We are spending this week looking at verses from Psalm 119 which is an acrostic using the Hebrew alphabet. The main emphasis of the psalm is God’s Word and the fact that knowing it should be prominent in our lives. Today’s verse says:
“Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will mediate on your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 119:27 (NLT).
When reading this, I was reminded of the quote that is attributed to Mark Twain: “It is not the things which I do not understand in the Bible which trouble me, but the things which I do understand.” There are things in the Bible that are difficult to understand – some that require study and some that just fall under the category in my mind of “mystery” which are things that God has chosen to keep to Himself. But there’s plenty in there that is pretty straightforward and understandable. These are things that He wants us to know and follow.
In our reading of Celebration of Discipline, Foster gives us four types of meditation. The one that verse 27 reminds me of is meditating on scripture. Foster writes, “…meditation upon Scripture, is the central reference point by which all other forms of meditation are kept in proper perspective. Whereas the study of Scripture centers on exegesis, the meditation of Scripture centers on internalizing and personalizing the passage” (Foster, pg. 29). Psalm 119:27 is meant to be a personal request from each one of us to God – “help me understand your commandments”.
I have found that it’s harder for me to keep God at a distance when I personalize His Word. Take John 3:16 for example. “For God so loved the world” is big picture; “For God so loved Kim” is personal and our Father is very, very personal. He wants His Word to be treasured by us and not just analyzed.
The second form of meditation that Foster writes about is something the Quakers call “centering down.” There’s an exercise that he mentions to help with this that I have found very helpful called “palms down, palms up”. You begin by putting your palms down to symbolize the things that you are turning over to God. It could be the racing mind that keeps you from being able to sit in silence before Him, or a sin that you know you need to release to Him. After you’ve surrendered whatever you need to with your palms down, you turn your palms up as a symbolic desire to receive from God. In the example of turning over that racing mind to God (yeah, that’s a frequent one for me), you may want to ask God to fill you with His peace and symbolically open your hands to receive it. This may not be helpful for you at all, but it has been tremendously helpful for me. God doesn’t require a certain posture when we speak with Him, but there are times for me when it really makes a difference. There are days that I must be on my knees – not because He demands it, but because I need to submit myself mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
As we work our way through these disciplines this year, my heart’s desire is for us to experience God like never before. He is crazy about you. I hope you know that today.
Executive Director of Education and Outreach