[The audio for this week’s evening service is available at Sermon.net, as is a PDF file of the notes for the service. You should be able to download the audio directly with this link, if you prefer (right-click, save link as….) We are off next Sunday for Independence Day and I am speaking at West Coast Grace Youth Camp the next week. ]
The mind of the blessed person is on the Law of the Lord (Psalm 1:2). The Torah is the focus of the righteous person’s attention. The noun torah (תּוֹרָה) is repeated twice and it is plural in both cases. This may indicate that the writer has in mind more than just the five books of the Law, or simply the covenant found in Deuteronomy. But the word basically means “instruction” and is used for the Law or the whole Hebrew Bible. Psalm 19 and 119 both use torah to describe the God’s revelation of himself. When God reveals himself, we must respond in some way (respect and obedience, or sinful scoffing).
First, the blessed person delights in the Law of the Lord. The verb “delight” (חֵפֶץ) refers to a strong desire. Sometimes it is used to describe “precious stones” because they are the type of thing people pursue, they are of extreme value. For example, the Lord does not delight in sacrifice, but in obedience (1 Sam 15:22), in Prov 2:15, 8:11 wisdom is described as more precious that jewels, nothing which can be desired is better than her.
For the righteous, the Law of the Lord is the object of his greatest desire. People tend to take delight in special objects, think about how people will take a precious item and display it on a shelf for everyone to see. Some people decorate their office with special items which they take delight in, photographs of family, special awards, souvenirs from special
I find this delight missing in contemporary culture. People do not usually get excited about a sermon, even one based on Scripture. It seems to be the price we pay to have a “worship experience.” People do not really “delight in the Word of the Lord,” but seem to tolerate it, or read it as a duty.
Second, the blessed person meditates on the Law of the Lord. The verb translated “meditate” (הגה) comes from a root which means to “growl” or “to mutter.” In this context, it means to read the Law in a low voice while meditating. I will admit that meditating is something I have never fully understood, primarily because of the way it comes across in the media – a swami meditating and chanting a mantra, etc. It seems somewhat mindless to me, the goal is emptying the mind of rational thought. I am not really interested in that, and I am not sure that is what this text indicates since this word describes an audible, verbal action.
The point of “muttering” the Law of the Lord is reading it out loud, perhaps in a low, respectful voice, but nevertheless out loud. We hear things when we read aloud that we do not hear when we read silently. This is therefore not a mindless chanting of the Scripture, it is a pronouncement of what the Scripture says! Psalm 35:28 and 37:30 both use this same word to describe a worshiper verbalizing the righteousness of the Lord as a part of worship.
I would suggest that this activity is rational, the purpose is to read and hear the scripture, to immerse oneself in Scripture, so that it becomes the way a person thinks. Everyone knows that the Scripture says “Do no steal.” If you are in a store and do not have enough money to pay for something, you probably do not wonder whether it is God’s will to steal. You know this because you have absorbed that concept from the Bible. The more you absorb, the more your thinking changes so that you may not even notice that you are applying Scripture constantly.
These activities are constant: day and night. This does not mean a ten minute devotion with breakfast and another ten minutes before bed (although that is a good start!) The blessed person is so immersed in Scripture that it is in his thoughts all of the time.