Studies in the First Psalm: Part 4

The Needful Discipline of Meditation

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD;

and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

The word translated “meditate” is used elsewhere in a variety of senses: mutter, groan, mourn, etc. , but the main idea in all of these is “talking to oneself”. Do you talk to yourself about the word of God? If you don’t, it is no wonder that you have nothing to say to others about it.

The Puritans were spiritual giants, and one reason they were is that they practiced this sacred discipline of meditation in the Word. I have never known a serious Christian, a deep Christian, an impressive Christian, a spiritual Christian, who was not practiced in the art of meditation.

Meditation gives us the matter for our prayers. Once again, many embarrass themselves when they are called upon to pray in front of others, because they rightly feel that they have nothing to say to God. It is like trying to shoot an unloaded gun! Meditation fills the mind with matter for praise, thanksgiving and supplication.

By meditation we learn the meaning of God’s word. The Bible does not yield up its treasures to triflers. It is one thing to know what the Bible says — quite another to spiritually understand what it means. You cannot make the Bible simple. The world is complex, our lives are complex, and the Bible is complex. It is not written in the form of a manual, or of a handy book of definitive answers to all of life’s questions. To penetrate its secrets will require some effort; to master its principles, some hard thought; to learn its wisdom, reflection and heart-searching. We must be in earnest, or the Holy Spirit will not favor us with His instruction.

By meditation we come to know our own hearts. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The Scripture searches our hearts as we allow it to speak to us through meditation.

Part 5: Blessing and Judgment

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,

that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;

his leaf also shall not wither;

and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

4 The ungodly are not so:

but are like the chaff

which the wind driveth away.

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,

nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous:

but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The word rendered “rivers” might be better translated as “canals”. In that case, the psalmist must be understood to allude to the ancient mode of watering by irrigation channels. But it matters little, for the point is that the tree has a reliable source of — and therefore constant access to — the necessary water.

The tree is used so frequently in Scripture as a metaphor for human beings that it is needless to cite examples. A concordance will yield many instances of this usage. A tree usually represents a man who is established — who has a place of his own, and is rooted. A dry tree is a man weakened to the point that he is in danger of dying. This tree is planted in such an ideal situation, that he will never dry up — the water is plentiful. The grace of God is an unfailing stream. He whose roots drink from the river of living waters shall never thirst. He shall not fail of fruit at the proper time, and will still be green and youthful, even in old age.

The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

What is lighter than chaff, or more insubstantial? What fitter contrast to the solidity and stability of a living tree? The ungodly man is of no account to God, and he should not trouble or intimidate us, either. His time is the briefest of moments, his legacy emptiness. What a pity that man, who was made from dust into God’s image, should have made himself into dust again!

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

The purifying fire of God’s judgment shall consume all the wood, hay, stubble and chaff, and leave the earth clean again at last. At the end of history, there will be no sign left to indicate that the wicked were ever here. The hypocrites will be separated out of the visible church, gathered, and cast into the everlasting furnace of God’s holy wrath.

For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

The word, “know” often means the same thing as “recognize”, or “approve”. God does not merely observe or take cognizance of the way of the righteous — he approves it. But the way of the ungodly which god abhors is a dead end road. His way, his plans, his thoughts, his hopes, his dreams — all will perish with him.

This is a sobering thought; but no one can appreciate God’s work of grace in his life that has made him righteous unless he recognizes that he has something in common with the ungodly man. For we are all sinners; and if we have been saved, it is all of grace. Thank God! that He does not always punish the guilty; at least in their own persons. Christ bore our sins in His own body on the cross. We who are forgiven because of His sacrifice and justified by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness should be very grateful to Him who bought us with His own life’s blood! But for the grace of God, we had been destined to destruction along with the wicked. We must never forget it.

Howard Douglas King

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