|Series Theme: Bible Study Approaches|
Title: 23. Writing your own Meditations
- Psalm 139:1-16
How writing your own meditation can increase understanding of the Bible
This is another of those "home-made" meditations to illustrate how you may take scripture and let it speak to you as you jot down thoughts that come.
In the example that follows, we have taken just a part of a well-known passage from Psalm 139:1-16 and allowed some thoughts to flow from the verses.
With each verse, please remember, the thoughts that are there are just that - the thoughts of the student as he pondered on the verse in question.
The Example - Psa 139:1-16
v.1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me
Do I feel comfortable or uneasy about this thought?
Jesus, the image of God, looked at people and knew what they were thinking, what they were feeling. God does know me through and through.
God said to Samuel, Man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7). I can't hide anything from God!
In Star Trek they sometimes said, We're being scanned and it was like the alien ship was looking right through them. This is how it is with God and me.
When He looks at me, nothing is hidden from His gaze.
It is foolish therefore, for me to try to hide anything from God.
It is foolish for me to try to pretend with Him - He knows me!
v.2a You know when I sit and when I rise
He watches and knows my actions.
CCTV cameras watch in the high street and in the same way God sees everything I'm doing.
Spy satellite sky cameras watch every movement in small areas, but God sees everything.
In Orwell's 1984 Big Brother saw everything but it wasn't for good. God sees and plans good.
Is this a frightening thought?
Surely only when we're guilty.
It is worrying only in the hands of unscrupulous men who change the truth. God doesn't do that.
Someone has said that in the near future we'll all have implanted chips that show the central computer where we are. God sees us already!
This is fearful knowledge in wrong hands, but not in God's hands.
God knows because He sees my every action.
v.2b you perceive my thoughts from afar.
It's not only actions but the thoughts behind them that He sees.
He knows when I'm putting up a front.
He knows when I'm deceiving other people.
He knows that the smile hides doubts, fears and schemes.
He doesn't have to come close to know my thoughts.
He's not like a friend who I see in the distance approaching and before whom I must put on a front, before whom I must adjust my appearance.
No, because I'm a Christian, He's put His own Holy Spirit within me and although He, the Lord, is seated in heaven, He's also here by the presence of His Spirit.
It doesn't matter if He sometimes seems afar off, He still knows, He still sees and He understands.
v.3a You discern my going out and my lying down
The AV says compasseth instead of discern - that means to surround my activities, He sees every detail from every angle.
The NAS says scrutinise - that means He observes in detail.
The Amplified Bible says you sift and search out my path - which means not so much going ahead
as diligently checking out where I go.
discern = penetrating insight that sees through the tangle to see the truth, i.e. He sees through the jungle of human activity and picks out where I am, where I'm going, what I'm doing.
You watch and see my activities.
You see when I go out, and you know why I go, you see when I go out to escape, you watch and see every activity when I'm away from home.
Others may not see, but you're always watching.
You see when I lie down and understand why I do so.
You know my causes of tiredness, my over-activity, my stress, my weariness of soul, you understand my shear laziness.
You understand all these things.
v.3b you are familiar with all my ways .
Your watching is constant, so everything I do is familiar to you, you know about it all, it is no surprise to you.
My ways, my habits, my quirks, my fancies, how I think, how I live, the way I live life, the way I relate to people, the way I handle the circumstances, you know all about them all, they are well known to you for you watch them day and night and know every minute detail of them.
v.4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD .
Even before I speak you know what is coming.
Because you know the way I work, the way I operate, my thoughts, my ideas, motivations, aspirations, you know what I'm going to say even before I've actually said it.
You know what is coming, you're not surprised by it.
Sometimes you anticipate my words with sadness, that I should be so foolish to let such words pass my lips, that I should allow such callousness of heart to be expressed.
Sometimes you anticipate my words with joy and you see goodness of heart about to be expressed, love and generosity of spirit towards others.
Hebrews 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
v.5a You hem me in--behind and before
I like to think that I'm free, but in your love for me you 'fence me in'.
You're God and you can stop me going places.
You know what would harm me and you stop me in my tracks.
Your fencing is corrective, I cannot run back and pretend it didn't happen - you don't let me do that.
Your fencing is protective, I cannot run forward beyond what you allow, and you only allow as much as I can cope with.
When the apostle Paul was on his second journey with you, you stopped him by your Spirit going north into the province of Asia , you hemmed him in until you took him to the coast and then gave him a vision of crossing into Europe and opened the path that way.
Sometimes when I go to move forward into something that is not going to be good for me you give me a sense of disquiet, you hem me in and stop me.
Sometimes you intervene in circumstances and place a fence that stops me moving ahead.
I'm sorry that I get upset when you do that, it's just that I don't realise it's you doing it and you're doing it for my good.
Sometimes you allow Satan or other people to be the fence that stops me moving ahead, and that I find particularly hard.
Even the apostle Paul was stopped by Satan on occasion (1 Thess 2:18 ), so I shouldn't be surprised.
I acknowledge you are the Lord, and sometimes you hedge me in, behind and before.
v.5b you have laid your hand upon me
You've reached out to me in your love.
It's like you see me stumbling forward and you put out your hand to me, of restraint, of protection, of support, upon me.
Sometimes I'm very much aware of your hand upon me and I rejoice in your presence.
Other times your touch is so light and I am so insensitive that I am not aware that your hand is there.
Yet the truth is, you HAVE laid your hand on me, I belong to you, I am yours.
v.6a Such knowledge is too wonderful for me
This is really all too much for me to take in.
These truths are so wonderful that I can hardly accept them.
I've been so limited in my thinking of you, that this seems so incredible, and shows me how amazingly great you are, and I can hardly cope with the greatness of it.
