Keeping your distance from poison, however, is not enough. We must also fill our soul with spiritual food (Deut. 8:3). “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2). The Torah/Law represents God’s fatherly instruction. In Proverbs 3:1, a father’s teaching is a father’s Torah. Think living room, therefore, not courtroom.
When I was a lad, and my father was preparing counsel he knew I would not enjoy, he would often preface his words with, “Son, what do you want me to say: what you want to hear, or what I really think?” Hearing this, my heart often sank, but I was in no doubt which of the two I needed.
To be sure, there will be days (many of them) when we will have to drag ourselves to this delight. But we take this trouble, despite our lethargy, firm in the conviction that this is not only the right course of action but also the best.
Turning to Scripture isn’t the occasional act of a man who is really up against things; it is the day-in, day-out habit of a soul determined to walk with God. “Day and night” is a merism—a figure of speech, common in Hebrew poetry, in which two opposites are all inclusive. We use them regularly in English: “I cleaned the house from top to bottom” doesn’t just mean I cleaned the top and the bottom of the house; it includes everything in between as well.
The Hebrew verb translated “meditate” literally means to mutter about something under your breath. There is immense practical wisdom here. For the mouth is both the gateway to and the exhaust pipe from the heart. The connection between the two is direct and effectual: what fills the one will certainly fill, consume, and control the other.
So, when God commissioned Joshua as Moses’ replacement, He told him to “meditate on [the Torah] day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Josh. 1:8, emphasis added; see also Ps. 1:3).
Many times the thoughtful soul may come to this habitual meditation as dry as a pretzel, but he will not stay that way for long. For this book brings him to the water of life. Water is an interesting metaphor in Scripture, describing both a gift from God and our experience of Him. Knowing God is like water to a dust-dry soul (Ps. 42:1–2). Notice that the psalmist is thirsty for God Himself. Each member of the Trinity is associated with this water imagery. We see it connected with the beautiful abode of God the Father (Ps. 46:4), the broken body of God the Son (John 19:34; 1 Cor. 10:4), and the bountiful presence of God the Spirit (John 7:37–39).
To be in the presence of God is to have your thirst satisfied. To be cut off from this life-giving presence is death itself, likened by Scripture to a raging thirst (Ps. 84:1–2; John 19:28). The best place to find this presence is in the Word He has given. Sola Scriptura isn’t just the rule of our faith; it is audiovisual rehydration therapy for our souls.
This is always where I go when dealing with someone lacking assurance. After I make sure they understand and believe the gospel, and after I make sure they are not gorging themselves with the poison of presumptuous sin (Ps. 19:13), I always like to inquire about their intake of Scripture. In particular, are they hiding its truth in their hearts? Are you?
Many claim they are too old to start this habit. But I know several older Christians whose testimony refutes this old canard. One lady in particular, who is at least ten years older than I, took up this challenge two years ago and has since memorized almost all of the gospel of John and the book of Romans (she left out the lists of names at the end of chapter 16), and as I write this today, she is currently well on her way through the book of James. Her soul is thriving through this habit. Might I encourage you to give it a try yourself?
Aim to memorize a section of Scripture, perhaps a whole chapter or even one of the shorter books like Titus or Ephesians. This helps get the logic of God—His train of thought—right down into the soul. Also, use a real printed page of paper. Tablets and their inconsistent pagination can be quite confusing to brains designed to memorize the structure of things. Seeing the same words in the same place on the same page greatly aids the memory.
It would be remiss of me not to conclude this study by reminding you that the Psalms are the hymnbook of the gathered church (e.g., Pss. 95; 100).They were meant to be sung together in the sanctuary with the assembly. Prolonged absence from the church tends to make us thirsty—at least, it ought to (Pss. 63; 84). If you want to know for sure that God is with you, go to the place He has promised to be (Matt. 18:20). We may doubt many things, but we can be certain of this.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series on assurance and was originally published on December 6, 2019. Previous post.