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Christian Living

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Grin and Grow with Kathy 11/10/21

I Will Meditate: A Study of the “I Wills” of the Psalms

When your thoughts are so loud they forget to use their inside voice, choose to meditate on God

STORY: O To Sleep!

At age 18, my life turned topsy turvy. Within two months I’d undergone major surgery, gotten married, moved five hours away from home, and entered Bible college. Nothing much, right?

I make fun now, but at the time, it was more than I could handle. During my awake hours, you’d never have known it. I was thriving as an overachiever. But during my sleep, the nightmares told me otherwise. One of my favorite courses was a psychology course and I recognized quickly from the curriculum that I needed help to deal with the unrest in my soul. I visited my professor and told him about my night terrors.

We recognized that it was in sleep that I processed what was too hard to handle when wide awake. He suggested several methods to unpack my burdens, relax, and find sweet sleep. One of the exercises was biblical meditation. It wasn’t the same kind of meditation as yoga. The goal wasn’t to empty my mind, but to fill it with a Scripture focus. As I focused on a specific Bible verse, I learned to tense and relax muscle by muscle, from top of my head to the tips of my toes. This is called progressive muscle relaxation.

Meditation is the act of ruminating. Not to be crude, but the word rumination was inspired by how cows chew their cud. They swallow food. It goes into a chamber of the stomach called the rumen. It comes back up for them to chew on more and then when they swallow the bolus, it goes into a different chamber of the stomach. When we meditate on something, we ponder it, chew on it, let it go into our hearts, then we bring it back to mind and think on it some more. It’s a mental focus that sticks with us long after we’re finished with the exercise. We plant God’s Word in our minds and hearts.

In this new series, we’re examining the “I will ... ” statements in Psalms. The first one is “I will meditate.”

STUDY: The How and Why of Meditation

I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. (Psalm 119:15 NLT)
  • Some Bible scholars say Psalm 119 goes beyond meaning God’s commandments. The Law could mean any of the Word of God known at that time—what we now recognize as the early writing found in parts of the Old Testament. If we apply it to now, it could possibly mean the entire Word of God found in the Bible.
  • Why is it helpful to study God’s Word?
  • When we read Scripture, we learn more about God’s character. After you read Bible verses, how can you reflect on the ways of the Lord in meditation? What comes to mind?
Even princes sit and speak against me, but I will meditate on your decrees. (Psalm 119:23 NLT)
  • Biblical meditation helps when we’re going through stressful times. Even David, who penned this psalm, recognized this.
  • Identify a current stress you are going through. How will meditation help you deal with the stress?
  • One thing we must do when we are dealing with difficult circumstances and internal chaos is to slow our thoughts down long enough to concentrate on what God’s Word says. And often when we are struggling, we do just the opposite. What is your typical go-to when you are stressed?
Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 119:27 NLT)
  • How does understanding the meaning of Scripture help you? What tools equip you to discern the Bible so you can meditate on it?
  • Another word for “meditate” is “ponder.”
Bring disgrace upon the arrogant people who lied about me; meanwhile, I will concentrate on your commandments. (Psalm 119:78 NLT)
  • David is basically saying, while the awfulness of life is going on, I choose to fix my focus on something else—on God’s Word.
  • If you changed this verse to reflect your life right now, the first part of the sentence might be the trial you have endured and asking God to handle it, and then the second part would be, “meanwhile, I will . . .” What is your meanwhile statement?
Though the wicked hide along the way to kill me, I will quietly keep my mind on your laws. (Psalm 119:95 NLT)
  • This passage is similar to the last one we considered. It starts with a negative thing happening, and then ends with a choice to flip the script. “I will quietly keep my mind on your laws.” Quietly is pretty much the opposite of what we feel like doing when we are dealing with the mean attacks of others. Even our thoughts seem loud, like they’ve forgotten to use their inside voice!
  • How will you quietly keep your mind focused on God and his principles during difficult times?
Sustain me, and I will be rescued; then I will meditate continually on your decrees. (Psalm 119:117 NLT)
  • This passage is slightly different. In previous references, David chose to meditate during the trial. In this passage, he is committing to meditate continually after God sustains and rescues him.
  • Can you think of a time that you had a total God focus during negative experiences, but as soon as life turned around for the better, rather than continuing to focus on God, you went on your merry way, doing your own thing? Be honest with yourself—this has happened to all of us. This passage is a good reminder that after we see our prayers answered, it’s still a good time to meditate on Scripture. There really is no bad time to meditate, is there?

STEPS: The Act of Meditation

I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. (Psalm 145:5 NLT)
  1. Meditate on God’s Word. Read one Bible verse and emphasize a different word each time you read it. Ponder its meaning.
  2. Meditate on God’s splendor. What about his character and glory bring you peace?
  3. Meditate on God’s wonderful acts. What have you seen God do recently?

Copyright © 2021 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.

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