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Old and New Testament.
Related Topic = Primer on Biblical Meditation)
Take a moment and do a
simple, but enlightening study on Biblical meditation and notice that as you
carry out this exercise, you are actually learning to practice the art and
discipline of meditation on the Scriptures! You will be surprised at the
completeness of your definition of Biblical meditation. And you will
experience the joy of self discovery. Then you are better prepared to go to
a Bible Dictionary and read someone else's definition of meditation (Also
avoid going to the notes associated with each psalm until you have made your
- Observe and interrogate
each occurrence of meditate in the following passages using
5W/H questions (see a
few suggested questions below). Record your answers to each question (be
sure to record chapter and verse of each observation). And remember to check
context (the verses before and after) to be sure your
interpretation is accurate.
What is the "object" of meditation?
long should one meditate?
What should we meditate on?
What results can we expect if we practice
When should we meditate?
Who should meditate?
Where should we meditate?
Why should we be motivated to meditate?
translated as meditate in the NAS -
translated as meditate in the NAS
Job 15:4, Ps 77:6-note,
(meditate = hagah, muse = siyah), Ps 145:5-note
Feminine noun siyah
Other occurrences of
meditate in Scripture (in NAS)...
Genesis 24:63 (Heb = suach), Psalm 4:4-note
(Heb = 'amar), Psalm 19:14-note
(Heb = higgayown), Psalm 27:4-note
(Heb = baqar), Psalm 49:3-note
(Heb = haguth),
Now that you have seen
what God Himself says about meditation, you are better prepared to assess
the quality of the Bible dictionary definition of meditation (Meditation)
Webster says that meditate
means to focus one’s thoughts on, to reflect on, to muse, to mull over or to
ponder over and calls for a definite focusing of one’s thoughts on something
so as to understand it deeply. It means to to engage in contemplation
or reflection, focusing one's thoughts on some truth, reflecting and
pondering that truth.
Eastern meditation calls for the subject to "empty" the mind, whereas
Biblical meditation calls for the filling of one's mind with God's Word of
truth and life.
Meditation is the picture of a cow masticating or ruminating – bringing up
previously digested food for renewed grinding and preparation for
Nelson's New Christian
Dictionary has a picturesque definition of meditation as
time spent in contemplating the Word of God and in fumigating (Ed:
fumigate = to apply smoke, vapor, or gas to especially for the purpose of
disinfecting or of destroying pests) the mind of the toxic thoughts and
ideas that infiltrate it every day.
New Christian Dictionary or
Unger says that
A private devotional act, consisting in deliberate
reflection upon some spiritual truth or mystery, accompanied by mental
prayer and by acts of the affection and of the will, especially formation of
resolutions as to future conduct...Meditation is a duty that ought to
be attended to by all who wish well to their spiritual interests. It should
be deliberate, close, and continuous.
M. F., Harrison, R. K., Vos, H. F., Barber, C. J., & Unger, M. F. The New
Unger's Bible Dictionary. Chicago: Moody Press
Illustrated Bible Dictionary says meditation is concept found
primarily in the Old Testament and is "
the practice of reflection
or contemplation. The word “meditation” or its verb form, “to meditate,” is
found mainly in the Old Testament. The Hebrew words behind this concept mean
“to murmur,” “a murmuring,” “sighing,” or “moaning"...Meditation is a
lost art for many Christians, but the practice needs to be cultivated again."
R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nelson's
New Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
ROLE OF REMEMBERING
From the above definitions you can deduce
that meditation is closely related to remembering...observe the same
relationship in the following Psalms...
Thee on my bed, I meditate
on Thee in the night watches,
Spurgeon comments (Note):
When I remember thee upon my bed. Lying awake, the good man betook
himself to meditation, and then began to sing. He had a feast in the night,
and a song in the night. He turned his bedchamber into an oratory, he
consecrated his pillow, his praise anticipated the place of which it is
written, "There is no night there." Perhaps the wilderness helped to keep
him awake, and if so, all the ages are debtors to it for this delightful
hymn. 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
And meditate on thee in the night watches. Keeping up sacred worship
in my heart as the priests and Levites celebrated it in the sanctuary.
Perhaps David had formerly united with those "who by night stand in the
house of the Lord," and now as he could not be with them in person, he
remembers the hours as they pass, and unites with the choristers in spirit,
blessing Jehovah as they did. It may be, moreover, that the king heard the
voices of the sentries as they relieved guard, and each time he returned
with renewed solemnity to his meditations upon his God. 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 else would be weary, glide away all too rapidly; it
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 better far. Some revel in the night, but they are not a
tithe so happy as those who meditate in God
I will remember
my song in the night. I will
with my heart; And my spirit ponders.
Spurgeon comments (Note):
I call to remembrance my song in the night. At other times his spirit
had a song for the darkest hour, but now he could only recall the strain as
a departed memory. Where is the harp which once thrilled sympathetically to
the touch of those joyful fingers? My tongue, hast thou forgotten to praise?
Hast thou no skill except in mournful ditties? Ah me, how sadly fallen am I!
How lamentable that I, who like the nightingale could charm the night, am
now fit comrade for the hooting owl.
I commune with mine own heart. He did not cease from introspection,
for he was resolved to find the bottom of his sorrow, and trace it to its
fountain head. He made sure work of it by talking not with his mind only,
but with his inmost heart; it was heart work with him. He was no idler, no
melancholy trifler; he was up and at it, resolutely resolved that he would
not tamely die of despair, but would fight for his hope to the last moment
And my spirit made diligent search. He ransacked his experience, his
memory, his intellect, his whole nature, his entire self, either to find
comfort or to discover the reason why it was denied him. That man will not
die by the hand of the enemy who has enough force of soul remaining to
struggle in this fashion
the days of old; I meditate
on all Thy doings; I muse**
on the work of Thy hands.
