How Meditation Becomes a Pleasant Chase

Pentecost 16 Tuesday

Psalm 1:1-2

“Blessed be the man who does not walk in the counsel of the godless, walks the way of the sinners, or sits where the mockers sit but his will is in the law of the Lord and he shall meditate on his law by day and night.”

People say that to meditate is the same as talking, discussing, and, in general, the same as treating it in a verbal manner, as in Psalm 37:30: “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom.” This is why St. Augustine used a wonderful figurative expression in his translation of Psalm 1:2 when he rendered it as “chattering,” because, just as chattering is an activity of birds, so speaking of the law of the Lord should be an activity of man whose peculiar gift is speech…I cannot sufficiently express the force and sweetness of this word, because this meditation consists, first, in paying close attention to the words of the law and, second, in then comparing different passages of Scripture to one another. This is, then, a kind of pleasant chase; in fact, it is bucks playing in the wooded mountains where the Lord stirs up with does and cuts down the trees, Psalm 29:5-6. For this will finally result in speeches well-founded in God’s law issuing to the people. E.g., if you were to read the words, “You shall not kill,” only in a superficial manner, it is a cold word; according to the sound of the letters you hear that the work of homicide is forbidden. Yet abide with the word and note that he does not say that your hand should not kill, but you should not kill. Yet who are you? Soul and body. You have in both so many powers, hands, tongue, eyes, reason, and will. Now, when you are forbidden to kill, are you then not also taught that you should not
kill by hand, tongue, and will? For when any of these kills, it is still you who kill. Thus, you are also not to be angry, wish somebody harm, curse, slander, ignore, despise, harm, hurt, but love, bless, do good. Now what? Thus, you shall not kill, means that you should not be bitter and angry but gentle and kind to your neighbor. Then see how many verses in Scripture teach about love, gentleness, kindness, friendliness, goodness, amicability. Once you have adduced all these verses, have you then not chattered in a lovely way about the law of the Lord? Now, it does not matter whether you take the “by day and night” literally or take it to mean “constantly” or “in good times or bad times” in a kind of figurative way, for the righteous man loves the law of the Lord and thinks about it even when he sleeps.

St. Louis ed., 4:232-234

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