November 14, 2015
The benefits of meditating on God’s word
“Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates (margin = ponders by talking to himself) day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.”
What picture does the word “meditate” conjure up for you? Is it of a person sitting cross-legged in a trance with the hands resting palms up on the knees, eyes closed while chanting a single word or phrase?
In contrast, the Biblical meaning of meditation is not about emptying the mind but rather actively engaging the mind through vocalising and imaging. Actually all of us at some stage have indulged in a negative form of meditation- WORRYING!
You know how it is. A small thought pops into your mind and you catch the thought and examine it for a while. Then you throw that single thought out of your mind and attend to other things. Later in the day the thought bounces back in with a little more information attached. You catch the thought again and re-examine it in light of the new information. That slightly larger thought lingers a little longer this time before you throw it out again. The next day the thought barges back in weighted down with much more information and there is little space in your thoughts for anything but this worry. You examine it from all angles. You picture different scenarios of handling it this way or that way. You search your memory for previous similar experiences and outcomes. Past disappointments, losses and trials fly onto the worry like tacks drawn to a magnet.
Your feelings are heightened now. The fight or flight stress response is triggered as a great rush of adrenaline or a chronic trickling of adrenaline and cortisol seeps into you your whole body. Either way, your body is experiencing right NOW the recalled stresses of the past or the imagined stresses of the future- perhaps both!
There are actually two Hebrew words in the Bible translated as meditate. One is siyach, a primitive root meaning to ponder, converse with oneself and hence aloud, to muse, commune, declare and to pray (Strongs Hebrew # 7878.) In the ancient pictograph Hebrew language the root of this word also denotes a bush or shrub. The other word is hagah which means to ponder, imagine, meditate, mutter, utter, study and talk (Strongs Hebrew # 1897). The pictograph depicts purifying and removing.
When we put the two words of syach and hagar together we see the double action of meditation. One is to remove or purify us of the dross of sin caused by lies and false heart beliefs, while the other is growth in right thoughts, words and actions. The interesting thing is that electron microscopes and imaging technologies reveal that the neural pathways of our thoughts, memories and actions actually look like branches of a tree. The more often a thought or action is repeated the more the branches grow. However, when we change our thoughts, words and actions the branches of the old ones are pruned back while branches on the new one multiple. What a powerful tool meditating on God’s word is for the transformation of character!
I will also meditate (hagar) on all Your work,
And talk (siyach) of Your deeds.