“Delightful Meditation” (Psalm 1)

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 4, 2022

“Delightful Meditation” (Psalm 1)

Our psalm today, Psalm 1, begins as follows: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Today I want to tell you about the kind of meditation this psalm is talking about: what it is; why we delight in it; and how to do it. What, why, and how; so here we go. Our theme this morning: “Delightful Meditation.”

First of all, what it is. When you hear the word “meditation,” what do you think of? Maybe you think of someone sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat, with their fingers like this, and repeating a mantra like “Ommm. . . .” Well, this is not that. No, the meditation this psalm is talking about is not some clearing-your-head centering technique with no real content. Rather, this meditation is very much content-filled. It’s filled with the word of God. Notice, it says, “and on his law”–the law of the Lord, that is, the word of God–“he meditates day and night.” In this kind of meditation, the mind is engaged, and it is focused on God’s word.

Now a word about this word “law.” It says, “his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” When you and I as Lutherans hear the word “law,” we immediately think of the law as that which accuses us, as that which condemns us as sinners. The law as opposed to the gospel. And there are places in the Bible where the term is used that way. But here the word “law” is used in a broader sense. It’s the Hebrew word “torah,” which literally means “instruction.” So you could translate this verse, “his delight is in the instruction of the LORD, and on his instruction he meditates day and night.” “Torah” in this sense means all that the Lord teaches us in his word, both law and gospel. So “the law of the LORD” here means essentially the same thing as “God’s word.”

What is it to meditate on God’s word? It is more than simply letting God’s word go in one ear and out the other. It’s more than just a quick look at a Bible passage. Meditating on God’s word goes deeper than that. It means to go over and over that word of God in your mind. To ruminate on it. To ponder it and treasure it up in your heart. To meditate means to let the word sink down into your soul, so that it will strengthen your faith and change your life. That’s what it is to meditate on the word of the Lord.

And meditating on God’s word is not limited to one hour in church on Sunday morning. Certainly, it includes that, and you are here today for that purpose. But this meditation goes far beyond that. Our psalm says, “and on his law he meditates day and night.” Day and night, every day and every night, we have God’s word in our mind and heart. There are 168 hours in the week, and you don’t compartmentalize your life into one hour on Sunday for God’s word, and 167 other hours when you block it out of your mind. No, God’s word permeates your whole week. It saturates and invigorates your entire life.

Listen to what Moses tells the Israelites: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” That is no compartmentalization. That is permeation, saturation, no time or aspect of your life left out. We teach God’s word to our children; we don’t just leave it up to the pastor. We talk about God’s word with others, with our family members, with our friends, in our homes, when we’re out and about–wherever, whenever, and with whomever. That’s how all-encompassing God’s word becomes for us. It’s the greatest thing we’ve got going in our life, and we want others to know this joy also.

So that’s the “what” of meditating on the word of God. Now we ask the “why”: Why do we delight in meditating on God’s word? What makes our meditation so delightful? Our psalm tells us. It says that the man who delights in meditating on the law of the Lord “is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

Now, to be sure, this is not saying that you will prosper financially or that you will have no troubles in your life. Indeed, your life may be full of trouble. But you will prosper spiritually. And when you go off in a wrong direction or stray from the right path, the law of the Lord will get you back on track.

God’s word will be the refreshing stream that nurtures and produces your fruitfulness. You will bear the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, and all the rest. No matter the problems in your life, you will have a joy that runs deeper than your circumstances. You may not always be “happy,” because “happiness” depends on what happens. But you will always have the joy of the Lord, because nothing or no one can take that joy away from you.