Spurgeon comments (Note):
I remember the days of old. When we see nothing new which can cheer us, let
us think upon old things. We once had merry days, days of deliverance, and
joy and thanksgiving; why not again? Jehovah rescued his people in the ages
which lie back, centuries ago; wily should he not do the like again? We
ourselves have a rich past to look back upon; we have sunny memories, sacred
memories, satisfactory memories, and these are as flowers for the bees of
faith to visit, from whence they may make honey for present use. I meditate
on all thy works. When my own works reproach me, thy works refresh me. If at
the first view the deeds of the Lord do not encourage us, let us think them
over again, ruminating and considering the histories of divine providence.
We ought to take a wide and large view of all God's works; for as a whole
they work together for good, and in each part they are worthy of reverent
study. I muse on the work of thy hands. This he had done in former days,
even in his most trying hours. Creation had been the book in which he read
of the wisdom and goodness of the Lord. He repeats his perusal of the page
of nature, and counts it a balm for his wounds, a cordial for his cares, to
see what the Lord has made by his skilful hands. When the work of our own
hand grieves us, let us look to the work of God's hands.
Memory, meditation, and musing are
here set together as the three graces, ministering grace to a mind depressed
and likely to be diseased. As David with his harp played away the evil
spirit from Saul, so does he hero chase away gloom from his own soul by holy
communion with God.
William Gurnall adds - Meditation
is prayer's handmaid to wait on it, both before and after the performance of
supplication. It is as the plough before the sower, to prepare the heart for
the duty of prayer; and as the harrow after the sower, to cover the seed
when 'tis sown. As the hopper feeds the mill with grist, so does meditation
supply the heart with matter for prayer.
He gathered materials; facts and evidence concerning God: "I remember."
He thought out his subject and arranged his matter: "I meditate."
He discoursed thereon, and was brought nearer to God: "I muse" -- discourse.
Let us close by viewing all this as an example for preachers and others. --
W. B. H.
siyah) is closely related to "meditate" (Heb:
conveys the basic meaning of to rehearse or go over a matter in one's
mind. It can even mean to speak aloud with oneself! (See Spurgeon's
Meditation is the act of focusing one’s thoughts, of pondering, of
reflecting, and of reviewing various thoughts by mulling them over in the
mind and heart. The picture is one of "chewing" upon a
thought, deliberately and thoroughly, providing a vital link between theory
and action. Meditation consists of reflective thinking, rumination or
contemplation, usually on a specific subject with the purpose of discerning
its meaning or significance or a plan of action. What metabolism is to the
physical body of the cow, meditation is to a saint's mental and spiritual
Through meditation we
that we may
You may be saying "I
don't know how to meditate." To which I would say "Yes, you do."
how to worry don't you? If you can worry, you can meditate because the
essence of both is repetitively turning thoughts over in our mind. Like a
cow ruminating, we all tend to bring up those thoughts or issues that about
which we are anxious.
In meditation we allow
our mind to think upon what is true, honorable,
right, pure, lovely, etc (Php 4:8-note), "ruminating" (chewing the cud)
on God's Truth at various times throughout the day. The more we chew, the
better we "digest" with the result that our minds are continually being
renewed and we are being transformed from glory to glory. Meditation is then
to the soul what digestion is to the body. In this day of "fast food", such
meditation is rare and even more needed. Remember too that meditation is
difficult to impossible without
Memorizing God's Word. As we become more
comfortable interrogating the Scripture with the
5W'S & H
questions, we will become more adept at meditation.
illustration is a good demonstration of how to grab hold of the Word (and
let it grab hold of you!). Pick up your Bible and try to hold it with one
finger, two fingers, etc. The fact is that your grip on the Word is not firm
until you have all four fingers and the thumb grasping it. Now think about
each finger as representing intake of the Word of God by hearing, reading,
studying, and memorizing. Now, let the thumb represent meditation. When we
"grasp" the Word with the four fingers and the thumb, our grip is firm. By
analogy, when we begin to meditate on the Scriptures as part of the other
four activities, we begin to discover the transforming power of God's Word
at work in our innermost spirit. The point of this illustration is that to
be diligent to study the Scriptures inductively and yet to forgo or forget
to meditate is to miss out on the life changing power of meditation.
illustrated Biblical meditation by comparing the way cows get the cud
on which they chew...
A cow eats grass as it grazes early in
the morning. When the sun gets hot (Ed: When we are tempted, when we
experience unexpected trials, etc), it will lie in the shade of a tree, and
through the use of a unique elevator system it will bring up the grass from
one stomach (Ed: The verses we have memorized. The passages we read
that morning. The Scriptures in the sermon we heard on Sunday, etc.) and
thoroughly masticate it (Ed: We "chew the cud" of the Scriptures the
Spirit brings to our mind). When this is finished, it will put it into
another stomach, having gotten from it everything possible in the way of
As a practical exercise
click here and meditate on the Scriptural
uses of the Hebrew words which are translated meditate
(remember to read the
context). Make a list of what you learn about
meditating on meditation and be blessed!
meditation per se, the Hebrew word Selah is used in the Psalms
and calls for the reader to pause which is a good time to ponder or
meditate. (Selah 74x only in the Psalms - Ps 3:2, 4, 8; 4:2, 4; 7:5;
9:16, 20; 20:3; 21:2; 24:6, 10; 32:4f, 7; 39:5, 11; 44:8; 46:3, 7, 11; 47:4;
48:8; 49:13, 15; 50:6; 52:3, 5; 54:3; 55:7, 19; 57:3, 6; 59:5, 13; 60:4;
61:4; 62:4, 8; 66:4, 7, 15; 67:1, 4; 68:7, 19, 32; 75:3; 76:3, 9; 77:3, 9,
15; 81:7; 82:2; 83:8; 84:4, 8; 85:2; 87:3, 6; 88:7, 10; 89:4, 37, 45, 48;
140:3, 5, 8; 143:6; Hab 3:3, 9, 13 - Most scholars feel
selah is a call to pause.)
