“Blessed is the one…”
Today’s scripture comes from the lectionary reading for today, and it is a very well- known psalm that many people even memorize it. Today, we will focus mainly on verses 1 to 3. “Blessed” means “happy” in its original meaning. “Blessed/happy 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, 2but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law, day and night. 3 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.”
If we read these verses carefully, we soon realize that the person who does not walk in step with the wicked, who does not stand in the way that sinners take, and who does not sit in the company of mockers of God, is the one who delights in and meditates on God’s law/words, day and night. Do we love or take delight in reading the scripture? What does it mean by “meditate”? Literally “meditate” means to murmur, mumble or talk to oneself, which means to muse and wonder and to think deeply about something, continuously being “dwell on” it, –in a way it lays hold of us so that it captures our thinking and finds its way into our choices and decisions. In other words, the word becomes alive in us in our daily living, especially when we go against God’s words correcting us. Yesterday, my mother asked me to do something I do not want to do. That is not fair to me if I listen to her, in my thinking. But the word of God came to me, “Obey your parents, for this is right.” It won’t let me rest until I correct myself to do what mother asked me to do. The Puritans described “meditate” as “preaching to oneself.” We take the Word of God that we hear and read, and we mull it over in our minds and then bring it to bear upon our lives in personal exhortations, preaching to ourselves. For example, when we feel down and disappointed, the word comes to us, “Rejoice in the Lord, be thankful at all times” and we are to repeat the word of God and command ourselves in a way preaching to us, –to do as the scripture says. We inject the word of God into our thoughts as we make decisions, as we admonish and instruct our souls to choose right things and walk down right paths. In short, we meditate on the words of God until they become the living principles in us.
That is what, “mediates” means.
Delighting and meditating on the word of God does not come to us overnight or naturally. If we wait for the moment for us to feel like reading the scripture, it might never come. It takes discipline; it takes our training. Even if we do not feel like reading the scripture, we have to at times force ourselves to read the scripture until it becomes delightful to read the scripture, experiencing the power of God little by little over time, constantly putting into practice what we read. We do not want to bless those whom we cannot bring ourselves to get along with; we do not want to forgive those who have hurt us badly. But if we meditate on the word of God enough to mold our thinking and our actions accordingly to obey the word of God, –to love and to bless our adversaries–, then we experience the victorious life in God, being free from our own prison of hatred and isolation. The burdens that weigh down us so heavily will be lifted up by blessing and loving our adversaries. The joy and liberty we feel from it, we will never know what it is like unless we ourselves experiencing it.
Meditating on God’s words is crucial because it is the means to be connected to God the Spirit, God the Father and the Son Jesus, our salvation and eternal life.
Before we get to that point, a couple of things we would like to look into 1) In verse 3, that person is like a tree “planted”, here “planted” is originally used as “transplanted” 2) Again in verse 3, we notice that instead of water in singular form but “streams of water” in plural form is used and it refers to the Oriental method of irrigating their lands by artificially dividing the water making small streams through channels to convey the water from a larger stream, or from a lake. In this way, the water is distributed in all directions to secure fertility.
With that said, we note from verse 3, that the person who delights and meditates on the word of God is likened to a tree planted by streams of water, and from the word “planted” which originally means “transplanted”, we know that the person who delights and meditates on the word of God is a person who has been changed from a person who did not delight and meditate on the word of God, to a person who does, like a tree that was transplanted from a dry place that was not by streams of water, to a place by streams of water. Do you get it? It is not about preference, or what is better, but it is about a life and death choice one makes, –like a tree that was planted in an arid place, in a desert in which a tree will end up dry and die eventually, is transplanted by streams of water which come from all directions so that it can prosper. In other words, a person does not meditate on the words of God will not survive since it is not connected to the source of life, the water. Literally and figuratively, without water, anything that alive will die.
Water signifies the word of God obviously from our text, but also “water” signifies 1) “Salvation or eternal Life”. Isaiah 12:3, “With joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation”. In John 4:14, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life”. Revelation 21:6, “To the thirsty, I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment”. 2) The Water also signifies the Spirit of God. John 7:37, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Here “rivers of living water” refers to the Spirit as it is explained in John 7:39. 3) Water signifies God and the lamb of God, Jesus. Jeremiah 2:13, “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters…” Rev. 22:1, “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb”.
Words of God bring us to the presence of God the Spirit, the father and Son, our Salvation and our Eternal life. Without reading the scripture, without meditating the words of God, being connected to the living God, there is no way we can survive in this world that is sin-sick and against God. If there are no words living in us, becoming the living principles in our lives dictating our actions in life, we cannot help but walk in the path of the wicked, stand in the way of the sinners and sit in the company of mockers of God. There is no such thing as a neutral zone in Christian life; it is either or. If we do not meditate on God’s words, that means, we live and are dictated by the worldly principles of sinners, in which we walk, stand and sit. Everywhere we turn to we hear and are informed by worldly and ungodly principles from literature, newspapers, TV, radio, talk-shows, advertisements, psychologists, and people around us. About 20 years ago, I heard a woman telling her neighbor saying that, “my therapist says that when you consider divorcing your spouse, don’t ever go to your pastor. You have your reasons why you want to get a divorce, but your pastor will discourage you from getting a divorce.” I am sure there may be some pastors who might give us ill advice, but if that psychologist identifies pastor with biblical principles, what does that tell us? Isn’t that how we treat bible these days? It has been taken for granted that we live separately from what the word of God says to us. We excuse ourselves not following the word of God saying, ‘who follows Bible word for word in this time and age?’
If we are in a situation where we do not feel anything toward our spouses, and if we found someone else that makes our hearts beating again, feeling lively once again, what should we do? In a situation like that, what does the Bible inform us to do? How do the worldly principles counsel us to do? More importantly, which principles do we go by when we decide what we should do? People who take delight in and meditate on God’s words will take the different path from that of those who walk, stand and sit in the counsel of mockers of God, for sure!! The destination of sinners and the destination of godly people whose hearts take delight in and meditate on God’s words will be starkly different, –light from dark, heaven from hell….
Meditation goes hand in hand with prayer, as the Word inspires prayer by telling us to do it and promising us good things if we will do it and telling us stories to encourage us in our weakness.
Secondly, the Word of God informs prayer. This means that the Word tells us what to pray and becomes itself the content of our prayer. When we know the mind of God from reading the scripture, we pray the mind of God in our prayers. We pray “Your Will be done, not ours!” In other words, without meditation on the word of God we cannot pray the true prayer without making God as our Genie!!!
To be continued….