What do you delight in? Now, that’s an open-ended question with many answers. A cherry pie made with tart cherries is delightful. The colors of the sunrise and sunset are breathtaking. Spending time with family and friends on an autumn walk in the woods is worth every moment. Fixing a difficult problem always brings celebration. Love shared with my wife is delightful. All of these bring me delight, but there is one more to consider.
The Psalmist writes, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalm 1:1–3, NLT)
While there are some who draw delight from the black letter reading of the law, most of us are not in that lawyerly crowd. So, let’s make this a bit more approachable and think of the “law of the Lord” as the word of the Lord. What did Jesus teach and demonstrate? How did Paul and the Apostles apply and understand His teaching, actions, and examples? What is God saying to us as we read and ponder His Word?
Basically, these verses from Psalms boil down to one question and one promise. Who are you listening to? The advice of folks going their own way, the gossipy words of sinners, the destructive sarcasm of mockers, or what God has to say to you? Who are you listening to? In whose words do you delight in the most? We know the answer to the question by our thoughts. Whose voices do we ponder and dwell on the most?
The promise is that those who delight in what God is saying in His Word are like fruitful trees. Their roots are nourished by the ever-flowing stream. Their leaves are basking in the sunshine of God’s love. Prosperous and fruitful.
Now, what does it mean to be prosperous? Is this about financial wealth or something entirely different? To understand what it means to prosper, we only need to consider something Jesus said. “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:20–21, NLT) In a way, that is what the Psalmist is also saying. Our treasure in Christ is not measured by our possessions, land, flocks, or cash. Our treasure is the joy of knowing Christ, and our delight is in His Word. Our prosperous fruit are varieties of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
So, what does this look like? How do we meditate on God’s Word? There are many ways to approach this. All of this begins with reading or hearing the words of the Bible. That’s true whether it is large chunks at a time or just a single verse. There are layers here. We understand with our mind, applying the context and the truest meanings of the words possible. We also listen with our hearts for those nudges of the Holy Spirit. And we strenuously avoid reading our desires into the Word or using it as a book of spells to get what we want. We must then chew on it, meditate on it, journal it if you’re so inclined, think it over however best works for you. And the final layer is to apply it, to do it. We can meditate on “love your neighbor” all day long, but if we never do it, what good is it?
Lastly, understand that we can have many delights. I listed a few of mine at the beginning. God’s Word is not our only delight, but it brightens and informs all our other delights in some way. And as we delight in God’s Word, our life truly does prosper in more ways than we know or can count.