“To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.”
This is no ordinary psalm. It offers us a very concise glimpse into a oft-forgotten spiritual exercise: meditation.
In Genesis 24, we are introduced to this practice as Isaac went to out the field to meditate at eventide, awaiting his bride. Joshua commanded it with a sure promise of success in the first chapter of the book of Joshua. In Psalm 1, a blessing is perceived for one who “meditates therein (‘the law of the Lord’) day and night.”
Jason Marshall writes in “A Primer On Meditation” on the function of meditation:
“Meditation serves as a defense between our fast-paced, technological world and our psyches. We’re surrounded by a multitude of distractions from smart phones to 24-hour news channels. You probably surfed through at least half a dozen different websites before you started reading this article. The onslaught of input we receive each day can do a number on us emotionally and psychologically. Meditation allows a man to take a much needed mental rest from the hustle and bustle of modern life. It restores our brain’s balance and our sense of overall calm and well-being.”
The definition of ‘meditate’ in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary is: “to dwell on any thing in thought; to contemplate; to study; to turn or revolve any subject in the mind.” Meditation is different from praying, and deeper than memorizing. The practice has been stolen and claimed by naturalists and spiritualists, but it is a natively Christian concept, and one that has been neglected mostly because of ignorance.
Psalm 13 draws back the curtain on the commonly concealed process of meditation. We will study it by the obvious divisions.
1-2 Solitary Questions: Ask for the sake of asking.
3-4 Secret Evaluations: Pray from your perspective.
5-6 Scriptural Reflections: History promises hope.
First, David is surely alone, expressing lack of company and counsel in verses 1-2. The questions he raises are to the Lord, but they are of the sort that no man can expect an answer. The issue of time, “How long?” is one on which the Lord is faithfully silent. It’s not the sheer knowledge of the question at stake, but the transforming power of endurance and perseverance that keeps this a mystery. You can know a fact of life, like childbirth normally takes 12 to 19 hours, but living through labor and delivery will change your appreciation for that statistic.
So is meditation the strengthening not only of what you know, but how you know it. By solitude, you remove the outside stimuli for why you believe what you believe. By scripture, you reflect specifically on what God said. Asking the fantastic question is not a sign of weak faith, but of wonderful meditation.
Man will often try to answer the questions, and that can lead to more trouble and doubts and insecurities than you had before. Most folks are just trying to help, but honestly, they just don’t know! (See Job)
God is not nearly as interested in us KNOWING anyway. If we only could TRUST Him, He reveals much more than we require. But never the knowing before the trusting.
Second, David uncovers his sentiments in desperation and defeat. However extreme his doubt of God hearing him, or how ever in the world he knew what his enemies thought of him, he is honest. Honesty is the core of meditational strength.
You may choose to voice these complaints to others, but that would only serve to give you their perspective, their experience, their predictions, their opinions. God put YOU in that place for YOU to spend the time and for YOU to see God through YOUR circumstances. Meditation is not where you pray for things to be different, but where you accept the plan of God in your life as the channel through which you alone can praise and glorify God Almighty. God did the work of mediation to give you a place in Heaven with Him(saved thru faith [1 Tim 2:5, Eph 2:8]), we do the work of meditation to give God a place in our hearts (sanctify the Lord God.” [1 Peter 3:15]).
At last, David returns to the foundation of meditation: what God has done already. Remember that this is how you focus on your part in God’s greater purpose. The Scripture is history; history is God’s display of His will and His wishes for you. It is a collection of God’s faithfulness in the lives of others that have chosen to trust Him. Without Scripture, meditation would be an empty exercise in false hope, fact-less dreaming of Invictus. (For truly, what is the use of being the captain of his own soul, when he is bound to lose it all? See Mark 8:36) The wonders of God capture the allegiance of the soul and remind us that God is indeed God alone.
Notice that no question is answered, but they were asked. No prayer was acknowledged, but they were honestly prayed. See at the end how David’s soul is uplifted:
Because “I have trusted… my heart shall rejoice.”
“Because he hath dealt bountifully… I will sing”
Meditation can be very, very simply explained as this: changing the direction from which you look. It shifts your priorities to match God’s, it focuses your perspective to see God’s, and it sweetens your praise to sing God’s.
I hope you’ll agree that meditation need not be a forgotten practice of God’s children.