July 19, 2021
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
Growing up, these verses in Psalms presented me with a problem. I attended a Christian school from kindergarten through graduation where “Bible” was a required subject—just like english, math, and PE. So my primary engagement with scripture was studying it like I studied history or literature. We were tested on our scripture memorization, knowledge, and interpretation. Class time was spent studying context, meaning, historical accuracy, and intent. Now, there’s nothing wrong with reading the Bible that way, but I ran into trouble when reading the words:
. . . who meditates on his law day and night.
To me, this was an insurmountable challenge. There was absolutely no way I could study the scriptures day and night. I had other subjects to study, sports, a job, and friends I wanted to hang out with. Every couple of days I would chide myself for not spending enough time studying scripture, all the while convinced that even if I did spend more time reading the Bible, I was still falling far short of the “day and night” standard in Psalm 1. You might already have identified my mistake – equating the word meditate with in depth scripture study. I wish I could say I quickly outgrew that misinterpretation, but unfortunately I carried it well into my adult life.
Here the Psalmist is encouraging us to engage with the Bible in a manner completely different from study. Again, Bible study is important, and it’s a critical part of deepening our understanding of God. But since it’s impossible to do all the time, there must be a different way to follow the example of the Psalmist.
These verses are the main reason we’ve changed how Wednesday devotions look and feel. We’re trying to lean into a meditative experience of scripture—one where we engage heart and soul more than mind. If this type of scripture reading is unfamiliar or new to you, here’s a crash course. This type of meditating isn’t about emptying the mind or disconnecting from the body. Instead, it’s about sitting with or carrying a phrase or verse for an extended period of time. Minutes, hours, or days can be spent simply letting a biblical truth soak into your heart and soul. It isn’t about analyzing or research. When chewed on over and over, a phrase as simple as “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” (John 15) can begin to color our interpretation of everything happening around us.
How might your nights be different if you had spent the day soaking in a verse of God’s care and comfort? How might your days be colored if your last thought the night before and your first thought on waking had been a verse on God’s love and promises? My prayer for you today is that God brings to mind a verse or phrase of his truth, you are able to carry it with you – sometimes in the back of your mind, sometimes in the forefront, and that you experience transformation.