7 Benefits, 7 Steps Each
God Desires Us to Meditate on Him, His Word and His Works
Many voices cry out for our attention. They often distract us in many directions beyond our control and divert us from responsibilities within our control.
Competing voices can overwhelm us with information. They flatten the gradient between what is truly important and what is not. Everything feels urgent even when it isn’t. We become anxious unnecessarily.
We often seek relief by further distractions to amusement, a seemingly pleasant distraction, often just another form of attention grabbing.
Interestingly, the central part of the word amusement is muse, just one dimension of the Hebrew hagah, often translated as meditate: to recite quietly, be absorbed in thought, think carefully and thoroughly. Sichah, meditation, has similar roots.
Above these countless voices is one truly worthy of our undistracted attention: the voice of God.
Of all the vehicles at His disposal God chose to speak to us through two: His words and works. We hear and see His voice in both (Psalm 19). God desires us to meditate upon Him, His Word and His works.
As the fundamental building blocks of our thoughts words carry meaning. The basic building block of Hebrew poetry is the unit of thought. Working together these freight “trains of thought” bring us the very thoughts of God in His words. He inspired them to inspire us.
Meditation in Scripture
We see examples of meditation in Scripture from the age of the Patriarchs to the New Testament.
Just before meeting Rebekah, “Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening” (Genesis 24:63a).
God commanded Joshua to meditate on His Word and do it: “‘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’” (Joshua 1:8). Law, Torah, embodies far more than legal matters: God’s teachings and directions for spiritually healthy and productive lives in His presence.
Psalms teach us to meditate. Psalms themselves are focal points of fruitful meditation. Describing the righteous person, Psalm 1:2–3 says,
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season.
Psalms teach us to mediate on our awesome God: I meditate on You in the night watches (Psalm 63:6b).
Psalms teach us mediate on God’s wonderful words: And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes (Psalm 119:48; see 119:23, 78, 97, 99, 148).
Psalms teach us to mediate on God’s amazing works at creation and throughout history:
I will meditate on all Your work, And muse on Your deeds (Psalm 77:12);
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands (Psalm 143:5).
The New Covenant expands our awareness of God drawing our focus to the infinite grace, goodness and creativity of our Saviour:
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1–2).
John’s Gospel amplifies the same three focal points as Psalms: God, His Word and His works, “In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God and the Word was with God” (John 1:1). The big difference for us: Jesus is the Word incarnate whom we know and abide with, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14). His word abides in us (15:7). Reflecting on His miraculous works (signs) builds faith: “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:30–31).
Through Paul, God commands us to meditate on all God’s truth and goodness: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell (think) on these things. The things you have learned, and heard and seen to be in me, practice these things and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8–9).
Knowing and Pleasing God: Meditating on God deepens our relationship with Him. His Word connects us to His thoughts: “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16b). “Let my meditation be pleasing to Him” (Psalm 104:34).
Knowing Others: Since people are the crown of God’s creation, meditating on God, His Word and His works, increases our awareness of the sacred life in others.
Prayer Power: Focusing on God, His will and the needs of others, and less on self, makes our prayers more meaningful and effective.
Seeing Needs: As meditation draws us closer to God and others we become more aware of opportunities to serve in ways that please God and meet the pressing needs of others (Titus 3:14).
Motivation to Serve: Sharpening our focus on God and His eternal perspectives motivates us to serve with Him in His eternal mission.
Fullness and Joy: Some forms of mediation strive for emptiness. Jesus said, “‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly’” (John 10:10b), “‘These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full’” (John 15:11). God’s Word brings delight (Psalm 1:2).
Peace: “The LORD is peace” (YHWH Shalom, Judges 6:24). “He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14a).
When: Any time is a good time to meditate on God and be aware (to use a popular term, be mindful) of God’s presence:
O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day. Psalm 119:97
My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word. Psalm 119:148
Where: Spiritually, we meditate in our hearts and spirit:
I will remember my song in the night;
I will meditate with my heart,
And my spirit ponders (Psalm 77:6).
The Hebrew lev (heart) is our inner person, mind, will, soul, tablet of our memory, affections, emotions, inclination, determination, moral character and seat of knowledge and thinking.
Physically, we may meditate on God anywhere though a quiet place, such as Isaac found outdoors, will improve our concentration:
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches. Psalm 63:6
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Psalm 4:4
Who: On God, Father, Son and Spirit: “I meditate on You” (Psalm 63:6b), “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2a).
What: Upon His Word and His works (Psalm 19; Romans 1:20): “I will meditate on Your wonders” (Psalm 119:27b). All God’s redemptive acts in history culminating in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection for our forgiveness and salvation are worthy of our concentration in meditation.
With Whom:Alone, with others, with those who are shut in, ill, in spiritual need.
How: Reading, listening, in silence, speaking, singing (Psalms are poems set to music), slowly, regularly, spontaneously.
Practice and Enjoy: Meditating on God, His Word and His works yields the fruit of His Spirit in our lives: love, joy, peace…
Next in Part 2: “Memorizing Scripture: 7 Benefits, 7 Steps.” While sharing these insights from God with others in churches and individuals, several people have told me they have difficulty memorizing. This is why we put part 1 on meditating first. All of us can enjoy the benefits of meditating on God, His Word and His works with our Bibles open before us. This is one reason God wrote it out for us!
You can find a fuller list of helpful Scriptures along with definitions of the eight words for Scripture in Psalm 119 here: https://app.box.com/s/yas9wxibdmd2cvh8roexqzlk78ng4bbh