Ezra’s Secrets of Meditation
One holy habit in particular empowered Ezra to keep his commitment
to the Lord on a consistent basis—meditation. What is
meditation? In essence, it is the spiritual discipline of practicing
Christ’s words in Matthew 4:4: “Man shall … live by … every word
that proceeds from the mouth of God.” That is the secret of every
one of God’s great warriors—those who have a heart like Ezra’s.
Seven times Ezra confessed a secret of his meditation. Here is his
Psalm 119 pathway: (Emphasis added to the verses below.)
First Secret—Purifying Meditation:
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed
according to Your word. … I will meditate on Your precepts,
and contemplate Your ways (vv. 9, 15).
Note that these verses reveal two ways to describe the Word of
God: “precepts” and “Your ways.” The Bible contains God’s precepts,
the individual elements which make up life; “Your ways” represents
the big picture of the direction of God. Ezra was basically saying,
“Meditation purifies my life. As I look at the individual requirements
of what to expect from Your precepts, and the way (direction) this
whole thing is going, as You have revealed, I more clearly realize what
You want and do not want. And following the Truth sanctifies me.”
Second Secret—Illuminating Meditation:
Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.
… Princes also sit and speak against me, but Your servant
meditates on Your statutes (vv. 18, 23).
This talks about the Word of God being opened and clearly seen,
or illuminated. As Ezra was meditating on God’s statutes (another
description for God’s Word), he received the insight needed to
respond to affliction the way God intended. Each time Ezra described
God’s Word he was saying, “I look on the Bible in every different way.
I look at it as statutes, or codes: it is God’s code, the standard by which
I want to live. Therefore, it is what I meditate on, what I can use to
make sure my life is up to God’s standard.”
Third Secret—Refreshing Meditation:
My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word.
… Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I
meditate on Your wonderful works (vv. 25, 27).
The whole stanza (verses 25-32) talks about a life refreshed
through the Word. “Works,” another name for the Bible, drew Ezra
to meditate. He was saying, “I meditate on Your hand in the past, and
what You are doing, and the wonderful works You have promised.”
As he meditated on the Word, Ezra was refreshed by clinging to God,
having his heart enlarged by Him, and thus becoming stronger in
Fourth Secret—Testifying Meditation:
I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be
ashamed. … My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments,
which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes (vv. 46, 48).
Verse 46 speaks of the testifying power of God’s Word. Ezra was
saying, “When I lift up my hands to Your commandments, and meditate
on Your statutes, I can testify to what You are doing in my life—
not in days gone by, but today.” What does the lifting up of hands in
verse 48 mean? He was saying, “What I do is bound by Your Word,
clean hands, and a pure heart. Therefore, I am going to completely
do as You say; I am going to obey You—to gladly meditate on Your
statutes—Your precious Word, which I love!”
Fifth Secret—Refining Meditation:
I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right,
and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. … Let the proud
be ashamed, for they treated me wrongfully with falsehood;
but I will meditate on Your precepts (vv. 75, 78).
Ezra was expressing, “Your Word trains me precept upon precept,
line upon line, here a little, there a little (Isaiah 28:10) so meditation
is my highest priority in life. For only through Your precepts can I be
refined to serve You better!”
Sixth Secret—Focusing Meditation:
I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may
keep Your word. I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for Your testimonies are my meditation (vv. 101, 99).
The entire Bible is a testimony. It testifies you can operate when
there are only eight people in the whole world who believe in God.
“You can make it!” was thus Noah’s testimony. Job’s testimony claimed:
“You can still operate when you lose family, friends, fortune—and
everything else you once held dear!” “When you are all alone and
discouraged, and haven’t got a friend in the world,” said Elijah, “you
can still keep on keeping on!” David testified: “Even if you are on the
run for your life, and your own family hates and pursues you, and is
trying to kill you, you can go on through God’s strength.” Daniel’s life
told us: “You can still operate in a foreign country in which you are
surrounded by a pagan, wicked culture threatening you!” The Bible
recorded the lives of these people as a testimony of God’s great and
wonderful works. Thus, Ezra loved to meditate on His Word!
Seventh Secret—Interceding Meditation:
I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help;
I hope in Your word. … My eyes are awake through the night
watches, that I may meditate on Your word (vv. 147–148).
This is interceding meditation. I can easily imagine Ezra praying
for those people—praying God would be at work in their lives, praying
they would turn back to the God of their fathers, and praying
they would honor His Word.
Do you remember what happened when Ezra led in prayer before
the people (Nehemiah 8:1-12)? They stood all day long and listened
as he explained the Word of God. At the end, they were weeping
and wailing. I believe his prayers were answered. Why? Because Ezra
chose to ask the Lord for every character quality necessary to fruitfully
live. He had a worldly congregation, but he started with his own
life. He learned to point his heart frequently toward doing God’s will.
Thus, God radically changed him. Through Ezra, He changed a whole
generation. And Ezra’s life testimony is still changing lives today.
Do you also want to be great for God? Then learn what He has to
say; live what He has to say; and lead others to follow God’s way. That
is the best life possible—a Word filled life!
For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit discoverthebook.org.