Thank You, Puritans
Not many people read the Puritans, though I am immensely thankful for the recent revival of great books (thank you Banner of Truth and Monergism.com) by who I call the "old dead guys." There is tons of truth, deep theology, and soaring treatises on the holiness of God, communion with God, the mortification of sin, the doctrine of repentance, etc. And in all of these writings by the Puritans and men similar to them, I have noticed one very common thread: big reflections on small phrases. Oh, how these men loved the Book! And not only the book, but the words of the book — and these men would write pages and pages, chapters and chapters on a few words, a small phrase, or a sentence from the pages of Holy Writ. They have taught me and encouraged me to live on small phrases in the Scriptures and to turn them over again and again, to chew on them, and to recite them to my heart as I work, pump gas, or closing my eyes in bed — when I am away from my Bible.
David on the Run
I recently preached a sermon on Psalm 63. I love this chapter, it is truly one of my favorite Psalms in the entire Scriptures. And when preparing to preach this text, I was drawn back to the likely context of this penning: King David is in the wilderness on the run from one of his sons, Absalom. Absalom has murdered and now has overthrown David privately by running him out and publicly by spearheading the coo and then publicly by sleeping with all of David's concubines (hint: concubines are prostitutes; so, don't have concubines like David) as found in 2 Samuel 14-17. During this time, David was in the wilderness away from the temple (cf. 2 Samuel 17:16).
And in this Psalm, what did David do? He thirsted for God as in a dry and weary land (Psalm 63:1). He beheld God's power and glory (63:2) because God's steadfast love is better than life. But how could David "behold" God's power and glory and "look" upon the Lord in his sanctuary when he is away from the Jerusalem and in the wilderness, or lying in fear, or feeling tempted with worry?
Psalm 63:5-6 "My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night…"
David looked to the power and glory of the Lord and his soul found great and high satisfaction in the Lord Most High from his mind's eye. He meditated, he clung to the words of the Law that he beheld and adored. David remembered. Friends, though there was a desert around him, there was no desert in his soul.
There are a few phrases that I have personally found encouraging, convicting, and that remind me to behold the Lord, in no particular order:
– Galatians 6:1, "Keep watch on yourself"
– Hebrews 6:18, "it is impossible for God to lie"
– Genesis 18:25, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”
– Psalm 63:3, "your steadfast love is better than life"
– Luke 18:1, "always to pray and not lose heart."
– Romans 6:11, "consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."
– Colossians 3:3, "your life is hidden with Christ in God."
– Matthew 26:41, "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation."
– Deuteronomy 32:4, "The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice."
– John 13:1, "[Jesus] having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end."
– Hebrews 1:3, "after making purification for sins"
– 1 John 5:21, "keep yourselves from idols."
As you read the Scriptures, mediate and chew on these phrases, and in doing so you will behold the power and glory of the Lord that sustains weary saints in the desert of the soul where there is no water. Meditate on the Scriptures. Chew on them. Pray them. Ask the Lord to work these into your thinking, acting, and speaking.