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The Pleasure of Meditation: Lesson 7 

Let God dig out your ears

Psalm 40.6

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • August 27, In the year of our Lord, 2017


  1. Let us not depersonalize Scripture, 
    1. reducing it to nothing more than a holy riddle book.
    2. We want to read it
      1. that we do not merely use it to justify ourselves.
      2. We do not want to see Scripture
        1. as though it needs our help, but
        2. in truth that we need its help.
          1. Therefore, we read it in such a way
          2. that we blend our lives with the life of Scripture.
    3. We read in a manner
      1. in which we participate with
      2. all the people of the Bible.
  2. How do we read in this manner? 
    1. Eugene Peterson suggests these four parts:
      1. Read the text
      2. Meditate the text
      3. Pray the text
      4. Live the text
    2. None of these can be separated from the others.
      1. We cannot let prayer become a substitution for living.
      2. Living cannot replace reading.
  3. Think on Psalm 40.6
    1. Most translations give something to the effect of “opening” the ears.
    2. However, the “God’s Word” translation gives the sense of the Hebrew,

      6 You were not pleased with sacrifices and offerings.
      You have dug out two ears for me.
      You did not ask for burnt offerings or sacrifices for sin.
      (Psa 40.6 GWORD)

      1. Peterson’s comment on this passage is comical, but true.

        “…the psalms poet was bold to imagine God swinging a pickax, digging ears in our granite blockheads so that we can hear, really, what he speaks to us” (p. 92).
      2. Let us not be spiritual blockheads, but
        1. let us submit ourselves to the Lord
        2. as we read His Scripture.
    3. We want to learn how to hear what God says to us in the word.
      1. We read with our eyes, but
      2. Scripture emphasizes hearing with our ears.

        Matt 11.15 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

        Matt 13.9 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

        Matt 13.43 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

        Mark 4.9 And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

        Mark 4.23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

        Mark 7.16 “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

        Luke 8.8 When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

        Luke 14.35 “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

        Rev 2.7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

        Rev 2.11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

        Rev 2.17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

        Rev 2.29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

        Rev 3.6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

        Rev 3.13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

        Rev 3.22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

        Rev 13.9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear.

  4. Reading 
    1. How did we learn to speak English?
      1. We heard our parents and others speaking it.
      2. Then we learned to speak it.
        1. Therefore, our hearing and speaking
        2. preceded our reading and writing.
          1. However, as we learn to read with our eyes
          2. what we would normally hear with our ears,
          3. we do not automatically hear what we have read.
    2. If we know the words we are reading,
      1. does that mean we have truly heard God?
      2. Have we read it as He intended for us to read it?
        1. Remember the question of Jesus in Luke 10.26,

          26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” (Luke 10.26).
        2. Think also about other questions that Jesus asked:

          Matt 12.3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him…”

          Matt 12.5 “Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?”

          Matt 19.4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female…’”

          Matt 21.16 And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read,

          Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
          You have perfected praise?”

          Matt 21.42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

          The stone which the builders rejected
          Has become the chief cornerstone.
          This was the LORD’S doing,
          And it is marvelous in our eyes?”

          Matt 22.31 “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying…”

          Mark 2.25 But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him…”

          Mark 12.10 Have you not even read this Scripture:

          The stone which the builders rejected
          Has become the chief cornerstone.”

          Mark 12.26 “But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?”

          Luke 6.3 But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him…”

          1. Had not the Jews read all the passages that Jesus quoted?
          2. They had read them, but
            1. they had not truly heard what God said.
            2. What was wrong with their reading of the Scriptures?
    3. To know the technicalities of language is fine, but
      1. we have to understand how people and God use language.
      2. For example, I can understand nouns and verbs and
        1. how they work in a sentence, but
        2. does that mean I understand the use of metaphors?
          1. How do we know when something is literal or metaphorical?
          2. Can we truly say that we should take the Bible literally?
            1. Does that imply that we are twisting Scripture?
            2. Much false doctrine comes about as a failure
              1. to understand a metaphor as a metaphor and
              2. to understand literal as literal, but
                1. the two are frequently mixed up.
                2. For example:
                  1. Some hear Jesus say that the cup was His blood.
                  2. They conjure up a teaching
                  3. that literally says the grape juice is His blood.
                  4. Others read of baptism for the forgiveness of sins and conclude that it is only a symbol.
      3. Read some passages and understand them as literal,
        1. then read them as metaphor and
        2. see what happens:

          2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
          My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
          My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
          (Psa 18.2).

          3 The sea saw it and fled;
          Jordan turned back.
          4 The mountains skipped like rams,
          The little hills like lambs.
          (Psa 114.3–4).

          1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser” (John 15.1).

        3. Why does Scripture speak like this?
        4. Why not use plain language?
          1. Metaphors are alive.
          2. We understand new reality by comparison to an old reality.
    4. Therefore, read to listen to God as you have never listened to Him before.
  5. Meditating 
    1. What is meditation?
      1. We meditate when we speak the text to ourselves.
      2. We meditate when we go beyond looking at the words, but we get the message into our minds.
      3. We meditate when in our minds we take part in the Scripture.
      4. We meditate when Scripture starts to take part in our lives.
      5. We meditate when we see what we had not seen before.
      6. We meditate when we get “lost” in the text.
      7. We meditate when we move from outside the text to inside the text.
      8. We meditate when we know what is said in the text and why it is said.
    2. We have meditated when we do what Paul did at the end of Romans 11.
      1. He had just completed his dissertation on the Gospel of Christ.
      2. The profundity of it all,
        1. all the fascinating, intricate, and surprising ways
        2. that God worked to saved wretched man,
          1. overwhelmed the apostle.
          2. Therefore, he exclaimed,

            33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

            34 “For who has known the mind of the LORD?
            Or who has become His counselor?”
            35 “Or who has first given to Him
            And it shall be repaid to him?”

            36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen (Rom 11.33–36).

  6. Praying 
    1. When someone speaks to you,
      1. after listening to him,
      2. what is generally the first thing that you do?
        1. When you do speak back,
        2. is it on a completely different subject?
    2. When you realize that God is speaking to you in the biblical text,
      1. rather than that you are listening in on His conversation with others,
      2. what should you do?
        1. Pray to Him.
        2. Pray to Him concerning that which you have read.
    3. However, how or in what manner do we speak to God?
      1. Where do we go to learn to speak to Him in prayer?
      2. The language of the spirit is the language of the Scriptures.
    4. The Scriptures are a wonderful place to learn how to pray.
      1. Read the Psalms.
      2. Read the prayers of prophets and apostles.
      3. Read the prayers of Jesus.
    5. Do you understand where you go when you pray?
      1. Hebrews 4 shows us precisely where we go when we pray,

        16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4.16).

        1. In meditation we enter the world of the Bible.
        2. In prayer we enter the throne room of God.
  7. Living 
    1. Do you have to live in a monastery to live that which you have been meditating upon and praying?
    2. We live the text when we do not know that we are living it.
      1. It happens naturally.
      2. We do not even have think about it, we just do it.
    3. God wanted Joshua to live in that manner,

      7 “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Josh 1.7–8).
    4. Jesus said we do it that way,

      33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matt 12.33–35).
    5. We naturally become living epistles, because
      1. what is written in the Scriptures
      2. now lives in us,

        2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart (2Co 3.2–3).
      3. Even as the Word (Jesus) became flesh,
      4. so His word becomes flesh through us.