Our rejoicing in the testimonies of God will naturally flow in a habitual meditation in them. The thoughts follow the affections. The carnal man can never be brought to this resolution. Having no spiritual taste, he has no ability for spiritual meditation. Indeed many sincere Christians, through remaining weakness and depravity, are too often reluctant to it. They are content with indolent reading: and, with scarcely a struggle or a trial, yield themselves up to the persuasion, that they are unable sufficiently to abstract their minds for this blessed employment. But let the trial prove the work. Perseverance will accomplish the victory over mental instability, and the spiritual difficulty will give way to prayer, "Lord! help me."
The fruitfulness of meditation will soon be manifest. Does it not "stir up the gift of God that is in us," and keep the energies of the heart in a wakeful posture of conflict and resistance? Besides this, meditation is the digestive faculty of the soul, which converts the word into real and proper nourishment: so that this revolving of a single verse in our minds is often better than the mere reading of whole chapters. "Your words were found, and I ate them; and Your word was to me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart." Thus the mind becomes the instrument of faith and love—of joy and strength.
But this meditation not only includes the stated times of thought, but the train of holy thoughts, that pass through the mind during the busy hours of the day. This maintains a habitual flow of spiritual desires, and excites the flame of love within, until at length the Psalmist's resolution becomes the inwrought habit of our minds, "I will meditate in Your precepts."
Can we lack a subject for meditation, if indeed the salvation of Jesus has been made known to our souls? While musing upon the glorious theme, does not "the fire burn" within, as if our hearts were touched with a live coal from the altar of God? Chide then, believer, your dull and sluggish spirit, that permits the precious manna to lie ungathered upon the ground, that is slow to entertain these heavenly thoughts, or rather that heavenly guest, whose peculiar office it is to "help our infirmities," and especially to "take of Christ's, and show it to us."
The exercise, however, of this, as of every other duty, may prove a barren form, that imparts neither pleasure nor profit. Let each of us then ask—'What distinct experimental benefit have I received from the word? Do I endeavor to read it with prayerful meditation, until I find my heart filled with it?'
But this communing with the word is not for contemplation, but for practice. By meditating on God's precepts, we learn to have respect unto His ways—carefully "pondering the path of our feet," that we "turn not aside." "Your loving-kindness is before my eyes; and I have walked in Your truth." "My foot," says Job, "has held His steps; His ways have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."
"I will meditate in your precepts." He who has an inward delight in anything will not long withdraw his mind from it As the miser often returns to look upon his treasure, so does the devout believer, by frequent meditation, turn over the priceless wealth which he has discovered in the Book of the Lord. To some men meditation is a task; to the man of cleansed way it is a joy. He who has meditated will meditate; he who says, "I have rejoiced," is the same who adds, "I will meditate." No spiritual exercise is more profitable to the soul than that of devout meditation; why are many of us so exceeding slack in it? It is worthy of observation that the preceptory part of God's word was David's special subject of meditation; and this was the more natural because the question was still upon his mind as to how a young man should cleanse his way. Practical godliness is vital godliness.
"And have respect unto your ways," that is to say, I will think much about them, so as to know what your ways are; and next, I will think much of them, so as to have your ways in great reverence and high esteem. I will see what your ways are towards me, that I may be filled with reverence, gratitude and love; and then I will observe what are those ways which you have prescribed for me, your ways in which you would have me follow you; these I would watch carefully, that I may become obedient, and prove myself to be a true servant of such a Master.
Note how the verses grow more inward as they proceed: from the speech of verse 13 we advanced to the manifested joy of verse 14; and now we come to the secret meditation of the happy spirit The richest graces are those which dwell deepest.