"CHEWING THE CUD"
Reading the Bible without meditating on it is like eating without chewing.
and read more in depth discussion in
A Primer on Meditation)
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
Dr. Denis Burkitt achieved fame for discovering the cause and cure of a
disease named after him-- Burkitt's lymphoma. He also received widespread
acclaim for demonstrating the benefits of a fiber-rich diet, which earned
him the amusing nickname "Fiber Man."
What many people don't know, however, is that Dr. Burkitt was not merely a
great medical pioneer; he was a dedicated servant of God who daily spent
much time in prayer and meditation on God's Word. He observed,
convinced that a downgrading in priority of...prayer and biblical meditation
is a major cause of weakness in many Christian communities... Bible study
demands pondering deeply on a short passage, like a cow chewing her cud. It
is better to read a little and ponder a lot than to read a lot and ponder a
Dr. Burkitt didn't leave just a great legacy of healing; he left an example
of personal holiness and closeness with the Lord. The secret was his
lifelong habit of setting aside a specific time for prayer and reflection on
God's Word. Few of us will ever enjoy accomplishments like his, but by
following the prescription of Psalm 1:2-note
we can attain the same spiritual health
that he did.
In the stillness of
Before a busy day of care,
How sweet to be alone with God
Through His holy Word and prayer! --Anderson
God speaks to those who take the time to listen.
Prayer is talking with God.
Meditation is listening to God.
If you have an hour
set aside to read the Scriptures, try reading the first half hour and then
using the second half hour to reflect or meditate on what you read. Applying
the guidelines for careful
can objectively aid your efforts
to meditate on the Word. Watch
the difference it makes. You’re reading too much if you have no time to
genuinely meditate on what you read. If you keep a devotional notebook, jot
down your thoughts inspired by observing, interpreting and meditating on the passage.
Meditation on the Person and works
of God can bring refreshment and invigoration to any believer (cp "rest for
your souls" - Mt 11:28, 29, 30).
on God fills a basic need in the heart of every person, as basic a need as
food and drink (Mt 4:4). It not only satisfies the believer but overflows in praise
making him or her a blessing to others.
MEDITATE: DEFINITION OF
HEBREW VERB HAGAH
# 01897) (hagah) is used 24 times in NAS - Josh 1:8; Job 27:4;
Ps 1:2; 2:1; 35:28; 37:30; 38:12; 63:6; 71:24; 77:12; 115:7; 143:5; Pr
8:7; 15:28; 24:2; Isa 8:19; 16:7; 31:4; 33:18; 38:14; 59:3, 11, 13; Jer
and is translated: declare, 1; devise, 2; devising, 1; growls, 1; make a
sound, 1; meditate, 5; meditates, 1; moan, 3; moan sadly, 1; mutter, 2;
mutters, 1; ponders, 1; utter, 2; uttering, 1; utters, 1.
conveys the basic meaning of a low sound and so as used in the OT means to
groan, to sigh or to mutter. Figuratively hagah refers to inward
utterance, the words a man speaks to himself. And so hagah means to
meditate (give serious thought and consideration to selected information
implying a definite focusing of one’s thoughts on something so as to
understand it deeply), to ponder (to carefully weigh in the
mind, to appraise), to ruminate (literally to chew repeatedly for an
extended period and figuratively to go over in the mind repeatedly and often
casually or slowly).
Hagah can also
refer to giving and open and loud expression to one's thoughts. When
hagah is used in the sense of “to mourn,” (Jer 48:31) it apparently
emphasizes the sorrowful sounds of mourning.
Vine comments that
seems to be
an onomatopoetic term, reflecting the sighing and low sounds one may
make while musing, at least as the ancients practiced it." He adds
that "The idea that mental exercise, planning, often is accompanied
by low talking seems to be reflected by
Pr 24:1, 2
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
Be not envious of evil men, And
desire not to be with them. For destruction doth their heart
meditate (hagah), and perverseness do their lips speak."
(Proverbs 24:1-2 Young's
Hagah can refer to the
mutterings of mediums and wizards (Isa 8:19), the moans of grief (Isa 16:7),
the growl of a lion (Isa 31:4) or the coos of a dove (Isa 38:14).
In the biblical world
hagah conveys a somewhat different picture than does the English word
“meditation,” which conveys the idea of a silent mental exercise only. In
contrast, in Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the Scriptures was not
necessarily a silent practice but meant to quietly repeat them in a soft,
droning sound, while utterly abandoning outside distractions. From this
tradition comes a specialized type of Jewish prayer called “davening,” that
is, reciting texts, praying intense prayers, or getting lost in communion
with God while bowing or rocking back and forth. Evidently this
dynamic form of meditation-prayer goes back to David’s time.
