The Right Kind Of Meditation

We’ve been mining Psalm 1:1-3 for spiritual truth this week. Here now is one last post on the passage. I’m calling this one “The Right Kind Of Meditation.”

The practice of meditation is typically associated with far-eastern religions and the mental exploration of one’s “inner self.” The Bible has nothing to say about that kind of meditation, and I put no stock in such a practice. However, in Psalm 1:2 the Bible does say of the godly, blessed man, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

The Hebrew word that is translated as “meditates” is hagah. Specifically, it refers to the sighs and low sounds a person makes while musing over something. Imagine a man or woman silently reading a line from a book, pausing for a moment to give in-depth consideration to the line, and then lowly saying, “Hmmm…” That catches the idea behind the word.

The point of the verse then is that we should devote diligent, somber study to God’s written word. We should do this studying “day and night.” This doesn’t mean that the employee has to quit work and study the Bible full time. It doesn’t mean that the student has to quit school and only study the Bible. But it does mean that we should make time during the day and night to study the holy scriptures. More than that, this studying should be serious enough and impacting enough to make us say, “Hmmm…” as God’s truths are driven deep into our hearts.  

It’s been said that we hold our Bibles high but rarely open them. The average person’s Bible study might even be compared to the eating habits of a certain tribe of backwoods Aborigines in Australia. The explorers and researchers who discovered this tribe studied the tribe’s cultural habits and noticed that by age thirty the adults have practically no teeth. Further study gave the reason. It was learned that the tribe enjoys cooking meat in the open sand with water and fire. The meat is eaten with the sand actually clinging to it. By the age of thirty, after years of grinding, the teeth are worn away. You ask, “Then how do the adults over thirty eat that meat?” The answer is, the children are required to chew the meat in advance and then give it to the adults. This, of course, keeps the vicious cycle going because those children won’t have any teeth left when they get to be adults.

That story describes a lot of people’s relationship to the Bible. They want someone else to “chew” the scriptures up for them. They want someone else to put in the hard work of studying and then hand them all that knowledge and understanding. In that way these people never have to meditate upon the scriptures themselves. They can grab a bite here and there from a sermon or a commentary and be nourished without actually having to dig into the Bible for themselves.

I’m certainly not saying that preachers and teachers don’t have their place in God’s plan. You ought to enjoy the fruits of the labors of good, solid, doctrinally straight preachers and teachers. What I’m saying is that you need to study the Bible yourself as well. You see, fine meat still tastes good even after it’s been chewed on by someone else, but doesn’t it make for a more pleasurable dining experience when you do your own chewing?

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