Psalm 1:2 says, “but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (ESV)”
For some Christians nowadays, the word “meditation” has been a turnoff for them probably due to its association with Eastern religions and New Age philosophy. Some call this transcendental meditation, which involves emptying our minds, disengaging ourselves from mental activity and reciting some form of mantra. The Biblical concept of meditation is different however. It is primarily an intellectual involvement with the text of Scripture. But this does not entail simply reading and filling our minds with theological information from the Bible; this is not merely gathering truths from God’s Word. We often get the wrong impression that this is just tantamount to simply reading and studying God’s Word. So after skimming a verse, a paragraph, or a chapter of the Bible, and jotting down some notes about it, we close our Bibles, thinking that we have already finished meditating on God’s Word. Yes, meditating involves these, but it also more than these.
In Hebrew, the word “meditation” basically means to “speak or utter”. One Old Testament commentary notes that it involves, “reading it over and over again in a low, murmuring tone of one reading to oneself, to impress it upon the mind and commit it to memory”. So here we see that biblical meditation involves reading audibly and intently, even memorizing thoroughly.
John Piper also says that when this utterance is done in the heart, it is called musing or meditation. He also adds, “meditating on the Word of God day and night means to speak to yourself the Word of God day and night and to speak to yourself about it—to mull it over, to ask questions about it and answer them from the Scripture itself, to ask yourself how this might apply to you and others, and to ponder its implications for life and church and culture and missions.” In short, this meditation according to this quote, involves not just reading audibly and intently, memorizing thoroughly, but also studying it scrupulously. Again however, biblical meditation, though involving these, is even more than these.
I believe that we can be masters and scholars of God’s Word but still fall short of meditating on it. The goal of meditation does not end in learning about His Word but also loving it; it is not just discovering and studying its truths but also delighting and savoring these all the more; it is not simply filling our heads with principles but also warming our hearts with passion for God and obedience to him. We can see this truth in the Psalm mentioned above, as well as in several verses in the book of Psalms where meditating and delighting are mentioned together.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh the joys of those who take refuge in
him.” (Psalm 34:8 NLT)
“My soul will be satisfied when I remember you, and meditate on you.” (Psalm
“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I will delight in your
decrees; I will not neglect your word.” (Psalm 119:15-16 NIV [cf. Col.3:16])
Here are some words of notable Christian authors in support of this idea:
“Meditation begins, but by no means ends, with thinking on Scripture. To
meditate properly our souls must reflect upon what our minds have ingested
and our hearts must rejoice in what our souls have grasped.” (Sam Storms)
“… it is feeding our minds on the words of God and digesting them slowly,
savoring the texture, enjoying the juices, cherishing the flavor of such rich
fare… In meditation, we pause and reflect over his words, which we have
read, heard, or studied. We roll them over in our minds and let them ignite our
hearts…” (David Mathis)
To use an illustration, the Biblical concept of meditation is like chewing a bubble gum: we keep on masticating it with the teeth of our minds until its sweet juice comes out and is tasted and enjoyed by the tongue of our hearts. In words, this Christian practice is not something that is easy and done hastily. It is actually a pursuit or labor although yielding good fruit. We need to really dedicate an appointed time for it, focusing our attention on God’s Word, setting aside any distractions, reading it over and over again, noticing every word and detail, as well as slowly savoring until we see wonderful and satisfying truths about God in His Word.
This delightful tasting and seeing in God’s Word of course is only made possible through the enablement of God (Psalm 90:14). This is due to our sinful nature which, although already conquered in Christ, is still dwelling in us. It pursues to blind us to the beauty of God, trying to influence the tongues of our hearts to not taste the sweetness of His Word. This is why we need to constantly and desperately echo the plea of the Psalmist to God, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Psalm 119:18 NIV). This shows that meditation on God’s word is necessarily connected with humble dependence on God’s power in prayer.
Since the practice of meditation is biblical and Psalm 1:2 teaches us do it day and night [i.e. habitually], let us not shy away from this and start developing this as part of our daily habit. David Mathis said, “Meditation on the Scriptures has occupied a deep and enduring place in the history of the church as one of the mightiest means of God’s grace for his people.” So let us not miss the blessings that it brings. Due to our pandemic situation, a lot us have been working from our homes and have more time than before. My brethren in Christ, let us grab this opportunity and start meditating now.