King David had his share of trouble from his enemies. In Psalm 143, he is at a breaking point:
Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead. Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land.
Tired of being hunted down like an animal, he is despondent, discouraged, disillusioned, desperate, and depressed. Not even his mighty men could bring comfort or consolation to his soul.
But David was a man after God’s heart, and he had disciplined himself in those moments to set his affection on God. In verse five we read, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.” David was good at “musing.” While we may not speak much today of that particular activity, it is taught in Scripture as a very important discipline in our lives. The word muse means to “meditate, consider, ponder, deliberate, contemplate, review and reflect.” In the animal world, it means to “ruminate.” Being raised on a dairy farm I got a chance to witness rumination on a daily basis among the cows.
My job was to feed 150 head of livestock twice a day. We used a wheelbarrow to bring the fodder to the mangers. I would watch as those milk cows would devour a wheelbarrow full of silage in under five minutes! But that wasn’t the end of the process for them. After “inhaling” their food, they would settle down in their stalls and before long begin to ruminate, or as we would commonly say, “chew their cud.” That which they had eaten would be regurgitated back to their mouths, and they would chew it again and swallow it down into stomach number two. A cow has four stomachs, so this process of rumination through all four was pretty much their pastime until it was time to eat again.
Do you muse on the things of God in between your Bible reading times or church services? In this fast-paced culture, I’m afraid we often gulp down a chapter or two each morning and a sermon or two on Sunday, but then never think on these truths until it is time to eat again. The secret to success is in musing or rumination.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.—Joshua 1:8)
Perhaps the reason we struggle with “musing” is because we are too occupied with that which is “amusing.” The simple addition of the letter a to the word muse changes everything. The word amuse means to “entertain, divert, occupy, engross, or beguile.” Now while there is some amusement in our life that is needed to be sure, I wonder how much of it is actually designed by Satan to divert our attention away from the things of God. Due to our fast-paced lifestyles we “carry” our Bible on our smart phone or tablet for convenience. However, as soon as we close the app when we are finished there are fifty more of them all screaming to be opened. In a matter of seconds we are checking the news, the weather, sports scores, or pumping some of our music through our ear buds into our brains. Our musing time is quickly replaced by that which amuses us.
When musing is missing from our lives we are soon overwhelmed by the cares of this life because we have no truth hidden in our heart to comfort us in our trials, correct us when we sin, carry us through our difficulties, or guide us to make proper decisions throughout the day. The Apostle Paul carefully gives this instruction to young Timothy:
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.—1 Timothy 4:13–16
How “wholly” are you giving yourself to meditation or musing on the Scriptures. If we are going to be “holy”—we’re going to have to “wholly” give ourselves to musing on the Word of God!
The twenty-first century has put a massive amount of information at our fingertips through our technology. If we want to muse on right things, technology can make Scripture, sermons, godly music, etc. very accessible to us so that we can think on the right things.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.—Philippians 4:8
Sadly, when it comes to this matter of musing or amusing—many are snoozing! They are dangerously asleep when it comes to what they allow into their minds. They simply turn on their phone, tablet, or computer and allow whatever happens to be the most attractive or the loudest to influence what they think on. Paul reminds us that the victorious runner is one who is “temperate in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:25). He is self-disciplined or self-controlled. Better yet, he is Spirit-controlled. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).
Are you struggling spiritually to grow and be productive for Jesus Christ in your life? The devil will tell us daily that we deserve some amusement—watch some television, take in a movie, catch some tunes, play a video, check out some blogs or chat rooms, etc., etc., etc. He wants to divert, occupy, and beguile you. I would challenge you to try an “amusement fast.” Yes, that’s radical for sure, but at least for a few hours each day, put aside the amusing and engage in musing. Take in some truth from Scripture and then “chew the cud”—ruminate. Think on these things! A meditation or reflecting on God’s Word is guaranteed by God to bring success.
God desires that our entire lives be wholly surrendered to His control. We can’t do that on our own, but there is a first step that we all must take.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.—Romans 12:1–2 [Emphasis mine]