If we want to be mature and productive believers, meditation should become a consistent habit. However, the meditation described in the Bible is quite different from other forms that call for the emptying of our mind. In contrast, scriptural meditation involves filling it with God’s Word and pondering His truths.
Let’s read Joshua 1:6-8 to learn more about godly meditation:
“Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 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 success.”
After Moses’ death, the Lord gave Joshua His plan for the conquest of the Promised Land, and it did not involve common military strategies. God told Joshua to focus solely on the Law of Moses (the first five books of our Bible). The success of the conquest would come as a result of God’s promise, His powerful presence, and Joshua’s careful obedience to all that was written in these holy texts. An essential aspect of his obedience was meditation on God’s Word. It was to consistently fill his mind, shape his words, and guide his actions.
Why do we need to meditate on God’s Word today?
As was true for Joshua, keeping our minds filled with Scripture helps us remember God’s instructions so that we, too, will be careful to obey. It’s our protection against falling into sin (Psalm 119:11) and the means by which we learn to understand God’s ways (Psalm 119:15). When we consistently meditate on Scripture, our knowledge of and love for the Lord grows, and we become increasingly conformed to Christ’s likeness.
What is meditation?
Meditation is time spent alone, absorbed in thought about God and His Word. It’s turning things over in your mind as you seek to comprehend and apply His truths. But how can you begin this important practice? As you read the Bible, focus on the following aspects of God:
• His Person: Look for descriptions of the Lord, and consider how His attributes help you understand who He is (Psalm 63:6). Meditation also involves remembering the truths you’ve learned. The Holy Spirit will help you do this. It is His task to bring these verses to mind (John 14:26) and guide you into all truth (John 16:13).
• His works: Focus on God’s actions in a passage (Psalm 77:12). How do His deeds display His power, wisdom, justice, righteousness, love, grace, or compassion? Consider His wonders (Psalm 145:5). How do His works affect your faith, fear, and hope? Ask God to help you understand.
• His instructions: Like Joshua, pay close attention to God’s commands and consider what obedience requires of you (Psalm 119:97-98). What does He demand in your thought life, words, personal practices, interactions with others, and choices? How do His commands protect you?
• How are worry and meditation similar? What would happen if you replaced your anxious thoughts with truths from God’s Word?
• Meditation is like an anchor for the soul. What areas of your life need to be anchored to the Word of God?
• “The constant habit of perusing devout books is so indispensable, that it has been termed, with great propriety, the oil of the lamp of prayer. Too much reading, however, and too little meditation, may produce the effect of a lamp inverted, which is extinguished by the very excess of that aliment whose property is to feed it.”
• The first five books of the Old Testament are known as the Pentateuch, from the Greek term pentáteuchos, which means “the five-fifths of the law.” It is also referred to as Torah, a Hebrew word meaning “direction, instruction, or law.”
• In Joshua 1:8, the Hebrew word hagah, which we commonly translate as meditate, means “to moan, growl, utter, speak, or muse.” In essence, we are meant to soliloquize or talk aloud to ourselves as we seek to understand God’s Word. This term is also found in 24 additional Old Testament passages, including Psalm 1:2; Psalm 63:6; Psalm 77:12; and Psalm 143:5.