The Bible’s Viewpoint
Meditation That Is Beneficial
“LET THE SAYINGS OF MY MOUTH AND THE MEDITATION OF MY HEART BECOME PLEASURABLE BEFORE YOU, O JEHOVAH MY ROCK AND MY REDEEMER.”—PSALM 19:14.
WHAT does “meditation” mean to you? If you follow the teachings of some Eastern religions, you may believe that it is something that brings greater clarity of thought or special enlightenment. Meditation practiced in Buddhism encourages emptying the mind of all thought. Other forms of meditation are said to encourage filling your mind with “universal truths of wisdom.”
The Bible’s view of meditation differs from these. In what way? Consider the Biblical example of a man named Isaac, who at the age of 40 had much to meditate on. Genesis 24:63 states: “Isaac was out walking in order to meditate in the field at about the falling of evening.” There is no reason to assume that Isaac emptied his mind of thought or that he was merely contemplating a vague ‘universal truth of wisdom.’ Isaac likely had specific things to think about, such as his future, the loss of his mother, or who his wife was to be. He made use of some private time in the evening to meditate, likely on such vital matters. In the Bible, meditation is more than mere daydreaming.
There Is More to Meditation
Consider the example of the psalmist David. He faced an array of seemingly insurmountable problems, and he well knew that as an imperfect man, he needed help from God in conducting himself aright. What fortified David through difficult circumstances? As recorded at Psalm 19:14, David said: “Let the sayings of my mouth and the meditation of my heart become pleasurable before you, O Jehovah my Rock and my Redeemer.” The Hebrew word here translated “meditation” comes from a root word literally meaning “speak with oneself.” Yes, David ‘spoke with himself’ about Jehovah, his activity, his works, his laws, and his righteousness.—Psalm 143:5.
Likewise, early Christians considered it part of true worship to set aside time to meditate on spiritual things. The apostle Paul admonished: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.” (Philippians 4:8) Of course, in order to think upbuilding thoughts, these “things” that Paul spoke of would need to enter our minds at some point. How?
The psalmist provides an answer. Psalm 1:1, 2 reads: “Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked ones . . . His delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.” Yes, the psalmist read God’s law regularly. He could then meditate on the things he learned about the Creator.
Reading the Bible is invaluable, but after reading, we must meditate, think deeply, or “speak with ourselves” about what we have read. Just as digestion is needed if we are to benefit fully from the food we eat, meditation is needed if we are to absorb what we read in the Bible. Proper meditation does more than merely remove negative thoughts. It also allows us to consider Bible-based solutions to our problems. Such meditation can help us deal successfully with the anxieties of day-to-day life.—Matthew 6:25-32.
The psalmist David recognized the role that meditation plays in pleasing God. He stated: “The mouth of the righteous is the one that utters wisdom in an undertone.” (Psalm 37:30) Yes, meditation is an identifying mark of a faithful worshiper. To be considered righteous by God is a real blessing, and it brings spiritual benefits. For example, the Bible says that “the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” (Proverbs 4:18) Hence, the obedient Christian who “utters wisdom in an undertone” can expect to grow in understanding of the Bible.
The Bible also admonishes Christians to meditate on their Scriptural responsibilities. The apostle Paul told Timothy: “Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons. Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” (1 Timothy 4:15, 16) Yes, what we say and do can have a profound effect on others.
Clearly, we have many reasons to engage in deep, concentrated thinking about important things. It is vital to reflect on our past experiences, ponder over current matters, and thoughtfully contemplate our future. But above all, our meditation will bring us the greatest enlightenment if our thoughts center on the wisdom of our Creator, Jehovah God.
[Picture on page 20]
“The Thinker,” by Rodin