I struggle when you tell me you are with me and you love me.
Unbelief rises up and I think, Surely it can't be.
Forgive me for my foolishness Lord, my mind is so limited, my heart is so restricted, I am so slow to understand.
Yet these truths are true, even though they seem too wonderful for me.
Thank you, Lord.
v.6b too lofty for me to attain
Most of the time my thoughts are taken up with mundane hum-drum day-to-day things which are so ordinary, but this somehow seems in a different world.
It's like these truths are up out of my reach usually, I can't grasp such things.
It's like they're high up, out of my grasp, and yet something in me yearns to know more.
My mind seems to be only able to reach up to grasp a certain amount - and I'm aware that there is so much more - yet on my own I can't seem to reach up to it.
These things are too much for my natural, self-centred mind to cope with.
I recognise that these are things that come only by revelation and I need the help of your Holy Spirit to really take them in.
v.7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
I realise that wherever I am, not only do you see me, but you are also there with me
Where could I possibly go that you weren't there, you who fill all of creation.
You said through Jeremiah, Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD. (Jer 23:24)
There is no hiding place, nowhere I could run to, to escape you.
I can hide from people, that is easy, but from you it is not possible.
I can evade people, shut myself away, run away to unknown places where they cannot find me, but not so with you.
v.8a If I go up to the heavens, you are there
Heaven is obviously your home so if I went there, you would be there already.
But it says heavens - to the extent of the universe - if I were to keep on going at double the speed of light, for all the years of my life, I would never escape you, you would still be there with me.
So, if one day space travel should allow me to visit the moon, it will not be a lonely place, for you will be there.
Should I ever travel on a Starship Enterprise travelling to other galaxies, you would always be there, I could still speak to you and you to me.
Whether I go to the extremities of the physical world or the spiritual world, you will be there.
v.8b if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I go to the opposite extreme, to the very depths of Sheol or Hell, you would be there.
Even if I turned my back on you and committed myself to Hell I would still have to face you, even in the awfulness of that place.
If I go to the depths of the spiritual world, you will be there as much as you are in heaven, your presence fills all of existence.
If I go to the depths of the material world, there I will still find you.
If I took a submarine to the bottom of the ocean, to those terrible pressure crushing zones of the earth, of utter darkness in the deepest of the deeps of the ocean, you would be there.
There is no escape, I cannot get away from you.
There is no escape, you will always be there to comfort me, to love me.
v.9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea
If, as the sun rises in the morning, I fly with it and follow it round to the far side of the world, you'll still be there.
It doesn't matter where it is, you'll be there.
If I followed Jonah's example and sought to flee to another country, wherever I go you will be there.
If I go to South America you will be there, to Asia and you will be there, to Australia you will be there, to the Antarctic you will be there, to the hottest parts of the earth you will be there, to the coldest regions you will be there.
You are familiar with every land and every place, for you are there.
v.10a even there your hand will guide me
It doesn't matter where it is, you'll be there for me.
I'll never be lost, for you know the way and you'll guide me.
I may not know the place or the way, but you do, and you're there for me, in every circumstance, every place.
When I am out of my depth in the circumstances, you'll be there to lead me through
When I don't know what to do, you'll be there to guide me through.
v.10b your right hand will hold me fast
It doesn't matter where I am, you right hand, your hand of authority, that nothing can withstand, will hold me secure.
Nothing will move me, nothing will shake me, with your hand around me, I am utterly secure.
You are the Lord, all powerful, all knowing, and with your right hand upon me, I will not be moved, ill not be brought down by the enemy, with your grace and power and authority, I will prevail.
v.11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
Even if I were foolish enough to imagine the darkest of places, if I thought to escape into that darkness, even then that would not be enough.
If in my folly my imagination dreamt of darkness in which no human eye could see, that would not be enough.
v.12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to
Even in such a situation, if it ever should exist, the Lord will see me, it will be as daylight to Him, for He is not limited by light or dark, He sees all things!
Lord your eyes penetrate the thickest of brick walls, the densest of concrete, and so as for darkness, that is as light to you, and you see me.
v.13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb .
I am not an accident, you had a hand in my making.
I am not just flesh, I am spirit as well.
From my conception you were involved with me.
I never realised it until I came to know you, but I thank you that you knew me even then.
You said to Jeremiah, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart (Jer 1:5)
I find it amazing that you had plans for me even before I was born.
v.14a I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made
As science and technology open up the wonders of the human body, so I understand more the truth of these words.
The incredible detail of my body and how it works is truly amazing.
I marvel that when I cut myself you've made it that it seals itself up and the bleeding stops.
I marvel at the wonder of taste and digestion, the means you've given us to be fed and to be strengthened.
Lord, I could go on all day as I ponder on the wonder of this thing you call my body, it is amazing, thank you.
v.14b your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
I realise that I'm just one tiny part of all of your Creation, and indeed the more and more I see of your world, the more and more I wonder at the incredible detail of what you have made.
When I look at the largest of the beasts or the smallest of insects, as TV programmes show us the lives of these creatures, I wonder at the variety and diversity and intricacy of your works.
The more and more I wonder at your Creation, the more I realise how wonderful you are to have designed and made all these things, and for no other reason than for your pleasure.
v.15, 16a When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body
When I was being formed in my mother's womb, you watched, you saw, and you knew me.
Even though I was not a communicating being able to relate to you, you still watched over me, still took interest in me, for you knew me and had plans for me.
v.16b All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be
Before I came into being, you knew who I would be, you had plans for me, and you loved me!
Lord, thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, there are plenty more verses for you to carry on with. So, why not pick a verse and see what God might say to you through it. The above 'thoughts' were literally the first thoughts and no doubt, with further quiet, further pondering, much more will come. This is just the beginning.....