Delightful meditation: What makes it so delightful? Why is it so? Because you will be meditating on the good news of all that the Lord has done, is doing, and will do for you. It’s the wonderful gospel of God’s free grace in Christ. This is the golden thread running throughout all of Holy Scripture. This is the true treasure that God delivers to you, that he gifts you with, in his holy word. There is nothing greater or more precious than that! What a joy it is to hear that our heavenly Father has made us his own children, his own people, for the sake of Christ! That he cares for us, that he watches over us from day to day. What a joy it is to know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the one who died on the cross to win our forgiveness, who has delivered us from the death and hell we deserve and given us his own righteousness and resurrection! What a gift it is to have the Holy Spirit implanting the word of God in our hearts and minds to keep us firm in the faith! What a delight it is to know we have the hope of heaven to look forward to, eternal life with our Lord and with all his people! Can there be anything more wonderful than these great blessings to occupy our mind and our thoughts? This is why meditating on God’s word is such a delight!

Of course, not everyone delights in God’s word. There are those who “walk in the counsel of the wicked, and stand in the way of sinners, and sit in the seat of scoffers.” But that is not you. But those folks surround us, don’t they? They’re all over the media. Don’t listen to them. Don’t fall in with them. That is the devil tempting you to drift away from God’s word. And your own sinful, self-serving, lazy flesh will want to keep you from meditating on God’s word. “Oh, it’s too boring. Oh, I’m too busy. Oh, I get enough of that at church. Oh, I’ll put it off till tomorrow.” Well, now you’ve gone “oh” for four, and that’s not a good average. But don’t give up! No matter how many times you’ve fallen, the Holy Spirit will pick you up again. God is gracious, and he doesn’t give up on you.

Delightful meditation: What it is, why it’s so delightful, and now, third, how to do it. And here I want to recommend to you some practical, specific suggestions. Notice that I’m holding in my hands three books that will help you tremendously in your meditating on God’s word. One is The Lutheran Study Bible. This is the best study Bible there is, and it will help you so much when there’s a passage you’re puzzled by or you want to know more about. Even if you don’t get the study Bible, at least have a Bible that you read and don’t just let gather dust. So first, the Bible, especially The Lutheran Study Bible.

Second, the catechism. This is Luther’s Small Catechism, with Explanation, the 2017 edition, which I recommend. With the catechism, every day you can meditate on the chief parts of the Christian faith: the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Sacraments. There are Daily Prayers to help you with your devotions. There’s a Table of Duties to guide you in your various vocations in life. There are Christian Questions with Their Answers to help prepare you to go to the Sacrament. And what’s more, this week I will begin a new round of catechesis, for those wishing to become communicant members and for those already members who want a refresher. Talk to me if you’re interested.

The Bible, the catechism, and book #3, the hymnal. Our hymnal is the Lutheran Service Book. And yes, we have copies in the pews, but it would be wonderful if we each had a copy in our home. Being familiar with our hymns and the various liturgical orders–singing our hymns, and not just on Sunday morning–this is a great and delightful way to meditate on God’s word. What does it say in Colossians 3:16? “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Through music, through singing, the word of Christ has a way of dwelling richly in our souls. That’s what you will find as you learn and enjoy our hymns. And again, this week we will be starting a class to help you to do that. I’m calling it “At Home in Our Hymnal: Understanding Our Liturgy and Hymnody.” The class will start this Tuesday, 3:30 at St. Matthew’s and 7:00 at Grace. Come, and I guarantee that you will grow in your knowledge and appreciation of what we do in church and what we sing in our hymns. By the way, even if you don’t have a piano or an organ in your home, there are ways you can still hear the music to sing along with the hymns, what with the internet, CDs, etc. And I can help you with that.

The Bible, the catechism, and the hymnal–three books that all of us should have in our homes and put to good use. Those are some suggestions on the “how.” The “what,” as we said at the outset, is that we meditate on God’s living, life-giving word, which he wants each one of us to know and to grow in and to apply to our lives. But what will lead us to do this eagerly–that is the “why.” Why is this meditation so delightful? Because it tells us–and plants deeply in us–the wonderful good news of what God has done, is doing, and will do for us for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters in Christ, as our Lord himself says: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” This is delightful meditation, dear friends, and this is God’s gift to you!

Published in: on September 3, 2022 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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