You can maximize your understanding of the Bible through meditation. Before you get nervous, I’m not talking about making strange noises as you sit on the floor with your legs tied in knots. Biblical meditation is deep, focused thinking about God’s Word.
Meditation Is Biblical
Many Bible passages mention meditation. Here are some of them:
“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.” (Jos 1:8)
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Psa 1:2)
“When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.” (Psa 63:6)
“I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.” (Psa 77:11-12)
“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.” (Psa 143:5)
“The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.” (Pro 15:28) (Studieth here is the same word translated meditate in the previous verses.)
“Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” (1Ti 4:15)
Hebrew and Greek Vocabulary
The Hebrew word translated meditate is:
To murmur (in pleasure or anger); by implication to ponder: – imagine, meditate, mourn, mutter, roar, X sore, speak, study, talk, utter. (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries)
The major ideas this word expresses are talking to yourself, mourning, studying, and imagining. Muttering, or murmuring conveys the idea of having a conversation with yourself.
In some verses, such as Psalm 2:1, the word is translated imagine. Meditation involves your imagination.
This word is also translated mourn in several passages, such as Isaiah 16:7 and Jeremiah 48:31. That reveals something important about what it means to meditate. When a loved one dies, we mourn. Our mind gets fixed on the thought of their absence. We turn it over and over in our head. We think about how our life will be different without them. We keep thinking about our loss until it impacts us emotionally.
Biblical meditation is like that. We focus our attention on some passage and turn it over and over in our minds. We think about how it relates to our life. We hold it in our consciousness until it impacts our emotions.
The Greek word translated meditate is:
mel-et-ah’-o To take care of, that is, (by implication) revolve in the mind: – imagine, (pre-) meditate. (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries)
Here the concept is to attend to something, or to turn it around in your mind. Let’s consolidate these language insights to come up with a description of biblical meditation.
Features of Biblical Meditation
One central feature of biblical meditation is sustained focus, that is, keeping your mind fixed on God’s Word to gain new insights and to have it influence you emotionally.
Another key feature of biblical meditation is making connections and corrections by searching the Scriptures. You can improve your understanding of a passage by turning the ideas over in your mind and looking at them from different points of view. One great way to do this is to compare the passage to other similar passages.
Meditation also involves using your imagination. You can mentally picture yourself in situations and see how you would live out the principles you have discovered.
Biblical meditation also involves self-talk: our internal dialog and the questions we ask ourselves about what we have read.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to jumpstart your meditation process. These questions are classified by what you’re trying to accomplish by asking them.
If you don’t understand a passage:
- What, specifically, do I not understand?
- What am I afraid it means?
- What am I sure it doesn’t mean?
- What could it mean?
When you are seeking a deeper understanding:
- Do other Bible passages mention this person, event or topic? If so, what light do they add to my understanding of the passage I’m studying?
- Are there biblical exceptions to the principles of this passage?
- Is there any reason this passage does not apply to me?
- What could have been said that was not said?
When you’re thinking about how to apply what you’ve read:
I came across these years ago, but have long since lost the source.
- Is there a command for me to obey?
- Is there a sin I need to avoid?
- Is there a promise I can claim?
- Is there a blessing I can enjoy?
- Is there a victory for me to win?
- How do I live this out in my family, my finances, my workplace, my church, etc.?
Points to Ponder
Is biblical meditation one of your study habits? If not, what can you start doing today to make it a part of how you study God’s Word? Will you make these changes?
Read More About It
Read Ephesians 3 and spend at least 15 minutes meditating on verses 17-19. Make a written note of the insights you gain during your meditation.