Biblical meditation is the art of reflection, of pondering and going over a matter in one’s mind. It is important that we recognize we cannot divorce meditation from all the processes by which we learn and apply the Word. It is intricately tied to Bible study in all its forms.
Concerning one of the chief Hebrew words used for meditation, hagah, Herbert Wolf says, “Perhaps the Scripture was read half out loud in the process of meditation.“
Biblical meditation involves the whole process of reading and observing a portion of Scripture in order to seek both its meaning and application. Though we generally think in terms of the final aspect in which we reflect on our observations and understanding of a particular text or concept of the Word, reading the text of Scripture reflectively is a part of the process of biblical meditation.
The point is this. We can’t effectively reflect on and respond to a portion of the Word or a biblical truth without the whole process of careful Bible study. Just as meditating in a vacuum or to empty the mind as it is done in eastern religions is dangerous and may open the mind to demonic attack, so meditating on error drawn from a misunderstanding of a passage can lead to unhappy results.
There are three things that must go together in biblical meditation: READING, REFLECTING, and RESPONDING. The ultimate purposes of these three are the three great purposes of Bible study:
- OBSERVATION—What does the text say?
- INTERPRETATION—What does the text mean?
- APPLICATION—How does the text apply to my life?
READING – Careful reading for observation comes first. The word “read” or “reading” occurs 80 times in Scripture, 34 times in the New Testament. We must be ever mindful that you are reading the Word of God. The Bible is God breathed and each word and sentence has a purpose and function. This means reading deliberately, slowly, and alertly, not mechanically or legalistically.
REFLECTION – Irving Jensen writes, “Reflection is the mind and heart at work, thinking over and concentrating on what the eyes have seen … Reflection in Bible reading should have the intensity of meditation, whereby the soul has the desire and intention of obeying God’s Word
The purpose of reading and reflecting on Scripture is response, responding and applying the passage to our own lives. So we naturally turn to the third aspect of meditation and the ultimate purpose of the Word. The call to reflection in Bible reading is expressed in Samuel’s plain words to Saul, “Stand here thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God” (1 Samuel 9:27, KJV)