One of my favorite lectures from this past semester was from my Spiritual Disciplines class with Dr. Don Whitney on the topic of Scripture meditation. Meditation is deep thinking (whatever deep thinking is for you) on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture or on life from a Scriptural perspective for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer. You can start with Scripture and take it to life (i.e. How does Romans 8 apply to my life?) or you can start with life and you bring it to Scripture (i.e. What should I think about this hurricane? How can I think Biblically about this hurricane? It is because of sin and the Fall. It reminds me about God’s wrath and the wrath to come…from which we are delivered in Christ. What should a Christian do now? etc…)
The command to meditate on God’s Word is seen throughout the Bible, but there is a special promise that God gives for those who will meditate on His Word.
Josh. 1:8 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 good success.
Joshua was a much busier man than all of us. And yet, God expected him to meditate on the Word of God day and night. This doesn’t mean Joshua walked around with a scroll in his hands, nor is this just unrealistic and pietistic language. This means Joshua most likely spent one portion of his day in Scripture and then spent the rest of the day bringing it to mind through meditation.
Back in those days, prosperity and success was viewed as materialistic (ie: this is the presumption in the Book of Job). But as we get in the NT, we begin to see that true prosperity and success is heavenly treasure and Christ-likeness. In Joshua 1:8 we see an wonderful promise:
Meditation –> Obedience –> God’s blessing
Obedience doesn’t earn God’s blessing. But unless we are obedient, we cannot expect God’s blessing. And according to Joshua 1:8, it is meditation that leads to obedience. The reason for this is because when we disobey, it’s not because we don’t know what to do. It is because we don’t have the desire, the passion to do it. Scripture is a fire and we get light and heat from it. If we want to warm ourselves from our coldness to God, we must linger by the fire and let it warm us to our bones and the way we do that is by meditation. It is meditation that leads to obedience and obedience that leads to God’s blessing. This pattern is in many places through Scripture. For example, Psalm 1:
Psa. 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
Psa. 1:2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
Psa. 1:3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Again meditation on God’s law day and night, results in fruitfulness (i.e. obedience) and therefore in everything he does he prospers (God’s blessing).
Now if this is David writing, how did he meditate on God’s Word “day and night” when he had so much else to do? It’s not by walking around with a Bible in his face throughout the day. It was by at least once a day being in the Word, meditating on it, and then going about the day with the “taste” of the Word in his life.
The key to fruitfulness in this life, to living a life that makes a difference and glorifies God, is by meditation. Meditation will lead to Christ-likeness and obedience and that will lead to a life of that will make a difference.
One more passage:
James 1:25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer (or reader) but an effectual doer, this man (the doer) will be blessed in what he does.
Looking intently at the perfect law (Meditation), leads to one becoming an effectual doer (Obedience), which leads to being blessed in what one does (God’s blessing). Meditating on God’s Word is something every Christian can do. You don’t need to go to seminary to benefit from God’s Word! Anyone can do it and if we will do it in faith and perseverance, the Bible promises great rewards.