibility. "Be strong" refers to the strength of the wrists; we should "hold fast", Titus 1. 9; Rev. 2. 13; Heb. 4. 14. "And of a good courage" refers to the strength of the ankles, meaning stand firm, Gal. 5. 1. Now he was to meditate upon God's law day and night, and God promised him good success, v. 8.
Note: the importance, "This book of the law"; instruction through meditation; influence-"observe and do"; and issue-prosperity and success. This word success is found nowhere else in the Bible.
Do you want success? Here is the way: knowledge of the will of God; obedience to the Word of God, v. 8; and courage in the Name of God, w. 6-7, 9, 18. We must meditate, for we are definitely in a continual conflict against the powers of darkness, Eph. 6. 11-12.
For Conduct,Psa. 1. 2-3. These are very important verses on daily conduct. The godly man is a man of the Bible; he muses on the whole of divine revelation. He delights in the Word of God, Psa. 1. 2; the saints of God, 16. 3; and the will of God, 40. 8. In Psalm 1. 3, he is characterized by vitality (trees), security (planted), capacity (streams), fertility (fruit), propriety (seasonable), vividity (evergreen), and prosperity (see Jer. 17. 7-8). As we meditate upon the Word of God, our lives will be changed and brought into conformity to Christ by the help of the Spirit, 2 Cor. 3,18. The Word of God is a divine detergent to cleanse us, Psa. 119. 9; a directive to control us, vv. 33-34, 60; a delight to the heart, vv. 47-48; a deterrent from doing wrong, vv. 101, 104. We become contaminated, but thinking continually upon the Word of God will cleanse, cheer and renew us daily.
For Consolation,Psa. 143. 5. Here is a man in peril, and expressing his feelings of unworthiness before God. His plea for help is based on the faithfulness, righteousness and lovingkindness of God, vv. 1, 8, 11. His spirit is wrapt in gloom, v. 4. We often travel this way and feel depressed, Luke 24. 17. We should do as he did, and call memory in to fight despair and feed hope, v. 5. He remembered the handiwork of God in creation and the blessings of redemption. God's past goodness will drive out worry which threatens to dominate the life. In present misery, contemplate past mercy. Does the soul thirst for God?, v. 6. Meditation on the mercies of God will promote heartfelt thanks to God in these trying, difficult days. Meditation does bring consolation. Study the fourteen "thy's" in this Psalm.
For Cheer,Psa. 104. 34. "Let my meditation be sweet unto him", v. 34 R.V. This should be true of all our meditation of the Scriptures. Here is celebration of the goodness of God, v. 33; satisfaction and exultation through meditation, v. 34; and the extermination of his enemies, v. 35. As he recalled the providence of God in the created world, he sings praise to God out of a full heart. The word "sweet" is used of sacrifices that were acceptable to God. Does meditation promote heartfelt thanks to soar up to heaven? Do we cheer the heart of God and the saints by worshipping the Lord in the beauty of holiness? But is a hymn our only contribution? Are we robbing God of worship?
For Commitment, 1 Tim. 4. 15-16. "Meditate" carries the idea of "be in them, give yourself totally to them". Timothy must be diligent in the exercise of his ministry, w. 12-14. Here is a pattern for the church today. Christian service is Bible-centred. Teaching divine truth is very exacting; there must be absorption, leading to the control of things in our lives. If engaged in the ministry, there will be no progress unless there is total dedication to the task. The mind is to be immersed in these pursuits, as the body in the air it breathes. Note that Paul placed "thyself ahead of the "doctrine". Moral and spiritual rectitude give weight to the ministry. Timothy was to be a dedicated and singleminded man, watching how he lived, what he taught, and persevering to the end.
Dynamic ministry comes through prayer and daily meditation. Our esteemed brother Andrew Borland once said, "Paul was a specialist; 'this one thing I do', Phil. 3. 13. We need men with this controlling motive today". That was in 1936; it is vitally necessary now.