In this post, I continue with my thoughts on the first Psalm, elaborating on the second verse. If you have not yet read my exhortation on the first verse, click here.
Following is the second verse of the first Psalm:
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
The first thing I notice when reading the verse is that little word that holds great significance, “instead.” A blessed person does not follow the advice of the wicked, take the path of sinners, or join groups of mockers. Instead of doing all of that, they delight in the Lord’s instruction.
Delighting in the Lord’s instruction.
This begs the question: what does it mean to delight in the Lord’s instruction? Maybe we should back up a step further, and ask first what exactly is the Lord’s instruction? Keep in mind that the writers of the Psalms were pre-Christ believers. There was no Bible, no Old Testament or New Testament. What they had was the law that God handed down to Moses at Mt. Sinai.
Uh-oh. Does this mean we’re supposed to memorize all of Leviticus and follow all of God’s commands written therein to the letter? Of course not. First of all, Yeshua came to fulfill the law because fallen humanity are incapable of doing so. Second, He clearly stated the one command that trumps and encompasses all others: Love God with all your might, and love your neighbor as yourself. Also, after He went to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of believers so that we would have living guidance.
Thus, for believers today, the Lord’s instruction is letting His love shine in our lives, and the personal nudges and revelations and whispers into our spirits. That said, the “delight” part is easy to explain: we delight in the Lord’s instruction when we readily and willingly live out His love, and readily and willingly obey His internal nudges and whispers.
I don’t mean to say that we ignore the Bible. The Old Testament shows the path and plan of the Father to redeem humanity, as well as giving us glimpses into His grace and mercy along the way. Obviously, reading the Gospels enable us to learn even more about the character of the Father and about who He wants us to become in Christ. And the New Testament books after the Gospels provide practical insights into how to live a life of love, how to stay on track with where the Father wants us to go.
If my exhortation on verse one of the first Psalm sounded difficult, take heart! Because people who delight in the Lord’s instruction – allowing God’s Spirit to flow through them and taking time to study His written word – are going to tend to shy away from the world’s ways. They are going to walk humbly, seeking to be healed and made whole so that the temptations of the flesh that surround them will be easier to ignore and avoid.
How is that possible? When you let God take over your heart, your desires change. And you gain immeasurable spiritual strength that you cannot have without Him.
In other words, when you allow the Holy Spirit to fill you, when you have a heart to obey His instruction, you lose your desire to live in sin. Not following the advice of the wicked, not taking the path of sinners, not joining mockers – they all become a matter of course in your daily life.
Delighting in the Lord’s instruction is only the first step to becoming that blessed person who avoids evil. There is an additional step that helps living right before a Holy God to become easier.
He meditates on it day and night.
Modern science has proved out that our thoughts are so powerful, that they literally create our respective realities. You can be a person after God’s heart, desire to please Him in every way possible, yet have a mind filled with either anxiety or garbage, if not both (anxiety is a kind of garbage – believe me, who has had a lifetime of experience dealing with it!). The salvation of your spirit does not equate to the salvation of your soul. You know how the apostle Paul wrote that we need to work out our salvation? That work is mostly done in between our ears! The bad news is, most of us have a lot of garbage in that space. It’s that garbage that leads us into temptation, into making justifications for giving into temptation.
The good news is, meditation – or intense focus – on the right things clears away the garbage and refills our minds with godly thoughts. When our minds are full of godly thoughts, the sinful world becomes repulsive.
How, then, do we go about meditating on the Lord’s instruction day and night so our minds will become more pure? Get up in the morning and focus on a truth that will help you fight a particular battle. If you tend to worry a lot, read out loud several times the verse in Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.”
Then, throughout the day, every time a worrisome thought tries to worm its way into your head, fight it off by thinking or speaking that verse.
If you have a low self-esteem and feel unloved, you might think and say throughout the day, “I am a child of God. He created me because He wanted me. He loves me with an everlasting love, and will never leave or forsake me. He is my shepherd, leading and guiding me into His good plans.”
Should you set aside some time each day just to meditate? If you find that helpful, sure! However, a lot of people who do that leave their meditation during that time only, then as they go about the rest of their days, allow the world to refill their minds with trash. That’s why it’s even more important to cultivate the habit of fighting ungodly thoughts with godly ones as they come up.
Your next step
Right now, take a minute to consider one of your most persistent thoughts or beliefs that are contrary to God’s Word. It may be worry, lusting over someone, low self-esteem.
Next, think of or look up at least one Bible verse or godly positive phrase that counteracts that thought. For the rest of the day, whenever that thought comes up, recite the verse or phrase that will fill your mind with godliness. In the days ahead, take on other ungodly thoughts and beliefs in the same way.
In the next post, we’ll look at Psalm 1:3 and learn the benefits of leaning into the Father and seeking to emulate His holiness.