September 9, 2010
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
This well-known verse contains the first use of the Hebrew verb for “meditate” (hagah) in the Bible and, significantly, it is a command to meditate on the Scriptures. Such meditation is not mere quietness or daydreaming, but is thoughtfulness with a purpose–to obey “all that is written therein.”
Meditation for its own sake, without being centered on God’s Word, is often useless or even harmful. Witness the Western proliferation of Eastern “meditation cults” (T.M., etc.) in recent years, which lead their devotees into pantheism and occultism. Isaiah 8:19 warns against “wizards that peep, and that mutter [same word as ‘meditate’].” “Why do . . . the people imagine a vain thing?” (Psalm 2:1).
The blessed man is the one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2). That is, only if we are continually guided by the Holy Scriptures will we be happy and successful.
In the New Testament, the Greek word for “meditate” (melatao) is used only twice. Once, it is translated “imagine” (Acts 4:25) and is in a quotation of Psalm 2:1, as above. The last time it is used, however, its emphasis reverts back to the context of its first usage, as in our text above. Paul commands us: “Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. . . . Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all” (1 Timothy 4:13, 15). Modern meditationists say that the goal of meditation is to clear our minds of “things,” but God wants us to meditate on “these things”–the life-giving, life-directing doctrines of His Word. HMM