David’s Blessed Man

Samuel Smith on meditation (re Ps. 1.2):


Doth meditate day and night.

Doct. 3. Here we see still, that a godly man, and one that shall be truly blessed, the Lord requireth that he be no stranger, and such a one as seldom, or never searcheth the Scriptures, but that he be much and often exercised in the holy and serious meditations of God’s law; in the diligent searching, perusing, and particularly applying of the heavenly doctrine of the word of God. And, indeed, this is here set down as a true fruit of our love to the word, as the love of the word is made a true fruit of a godly man; for as it is impossible a man should be truly religious, and fear God, and yet have no sound love nor delight in the word of God; so it is likewise impossible a man or woman should truly love the word of God in their heart, that seldom, or never bestow any pains in the serious or earnest meditation of the same. David calls God to witness, that the love he bore to the law of God was exceeding great, when he said, ‘O how do I love thy law!’ Ps. cxix. 97. And in the same verse he seems to prove the same to God, ‘It is my meditation continually;’ which indeed is a note of true love, to be ever thinking of the thing beloved.

And in very deed, the careful and diligent study, the often and earnest meditation of the word of God, is the very life and strength of all our worship and service of God. For if men should reach much, and never meditate, it would do them no good. If men should hear much and often, and never meditate, they should be little the better. If men should pray much and often, and never meditate, they should find small comfort. If men come often to the sacrament, and do not before and after meditate of the covenant grace, they should not receive much good thereby. So that you see this meditation is all in all, it puts life to our reading, hearing, praying, receiving, and without it all our reading, hearing, praying, and receiving will stand us in small stead.

For without this meditation this law, which is the word of God, will either in time be forgotten, whereby we shall become unmindful of it, or else it will prove as a talent hid in the ground, utterly unfruitful unto us, for this meditation indeed is the third step of a true convert. The first is to hear the word of God readily; the second to remember it diligently; and the third to meditate on it seriously; and this is compared to the ‘chewing of the cud,’ Deut. xiv. 6, 7, which is never found in the unclean but in the clean beasts.

True it is, that hearing and reading the word will beget knowledge, but meditation is the especial means to work upon the affection, for else all our knowledge shall only be in general, idle and swimming in the brain, which may well be called brain-knowledge, but no heart-knowledge; but by serious meditation we do apply that we hear to our own selves in particular, laying the doctrine to our own hearts, to humble them for our sins, and to square our lives thereby, that we may in all things keep a clear conscience before God and man. The Lord gives Joshua a strait charge to do thus, ‘Let not the book of the law depart out of thy mouth; but meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe and do according to all that is written therein: for then shalt thou make thy way prosperous, and thou shalt have good success,’ Joshua i. 8, and Deut. vi. 7, 8. And thus the servants of God have been much exercised in meditation, and thereby have grown wonderful not only in knowledge but in practice, as we may see in David, Ps. cxix., who took great delight in God’s law, and made it his meditation continually. And of Isaac it is reported that he went out into the fields in the evening to meditate, Gen. xxiv.