For the last few years I’ve made it a practice to begin each morning reading the five Psalms for the day. I multiply the day of the month times five and read that Psalm along with the preceding four Psalms. I read Psalm 119 on the last day of months that have 31 days.
I started reading the Psalms in earnest after realizing that this is the one book God gave us that shows in detail how we should relate to Him in praise, prayer, and petition. There are few books in Scripture that so profoundly teach us about God with such a broad range of emotional expression. Even more importantly, since my job is to lead people in worshipping God corporately, I want to be intimately acquainted with these words and the heart behind them.
So I opened up to Psalm 1 yesterday and read:
1 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; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 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. (Ps. 1:1-3 ESV)
I have two ways to live – trusting in the words, ways, and thoughts of man, or trusting in the words, ways, and thoughts of God. Derek Kidner writes that this Psalm is “a faithful doorkeeper, confronting those who would be in ‘the congregation of the righteous’ (vs. 5) with the basic choice that alone gives reality to worship; with the divine truth (vs. 2) that must inform it; and with the ultimate judgment that looms up beyond it. (vs. 5,6)” (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Psalms 1-72, p. 47)
How often does “divine truth” inform my life? Not enough. Books and blogs I read, movies and TV shows I watch, conversations and interactions I have with others, all seek to inform my life. What they tell me may or may not line up with God’s Word. But if I don’t know well what Scripture actually contains, I won’t know the difference.
God couldn’t be clearer about the benefits of knowing, loving, and following His Word, and the corresponding pain, havoc, and judgment that accompanies those who don’t. But many times we’re content with spending 5-10 minutes a day in the Bible, happy that they’re at least doing something. While SOME time is certainly better than NONE, it’s doubtful that it’s going to make much of a difference in our thinking. And if our thinking doesn’t change, neither will our lives. And if our lives don’t change, how do people distinguish us from the wicked?
Psalm 1:2 says the righteous person does two things in relation to his Word: He delights in it and meditates on it. Psalm 119:97 says something similar:
“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.”
Do I love God’s Word? Do I look forward to reading it more than I might a good novel by my favorite author? Do I see time in the Bible as an opportunity to get to know my Savior and Creator better? Or do I see it as “moldy truth” that I eat only reluctantly? The attitude of delight marks the difference between the Christian who reads the Bible because they’re “supposed to” and the one who reads because they can’t be kept away.
But how do we nurture that kind of attitude and desire? It’s simple. Meditate on God’s Word. Feed on it, think long and hard about it, memorize it, apply it to different situations, study it, compare and contrast different passages, trace the use of one word through the Bible. Of course all of these being with the simple act of reading it. Lots of it.
May God help us this year to increase our intake of and delight in God’s Word so that we might bear much fruit for the glory of our Savior.