I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
— Psalm 119:15 (esv)
Many would argue against the practice of meditating on Scripture, or doing deep (theological) thinking, by saying “it’s not my thing” — as if it comes only by nature to some (and not to others). Puritan Thomas Manton (c. 1680) unmasks this excuse, and exhorts all believers to get it in gear.
“Many think it is an exercise that does not suit with their temper; it is a good exercise, but for those who can use it. It is true, there is a great deal of difference among Christians; some are more serious and consistent and have a greater command over their thoughts; others are of a more slight and weak spirit, and less apt for duties of retirement and recollection; but our unfitness is usually moral rather than natural; not so much by temper, as by ill use. … Partly, want [lack] of love; we pause and stay upon such objects as we delight in. Love naileth the soul to the object or thing beloved. “O how I love they law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).
In 2 Timothy 2:7, the Apostle Paul explicitly directs young pastor Timothy to think: “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” It is not enough to hear the Word of God, or read the Word of God; you must think over the Word of God — not to pass judgment upon it, but to know and grasp it, to gain (as Paul writes) understanding.
How do we come to understand God’s Word?
First, is our obedience to the exhortation to think. We must exert our brain. We must go beyond mere reading or even studying, to be intentional about pondering and carefully considering what God has revealed to us in His written Word. In some passages, this is easily done; in others it is more challenging. Given this command to think, I encourage you to MEDITATE more over the things of God. Thomas Manton says this about the distinctive of meditation (and its aim);
“The end of study is information, and the end of meditation is practice, or a work upon the affections. Study is like a winter’s sun that shineth, but warmeth not; but meditation is like blowing upon the fire, where we do not mind the blaze but the heat. The end of study is to hoard up truth; but of meditation, to lay it forth in conference or holy conversation. In study, we are rather like vintners that take in wine to store themselves for sale; in meditation, like those that buy wine for their own use and comfort. A vintner’s cellar may be better stored than a nobleman’s. The student may have more of notion and knowledge, but the practical Christian [who meditates] hath more of taste and refreshment.”
Second (and thankfully), we approach the place of understanding only by God’s help. Did you read the verse carefully: “…for the Lord will give you understanding….” He commands thinking, and He enables our understanding. What a marvelous God we serve!