The first Psalm paints a beautiful picture of “blessed man.”
…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He 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. Psalm 1:2–3 (ESV)
But tell me this: when you think of meditation, do you not think of crossed legs, candles and perhaps soft music? How on earth are any of us supposed to do that day and night? And even if we could, it really doesn’t sound like an attractive or fulfilling lifestyle.
A little searching through the Old Testament reveals that the word for meditate in Psalm 1 is the same word used for “growl” in Isaiah 31:4, “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey…” (Bear in mind that this “prey” is a carcass that the lion is devouring.)
Eugene Peterson in his excellent book, “Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading,” writes about the way his dog engaged in this act with bones he’d found out in the forest:
He gnawed the bone, turned it over and around, licked it, worried it. Sometimes we could hear a low rumble or growl, what in a cat would have been a purr. He was obviously enjoying himself and in no hurry. After a leisurely couple of hours he would bury it and return the next day to take it up again. An average bone lasted about a week.
That seems exciting to me. Challenging. Engaging. Get a delicious piece of scripture and start chewing on it. And keep chewing on it. Shake your head rapidly side-to-side (dog owners know what I’m talking about). Maybe even fling it and then run after it yourself just for fun. Let it slowly dissolve into your being and soak into your spirit through a good bit of enjoyable gnawing.
While quiet meditation can be beneficial, this way of “meditating on the Word” is closer to the Old Testament command to, “talk of [God’s words] when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:7 (ESV))
You digest God’s Word and it becomes a part of your life. Meditating on God’s Word is nothing more than chewing on it all the time (day and night!) as you go through your life. It’s the way that God, through his Word, gets into the beating of your heart and the waves of your thoughts instead of just being a cultural institution you observe on Sunday mornings and maybe Wednesday evenings.
If your faith seems dry or empty, perhaps you haven’t been chewing your spiritual food long enough to extract the nutrients that God has provided. Start gnawing on the Word!
I highly recommend Eugene Peterson’s book: “Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading,” I borrowed it as an audio book from the Orange County, Florida Library system. Click here
to go to the Orange County Library search results with both the audio book and printed book available. And here is the Amazon link
. (And no, I don’t get any kickbacks or other benefits by referring you to this book!)