Below are the uses of
Hagah which are translated meditate in the NAS...
Joshua 1:8-note “This book of the law shall
not depart from your mouth, but you shall
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."
depth note But (what should you
always do when you see a
click here) his delight is in the law of
the Lord, and in His law he meditates
day and night. (Click
for separate exercise on practicing observation using Psalm 1)
C H Spurgeon: The godly man's delight is the the law of the Lord. He is not
under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights
to be in it as his rule of life; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it,
to read it by day and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it
with him all day long; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his
eyelids, he muses upon the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he
sings psalms out of the Word of God, and in the night of his affliction he
comforts himself with promises out of the same book. The law of the Lord is
the daily bread of the true believer. And yet, in David’s day, how small was
the volume of inspiration, for they had scarcely anything save the first
five books of Moses! How much more, then, should we prize the whole written
Word which it is our privilege to have in all our houses! But, alas, what
ill-treatment is given to this angel from heaven! We are not all Berean
searchers of the Scriptures. How few among us can lay claim to the
benediction of the text! Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative
purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly; but let me ask
you—Is your delight in the law of God? Do you study God’s Word? Do you make
it the man of your right hand—your best companion and hourly guide? If not,
this blessing does not belong to you. (Treasury of David)
3) Psalm 63:6 When I remember Thee on my bed,
on Thee in the night watches.
In David's time
the night was divided into three watch periods and his use of the
plural ("night watches") suggests that in his intense devotion,
he meditated upon Jehovah all through the night. If we (under grace
not law) were to practice this discipline, what might it do to
communion with the Almighty! In the next verse David explains why he
remembers and meditates ("for" or "because" introduces
an explanation) writing "for Thou hast been my Help..." where "Help"
is the Hebrew 'ezra (one who assists, supplies or serves
another with what is needed)
presents an interesting picture of meditating "in the night
watches" writing that: Just as a radio picks up dozens of
extra stations at night, so my heart is sometimes extra-sensitive to
Him when the sky is black, the air still, and the house quiet at last.
(Jon Courson's Application Commentary.
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson)
J Vernon McGee in his inimitable style writes that: David thought
upon Him—during the night when he couldn’t sleep. My friend,
meditating upon God’s goodness is a lot better than counting sheep!"
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson
C H Spurgeon writes that: Night is congenial, in its silence
and darkness, to a soul which would forget the world, and rise into a
higher sphere. Absorption into the most hallowed of all themes makes
watches which else would be weary glide away all too rapidly; it
causes the lonely and hard couch to yield repose more restful than
even sleep itself.
of David) (See a
excellent Sermon on the practice and advantages of Biblical Meditation
4) Psalm 77:12 I will
on all Thy work, and muse (siyah
07878 = see below) on Thy deeds.
5) Psalm 143:5 I remember the days of old; I
on all Thy doings; I muse on the work of Thy hands.
THREE STRONG'S NUMBERS
1) Siyah (verb) (07878)
is found 20 times in the NAS - Jdg 5:10; 1Chr 16:9; Job 7:11; 12:8;
Ps 55:17; 69:12; 77:3, 6, 12; 105:2; 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 148; 143:5;
145:5; Pr 6:22; Isa 53:8. It is translated: complain, 2; considered, 1; meditate, 7; meditates, 1;
muse, 2; sigh, 1; sing, 1; speak, 3; talk, 2. The KJV translates siyah
once as "commune".
The basic meaning is
idea of reflection (a thought, idea, or opinion formed or a remark
made as a result of meditation), of rehearsing something or going
over a matter in one’s mind, or of thoughtfully contemplating
something. It means to meditate, muse on, consider, think on, ponder and
so give serious consideration to information, or a situation. This
meditation or contemplation may be done either inwardly or outwardly.
Siyah (masculine noun) (07879)
is found 13 times in the NAS - 1Sa 1:16; 1Ki 18:27; 2 Kgs 9:11; Job 7:13;
9:27; 10:1; 21:4; 23:2; Ps 55:2; 64:1; 104:34; 142:2; Pr 23:29
and is translated: complaining, 1; complaint, 8; concern, 1; meditation,
1; occupied, 1; talk, 1. As the translations suggest, the primary meaning
of the word is complaint but it is used once for meditation.
3) Siyah (feminine noun) (07881)
is found 3 times in the NAS (Job 15:4; Ps 119:97, Ps 119:99) and is
translated meditation in each NAS use.
Study the 10 uses of siyah (77878)
translated meditate carefully observing what the Bible says about
meditation before you read the accompanying notes.
Sing ye to Him, sing psalms to Him.
on all His wonders.
This was David's exclamation of praise when the ark of God was
brought into Jerusalem and placed inside the tent which he had
pitched for it, and after the priests had offered burnt offerings
and peace offerings before God. Note the focus of the meditation was
on all (no exceptions) of God's wonderful, marvelous, amazing
acts...thus providing all believers a good template for our times of
"Evening, and morning, and noon, I
(siyah, NAS translates it as "complain"), and make a noise, and He
heareth my voice (Young's Literal)
Spurgeon writes that
cry aloud who never say a word. It is the bell of the heart that rings
loudest in heaven. Some read it, “I will muse and murmur”; deep
heart-thoughts should be attended with inarticulate but vehement
utterances of grief. A father’s heart reads a child’s heart." (Treasury
J Vernon McGee adds
What a picture that gives of David’s distress—“Evening, and morning,
and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud.” My friend, one good thing
your enemy will do for you is to cause you to pray more than you have
ever prayed before!" (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson
I will remember my song in the night; I will
with my heart; And my spirit ponders.
