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. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers (NIV).
God urges us to delight in his counsel. The happy person delights in God’s law. What is meant by the law of the Lord? Perhaps the word law would be better translated as “instruction”. Here the psalmist intends the Scriptures; that is, God’s written revelation. They are law in the sense of binding instruction for us, since God’s instruction is not optional, but the word means more than precepts and regulations. In God’s law you find commands, narrative examples and testimony to God’s nature, plans and actions. God teaches us who he is, what his plan for his glory is in history, how to know him and draw near to him, and how to fellowship with him.
To delight is to feel great pleasure. Joy and satisfaction combine in an intense, heart-felt experience. “Wow! I like this! I can’t stop myself from wanting more.” This is what many religious people are missing. They may worship because they feel they must, but it is the wrong kind of “must”, flowing from fear or obligation and not from joy and love. Suppose I asked my wife in a melancholy or reluctant way, “Must I kiss you?” She’d probably say, “No!” But what if I said to her with desire in my voice, “I must kiss you!” That’s a far different matter!
Delight develops from experience. Delight does not happen from a legalistic prescription. It does not come from forcing yourself to read three or four chapters a day. Approaching the Bible with that attitude is more likely to produce pride in your heart than delight in God’s law. Delight occurs as the Spirit uses God’s word with his grace and causes you to sense its value and sweetness. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold… How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth (Psalm 119:72, 103)! Like coming to know God, we taste it and by grace find out how good it is (cf. Psalm 34:8).
The delight in God’s law leads the happy person to meditate on it. The word translated in verse two as “meditate” is the same word translated as “plot” in Psalm 2:1b. To meditate is to have deep reflective thought on the ideas of God’s word and to plan how those ideas can transform our character, ideas, attitudes, words, and actions. Yes, we need to apply God’s instruction to every facet of who we are and what we do. This requires a more active reading of God’s word than most Christians are accustomed to. We need to read carefully, understand fully, think intently, and then apply wisely. All of us will profit more from the Bible, if we make longer investments of time and concentration when we read it.
In other words, meditation is for people who are active, like Joshua. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful (Joshua 1:8 NIV). People who want to accomplish tasks for the glory of God need to meditate on the Scriptures. “How can God’s ideas change my world?”
Let us look intently at ourselves. In what ways are we thinking about how God’s message can transform our lives, our family, our churches, our neighborhoods, our nation, and our world? As we read the Bible this week, let’s look for ideas that will change our lives and think about how to put those ideas to work.
Grace and peace, David