Do you meditate? Better yet, do you meditate on God’s word?
I am not writing about the kind of meditation that is popular in some segments of the population. That is the kind that is practiced in order to produce a calming effect on the person meditating. This often involves clearing the mind, controlled breathing and visualization techniques.
That is something altogether different than what the Bible describes. Consider these two passages:
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalm 1:2 ESV)
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
(Joshua 1:8 ESV)
Notice that biblical meditation has a definite object – the law of the Lord or the Book of the Law. You do not need beads, incense or contorted body positions. You only need God’s word and that is to be the focal point.
It is interesting to note that both of these references speak of meditating day and night. At the very least this indicates that some time is involved in the meditation activity. This is not the practice of reading a verse to begin your day and then leaving it behind. It is much more involved than that.
The Hebrew word for meditate is used in other places in the Bible. Looking at a few of the uses that employ vivid imagery can shed some insight into our meditating on God’s word.
The word is used to describe utterly stricken mourning (Is 16:7).
This is not the uncontrollable wailing that describes some who mourn. It is the kind of mourning that churns in the soul welling up into tearful expressions of sorrow.
When it comes to meditating on the word, it should be that the word is inside of us. We are churning it about so that it wells up within us.
The word is also used to describe the growling of a lion (Is 31:4).
Again, this is not the roar of the king of the jungle. This is the sound that you can almost hear before it is made. That is because it is a guttural sound from the belly of the lion.
Our final look at the usage of the word is that of the cooing of doves (Is 38:14). This is the sound that warbles from deep in the throat of the dove.
If we put these three images together, we can understand meditation as that which is much more than an emptied mind. It is having the word of God deep in us. We turn it over and over until it percolates up through our throats into vocal groans.
Keil and Delitzch say of this word that it speaks “of a deep, dull sound, as if vibrating between within and without” and “here signifies the quiet soliloquy of one who is searching and thinking.” We can only attempt to appreciate the depth of this word as it depicts the blessed man who day and night is considering and pondering God’s word and whose voice sometimes breaks into sighs of longing or coos of delight as he interacts both silently and audibly with God in His word – Olive Tree (emphasis mine).
This kind of meditation does much more than lower blood pressure or calm the nerves. It facilitates encounter with the living God. Blessed, indeed, is the man who does so.