The Lost Art of Meditating on God’s Word

Meditate 1MEDITATE, MEDITATE, MEDITATE – Biblical meditation is the key that unlocks the greatest storeroom in the house of God’s provisions for the Christian. Indeed, saturation of our souls with the Scriptures is the secret of satisfaction of our souls! Someone has said that 1 in 100 Christians read Scripture regularly; 1 in 1000 memorize Scripture; but only 1 in 10,000 meditate! As Spurgeon says “No spiritual exercise is more profitable to the soul than that of devout meditation; why are many of us so exceeding slack in it?” He goes on to exhort us to “Read the Bible carefully, and then meditate and meditate and meditate.”

The psalmist affirms “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 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 and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3) As John Piper says “The deepest mark of this blessed person in Psalm 1 is that he delights in the Word of God. Bible reading and Bible memorization and meditation are not a burden to him, but a pleasure.” He adds that if Bible reading is more of a drudgery than a delight “We must pray for God’s enabling to help us delight in his Word.”

J I Packer explains that “MEDITATION is the activity of CALLING TO MIND, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God (found foremost of course in the Scripture)…It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.” And I would submit the best way of “calling to mind” the Scriptures is to first place them in our mind by intentional memorization. Are you actively MEMORIZING Scripture? If you are not, you will find it difficult to meditate on Scripture “day and night” as advocated in Psalm 1.

Cows chewing cud are often used as an illustration for Biblical meditation. Cows eat the grass and then settle down for a good, long chew. They bring the food back up from their stomachs and rework what they’ve already eaten, assimilating its goodness and transforming it into rich milk. Time-consuming? Yes. A waste of time? Not if they want to give good milk! So too, reading snips off the grass, while meditation chews the cud! God’s Word is not meant to be fast food, so take time for a good long chew. Indeed, reading the Bible without meditating on it is like eating without chewing. What digestion is to the body, meditation is to the soul.

We must read Scripture every day
And meditate on what God said
To fight temptation from the world
And live a life that’s Spirit led. – Sper

As John Piper observes one of our greatest weaknesses in our digital age “is that we do not meditate on the great things of God. Our lives are unbelievably distracted. We are experts at multi-tasking, surfing, and skimming, but it is harder than ever to MEDITATE. Therefore, it is imperative to intentionally cultivate MEDITATION on God’s Word. But how? I call it “going out to pasture”—resting and ruminating (like a cow chewing) on the Word of God, savoring it for the sake of life. If possible, find a consistent time, place, and plan. Then read slowly and carefully. Reread and reread. Read out loud. Read prayerfully. Read with a pen in hand. Memorize texts that you read.” Indeed, memorization is a first step to meditation. You cannot chew what you have not placed in your mouth!

Puritan Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) adds “It is not hasty reading—but serious MEDITATION on holy and heavenly truths, which makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the mere touching of the flower by the bee which gathers honey, but her abiding for a time on the flower which draws out the sweet nectar (cf Ps 19:10; 119:103). It is not he who reads most, but he who MEDITATES most, who will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.”

Spurgeon adds that “Meditation and prayer are twin sisters and both of them appear to me equally necessary to Christian life. I think meditation must exist where there is prayer, and prayer is sure to exist where there is meditation.” Indeed, meditation fits a man for supplication!

Jehovah instructed Joshua on how to possess his possessions as he prepared to enter the promised land – “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth (How is this best achieved? By memorizing the Word), 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). Joshua was to meditate on God’s Word so that he might possess a land promised by God. Dear Christ follower we too are to MEDITATE on God’s Word so that we might possess not a land but a LIFE, an abundant LIFE promised by Jesus (Jn 10:10). And we will be enabled to “possess our possessions” and become partakers of His divine nature as we meditate on the truth that we have been granted Christ’s “precious and magnificent promises” in addition to “everything pertaining to life and godliness.” (2Pe 1:4,3) As Spurgeon says “Grasp these sweet promises, thresh them out by MEDITATION and feed on them with joy.”

What made C H Spurgeon such a powerful preacher of the Word? There are probably many answers to this question, but the following quotes from Spurgeon suggest one of his “secrets” – “I quarry out the Truth when I read, but I smelt the ore and get the pure gold out of it when I MEDITATE! For lack of MEDITATION the Truth of God runs by us and we miss and lose it. Our treacherous memory is like a sieve—and what we hear and what we read runs through it and leaves but little behind—and that little is often unprofitable to us by reason of our lack of diligence to get thoroughly at it. We must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation therefrom. I often find it very profitable to get a text as a sweet morsel under my tongue in the morning and to keep the flavor of it, if I can, in my mouth all day!”

“I will MEDITATE on all Your work and muse on Your deeds.” (Ps 77:12) Spurgeon exhorts us to “meditate much on heaven, for it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.”

“O how I love Thy law! It is my MEDITATION all the day. Thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my MEDITATION.” (Psalm 119:97-99) Spurgeon – “It is an admirable plan to fix your thoughts upon some text of Scripture before you leave your bedroom in the morning—it will sweeten your MEDITATION all the day.”

Are you having trouble falling to sleep? Redeem the time like the psalmists – “My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may MEDITATE on Your Word.” (Ps 119:148) “When I remember You on my bed, I MEDITATE on You in the night watches.” (Ps 63:6) “If day’s cares tempt us to forget God, it is well that night’s quiet should lead us to remember Him. We see best in the dark if we there see God best. Night is congenial, in its silence and darkness, to a soul which would forget the world, and rise into a higher sphere. Absorption in the most hallowed of all themes makes watches which would otherwise be weary glide away all too rapidly. Meditation causes the lonely and hard couch to yield the most delightful repose – repose more restful than even sleep itself. We read of beds of ivory, but beds of piety are far better. Some revel in the night, but they are not a tenth so blessed as those who ruminate on the Word of God.” (Spurgeon) “On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will MEDITATE.” (Psalm 145:5)

As Spurgeon said “Words of the mouth are mockery if the heart does not MEDITATE. The shell is nothing without the kernel; but both together are useless unless accepted; and even if accepted by man, it is all vanity if not acceptable in the sight of God.” And so may our prayer ever be “Let the words of my mouth and the MEDITATION of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Amen (Psalm 19:14)

Related Resources:
(1) Primer on Biblical Meditation
(2) Memorizing His Word

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