This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you must meditate in it day and night, that you might observe to do all that is written in it: for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. – Joshua 1:8
Last year, I started the year out with the goal of being able to recall 100 verses of scripture off the top of my head. By April of last year, I could do about 50. This past week, I found the sheet I was using as a checklist. I tried to see what I remembered and found that I could do about half of the 50 I had checked off. So, I’m getting back to work on this.
I found this book by Robert Morgan called, “100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know.” I realized pretty quickly that the verses on my list must have pretty much come straight from this book. When I got to Joshua 1:8, I couldn’t recite it. As I read it in the book it came back to me pretty quickly. The author talked about his own memorization of it as a kid. Another pastor had recalled it as the first verse that he ever memorized. I realized that this verse was a pretty big deal, with many people 80 to100 years ago memorizing this before even John 3:16.
The thing that strikes me about it is that God’s ultimate purpose for us is to do His Word, “that you might observe to do all that is written in it.” American Christians really like the end of it, “for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” We want the good success, just not the means to get it. However, according to this verse, a person is truly prosperous and truly has good success as a direct correlation to knowing God’s Word, meditating on God’s Word, and then actually living according to His Word. So, the first question I had to ask myself is, “How much of His Word do I know?” I found that though I read it often, I don’t make an attempt to memorize it.
Now that I am back up to around 40 verses or so, I am finding that I love driving in a quiet car and cranking them out either out loud or in my mind. I can go through Psalm 23 now and picture in my mind each detail the benefits of being as close to the Good Shepherd as possible. I have the first half of Psalm 1, so I’m still working on that one. What I have found is that 30 minutes to an hour goes by so quickly while I’m really meditating on His Word. It is like a complete escape from the cares of this world.
The convicting part of all of this lies in this question: If I haven’t really made an effort to know God’s Word, and because of this I haven’t really meditated on it, then what have I been doing? Well, if I’m honest, I’ve just been doing what others have taught me. I listen to and even read sermons ALL the time. God has certainly used them in my life, but this means I’ve been living off of the secondary source of someone else’s interpretation of the Word, not the primary source of His Word itself. I’ve been simply trying to do what I think God would have me do based on what I know about Him, which is obviously very little. No wonder I’m so hit or miss. I can still see where He has more than taken care of the big stuff, but it is in the little things of life that I seem to have no joy lately. Filling in these spaces of time with only Him and His Word has been quite invigorating. The amount of peace and even energy that I seem to have is increasing.
The immediate context of this is Joshua chapter 1. In the second verse, God tells Joshua, “Moses, my servant is dead.” Seems like such a strange thing to say right off the bat. Then again, God didn’t want Joshua to be another Moses. He didn’t want him living off of the reputation of Moses. He didn’t want him to do things like Moses. He just wanted Joshua to be himself, full of His Word, and obedient to His Word.
Lord, help me to go and do likewise.