Meditation teaches us how to live in the word.
Psalm 119 is one of the richest collections of advice of any chapter in the Bible. In it we get a glimpse of the value of meditating upon the scriptures. I’ve quoted a number of verses to capture the context. Take note of how many times David places his focus on the word. Psalm 119:9-17, 148
9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!
12 Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes!
13 With my lips I have declared All the judgments of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.
16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.
17 Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.
148 My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.
Whether he says your word, precepts, statutes, or commands, he keeps the focus upon the word of God. This is an important practice of meditation. When we meditate on the word, it is not focusing on syllables, sounds, or letters. It is to focus upon knowing God’s commandments to understand and live by them.
There are some who teach and practice that we meditate on a single word or sound, but this is merely a form of Eastern meditation and is contrary to the Bible’s teaching. The focus of meditation is to cleanse our lives through the word by taking heed to its commandments, statutes, and principles, so we do not stray from the truth. We meditate to be taught. We meditate to discover understanding. We meditate so we know how to live and abide in God’s will.
Jesus often referred to the Psalms and perhaps He intended this chapter to be taken into consideration when He said, “You are already clean because the word I have spoken to you.” The focus of the word is always to find understanding of God’s ways so we can walk in close fellowship with Him. This isn’t only taught in the Old Testament, but the same practice is taught in the New Testament as well. Look at 1 Timothy 4:15-16
15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.
16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
Once again, the word is the focus. Good doctrine is explored as we meditate on the truth of scripture. Whenever we see the word ‘doctrine’, it simply means ‘the teachings of scripture’. Don’t think of this as a theologically complicated practice. We take a passage of scripture, think upon it, and give ourselves wholly to obeying the word and teaching others to do the same.
Memorization plays a role in meditating upon scripture, but memorizing alone is not meditation. We think upon the meaning of the scriptures, how it applies to our lives, how it testifies to the majesty of the Lord, and how it directs us into God’s perfect plan.
Any meditation practice that doesn’t fit what is taught in scripture misses the mark and can lead us down the wrong path. However, biblical meditation is a valuable practice in the Christian’s life.
Meditation is often neglected. For this reason, our minds get crowded with the weeds and thorns of life, and our godly perspective becomes choked out and unfruitful. Yet those who meditate on the things of God find understanding. God delights in revealing His goodness to His disciples.