I. Consider, first, the nature of godly meditation, regarded as a distinct exercise of our practical Christianity.—We must not identify the exercise with religious contemplation, that higher form of intellectual homage which the mind, when elevated above the level of earthly things, pays to the wisdom of God; neither is meditation to be confounded with the exercise of reading, even though it be thoughtful, prayerful, scriptural reading. We must also distinguish it from the ordinary act of prayer. Godly meditation is the soul’s soliloquy; it is the heart rehearsing to itself what shall be the manner of its appearing before God, and what it shall say. It is not so much a religious act in itself as a preparation for all other religious acts. It prepares for Holy Communion by accustoming the mind to the deeper and calmer forms of fellowship with God.
II. Notice some practical directions in relation to this holy exercise.—It is clear that meditation is not an act to be learned, but a habit to be formed. We must attain to expertness in it, not by the observance of artificial rules so much as by diligent and persevering practice. (1) David intimates to us the desirableness of securing an outward solemnity and seriousness in this exercise, entire seclusion from all human friendships, the hushing of all voices, both from within and from without, that we may be quite alone with God. (2) A close self-scrutiny is also enjoined in the text, ‘Commune with your own heart.’ We have much to speak to our hearts about: our mercies, our sins, our work. These thoughts demand retirement, a coming by ourselves apart, a calm trial of our own spirits in the presence of the Father of spirits; they demand a set and deliberate compliance with the exhortation of the Psalmist, ‘Commune with your own heart, and in your chamber, and be still.’
Rev. D. Moore.
(1) ‘Let communion with your own heart soothe it to perfect peace and repose, calm in the assurance that nothing shall separate it from God’s love, that the government of all worlds and all beings and all things is upon Christ’s shoulders, that your heavenly Father is causing all things in your individual history to work together for good, and that you may wait with confidence, quietness and cheerful composure the issue of the night of gloom and tears which now enshrouds your soul within its gloomy pavilion.’
(2) ‘This is the psalm which Augustine specially quotes and dwells upon, as worthy to be sung aloud before the whole world as a song of Christian courage and a testimony of the peace God can give in outward or inward trouble’ (Conf., ix. 4).