Meditating on God’s Word

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Meditating on God’s Word – The Interaction
Old Testament saints as well as Christians of all generations have prioritized the art of meditating on God’s Word. Some have relied on their memory, a small scroll, or even an exceptional piece of printed Scripture. Even today, in many countries, it is considered a priceless treasure to possess even a single page of the Bible. For the rest of us, technology has provided access to God’s Word through a variety of means. But do we truly grasp the significance of God’s commands or give high regard to the practice of meditating on God’s Word (Psalm 119:48)?

Biblical meditation differs significantly from meditation techniques that society offers. A “Calm Awareness” advertisement states, “the subject of meditation is so often mystifying and confusing for the truth seeker . . . referring to the way, the method, path, or process by which one is led from within, to a universal center of calm awareness.”1 Instead of a complexity of mystery and confusion, meditation on God’s Word produces freedom that comes through pursuing the truth (John 8:32). To meditate on God’s Word means, “to murmur in pleasure, to ponder, utter, converse with oneself aloud, speak, reflection, devote oneself, pray, declare, talk with, commune, produce a solemn sound.”2 Have you ever embarrassed yourself in public by having a conversation with yourself? Yet verbalizing is integral in any learning-memorization process. Our confidence becomes reinforced as we tell ourselves, “You can do it!” Therefore, what power is unleashed when we utter or declare [meditate on] the faithful promises of God?

Joshua had been the personal assistant to Moses throughout the 40 years of wilderness wandering. Upon the death of Moses, Joshua succeeded him by spending the rest of his life settling and governing the 12 tribes of Israel. He was a great warrior who disciplined his forces and sent out spies—but he also prayed and trusted in God. God would give Joshua a three-fold call that would encourage this leader, “Be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:6–7, 9). Nestled in the middle of these verses is an even stronger exhortation (Joshua 1:8).

  • Do not let the Scriptures cease to proceed from your mouth. Joshua was to recite God’s Word continually.

  • Meditate on it day and night. Joshua was to meditate on what we now call the first five books of the Bible, the Law of Moses.

  • Be careful to do everything recorded in God’s Word. Joshua was to obey all God’s commands by fully acting upon what He had spoken repeatedly.
Meditation engages not just the mind, but requires using our mouths. This entails memorization, as well as recitation of the Scriptures. As a spirit of faith stirs within us, we then begin a mental and vocal interaction with God, i.e. meditating on God’s Word (Hebrews 4:2; 2 Corinthians 4:13). Jesus is the Word incarnate, assuring us that those whose mouths “feed” on Him will have life (John 1:1, 14; John 6:57).

Meditating on God’s Word – The Blessings
Singing the Scriptures provides another way for meditating on God’s Word. Colossians 3:16 instructs us to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

David was the principal writer/compiler of Psalms. He was also a brave warrior, military genius, and brilliant statesman. His deep devotion to God’s Word reveals itself through poem and song. Not only are the psalms a nucleus for hymnal worship, but they provide blessings for meditation that are timeless.

  • Guidance – “Blessed is the man . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on the law he meditates day and night . . . whatever he does prospers” (Psalm 1:1–3). Through memorization and recitation of Scripture, the believer’s actions remain God-controlled.

  • Comfort/Consolation – “I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused [meditated] and my spirit inquired . . . I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:5–7, 11–12). We draw hope and our faith is renewed by from reciting God’s mighty acts in the past.

  • Joy – “They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works . . . and I will proclaim your great deeds” (Psalm 145:5–6). As we proclaim God’s attributes, we celebrate His goodness in our lives.

  • Reassurance – “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). Placing our focus upon God’s promises enables us to lead blameless and acceptable lives before Him.

  • Wisdom – “My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance [meditation] from my heart will give understanding” (Psalm 49:3). Many of life’s difficulties require spiritual perception to avoid despair. By acknowledging God’s Word, we appropriate the insight that He alone provides in times of uncertainty.

Meditating on God’s Word – The Victory
After Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove. Immediately, the Spirit led Jesus into the desert, where He fasted for forty days and nights. It is not a coincidence that Israel’s wanderings and temptations continued for 40 years in the wilderness. As with the Israelites, this was a time of testing for Jesus. As a man, the Son of God experienced exhaustion and hunger after His forty-day fast. When Jesus’ hunger was the greatest and His resistance the lowest, Satan repeatedly tempted Him.

By specifically applying the meditation of God’s Word, Jesus demonstrated how to achieve victory in the greatest of challenges. During Jesus’ time in the desert, there are strong indications that He was meditating on specific portions of Scripture. Notice that His answers to Satan’s temptations all come from the same portion of Moses’ writings in Deuteronomy chapters 6 and 8.

  • Jesus is tempted to turn stone to bread. Jesus responds, “It is written, ‘Man does not live on bread alone’” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
  • Jesus is tempted to worship the devil to obtain authority, splendor, and world dominion. Jesus responds, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only’” (Deuteronomy 6:13).
  • Jesus is tempted to question God’s faithfulness and God’s plan for redemption through the cross. Jesus responds, “It says, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Deuteronomy 6:16).
Once again, our mouths are an integral part of mediating on God’s Word. Jesus defeated the devil by taking the revealed will of God as His food. “My food is to do the will of him and to finish his work” (John 4:34). While on earth, meditating on God’s Word was Jesus’ way of life, bringing Him assured victory.

God desires that our lives be victorious over every attack of the enemy. His Word, when meditated and spoken in faith, transforms our lives on a daily basis. We have so much more than Joshua or David had. We have Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the Word, living in every believer. Day by day, hour by hour, we may draw from His life-giving Spirit as we meditate on God’s Word (John 6:63).

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Footnotes:
1 Meditate for Calm Awareness is a 15-minute audio CD, accompanied by a 24-page booklet.
2 “Meditate” – Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Dugan Publishers, Inc., Gordonsville, TN.


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