- Written by Pastor Shawn Nettleton Pastor Shawn Nettleton
- Created: August 29 2019 August 29 2019
Blessed Lord, You have caused all Holy Scriptures to written for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that, by patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hop of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.Lutheran Service Book, pg. 308
This collect (prayer) for receiving the Word is a based on the words of Psalm 1; “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.” (vv. 1–2)
Psalm 1 sets before the reader the classic biblical distinction of the two ways: the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked, or the way of life and the way of death. The way of the righteous is marked by his delight in Yahweh's torah, that is, His Word or divine instruction. Surely the psalmist delights in other things, but his chief desire, his highest priority, what he holds as most important in his life is God's Word. Why? Because he knows that without God's Word he will be like the “chaff that the wind drives away” and he will perish. (Psalm 1:4, 6)
Since God's Word is so important to the well-being of his life, he meditates on it “day and night.” “Day and night” is not literally all day and all night. It is a merism, a figure of speech, used in poetry expressing a great amount of time, that is a lot, habitually, daily. The psalmist meditates on the Word of God every day. In fact, he inwardly digests or chews on God's Word every day.
The Hebrew word here for meditate is closely related to chewing. A good example of this would be a dog gnawing on a bone. A dog might play with his bone for a while, wagging his tale as he tosses it around, but once he goes to work on the bone, he turns it over and around as he licks, chews and gnaws that thing to death. And then he will go back to that bone again and again until it is completely devoured.
The psalmist says, "Your Word, O Lord, is my delight … how sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:174, 103) The psalmist knows that God’s Word is so sweet, so important, because it is the very source of his life and so he will meditate on it, chew on it, literally every day!
What about you? What about me? Is meditating on God's Word a daily practice, or even a semi-daily practice in our lives? Without a doubt our lives are busy; way too busy, to be sure. And there are a hundred different things that fill our day every day. I am a guilty as the next person when it comes to meditating on God's Word daily. It is so easy to let the day go by without even five or ten minutes in God's Word. It is a struggle for all of us who have the old Adam in us who would rather flip on the TV, relax in an easy chair or find a gazillion other things before we take time to meditate on God's Word.
It is easy to find ourselves in a spiritually dry valley parched from a thin diet on God's Word. And of course, the evil one wants nothing better than to keep it that way. Thankfully, for you and for me there was One Man who meditated perfectly on God's Word day and night, night and day. There was and is only One who went the way of the righteous completely giving His life unto death that we might have life in Him. Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, “gives living waters to the thirsting soul.” (LSB 637) And this One who fulfilled the whole torah for us desires to feed us with His Word daily, that we become like “a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3)
After hurting my back skiing a few years ago, I've had to undergo physical therapy a few times and keep up with numerous daily exercises to keep my back pain free. The regiment that I'm suppose to do every day and week is time consuming and hard to keep up. One day, my physical therapist said to me, “even if you just do a couple minutes of these exercises a week you'll be fine.” And you know what, he was right! A few minutes a week is better than nothing at all.
When it comes to our daily meditation on God's Word, even the best of will miss a day or two here and there or even more. Don't worry about it. Don't have an all or nothing attitude! Don't throw up the red flag and give up! Get back up again and start small because a little meditation on God's Word is better than none. Pick a favorite book of the Bible, read a few verse a day and pray. Use as a guide good devotional books and resources that set out daily and weekly readings from Scripture. Let God's Word be the delight of your heart, the delight of your day, the delight of your week and a lamp unto your feet and a light to your path always (Psalm 119:105).
Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at nettleton@StJohnsFC.org or at 970-305-2420.
Image by Ryk Neethling (Flickr)