Study Guide #1 - Listen to Scripture Consistently & Meditatively
READ Psalm 1 -
Psalm 1 is the introduction and “gateway” to the entire collection of 150 Psalms. As the bible’s handbook of prayer and spiritual life, The Psalms show us what a close, intimate relationship with God looks like. But before we are allowed into the Psalms – we first have to go through the gateway. This Psalm highlights the absolute necessity of a developing a regular rhythm of listening to scripture if we are to enjoy a vibrant relationship with God.
THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING
Psalm 1 says there are really only 2 ways of living. The word “way” in Hebrew can be literally translated as “road” or “path”. In this life we have the choice 2 paths - the path of the righteous or the path of the wicked (v6). But how do we know what path we are on? The Psalm says these 2 ways of living are primarily defined by what or who we are listening to. What sets the course of our lives is whether we are listening to the “counsel of the wicked” or the law of the Lord (the Scriptures).
If we aren’t committed to learning the rhythm of regularly listening to God (day and night meditation), then Psalm 1 says don’t bother coming into the rest of the Psalms (which is the place of close relationship with Him). The Psalm reveals shaping power of our listening. It’s not a question of whether or not we are listening? It is a question of which voice(s) am I listening to – the voice of God in His Word or the voices that try to make sense of life apart from Him? We need to know which voices are shaping our live & learn to listen to the voice of God in his Word if we are to know Him and experience the flourishing life He intends for us.
THE OBSTACLES TO LISTENING TO SCRIPTURE
Verse 1 shows us what a progression away from God looks like. The wicked are those who do wrong, sinners are those who make a lifestyle of it and scoffers/mockers are those who not only do evil but mock those who do good. This movement away starts with pattern of listening (counsel), moves to a pattern of behavior (way), then to a pattern of identification (sitting in a seat). The movement is from listening to identity, from how we listen to who we are. So, the obstacles to listening to Scripture are that there will be a lot of other voices vying for our attention, influencing us and offering us a different vision of life. Listening to these will put you on a path away from God.
Learning to delight & meditate on God’s word while living in a world full of different messages means we will need to look what we are listening to as well
as how we listen – ie, habits & practices of listening we may need to unlearn. There three “listening rhythms” that are dominant in our culture:
· Listening Passively – Notice the progression toward increased passivity in Psalm 1 – walk, sit, stand. Our media-saturated culture encourages us to consume media passively for entertainment. In order to learn to listen to scripture, we need to unlearn passive listening and learn to listen purposefully.
· Listening Overload – In our “information age”, we are constantly bombarded & surrounded by noise. Our devices are always with us. This overload of information makes it very difficult for us to focus. In order to learn to listen to scripture, we need to unlearn listening overload and learn to listen attentively to the most important voice – God’s.
· Listening Selectively – Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2016 is “post-truth”. We live in an age where we can select our sources of information and only listen to those voices that confirm our biases and beliefs. In order to learn to listen to scripture, we need to unlearn listening selectively and learn to listen submissively to God and his word.
THE BLESSING OF LISTENING TO SCRIPTURE
Psalm 1 is a “gateway” Psalm but it is also an “invitation” Psalm that shows us how to experience closeness with God and the “happiness” (v1) He intends for us to find in Him. It’s saying, “Come experience how your life will flourish as you learn to delight in and mediate on Scriptures!” It tells us that delight and meditation are the key to experiencing the blessing. What we delight in and what we meditate on are interconnected. What we meditate day and night on reveals our delight. If our delight is in our wealth/comfort, our success, a relationship, our thoughts will be preoccupied with these things. When things are going well, we’ll be happy. When things are not going well, we’ll be anxious, upset and down. This way of living is like chaff because these things (many of them good) are not substantial enough to be our life’s goal/purpose – this is found only in God.
So - our delight can be detected by what we meditate on day and night but it is also true that our delight can also be redirected by changing what we mediate on day and night. The Scriptures have the power to capture our delight. The Scriptures become our delight as we meditate day and night on their main message – God’s saving love for us in Jesus. Jesus – the only one whose life was truly the prospering tree of Psalm 1 “bore our sin in his body on the tree so we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds we have ben healed” (1 Pet 2:24). The rhythm of consistent and meditative listening to Scripture regularly renews us in the power of the gospel.
1. What about the sermon most impacted or left you with questions?
2. Do you agree that what we listen to has the power to shape our way of life and our identity? How have you seen this happen in your life?
3. What do you think are the biggest obstacles you face in developing a habit of consistent Bible meditation and delight? Which of the 3 “listening rhythms” of our culture (bullet points above) most shape your life? How do these impact the way you listen to God?
4. Psalm 1 recommends meditation which is different than reading or studying. What does it look like to meditate (literally “chew”) on God’s Word? How have you experienced Scripture redirecting your delight? How do you remember the “main message” (Jesus) as you read all of Scripture?
5. What is your current practice for reading/meditating on Scripture? What has worked best?