To receive the full impact and blessing of this (and the following) verse
from Asaph's psalm, you must read the entire psalm for the
context. What was Asaph's state of
mind in the first part of the psalm? What role does meditation
play in producing a changed mindset in this godly man? Draw your own
conclusions before you read the comments below.
Psalm 77:12 I will meditate (hagah)
on all Thy work, and muse
07878) on Thy deeds.
introspection had plunged him into the depths of despondency, Asaph
turns his eyes heavenward and determines to reflect on God’s past
interventions for His people when they were in tight spots. This
leads him at once to the acknowledgment that God is holy, that
everything He does is perfect, righteous, and good. He makes no
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
C H Spurgeon
adds that it is
Sweet work to enter into Jehovah’s work of
grace, and there to lie down and ruminate,
every thought being absorbed in the one precious object. And talk of
Thy doings. It is well that the overflow of the mouth should
indicate the good matter which fills the heart. Meditation
makes rich talking; it is to be lamented that so much of the
conversation of believers is utterly barren, because they take no
time for contemplation. Meditative people should be talkers,
otherwise they are mental misers, mill which grind corn only for the
miller. The subject of our meditation
should be choice, and then our talk will be edifying; if we meditate
on folly and pretend to speak wisdom, our double mindedness will
soon be known to everyone. Holy talk following upon meditation has a
consoling power in it for ourselves as well as for those who listen. (Treasury
commenting on this psalm writes that
Joyless days of trouble and
sleepless nights of despair plagued the psalmist. Why? Not because
of unbelief but because of faith. Because he believed in the Lord,
he wrestled with himself and with God. He could not understand why
the Lord did not keep His promises and deliver His people from
bondage. What do you do in a situation like that? Of course, you
pray (v. 1) and tell God just how you feel. Reach out to Him in the
night seasons (v. 2), but do not refuse the comfort that He sends.
He will remind you of His past works and wonders, and the more you meditate
on them, the better you will feel. Asaph meditated
on Israel’s exodus from Egypt and recalled that God kept the people
waiting by the Red Sea, that it was night, and that deliverance came
just in the nick of time. The people were afraid and certain that
God had forgotten them, but He showed His power and humiliated the
W: With the Word: Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Handbook. Nelson
Psalms 119:15 I will
on Thy precepts, and regard Thy ways.
Note once again the object of Biblical
MacDonald notes that
God’s Word provides endless resource
material for the most satisfying meditation, but this should never be
divorced from the determination to be doers of the Word. (MacDonald,
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
C H Spurgeon commenting on this verse adds that...
who has an inward delight in anything will not long withdraw his mind from
it. No spiritual exercise is more
profitable to the soul than that of devout meditation;
why are many of us so exceeding slack in it? The preceptory part of God’s
Word was David’s special subject of meditation,
and this was the more natural because the question was still upon his mind
as to how a young man should cleanse his way. Practical godliness is vital
Psalms 119:23 Even though princes sit and
talk against me, Thy servant
on Thy statutes.
Psalms 119:27 Make me understand the way of
Thy precepts, so I will
on Thy wonders.
This is a prayer for understanding God's Word but with the added objective
that the insights gleaned might stimulate meditation on God's wonders.
What a wonderful prayer to pray as we study His Word.
C H Spurgeon commenting on this verse writes
Give me a deep insight into
the practical meaning of thy Word; let me get a clear idea of the tone and
tenor of thy law. Blind obedience has but small beauty; God would have us
follow him with our eyes open. To obey the letter of the Word is all that
the ignorant can hope for; if we wish to keep God’s precepts in their
spirit we must come to an understanding of them, and that can be gained
nowhere but at the Lord’s hands. The psalmist is not anxious to understand
the prophecies, but the precepts, and he is not concerned about the
subtleties of the law, but the commonplaces and everyday rules of it."
Psalms 119:48 And I shall lift up my
hands to Thy commandments, which I love and I will
on Thy statutes.
Psalms 119:78 May the arrogant be
ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie, but I shall
on Thy precepts.
Psalms 119:148 My eyes anticipate the
night watches, that I may
on Thy word.
Spurgeon writes that
had become meat and drink to
was the food of his hope, and the solace of his sorrow: the one
theme upon which his thoughts ran was that blessed Word which he
continually mentions, and in which his heart rejoices. He preferred
study to slumber; and he learned to forego his necessary sleep for
much more necessary devotion. It is instructive to find meditation
so constantly connected with fervent prayer: it is the fuel which sustains
the flame. How rare an article is it in these days.
Psalms 145:5 On the glorious splendor of
Thy majesty, and on Thy wonderful works, I will
Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation. Preserve my life
from fear of the enemy. (NKJV)
be pleasing (sweet, pleasant, satisfying) to Him. As for me, I shall be
glad in the Lord.
The psalmist used the word to depict meditation that he hoped would
be pleasing to the Lord. The last words ever written by Henry
Martyn, dying among Mohammedans in Persia, was: I sat in the orchard
and thought with sweet comfort and peace of my God, in solitude my
company, my Friend and Comforter.
C H Spurgeon commenting on this verse writes that such meditation is...
both to Him and to me. I shall be delighted thus to survey His works
and think of His person, and He will graciously accept my notes of
is the soul of religion. We ought, therefore, both for our own food
and for the Lord’s honor to be much occupied with
meditation, and that
meditation should chiefly
dwell upon the Lord himself: it should be
meditation of Him. For
want of it much communion is lost and much happiness is missed.
