Written By: Chris Mace
Many of us have a favorite place conducive for relaxing, thinking, or meditating. Some of us may use mantras or mindfulness or some other form of meditation to lower stress levels, to relieve anxiety, and to achieve inner calmness. The prophet Isaiah knew the secret to inner peace. Speaking of God, he wrote, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on You…” (Isaiah 26:3)
Scripture encourages meditation as a thoughtful consideration of God by focusing on His nature, His works and precepts, and especially on His words—words which bring joy and goodness into life when adhered to; words that show how to navigate life gently, peaceably, mercifully, graciously, and successfully; words which lead to a transformed spirit heart confident in God’s strength and presence; and words which have eternal as well as temporal effects.
Meditation was not a new concept to Israel. Isaac found solitude in a field where he could meditate. (Genesis 24:62) As Joshua was taking over leadership from Moses, God told him to be strong and courageous, that He was with him, and that Joshua would be successful if he kept “this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” (Joshua 1:8)
Recognizing the great benefits of knowing and following God’s prescribed precepts, the Psalmist composed the lyrics to the first Psalm: “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 which 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.” (Psalm 1:1-3)
Our Psalmist fully understood that this crucial spiritual activity was both empowering and redemptive because it established a relationship with God, His Redeemer. He wrote , “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalms 19:14) The 119th Psalm repeatedly extols the benefits of meditating on God’s promises and precepts.
The New Testament also testifies to the spirit-penetrating power of God’s revealed Word: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”(2 Timothy 3:16)
In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul encouraged his readers to pray, to make their requests with thanksgiving, and to not be anxious. As they considered God’s great goodness, His peace which “surpasses understanding would guard their minds and hearts in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) He then proceeded to tell them how to maintain that healthy mind state: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Just as Isaiah focused on God, the author of the book of Hebrews points to the character of Christ, who held a special life-perspective. “Lay aside every “weight and sin,” the writer said. “Look”, concentrate on Jesus. Live as he did. Have his attitude. Jesus had to have led a meditative life. He claimed that he came to fulfill the Law. One has but to read his “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7) to realize the depth of his thoughts and to see how the immense implications of the moral Law played out in his life. He humbly endured evil oppression and cruelty and sacrificial death on the cross for humanity. Yet, he lived confidently and joyfully in the context of eternal purposes and values. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Meditating on Scripture leads one to an increasing knowledge of God’s loving character, to clues about what He is up to, to understanding where we fit into the work and plan of His Kingdom, to discovering meaning and purpose, to trusting the powerful assurances of His promises, and to growing faith in Christ. God’s Word is not only informative but is spirit-transformative.
“Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, (Psalm 119:2)