And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.
The text brings before us the lost art of meditation. Here are three things that it is very difficult to get, indeed almost impossible — solitude, leisure, and a field. Solitude which shuts out the sight and sound and thought of the busy world, how can we get that in this great Babel? And leisure, who can find that in times of rush and whirl like ours? So it comes that meditation is almost a lost art, and with it goes, and must go, all great attainment in the religious life. There are but two things that can loose a man from the world, and set him free from its tyranny and put him outside and above it — those two are meditation and sleep. Now this is what meditation does for us. It gives us freedom from the littleness of earth; it is the unfolding within us of other and greater faculties; the escape from the prison of ourselves and our circumstances that we may soar into the heavens.
1. Man can only find himself in God; and he can only find God by meditation. A man has heights and depths and lengths and breadths which only God can reveal to him. We know how it is in the smaller round of our life. We are put into possession of ourselves by others. He who has most soul and heart is he who gives me not only most of himself, but most of myself. Charity, gratitude, faith, love, service, inspirations, do not these come from contact with those about us? We are like a musical instrument, we only know what can be got out of us when others play upon us. The clapper puts the bell in possession of itself. But God and God alone can put us in full possession of ourselves. Take, for instance, the faculty of reverence. Only by knowing God is reverence begotten. And only by meditation is it that we can know God and enter into any true relationship with Him. As I commune with Him my soul is bowed in lowliness. I may think of Him as all this without being solemnized and awed, for my thought is indeed a narrow and a shallow vessel to hold the glory of the Most High. But meditation is the way of revelation — it is the lifting of the veil that we may pass into the very Holy of Holies. So is it that God comes near to us and reveals Himself to us as our Gracious Father.
2. And briefly glance at the range of this truth — it covers everything. As a man finds himself in God, so does he find his brother. If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
3. So again, this meditation puts a man in possession of the world. The little things of earth sink down in that Presence into their true estimate.
4. Again, meditation puts a man in possession of all the ages. The past comes up and yields him its tribute. All these great saints of old do speak comfortably to us of the faithfulness and love of our God.Take some other aspects of meditation.
1. It possesses what thought only sees. There is a well-known shop that I often pass, where the windows are filled with all manner of daintiest sweets set forth in most attractive shapes. I have seen a crowd of little children flattening their noses against the window-panes, and ragged, hungry men and women standing looking within. But out of the door with paper parcels have come tripping little children and happy men and women laden with good things, beaming and smiling, possessing what others only look at. Meditation does that. It is as I begin to let the truth sink down within me that my love is kindled and my faith is stirred, and all my soul goes out in triumphant possession of that which I have heard.
2. Again, meditation retains what hearing lightly loses. Photography can secure the picture in a second, but in a second it is lost. There is a process of developing and a process of fixing for which retirement and solitude and darkness are necessary. Then the picture is secured. Truth is mostly lost because it is heard only and not retained. Meditation has not come in to develop and fix it. There is, too, a process by which the photograph is eaten into the plate, bitten into it by means of some acid. That also is what meditation can do for us — we want the truth graven upon us, we want the name and the message and the word of Jesus our Master wrought thus into us.
3. Again, meditation turns into life and strength what otherwise is but a burden. A man can carry a sack of flour and yet be very hungry. He must eat the bread if he would live thereby. Yet it is not what a man eats, but what he digests, that administers to him. And digestion is not all; he must assimilate it, turn it into his very life and being, into his blood and bones and muscles.
4. Meditation is the source of sweet serenity. I have sometimes sat with some old man sagacious, experienced, successful, quick to perceive at a glance the right course. And in the eventide, after the day's business is done, the son has come to talk over the day's work — an order from such a firm — a mishap there — this matter to be arranged, and such a thing to be seen to, and such a possibility to be considered. To talk with the Lord of these things of earth, to wait for the light which He gives and the wisdom of His guidance, is indeed to be at peace.
5. Meditation kindles the fire. While I was musing, says the Psalmist, the fire kindled. To meditate upon the goodness of God, to muse upon the love of Jesus, to trace the unfailing bounty, to spell the sweet promises of His Word, is to kindle afresh the flame of our love and to send it leaping and surging heavenward.
6. Of meditation the Word of God is the best basis. Do not read the Bible only, it is not meant only to be read. Even searching the Scriptures may be a dull, dead exercise. Turn from the Word to Him that speaketh, and let the heart commune with Him. But hearing all this and believing it will avail us nothing unless we set ourselves to learn and master this art of meditation.
(Mark Guy Pearse.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.