To the meditative mind every thought of God is full of joy.
Each one of the divine attributes is a well-spring of delight now
that in Christ Jesus we are reconciled to God."
(3) SIYAH -----------
The Hebrew feminine noun siyah (07881)
means meditation, reflection, concern of one’s thoughts, musing,
reflection. The word is primarily used to indicate meditation.
14) Job 15:4
"Indeed, you do away with reverence
(yirah = fear usually referring to fear of God), and hinder
Eliphaz although falsely accusing Job
of lack of fear of God, does make the point that irreverence of God does
restrain, lessen or diminish one's desire to meditate upon Him, His works
and His Word.
15) Psalms 119:97
O how love Your law! It is my
all the day.
meditated on God’s Word because he loved it, and then loved it the
more because he meditated in it. In his worldly business he still
kept his mind saturated with the law of the Lord. Familiarity with
the Word of God breeds affection, and affection seeks yet greater
familiarity. When thy law and my meditation are together all the
day, the day grows holy, devout, and happy, and the heart lives with
God." (Spurgeon, C H:
Treasury of David)
16) Psalms 119:99
I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my
This is the
best mode of acquiring understanding. We may hear the wisest
teachers and remain fools, but if we meditate upon the sacred Word
we must become wise. (Spurgeon, C H:
Treasury of David)
and Temptation ($)
John Owen's famous treatise -
Temptation and the Mortification of Sin in Believers
"Some godly duties...are
particularly important in weakening and subduing the power of indwelling
sin in the believers. These are first prayer, and then meditation. They
have much in common, differing only in the manner of their exercise. By
meditation, I mean meditating upon what respect and relevance there is
between the Word and our own heart, so that they stay close together in
conformity to each other. As we ponder on the truth as it is in Jesus, we
see how it is reflected in our own hearts. Thus meditation has the same
intent as prayer, which is to bring our mind into a disposition that
answers in all things to the mind and will of God.
Of the two, people are less familiar
with—and therefore more confused about—meditation. So let us set two or
three rules to help us in this matter.
1. Meditate about God with God.
When we think about God and His excellencies, glory, majesty, love, and
goodness, let it be done in such a way that we are speaking directly to
God, in a spirit of deep humility and dependence before Him. This will fix
the mind, and draw out one thing after the other which gives glory to God
in a fitting manner. This will affect the soul to exercise a holy
admiration of God and a delight in Him which is acceptable to God.
Meditate as you would pray or give praise, speaking with God.
2. Meditate on the Word in the
Word of God. When reading the Scriptures, consider the particular
sense of each passage. Look to God to find help, guidance, and direction
in the discovery of His mind and will within the Scriptures. Then labor to
have your heart affected by it.
3. Endeavor to meditate
frequently. When we come short of prolonged sustained concentration in
meditation, let us make up by frequency in meditation. Some become
discouraged because their minds do not provide them with a regular supply
of thought to carry on their meditations. They are weak or imperfect in
their reflections. Compensate for weakness here by frequently returning to
the subject proposed for meditation. Thus new aspects will be discerned."
See Related Resource -
Primer on Biblical Meditation
If you know how to worry,
then you know how to meditate.
Worry is when you take a negative idea
and continue to think on it over and over, and it will usually start to
affect you negatively. When you take a Truth from Scripture and think on it
over and over, we call that meditation. There is nothing mystical or magical
about meditation. Meditation just means you focus your attention over and
over on the Word of God. When one continually mutters God’s Word to himself,
he is constantly thinking about it. The benefits will be a blessing. God
(Ps 1:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6-see
notes) that all who delight in and meditate on God’s Law will prosper
like a flourishing fruit tree and their fruit will appear at the proper
time, not necessarily immediately, and their general spiritual health,
represented by the leaves, will be good. Generally the fruit God said He
would produce in the lives of most Old Testament believers was mainly
physical prosperity, whereas the fruit a Christian bears is primarily a
transformed character and godly conduct (Gal 5:22-note,
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Bible study demands pondering
deeply on a short passage, like a cow chewing her cud. It is better to
read a little and ponder a lot than to read a lot and ponder a little.
It is probably no accident that the
great Christian statesman William Wilberforce marked the passing of his
bill to abolish the slave trade in England by meditating on verse one of
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to
Thy name give glory, because of Thy lovingkindness, because of Thy truth.
John Piper gives an interesting word
picture of meditation writing
that if you want to be filled with the
Spirit of passion and exultation over the great things of God, you must
fill your mind day and night with the Word of God. Pour over it. Memorize
it. Chew it. Put it like a lozenge under the tongue of your soul and
let it flavor your affections day and night. (Trinity Journal Volume 16.
Keil and Delitzsch write that
does not mean theoretical speculation
about the law, such as the Pharisees indulged in, but a practical study of
the law, for the purpose of observing it (cf Observation) in thought and
action, or carrying it out (cf Application) with the heart, the mouth,
and the hand. Such a mode of employing it would be sure to be followed by
blessings." (Commentary on the Old Testament, page 30)
Martin Luther (1483–1546) wrote
Prayer, meditation, and temptation make
In another writing Luther says that
the inner desires of the flesh are not
overcome with the abstinence of meat and drink. So he offers as a
solution: “desires of the flesh are overcome…only by the earnest
meditation of the Word of God and invocation of Christ.
George Mueller, a great man of prayer,
wrote that he would often spend up to a half hour suffering from wandering
thoughts before he really began to pray. Then he made a simple discovery
significantly decreased the distractions during prayer writing that...
