Psalm 104:34; Psalm 119:15, 23, 48, etc.

With the ever-increasing urgency of our daily lives there is some danger of losing sight of the need of quiet in the Lord's presence. We do not speak of stated seasons for reading the Scriptures and for prayer (which all believers will seek to have), but rather of that which was seen in David when, after the Lord's gracious communication to him concerning his desire to build the temple, he went in and sat before the Lord. It is true that his heart overflowed, while in this attitude, in thanksgiving, praise, and prayer; but this, we apprehend, was the result of his meditation upon the message he had received. Sitting before the Lord, Nathan's words sank deep into the king's heart, and he comprehended, as he otherwise could not have done, the greatness of the favour which had been bestowed upon him and upon his house. It is this posture of soul which we desire to commend for the consideration of the Lord's people.

It is exemplified in the scriptures at the head of this paper in the word meditation. The meaning of the word in the several places cited is "to talk to one's self" about the subject occupying the mind; and, as the matters in hand show, this would be carried on, as in David's case, in the presence of the Lord. Let another example be cited to show its value. In Psalm 73 we find that Asaph was troubled in his meditations upon the prosperity of the wicked. He talked it over with himself, and could not see any way out of his difficulty. It was a blot, he was tempted to think, upon the government of God, and he was filled with perplexity. Then he tells us, "When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their end." The lesson is that, if meditation is to be of value and for blessing, it must be exercised in the presence of God - in the sense of dependence upon Him and upon the ministry of His Spirit. Otherwise we should be lost in the mazes of human thoughts and speculations.

The first requisite then for it is quiet or stillness of soul. Unless we are freed from care and anxiety, and indeed at rest about ourselves, we should scarcely be in the spiritual condition for waiting on the Lord. Alas! that so many of the Lord's dear saints are so filled with unrest; affected, it may be, by the spirit of a restless age. Such are not happy if they are not busy with various activities, or borne up by the excitements of meetings. They are the Marthas of the church of God - and lacking in the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price. The next desirable thing is the opened ear, and this can only be enjoyed where there is realised dependence. This was seen even in our blessed Lord, who, speaking in the prophet Isaiah, said, "He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned" (the "learner"). Thus quietly before His God, as the dependent One upon the earth, His ear was attentive to catch every indication of that will which He had come into this world to do. Ah! how much we miss because we are not thus quietly waiting, looking up, and meditating in the sanctuary.

From the psalms specified two subjects of meditation are expressly mentioned. The first is the Lord Himself. Let us examine the passage: "I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord." The psalmist, as will be seen, commences with praise: he is joyful in the Lord, and he makes melody in his heart. This leads him out in contemplation of the One before whom he bows in adoration, and filled with the sense of His beauty and excellency he will "talk with himself," with exquisite enjoyment, concerning the beatific vision which thus dawns upon his soul. If any are tempted to regard this as extravagant language, let them remember that it is when we draw near to the Lord that He draws near to us, that He delights to reveal Himself to the waiting heart, and to flood it with the sense of His presence and love. Would that we knew more of it; but do not doubt that if you get into His presence in this way your meditation of Him will be sweet, and that you will be glad in the Lord.

Another thing should be added in connection with it. There will not only be enjoyment of soul, but there will also be transforming power streaming forth from His presence. For what does the apostle mean when he says, "We all, with open face beholding … the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord"? Surely the beholding is contemplation of, or meditation upon, His glory, and for this we must be before Him. As we read in another place, we grow "by" the knowledge of God, and this knowledge we gain from the revelation which He has been pleased to make of Himself in Christ. All His glory now shines forth from the face of the glorified Man (who is also the Son of God) at His own right hand. Meditation, therefore, is essential to growing conformity to Christ. Nor can this be too earnestly insisted upon, in a day when the acquisition of the knowledge of truth is rendered so easy. But it is the knowledge of HIMSELF we need, and in ever-increasing measures; and this is only to be gained by much meditation, leading to an ever-greater intimacy with Him. What possibilities are opened out in this direction in the wondrous words, "I know My sheep, and am known of Mine, even as 'the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father"!

In Psalm 119 the meditation is upon the scriptures - the precepts, statutes, etc. But before we can be like the psalmist in this respect, and be found meditating upon the Word of God, another thing is requisite. We read in verse 16, "I delight myself in Thy statutes: I will not forget Thy word"; and again, "I delight in Thy law." (v. 78.) Moreover he says, "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage." (v. 54.) All this tells of a state of soul, a state of soul which is only reached oftentimes through much exercise and through many experiences. Sometimes it is the case, even after conversion, that we only read the Scriptures from a sense of duty; and this will ever be so, more or less, where the liberty of grace is not enjoyed. Others will read their Bibles even with avidity, but mainly to learn its contents, to acquire knowledge. In neither of these cases will the meditation of our psalm be possible. But when the Lord Himself becomes the absorbing object of our hearts, and we hear His well-known voice speaking to us through His Word, as really as He spake to His disciples in days of yore, we sit down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit is sweet to our taste. Then we shall be often lost in meditation upon His wondrous words - words which contain the blessed unfoldings of Himself, and of His love and grace.

This will be understood by every simple soul, for when once Christ is enshrined in our hearts, we shall ardently desire to please Him in every possible way; and how to do so can only be learned from His own words. The apostle Paul thus writes to the Colossians: "For this cause … we do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing," etc. (Col. 1:9-10.) And the Lord Himself said, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." Desiring therefore to please Him, we shall earnestly seek out from His Word what His will is, and what His commandments are, and having ascertained, we shall dwell upon them again and again, that we may apprehend their bearing and application. We shall thus feed upon the Word and digest it, roast that which we have taken in hunting, because we have learned in some measure that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

It must also be borne in mind that it is while we are meditating that the Holy Spirit is most active in unfolding and applying the Word. Sometimes when we are quietly before the Lord, revolving His Word in our souls, a sudden light will seem to penetrate into its very depths and reveal its hidden meanings. It is only the Spirit who searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God; and we therefore require to give room to His activity, and this is best done in meditation. We must beware at the same time, when the Word is thus opened out to us, that we do not fall into the mistake of supposing that we have grasped the whole of its meaning. The Word of God is divine and infinite, and hence there may be an infinity of meaning in it, as well as a variety of applications. But there can be no contradiction in the different interpretations which may rightly be drawn from it. All will be in perfect harmony, because, if all alike are the teaching of the Spirit of God, all will be the expression of the divine mind. This will be conceded by every spiritual mind; and we need only add, that the more leisure we gain for meditation, if indeed it be in realised dependence upon the teaching of the Holy Ghost, the more intimate will be our knowledge of the Lord Himself, and the greater will be our understanding of His Word.

"First things first"; that is, God's interests and claims must ever have the supremacy.