(Living Out Our Bible Study)
“Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night.”—Ps. 1:1, 2; Joshua 1:8; Ps. 119:15,23,48,78,97,99,148; 1 Tim. 5:15
“Let the words of my month and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, 0 Lord.”—Ps. 19:14; 49:3.
THE true aim of education, study, reading, is to be, found, not in what is brought into us, but in what is brought out of ourselves, by the awakening into active exercise of our inward power. This is as true of the study of the Bible, as of any other study. God’s Word only works its true blessing when the truth it brings to us has stirred the inner life, and reproduced itself in resolve, trust, love, or adoration. When the heart has received the Word through the mind, and has had its spiritual powers called out and exercised on it, the Word is no longer void, but has done that whereunto God has sent it. It has become part of our life, and strengthened us for new purpose and effort.
It is in meditation that the heart holds and appropriates the Word. Just as in reflection the understanding grasps all the meaning and bearings of a truth, so in meditation the heart, assimilates it and makes it a part of its own life. We need continual reminding that the heart means the will and the affection. The meditation of the heart implies desire, acceptance, surrender, love. Out of the heart are the issues of life; what the heart truly believes, that it receives with love and joy, and allows to master and rule the life. The intellect gathers and prepares the food on which we are to feed. In meditation the heart takes it in and feeds on it.
The art of meditation needs to be cultivated. Just as a man needs to be trained to concentrate his mental powers so as to think clearly and accurately, a Christian needs to carefully consider and meditate, until the holy habit has been formed of yielding up the whole heart to every word of God.
The question sometimes is asked, how this power of meditation can be cultivated. The very first thing is to present ourselves before God. It is His Word; that Word has no power of blessing apart from Him. It is into His presence and fellowship the Word is meant to bring us. Practice His presence, and take the Word as from Himself in the assurance that He will make it work effectually in the heart. In Psalm 119 you have the word seven times, but each time as part of a prayer addressed to God. “I will meditate in Thy precepts.” “Thy servant did meditate in Thy statutes.” “O how I love Thy law, it is my meditation all the day.” Meditation is the heart turning towards God with His own Word, seeking to take it up into the affection and will, into its very life.
Another element of true meditation is quiet restfulness. In our study of Scripture, in our endeavor to grasp an argument, or to master a difficulty, our intellect often needs to put forth its utmost efforts. The habit of soul required in meditation is different. Here we turn with some truth we have found, or some mystery in which we are waiting for divine teaching, to hide the word we are engaged with in the depth of the heart, and to believe that, by the Holy Spirit, its meaning and power will be revealed in our inner life. “Thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” In the description of our Lord’s mother we are told: “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” In His mother keeping all these sayings in her heart, we have the image of a soul that has begun to know Christ, and is on the sure way to know Him better.
It is hardly necessary to say further that in meditation the personal application takes a prominent place. This is all too little the case with our intellectual study of the Bible. Its object is to know and understand. In meditation the chief object is to appropriate and experience. A readiness to believe every promise implicitly, to obey every command unhesitatingly, to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God,” is the only true spirit of Bible study. It is in quiet meditation that this faith is exercised, that this allegiance is rendered, that the full surrender to all God’s will is made, and the assurance received of grace to perform our vows.
And then meditation must lead to prayer. It provides matter for prayer. It must lead on to prayer, to ask and receive definitely what it has seen in the Word or accepted in the Word. Its value is that it is the preparation for prayer, deliberate and whole-hearted supplication for what the heart has felt that the Word has revealed as needful or possible. That means the rest of faith, that looks upward in the assurance that the Word will open up and prove its power, in the soul that meekly and patiently gives itself away to it. The reward of resting for a time from intellectual effort, and cultivating the habit of holy meditation, will be that in course of time the two will be brought into harmony, and all our study be animated by the spirit of a quiet waiting on God, and a yielding up of the heart and life to the Word.
Our fellowship with God is meant for all the day. The blessing of securing a habit of true meditation in the morning watch will be, that we shall be brought nearer the blessedness of the man of the ï¬rst Psalm; “Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night”
Let all workers and leaders of God’s people remember that they need this more than others, if they are to train them to it, and to keep up their own communication unbroken with the only source of strength and blessing. God says, “ I will be with thee; I will not fail nor forsake thee. Only be thou strong and very courageous that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law . . . that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; thou shalt meditate therein day and night . . . Then thou shalt have good success. . . . Be strong and of a good courage.” “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.” Let nothing less be your aim-that your meditation may be acceptable in His sight-part of the spiritual sacrifice you offer. Let nothing less be your prayer and expectation, that your meditation may be true worship, the living surrender of the heart to God’s Word in His presence.
From Andrew Murray’s The Inner Life, “Meditation” (Ch. 15)