The other day I was reminded of a line from the old hymn, ‘Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the king of creation.’ It is most definitely a hymn of exhortation to praise, giving many reasons why we should do so. In the third verse we are encouraged to consider afresh the wonderful things God does: ‘Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.’
This started me thinking about the word ‘ponder’. It is not a word we hear used very much today. We might be asked to reflect, meditate, or muse on something, and, although all of these can mean ‘to deliberately consider or examine something’, to ponder implies a much more careful weighing of a situation, prior to reaching a conclusion.
For me, to ‘reflect’ is only transitory, like an image in a mirror which is there one minute but gone the next. I like the word ‘ponder’, as it means to think deeply about something over a longer period of time.
There is much in Scripture to encourage us to meditate on the word and the things of God. Moses’ advice to his successor Joshua includes the words, ‘Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it’ (Joshua 1:8). In Psalm 1 the psalmist describes the benefits for those who ‘delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night’. It is clear in many of the Psalms that meditating on the character, truths, promises and deeds of God was an essential part of David’s walk and relationship with God. The Apostle Paul encourages Timothy to ‘meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all’ (1 Timothy 4:15).
But I would like to suggest that ‘to ponder’ is to take the practice of godly meditation, as good and meaningful as that can be, to a deeper level. We see this happening in the life of Mary. After the shepherds had visited the baby Jesus, ‘Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’ (Luke 2:19). The same thing is spoken of later in Luke 2:51. Jesus, still a young boy, had been found talking to the religious leaders in the temple. After Jesus explained how he needed to be in his Father’s house, we read that, ‘His mother treasured these things in her heart.’
However, in these days of information overload, we can become overwhelmed with information, and we do need to exercise careful discernment about what we meditate or ponder on. To keep useful and helpful information in our minds is a good thing, but lasting benefit to our spiritual growth, wellbeing and walk with the Lord will come from what we treasure, store in our hearts, and then appropriate in our lives. It will come from the things we ponder on. ‘Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord’ (Psalm 107:43).
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for Your word and all Your promises and all the good things You do for me. Help me to make more time to ponder on all these things and appropriate Your truths into my life so that I can better live my life for You. Amen.
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