Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, November 28, 2020
Shabbat Shalom *|FNAME|*,
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 28-Nov-2020 12th of Kislev, 5781 Parashat Vayetzei
Ge 31:43-32:3 Hos 12:13-14:10 Jn 1:43-51
Subject: We Are Building An Inner Narrative That Blesses God by David Harwood
These posts are offered with the objective of helping each reader build an inner narrative that blesses God. We are building a foundation. This is the verse we are using to guide us toward that goal.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:15 TLV)
Last week I focused us on the word generally translated “acceptable.” Let’s move on to the next important word “meditations.”
The “meditations” of our hearts are silent. God hears them. They are pondered in His presence.
Sometimes meditations are motivated by the Spirit of God. Sometimes meditations are motivated by our fallen natures or even satanic influences.
Our strong desires, our icy fears, our inner joyous songs, our confident hopes, our deep griefs… All these are the foundation, activity and subjects of our natural meditations.
In our culture, meditations are understood as internal. Let’s contrast that with the Hebrew word for meditation: הִגָּיוֹן (higgāyôn)
This Hebrew word, higgāyôn, has the concept of speaking under one’s breath woven into its core definition. Our hearts speak, too. The meditations of our heart are manifest in the mutterings of our mouths.
The Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Septuagint) employs a word (μελέτη – meletē) that conveys repetitive action, like a military drill, or an orator’s rehearsal. It speaks of our attention being focused in the same way we might study for an exam.
Do you ever find yourself focusing the on same subject over and over? You may be obsessed. You are definitely meditating. This has an application to how we view ourselves.
When we are captured by our meditations, or when we concentrate on something we believe is important, or urgent, we may find ourselves unconsciously speaking our thoughts out loud. That is an example of spontaneous meditation. When we are deliberately concentrating upon a truth, or a topic, we may emphasize our thought by verbal expressions. That is the biblical expression of meditation.
Here are two more examples from Psalms describing the connection of our heart’s meditation and the words of our mouths:
My heart was hot within me, while I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue: (Psalm 39:3 TLV)
My mouth speaks wisdom, My heart’s meditation is understanding. (Psalm 49:4 TLV)
God has called us to have dominion over our thoughts. We are victors, not victims. We can choose the direction of our deliberations. We can be intentional in our internal meditations.
Biblically, our meditations can be deliberately guided. We can have peace-filled, joyous thoughts. We are not called to be passive, helpless victims of our earliest self-awareness, past traumas, and other carnal wellsprings which may animate the thoughts of our hearts.
We are instructed to train ourselves to pursue specific trains of thought. We are exhorted along with Joshua and King David to meditate upon the Scriptures.
Joshua was told:
This book of the Torah should not depart from your mouth—you are to meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. For then you will make your ways prosperous and then you will be successful. (Joshua 1:8 TLV)
This became the source of Joshua’s relationship with God and his successful career as Israel’s leader. His meditation formed his character. His obedience to God began in his meditation and deliberately moved into obedient action.
King David took heed of God’s instruction to Joshua and wrote:
But his delight is in the Torah of Adonai, and on His Torah he meditates day and night. 3He will be like a planted tree over streams of water, producing its fruit during its season. Its leaf never droops— but in all he does, he succeeds. (Psalm 1:2–3 TLV)
Please pay attention to this: both Joshua and David were warriors.
We are exhorted to wage a deliberate war in our thought lives. Much of what we are aware of, and the world’s interpretations of what we see, militate against the knowledge of God. We are called to go to war.
For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds. We are tearing down false arguments 5and every high-minded thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah— 6ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:4–6 TLV)
The serpent wants to deceive us. Its goal is that our minds would be led astray to lesser loves.
But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds might be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion and purity to the Messiah. (2 Corinthians 11:3 TLV)
We are called to maintain covenant loyalty to Israel’s Messiah based upon wholehearted love.
We are not naturally inclined towards this. Consider what Yeshua said about what comes from carnal hearts.
And He continued, “It is what comes out of the man that makes the man unholy. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, come evil intentions, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustfulness, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and make the man unholy.” (Mark 7:20–23 TLV)
Look at what He said issues “out of the heart of man”. What a sordid cornucopia of despicable sins. I would probably change the punctuation here and put in a colon after “thoughts”.
Proceed the evil thoughts: fornications, thefts, etc.
We are called to be “good trees” and bear “good fruit” out of a spiritually renewed, Scripturally informed, heart. To do so we need to cultivate meditations that give His indwelling presence pleasure. Let’s fill our heart with thoughts that please God.
“For there is no good tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again does a rotten tree produce good fruit. 44 Each tree comes to be known by its own fruit. For figs are not gleaned out of briars; neither are bunches of grapes gathered from thorn bushes. 45 “Out of the good treasure of his heart the good man brings forth good, and out of evil the evil man brings forth evil. For from the overflow of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43–45 TLV)
To live lives that please God and consequently overcome this cosmos we must begin with the meditations of our heart. As we do our lives will produce good fruit. Let’s not leave this up to happenstance. Meditations that give God pleasure do not necessarily happen by accident. Let’s determine to choose the subjects of our heart’s concentrations.
Deliberately Guided Meditations
To guide our meditations in a way that gives God pleasure we can deliberately meditate upon the biblical view of God. Studying and praying about the principles and the promises found in Scripture is a necessary discipline to overcome natural tendencies towards being inwardly self-focused.
I’d like to give two examples of isolating displeasing meditations and replacing them with that which pleases God.
I have observed that people tend towards anxiety and judgementalism.
As regards anxiety… Here’s a secret, the emotion of anxiety is the fruit of anxious thoughts. The Messiah commanded, “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me (John 14:1 TLV)”. When I consider this I realize that my troubled meditations are the result of my unfaithful thoughts. After all, He has ordered me to not allow my natural tendency towards anxiety to prevail.
It pleases God when we obediently exercise faith that overcomes anxiety. He loves us and does not want us to harm our souls. He loves us and calls us to commune with Him. His love towards us is, in measure, mistrusted when we maintain anxious meditations. When we trust Him we are brought into fellowship with Him. Everyone who loves wants to be loved in return.
We love Him when we trust Him. We trust Him when we love Him.
What about our bent towards evaluating others from a heart-position of supposed superiority? Who has overcome this and scaled that summit? Seriously, what do you think about this other mountain we need to continually conquer? We are all called to climb Mercy Mountain. When we meditate about others we are to be motivated by mercy and want to think of them in the best light possible.
For judgment is merciless to the one who does not show mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (Jacob-James 2:13 TLV).
Let’s grow in mercy-meditations.
Please try to apply this exhortation to the way you meditate about others. It will give God pleasure.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any virtue and if there is anything worthy of praise—dwell on these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—put these things into practice, and the God of shalom will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 TLV)
What a promise: “The God of shalom will be with you.”
Don’t you want the God of shalom to be with you? I do. I love His fellowship. Also, this world is filled with tribulation and it is the God of Peace who will soon crush the adversary under our feet (John 16:33; Romans 16:20a TLV).
Let’s make a relational space for God to be blessed in the midst of our thoughts and find pleasure in the words that we speak. The Spirit of heaven can accomplish this.
“Behold, I am Adonai, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27 TLV)
Shouldn’t our Creator get joy from what His hands made?
Our meditations can give God pleasure. Our next post will begin to specifically explore how this applies to our inner narratives. How should we view ourselves? What meditations might we adjust?
Meanwhile, please pray:
May the words of my mouth and my hearts deepest thoughts give Your presence pleasure.