When you hear the word meditate, what comes to mind? Do you imagine a person sitting cross-legged, wrists on knees, saying … hummmmmmmmm.
Dictionary.com defines it this way:
** to engage in thought or contemplation; reflect.
** to engage in, transcendental meditation, devout religious contemplation, or quiescent spiritual introspection.
Quiescent means to be at rest, quiet, still, inactive or motionless. Does that remind you of any Scripture verses?
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
What about some synonyms?
Contemplate, brood over, cogitate, consider, deliberate, design, devise, dream, entertain idea, figure, have in mind, intend, moon, mull over, muse, plan, ponder, purpose, put on thinking cap, puzzle over, reflect, revolve, roll, ruminate, say to oneself, scheme, speculate, study, think, think deeply, think over, track, view, weigh
Dismiss, ignore, neglect
I think the two most recognizable Bible verses regarding meditation are the following:
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. (Joshua 1:8)
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:1-3)
Often in reading the Psalms, we come across the little word, Selah. Its exact meaning is not known; but it is believed to mean: pause and think about this, or praise, or even prepare for what’s coming next. In any case, whenever you read the word, Selah–stop.
Selah. (Yes. Stop, please.)
It’s hard to do, isn’t it? Clearly, God expects us to meditate on His Word, but it takes time. In our harried schedules, slowing down is the last thing we want to do.Meditating on God’s Word is when our roots grow deep.
If you only have a few minutes for your quiet time, you’re better off taking 5-10 minutes meditating on a verse or two, rather than reading a whole chapter, saying a quick prayer, closing your Bible and starting your day. It’s helpful to keep a notepad and pen handy so you can write down the insights the Holy Spirit gives you.
One way to meditate on a verse is to read a verse over and over–each time emphasizing a different word–thus gaining a new perspective each time through. My favorite way to meditate on Scripture is to use a tool in inductive study: asking the 5 W’s and an H: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. This isn’t running to different commentaries to see what someone else said. Although it’s good to get input from trusted sources, it’s best to start first with just the words of Scripture, letting the Holy Spirit speak to your heart. Don’t do this in a hurry. Take your time.
So, for just a few minutes, let’s meditate on a couple of verses. I’m going to look at it from the perspective of a woman, so you’ll see the pronoun she throughout.
Psalm 1:2-3 “Oh, the joys of [the woman] who …”
But [she] delights in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. [She is like a tree] planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. [Her] leaves never wither, and [she prospers] in all [she does].
Who are we talking about?
The woman who delights in the law of the Lord
What is the law of the Lord?
What is significant about this woman?
She delights in the law of the Lord
Hmmm. What does it mean to delight in the law of the Lord?
To enjoy it; to want it; to be pleased with it
She meditates on the law of the Lord
What does it mean to meditate?
See our definition above!
When – is time associated with this? (When does she meditate?)
She meditates day and night.
Why? (In this case, what is the result?)
She is like a tree.
What kind of tree?
Firmly planted tree
Where is this tree planted?
By streams of water.
What (or why) is beneficial about being planted by a stream of water?
The tree is close to its source of nutrients – always available.
What is the result of getting enough water?
What is fruit?
Fruit is what others enjoy as a result of your life faithfulness to the Lord.
When does it yield fruit?
In its proper season–or the right time.
=> So for the three questions above, we can say that the fruit of this tree is “the right words or actions at the right time.”
What else about the tree (or the man)?
Does not wither–instead–she prospers.
When or How does she prosper?
In whatever she does.
To summarize, we can say: The woman who enjoys God’s Word, takes time to think deeply about what God says, reflecting on it and being spiritually nourished by it throughout the day. As a result, she is ready and equipped to handle whatever comes her way, blessing others in the process!
I can ask myself:
Am I a tree that is planted close to my source of nutrients? Am I producing fruit that blesses others?
Taking it a step further, I can ask:
Why is the word but there? What is being contrasted?
Look at the antonyms listed.
Am I neglecting the Word of God? And if I am, how does that show up in my life?
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2) [Emphasis added.]
I hope that this simple exercise in meditating has shown you how helpful it can be to … s-l-o-w d-o-w-n … to meditate–ponder–contemplate–carefully consider–what God has written in His Word. Maybe tomorrow you can look at some of the other verses. What will be the result? A life that is firmly planted in the Word of God–not withering, but prospering in all God calls you to do.
Let’s build a forest!
Tree image by Ian Shiell [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
James M. Strangmeier MD says
Good morning Di;
Thank you for the thoughtful commentary on meditation this morning.
Sometimes when I feel like I am going through a mechanical method to meditate, I come away still empty. I have found that if when I pray first and ask the Holy Spirit to bring t mind what He wants me to think about,
I am blessed with something fresh that had not been apparent before. This is always great.
Your thorough discussion is always a good anchor to hang onto for those times with the mind seems to just drift.
Thank you again.
lots of love
Dianne Thornton says
Thanks, Dad. Pencil in hand definitely helps to stay focused. Love you!!
Dianne, I so appreciate your suggestions for meditation. I love to spend time thinking and meditating over scripture. I’d definitely rather read a few verses and really get something out of them than a whole chapter that I won’t remember later! God’s word is our treasure!