I saw that the most important thing
was to give myself to the reading of God’s Word, and to meditation
on it . . . Now prayer, in order to be continued for any length of time in
any other than a formal manner, requires, generally speaking, a measure of
strength or godly desire, and the season therefore when this exercise of
the soul can be most effectually performed is after the inner man has been
nourished by meditation
on the Word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage
us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us . . . Thus
there is far less to be feared from wandering of mind than if we give
ourselves to prayer without having had time previously for meditation."
Matthew Henry has the following
quotes on Biblical meditation...
in God’s word is to discourse concerning the great things contained in it,
with a close application of mind, a fixedness of thought, till we be
suitably affected with those things and experience the savour and power of
them in our hearts."
"Meditation is the best
preparative for prayer, so prayer is the best issue of meditation"
"If we willingly
banish holy meditations in our solitary hours, Satan will soon occupy our
minds with sinful imaginations"
"Meditation and prayer are blessed
means of strengthening faith and hope"
"Meditation. God’s words
must be laid up in our hearts, that our thoughts may be daily employed about
"In retirement and in meditation the Christian character is
formed and perfected"
"To meditate in God’s word, is to discourse
with ourselves concerning the great things contained in it, with close
application of mind and fixedness of thought. We must have constant regard
to the word of God, as the rule of our actions, and the spring of our
comforts; and have it in our thoughts night and day. For this purpose no
time is amiss."
"Those who would have clear views of heaven, must get
as near to heaven as they can, on the mount of meditation and faith"
"We do not meditate on God’s
precepts to good purpose, unless our good thoughts produce good works."
Commenting on Genesis 24:63
And Isaac went out to
meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked,
and behold, camels were coming
Henry wrote that Isaac
went out to take the advantage of a
silent evening and a solitary place, for meditation and prayer; those
divine exercises by which we converse with God and our own hearts
J. Vernon McGee
had the following sage advice regarding Biblical meditation writing
is a very figurative word. It pictures a cow chewing her cud. I’m told that
the cow has several compartments in her tummy. She can go out in the
morning, graze on the grass when the dew is on it in the cool of the day.
Then when it gets hot in the middle of the day, she lies down under a tree
and begins to chew the cud. She moves the grass she had in the morning back
up and now she masticates it, she goes over it again. That is what we do
when we meditate. We go over what we have read. Way back in 1688
Bartholomew Ashwood said, “Meditation chews the cud.” My, how that is needed
today in the lives of believers. Remember that James spoke of the man who
beholds his natural face in a mirror, then “… immediately forgotten what
kind of person he was.” (Jas 1:24-note).
We are to meditate on the Word of God (which is God’s mirror that
shows us what we really are). We are to allow the Word to shape our
lives. My friend, God has no plan or program by which you are to grow and
develop as a believer apart from His Word. You can become as busy as a
termite in your church (and possibly with the same effect as a
termite), but you won’t grow by means of activity. You will grow by
meditating upon the Word of God—that is, by going over it again and again in
your thinking until it becomes a part of your life. This is the practice of
the happy (blessed) man (Psalm
C H Spurgeon had much to say
about Biblical meditation. Below are just a few of his thoughts on this
invaluable spiritual discipline...
"Do we not miss
very much of the sweetness and efficacy of prayer by lack of careful
meditation before it and of hopeful expectation after it? We too often rush
into the presence of God without forethought or humility. We should be
careful to keep the stream of meditation always running, for this is the
water to drive the mill of prayer"...
"Words are mockery if the heart
does not meditate; 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"
Commenting on "Selah"
(which means "Pause") Spurgeon writes
"Yes, pause, faithful singers. Here is abundant
room for holy meditation"..."We are usually in too much of a hurry: a
little more holy meditation would make our words more suitable and our
emotions more fervent" .
"Hurried reading is of little benefit; to sit down
awhile and meditate is very profitable" (cp Mary in Lk 10:39,
"Meditation is the soul of
religion. We ought, therefore, both for our own food and for the Lord’s
honor to be much occupied with meditation, and that meditation should
chiefly dwell upon the Lord himself: It should be meditation of Him. For
want of it much communion is lost and much happiness is missed"
spiritual exercise is more profitable to the soul than that of devout
meditation; why are many of us so exceeding slack in it?"
instructive to find meditation so constantly connected with fervent prayer:
it is the fuel which sustains the flame. How rare an article is it in these
"Our Master’s field is full and rich. The precious promises
lie in front of you. Gather them. Make them your own. Grasp these sweet
promises. Thresh them by meditation. Feed on them with joy"
for themes on which to meditate profitably. Get an anchor-hold on some great
and clearly ascertained truth, a truth in which you can have no possible
doubt. Then you may begin to be comforted"
"These busy days leave
little time for meditation, yet there is no exercise more nourishing to
faith, love, and grace. A transient thought of God may greatly bless, just
as a touch of the Savior’s garment healed a woman (Mt 9:21,
22). When we meditate, we lean on His embrace and enjoy
the full fellowship of His love. David said, “I remember You on my bed, I
meditate on You in the night watches” (Ps 63:6). Oh for more meditation! It would mean more grace and
more joy. May you and I find pleasure in our sleepless hours and enter into
close fellowship with Him through heavenly meditation. Private meditation
and devotion should be a dialogue between your soul and God. The Lord speaks
to us through Scripture, and by prayer we speak to Him. When prayer is not
urgent, read your Bible and hear His voice; then you will usually find it in
your heart to pray. Speak to Him as you would speak to a friend. When you
have expressed all your thoughts, let the Lord speak again, and realize His
"Ah, there is nothing that can so console your spirits
and relieve all your distresses and troubles as the feeling that now you can
meditate on the person of Jesus Christ"
contemplation are often like windows of agate (fine-grained
variegated chalcedony, a translucent quartz, having its colors arranged in
stripes) and gates of carbuncle (any of several red precious stones) through
which we behold the Redeemer. Meditation puts the telescope to the eye and
enables us to see Jesus better than we could have seen Him if we had lived
in the days of His flesh. Would that we were more taken up with the person,
the work, and the beauty of our incarnate Lord"
"To have sweet
sleep we must have sweet lives, sweet tempers, sweet meditations, and sweet
"Meditation chews the cud and extracts the real nutriment
from the mental food gathered elsewhere. When Jesus is the theme, meditation
is sweet indeed."
