Bible Meditation

“Blessed is he who meditates in the law of the Lord.” What, though, is meditation? Daniel firstly distinguishes between different ways of reading the Bible: firstly, there is the issue of simply understanding a passage lexically, culturally etc., that is, the exegetical task; secondly, there is the immediate application of a passage to our lives, which is the way the text is usually used in preaching; but it’s the third way of reading which more fully brings us into contact with the Word of God, meditation, which itself is discussed under two headings — meditative, ie slow, reading, making full use of all available tools, such as Daniel gives us in his books, but also, and more importantly, there is the sowing of the word into the heart which quietly, unconsciously even, turns the word over, perhaps for many years before surfacing in renewed understandings. “Blessed is he who meditates in the law of the Lord day and night” — consciously and unconsciously.

The second chapter looks at meditation as discussed in the parable of the sower. Contrasted with the superficial, fruitless responses to the word is Mary, who kept these words and went over them in her heart. Time is needed to take the word in, for it to be buried deep in the heart, there to take root. Daniel likes at times to talk about synergy, the divine/human synergy; here he points out that it is the word, the Gospel that bears fruit (Col 1.6), so that while our input is necessary, it is nothing without God, who is its source.

We then turn to look at the passage in Acts concerning the Ethiopian eunuch, touching on two main themes, firstly, the Ethiopian himself. Through the scriptures he is brought into a condition which Daniel says is “contemplative” of joy, exemplifying the fruit bearing of the previous chapter. Joy in the Ethiopian is the fruit of contemplation/meditation. The other issue Daniel raises is that meditation is of the Trinity, that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are present; here he suggests themes he looks at fully in On the banks of Jordan.

The final chapter looks at the role of the Holy Spirit in enabling us to discern the meaning of scripture, for example as He helped Jesus in the temptation rightly discern Satan’s use of the written word; and then as He brought to the remembrance of the disciples Jesus statement about “raising up” the temple in three days. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and does not return without having watered . . . so is my word . . .

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