The pilot of the CW’s new Superman series, Superman and Lois, tackles an all-too-familiar premise. Clark and Lois, having been married for some time, are parents to twin teenaged sons. Clark’s busyness as Superman leaves him, in many ways, an absent father. Through a series of events, the family opts to leave life in the big city of Metropolis to move back to Smallville so that they can reprioritise family life.
The storyline illustrates what Charles Hummel, back in 1967, called “the tyranny of the urgent.” Hummel argued that, far too often, we exchange what is important and necessary for that which is urgent. As our to-do list grows, the urgency of what simply must be done frequently crowds out more important matters. The Kent family story aptly illustrates Hummel’s concern, but the truth of his premise reaches far more broadly than work and family life. Psalm 145 highlights this reality.
This is the last psalm in the collection specifically ascribed Davidic authorship, and it emphasises the need for God’s people to frequently slow down: “On the glorious splendour of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate” (v. 5). As busy as life can be, David calls us to recognise the need to take time to “meditate.”
Meditation requires us to set aside time. It often requires us to lay aside “urgent” matters to deliberately pause and reflect. There will always be something urgent that will tempt us to neglect meditation, but we cannot allow the urgent to crowd out something far more important.
I should point out that biblical meditation is quite different from transcendental meditation. Transcendental meditation calls for the meditator to clear his or her mind and focus on a particular mantra. Biblical meditation calls for the meditator to exercise his or her mind and focus on theological truth. David emphasises two particular truths: first, the splendour of God’s majesty; and, second, his wondrous works.
To focus on the splendour of God’s majesty is to meditate on his character. David highlights God’s unsearchable greatness (v. 4), his abundant goodness and righteousness (vv. 7, 9), and his grace, mercy, and patience (v. 8). This is a significant part of biblical meditation.
One aspect of your personal devotional time is to meditate on God’s character. As you read the Bible, ask yourself, what does the text teach me about God’s character? You are reading more than mere history. Your reading should do more than equip you with theological arguments. You should read Scripture with a view toward learning about God. What can you learn from the text about God’s greatness, goodness, righteousness, grace, mercy, or patience? How does your reading help you to grow in your appreciation for who God is?
To focus on God’s wondrous works is to meditate on what he has done for you. David speaks of God’s “awesome deeds” (v. 6) and highlights the truth that he sustains (v. 14) and provides (v. 15) for his people. His works are righteous and kind (v. 17) and he is a God who responds to the prayers of his people (v. 18). David rejoices in God’s salvation (v. 19), provision, and judgement (v. 20).
As you read Scripture, don’t do it to simply tick off your next reading for the year. Ask yourself, what does the text teach me about God’s work? How does it highlight the truths of the gospel? What does it teach me about God’s providence? How does it encourage me in God’s sustaining grace in my life?
Don’t be surprised when the urgency of life threatens to distract you from the importance of gospel meditation. But let Psalm 145 help you combat this temptation. Yahweh is, indeed, faithful in his words and kind in his works (v. 13). Take the time to meditate on God’s truth and allow it to determine your priorities today.