What’s Your Meditation?
Psalms 119:97 ESV Mem Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
The book of psalms starts out with Blessed is the man who delights in God’s law and meditates on it day and night (Psalm 1:1-2). That recurring theme is not lost on us as we begin the “Mem” Octave. The Psalmist loves God’s law! The law of God tells us as Christians how we ought to act to be pleasing to our Lord. Why shouldn’t we love it? Rather than seeing God’s law as a list of restrictions from fun things, the child of God recognized that God’s law is a kind revelation which shows us what is, in fact, good for us!
When the natural man indulges in the passions of the flesh, God’s law stands in opposition and judgment to his very soul, so the natural man hates God’s law (Romans 8:7). A soul that has tasted the regeneration of the Holy Spirit of God thirsts for the fountain of truth revealed by God’s law. Like a warning label on a bottle of chemicals, God’s law reveals to God’s people how to safely walk this narrow path. And in order to take every thought captive to obey Christ, we must regularly meditate on God’s law!
Note the language in the New Testament (emphasis mine)
Romans 8:5-7 ESV 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
Where you focus your mind will lead your actions. Are you focused on God’s Word and His law? Are you meditating on Christ? Where are your thoughts? What would your use of your cellphone, Xbox, Netflix or tv tell someone about what you focus your mind on regularly? Those who love Christ will naturally love his law and direct their attention there. May it never be said of us that the distractions of this sin-cursed world snagged our attention more than Jesus!
Wiser Than Enemies
Psalms 119:98 ESV Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
Now we see the practical outworking of love for and meditation upon God’s law: it is ever with me. The psalmist is saying he has committed God’s Word to memory. Do you recall when our Lord was tempted in the wilderness how he refuted the schemes of the devil with scripture? He did not have a scroll or a Bible app to search. Jesus our Lord had hidden God’s Word in His heart (Psalm 119:11). And when we do that, we have more wisdom than our enemies.
The enemies of God and His people have the wisdom of this world at their disposal. But compared to the wisdom of God it is nothing more than foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:19). As a result, those of us who have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) are wiser than even the most worldly-wise man. There was not cunning of the devil that could trick Christ into sinning, and we have the same Spirit today. Through the Word of God, His Spirit strengthens His children for battle with the powers of darkness. The serpent who deceived Eve is unable to ultimately overcome God’s elect.
When Paul admonishes us to take the Sword of the Spirit as the only offensive weapon in our battle with the spiritual forces in heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12,17) he is simply proclaiming what God’s elect have always known, that we are strengthened for the battle through meditation on God’s commandment and His Word. This is the means of grace by which sanctification is most commonly wrought, and we would do well to keep it ever with us through a commitment to scripture memory.
Wiser Than Teachers
Psalms 119:99 ESV I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
This verse is reminiscent of the young Jesus being found in the temple a few days after the Feast of the Passover:
Luke 2:47 ESV And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
The man of God, even the young man of God, not only has more wisdom than his enemies, but he may surpass his own teachers if he continues to meditate on God’s Word. Jesus, our perfect example as always, caused amazement in adults while He was yet a child. In the only story we have of our Lord’s youth, the emphasis is on His understanding of His mission and His mastery of the written revelation of God. What an inspiration and example to us!
Although God’s law does specifically refer to his rules and ordinances, the use of the various terms “commandment,” “testimonies,” and “precepts” in verses 97-100 seem to indicate the psalmist is also referring generally to the Scripture as our point of meditation. When we resolve to be students of God’s Word, commit to memorizing large passages, and dedicate ourselves to gaining understanding, it isn’t prideful to recognize if you have surpassed your teachers. We must be discerning and at times that will mean realizing that even those you once looked up to for teaching are not subjecting all things to Scripture.
When Martin Luther stood in opposition to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, he was de facto claiming to have more understanding than all his teachers. But Luther gave us an example to follow. He did not claim to have more understanding because of anything in himself, but rather he boldly and stubbornly held fast to the revealed Word of God, anchoring his very life in its veracity and its power to convey its own meaning sufficiently to all who hear it.
