Summary: A lesson on how to meditate in God’s Word
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Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do all that is written in it: for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Prosperity and success? Pretty heady claims! But the Bible holds out this promise to those who will meditate in God’s Word. Bible reading is a great exercise. Bible reading can become just a daily ritual. And if you can only read God’s Word, by all means do it! But this verse is talking about Bible meditation! Bible meditation will change your life!
HOW DO I MEDITATE IN GOD’S WORD?
The Greek word for meditate means to attend. Meditation means reading with attention to what the Scripture really says. God Himself invented the discipline of meditation. Unfortunately, Eastern religions have hijacked it, so that many Christians shy away from the concept. Biblical meditation is not emptying the mind of thoughts, or repeating some mantra, as some mystic religions teach.
Meditation involves filling your mind with God’s thoughts through the study of God’s Word. It comes from a word that means to ruminate. Like a cow does when chewing her cud. A cow has 4 stomachs, each has a part in the process of digestion.
I am going to propose 7 steps in meditation, each including a word that begins with the letter P. This list is not comprehensive, but it will help you to meditate in God’s Word. God considers meditation so important that He commands us to do it.
1. Understand the Perimeter of the Verse
Look at the perimeter of the verse as you meditate. We call this the context of a verse. The meaning of a verse is influenced and revealed by the verses that surround it.
Someone compared this step to eating a hamburger. The “meat” is the verse you choose for meditation. Surrounding the meat is the context — the lettuce, pickles, onions and cheese on a sesame seed bun!
You can eat a meat patty and get nourishment, but you miss the full experience of a hamburger! In the same way, you can study a verse without taking into account its context. You may get the “meat” of the verse, but if you miss the contributions of the perimeter, you will not have the verse’s full perspective.
The context includes more than just the verses around it…it includes any background information on the writer or the readers as well. And it includes supporting cross-references.
If you study the context of Joshua 1:8 you realize that Moses, Joshua’s predecessor, had just died. He would not be around to coach Joshua in his new and overwhelming position. The Lord told Joshua: “…day and night you must read, ponder, and apply God’s Word. You must get continual guidance from Me.”
2. Parse the Verse
Look at its individual parts. Technically speaking, when you parse a verse you are studying the grammar and syntax of a verse. But I see parsing as involving the process of dissecting the parts: You might…
A. Say the verse aloud. Emphasizing a different word each time you slowly read it.
Notice the relationship of each word to the other words and to the verse’s entirety. Each word is like a pearl in an expensive necklace. You’re looking at the string as a whole, then cherishing each precious pearl one at a time.
B. Choose one or two key words and do a word study. We have done that with Joshua 1:8 and the word meditate.
C. Ask key questions. Who, what, when, where, why, and how!
Think of the way a cow chews its cud. Up from its first stomach comes the partly digested food to be chewed again. Meditating on Scripture allows you to chew the meat and bread of the Word, digesting it into spiritual muscle and power. By asking key questions, you chew an idea over and over to get maximal benefit from it.
The process of questioning demonstrates a seeking heart. The Scriptures state that God meets those who seek Him!!
3. Paraphrase the Verse
Put it in everyday language. Make it relevant. How could you rephrase Joshua 1:8, “Don’t let God’s revealed Word slip from your mind. Ponder and think about it all the time, making sure you put into practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you want to go, and your life will be considered successful by God.”
4. Personalize the Verse
Pray for wisdom to make it real, relevant and personal. The goal of all study is application. Don’t stop with a nice idea or an interesting concept. Activate it! Write it down in your journal.