But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law does he meditate day and night.
"He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water." Who shall? He whose delight is in the law of the Lord. His life shall be rooted in the richest of soils; he shall never lack resources; his soul shall delight itself in fatness. But what is "the law of the Lord"? The laws of the Lord are scattered over this book with almost bewildering plentitude and variety. They are almost as thick as autumn leaves. The Orientalist takes great masses of rose leaves, and from them distils that precious essence we call otto of roses. Can anyone take these scattered leaves of law, mass them together, and give us the essence of all law? Can anyone take these almost unmanageable quantities, and return them to us in a small phial, which can be carried in the hand of a little child? Yes, Jesus Christ has done it. "All the law is fulfilled in one word — thou shelf love." Love is the essence of law. He who delights in love and loving shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water. Now we are permitted to look into "the mind of Christ," into love's great laboratory and see the great Lover at work. Love is the only element in which He works, but it is prepared in different ways. At one time love is very tender, to woo a tender blade; again it is very fierce, to burn a stubborn weed. It reveals itself in different ways to suit men's different needs. If, then, I would know how love should work I must study the mind of Christ, and meditate thereon both night and day. To delight in the law of the Lord is to live as devoted students in the mind of Christ. That mind is opened out for us in the gospel. All the dispositions of Jesus are laid bare. It is revealed to us how His love disposed itself in very varied circumstances and to very different needs. If we would be planted in a rich soil, and have a fruitful and luxuriant life, we must be rooted in the mind of Christ, delight ourselves in the mind of Christ. Now the mind of Christ cannot be known at a glance. It demands earnest and persistent study. We shall have to meditate in it day and night. The word "meditation" has an antique, old-world flavour about it, as though it belongs to an age when men took slow, measured strides, and the wheels of time moved leisurely. How many of us meditate, hold the mind before a subject until it becomes steeped in it, saturated with it, through and through? We live in an age of mental haste and gallop. Impressions are abundant; convictions are scarce. Go to the academy in any of the summer months, and see how the crowds gallop round the galleries, hastily glancing at the hundreds of pictures which adorn the walls, with the result that the memory retains nothing in distinction, but only a recollection of masses of colour in endless confusion. How is it with the art student? He goes early in the morning. He selects his picture. He sits down before it. He studies it — its perspective, its grouping, its colouring, the artist's mannerisms, every line, every light and shade. He meditates upon it. The picture becomes imprinted upon his mind and educates his taste. It steals into his own soul, and afterwards imperceptibly influences his own pencil and brush, and becomes part of the man forever. Well, in the four Gospels we have four picture galleries, and the different pictures are different phases of the mind of Christ. Christ is depicted in different attitudes and conditions: alone on a mountain at prayer; in the midst of a vast inquisitive multitude; in the severities of temptation in a wilderness; in a quiet home at Bethany; facing the Cross; the triumph of Calvary. The real student, the real disciple of the Master, wants to know the mind of his Master, and he sits down before one picture at a time, and lingers before it, and studies every line and feature of it, and beauty after beauty breaks upon his delighted vision. He meditates upon it, and the beauty of the picture steeps into his soul, refines his moral taste, influences his hand and heart, and becomes part of himself forever. I tell you, we know almost nothing of the moral and spiritual loveliness of our Jesus, almost nothing of the mind of Christ, because we do not hold ourselves before it in lingering meditation. Why don't we? Why are we not devoted students of these pictures of the mind of Christ? Let us be frank with ourselves. Is not Bible studying wearying and wearisome? To how many of us is it a delight? It is because so many put the virtue in the reading itself. We think when we have read a chapter we have discharged a duty. People open their Bibles, and read a few verses, and close them, and think that by their reading they have pleased God. You may have displeased Him! Some people think that when they read the Bible the very act of reading is a kind of talisman to hedge about their lives with increased security. Oh no, it may be that you are falling into the very snare of the tempter! John Ruskin says there is nothing which so tends to destroy the accuracy of the artistic eye as a hurried gallop round an art gallery, even though it contains the works of the most eminent masters. May not that be equally true of this gospel gallery, where the mind of the great Master is exhibited in a hundred different ways; a hurried and half-indifferent gallop may only destroy the accuracy of the moral eye, and impair rather than strengthen your spiritual vision? Bible reading is virtuous when it leads to virtue. My text declares that those who thus live in continual meditation upon the ways of the Lord shall be in a rich rootage. They shall be like trees planted by rivers of water. They shall have vast resources. Are we all planted there? If we are rooted elsewhere our life will be stunted and unhealthy. "His leaf shall not wither." The leaf is the thing of the spring time. It is the first thing that comes. Well, in the Christian life spring leaf shall ever remain. The spring greenness of life shall not wither as the years roll by. The beauties of the spring time shall continue through all the seventy years. The beauties of early life, of young life, the beauties of childhood shall never be destroyed. "His leaf shall not wither." His childlikeness, the glory of the spring time of life, shall always be fresh and beautiful; it shall never wither away. There shall be other developments. Life shall grow. It shall increase in knowledge. It shall broaden in experience. It shall open out large capacities and powers. But, amid all the developments, the beatifies of childlikeness shall remain; his spring leaf shall not wither; the glory of the spring time shall never be lost.
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.