"Meditate upon what you read: stop not at the
surface; dive into the depths. Be not as the swallow which toucheth the
brook with her wing, but as the fish which penetrates the lowest wave. Abide
with your Lord: let him not be to you as a wayfaring man, that tarrieth for
a night, but constrain him, saying, “Abide with us, for the day is far
spent.” Hold him, and do not let him go."
"As friend met friend
upon the city wall, so meet thou thy God in the way of holy prayer and
meditate much on heaven, 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"
"Grasp these sweet promises,
thresh them out by meditation and feed on them with joy" ...
C H SPURGEON'S SERMON
(See full sermon
Quiet Musing) The man who reads but one book, and that book his Bible,
and then muses much upon it, will be a better scholar in Christ’s school
than he who merely reads hundreds of books, and muses not at all...Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if you would have wine
from it, you must bruise it; you must press and squeeze it many times. The
bruisers’ feet must come down joyfully upon the bunches, or else the juice
will not flow; and they must leap, and leap, and leap again, and well
tread the grapes, or else much of the precious liquid will be wasted. You
must, by the feet of meditation, tread the clusters of truth, would you
get the wine of consolation there from.
...Our bodies are not supported by
merely taking food into the mouth, but the
process which really supplies the muscle, and the nerve, and the sinew,
and the bone, is the process of digestion. It is by digestion that the
outward food becomes assimilated with inner life. And so is it with our
souls; they are not nourished merely by what we hear by going hither, and
thither, and listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to the
other. Hearing, leading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly
digesting; and the inward digesting of the truth lies in the meditating
upon it. Ruminating creatures chew the cud, and these have always been
considered clean animals; and so it is a mark of a true child of God that
he understandeth how to chew the cud of meditation...
meditation to you, then, for fetching the nutriment out of truth...meditation
will supply you, as it were, with a hundred hands, by every one of which
you may grasp the truth...If we would have the truth photographed upon our
hearts, we must keep it long before the spiritual lens, or else it never
will fix itself there...
...For getting the nourishment out of
truth, and moreover, for preserving, for salting down the truth for future
use, employ much meditation. Meditation clippeth the wings of thoughts,
which otherwise would fly away at the first clapping of the world’s hands.
Thou shalt thus keep thy prey, as it were, surrounded and entangled in a
net, else it might escape thee; thy meditation shall hold it fast until
thou needest it. "
...Truth is sometimes like a flint, which, when it is
smitten the first time yieldeth not, and you may even strike it yet again,
and still it yieldeth not; but at last one happy blow of the hammer shall
make it fly to shivers.
often like a bone, but meditation is the hammer which cracks it, and then
the soul gets the marrow and the fatness. The beauties of Christ are not
to be seen by the passer-by who merely glances at him; there is something
to arrest attention at a glance, it is true, but he who would see the
beauties of Jesus, must look, and look, and look again, until his whole
soul is enamoured of the Savior; and as he looks, and is transformed into
the Savior’s image, he shall have such enjoyment, that this side of heaven
there is none other like it. Communion comes after musing...Sitting down is the posture of waiting, in which we ungird the loins of the mind, and indulge the repose of meditation; let us
sit down then beneath his shadow, and we shall have great delight in
musing upon Christ." (Click Spurgeon's
Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
hymn and sing it to Jehovah as a prayer)
Musing on my habitation,
Musing on my heav’nly home,
Fills my soul with holy longings:
Come, my Jesus, quickly come;
Vanity is all I see;
Lord, I long to be with Thee!
Lord, I long to be with Thee!
Dear alien and
when was the last time you "mused" on
your everlasting heavenly habitation?
Let the truth of
your glorious eternal future totally imbue
your thinking during this short earthly existence.
Meditate on Thy Precepts"
(from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening)
"There are times when solitude is
better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better
Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through
meditation on his Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We
ought to muse (to consider or examine attentively or deliberately by
becoming absorbed in thought; especially turning something over in one's
mind meditatively) upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment
out of them.
Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if we would
have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many
times. The bruiser’s feet must come down joyfully upon the bunches, or else
the juice will not flow; and they must well tread the grapes, or else much
of the precious liquid will be wasted.
So we must, by meditation, tread the
clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation there from. Our
bodies are not supported by merely taking food into the mouth, but the
process which really supplies the muscle, and the nerve, and the sinew, and
the bone, is the process of digestion. It is by digestion that the outward
food becomes assimilated with the inner life.
Our souls are not
nourished merely by listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to
the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all
require inwardly digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward
digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it.
Why is it that some
Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the
divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully
meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind
it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to
gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the
water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it.
From such folly
deliver us, O Lord, and be this our resolve this morning,
meditate in Thy precepts.”
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