Delighting in the Law

Posted on 14th January 2021 under The Rectory Bulletin | Psalms

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. 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. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:1–6)

Yesterday, we saw how the Psalmist began with words of caution: don’t walk with the wicked; beware standing with sinner; don’t sit and scoff. We are to be cautious about what we allow to claim our attention, and to shape our thinking. Having been issued with the warning, we are then given a safer path to follow: “but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night”.

This business of meditating on the Bible - usually a verse or a phrase at a time - is the path to the blessing promised in the Psalm. It’s having a phrase in your mind, which can be called into service as you lie awake at night. As the old preacher put it: “Meditation chews the cud, and gets the sweetness and nutritive virtue of the Word into the heart and life: this is the way the godly bring forth much fruit” (Bartholomew Ashwood, 1622–1680).

Let me give you an example. Take the saying of Jesus: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29). Chew it over: the invitation from Jesus; the acknowledgement that life can be full of toil, the promise that Jesus himself can give rest. Ponder it, think what it might mean in your own situation. Do you respond to the invitation? What are the burdens you would cast onto Jesus? What an extraordinary thing it is to think that Jesus - that God - is gentle and lowly in heart! How might that change the way in which you approach God in prayer.

As you meditate, the verses lodge in your thinking and can minister to you in the dark watches of the night. As you lie awake worrying, you hear the call of Jesus: “Come to me…”. As the issues crowd in, you can cast your burden onto Christ.

This truly is the blessed life.

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