Sometime during the next couple of years, I will be studying the Hebrew and Greek languages. I’m already filled with apprehension. I have trouble remembering just the right word in English, or many answers to simple crossword puzzles, never mind trying to wrap my brain around other languages.
This morning’s devotional is about meditation and it challenged me to look up some Hebrew word meanings for meditation. The verse is a desire of my heart…
“May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.” (Psalm 104:34)
When I searched for this word (I have a computer Bible), I found meditation has several meanings. Two main definitions suggest that meditation is about talking to oneself or pondering, either silently or aloud, and either in a positive or negative manner.
One of these words focuses on rehearsing, repenting or going over a matter in one’s mind. According to the context, it can be translated as “meditate” meaning a silent reflection on God’s Word or works, or “talk” which means to speak aloud about what God does. If there is pain involved, it can be translated “to complain.” One variation appears three times and represents pious meditation, such as here in this verse…
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. (Psalm 119:97)
Psalm 77 uses this word several times in the way that I normally think of meditation…
When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints… I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search…. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. (Psalm 77:3, 6, 12)
Another word that is often translated as “meditation” tends to have extreme uses. It might refer to evil plots originating in the heart of the wicked, thoughts that are expressed in lying and deceitful words.
Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long. (Psalm 38:12)
However, it can also mean the pondering done by a righteous person seeking a proper answer which leads to talking about wisdom or God’s righteousness. In one of my favorite verses, “the meditation of my heart” is parallel to “the words of my mouth,” as the psalmist compares his own speech with what God communicates…
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Another positive use relates to meditating upon the Word of God which, like the plots of the wicked, can go on day and night, but with far better results!
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate 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 good success. (Joshua 1:8)
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1–2)
As I read these verses and think (meditate) on my own thought-life, the importance of a disciplined mind seems obvious. Jesus said that it is out of the heart (inner man, thoughts) that my words and actions come. I need to guard my heart for that reason, for if the heart is right, then I don’t have to worry about saying or doing the right thing.
My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding. (Psalm 49:3)