Wiser Than Older Men
Psalms 119:100 ESV I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
There is an unmistakeable progression here which we cannot miss. First, we love God’s law. Second, we meditate upon it. As the result, we are told we will become wiser than our enemies, our teachers, and ultimately, wiser even than older men and women. It is a general principle that men and women grow in understanding as they age. Even the heathen parent has learned a thing or two that they can pass on to their children. In all walks of life, elders are respected because they have more experience than the rest of us. Most people would sooner take marriage advice from a couple who has stayed together 20 years than newlyweds.
But once again, God’s precepts are not only a great equalizer, but they allow His Spirit-led child to surpass the wisdom of the aged. Young Christian men and women everywhere exhibit wise qualities which folks decades-older than they still do not possess. For not all wisdom is gained through experience, but some wisdom is granted by grace through the fear of Yahweh (Proverbs 1:7). “You are wise beyond your years,” we tell someone who keeps God’s precepts but is still considered a youth. Young people are notorious for wandering and rebelling, and the young person who fights to keep God’s precepts is seen as wise by anyone with understanding.
Many an older man wishes he could tell himself all the wisdom he had to learn the hard way. And those who have been saved later in life may lament our earlier ignorance and foolishness. But there is always someone older than you. Be respectful of your elders and glean what wisdom you can from their experiences, but constantly focus on your own need to keep God’s precepts if you want to truly have understanding in the eyes of Jesus!
See all posts in this series
Psalm 119:1-4 — Blessed!
Psalm 119:5-8 — Blessed!
Psalm 119:9-12 — Purity is the Objective
Psalm 119:13-16 — Declare and Delight!
Psalm 119:17-20 — Open My Eyes!
Psalm 119:21-24 — The Comfort of God
Psalm 119:25-28 — Thirst and Life
Psalm 119:29-32 — Shame Shifting
Psalm 119:33-36 — Seeking The Way
Psalm 119:37-40 — Behold God's Promise
Psalm 119:41-44 — Answering the Taunter
Psalm 119:45-48 — A Wide Place
Psalm 119:49-52 — Comfort Amidst Affliction
Psalm 119:53-56 — Righteous Anger?
Psalm 119:57-60 — What's Your Portion?
Psalm 119:61-64 — Companionship
Psalm 119:65-68 — Afflicted by God
Psalm 119:69-72 — More Affliction?
Psalm 119:73-76 — Sovereign Creator
Psalm 119:77-80 — May God Supply!
Psalm 119:81-84 — Our Whole Being Longs for God
Psalm 119:85-88 — They Have Dug Pitfalls
Psalm 119:89-92 — Established
Psalm 119:93-96 — Limited Perfection
Psalm 119:97-100 — Elevated Wisdom
Psalm 119:101-104 — Sweeter Than Honey
Psalm 119:105-108 — Freewill, Oaths, and More Affliction
Psalm 119:109-112 — Sorrows, Snares, Sons, and a Savior
Psalm 119:113-116 — My Hiding Place and My Shield
Psalm 119:117-120 — God Discards the Dross
Psalm 119:121-124— Deliverance
Psalm 119:125-128— God's Law > Everything on Earth
Psalm 119:129-132 — Into The Light
Psalm 119:133-136 — Does Your Love Bring You To Tears?
Psalm 119:137-140 — Zeal + Ignorance = Worthless Religion
Psalm 119:141-144 — Assurance of Perseverance
Psalm 119:145-148— Meditate on the PROMISE
Psalm 119:149-152 — Be Comforted For God Is Near
Psalm 119:153-156— Christ Alone Delivers
Psalm 119:157-160 — We Are In A Battle
Psalm 119:161-164— Do You Hate Falsehood?
Psalm 119:165-168 — Cause → Effect
Psalm 119:169-172 — Eruption of Praise
Psalm 119:173-176 — Seek Your Servant Like a Lost Sheep