Let’s think for a few minutes about “meditation.” We could have a lesson about meditating on the subject of “thinking.” Or we could meditate about “meditation.” But rather than these, tonight I will only share a few thoughts on the subject of meditation. And perhaps an exhortation or two as well.

Our psalmist introduces us to a “God-blessed man.” He is like a tree growing on a bank of an ever-flowing river – prospering, flowering and producing fruit. This man doesn’t follow the example, or counsel, of the wicked. He doesn’t display any of the characteristics of the ungodly. He delights in the Word of the Lord, and more specifically in the moral dictates of God’s law. And why are these things true in his life? Because he meditates on the Lord and the written revelation which God has given to us. A reasonable conclusion is: if we want a life like this man’s, then we need to delight in and meditate on the Word of God. And one of the reasons we aren’t spiritually prosperous is that we don’t meditate on the things of the Lord.

The word “meditate” speaks of a specific method of thinking. It is not where our mind accidentally slides across a subject, causing us to consider it, before moving on. It is not an involuntary thought about something, as when the pastor makes a comment in a sermon, and our mind gets snagged on that thought so that we don’t hear the next few things he says. I’ve heard meditation compared to the cow who can stand in her empty stall chewing her cud all day long. I’ve heard word “ruminate” used as a synonym for “meditation.” Are you aware that the first of the cow’s four stomachs is called the “rumen?” “To ruminate” is to recall something and then to chew, chew and chew on it before digesting it and letting it become a part of our body, soul or spirit. Merely to remember a Bible truth is not necessarily to meditate on it. To memorize a scripture may supply the material for meditation. But only to deliberately and pointedly ponder for some time what that scripture says is the actual meditation.

The title for our few thoughts this evening is: “Meditation: Good, Bad and Ugly.”

Let’s expose the UGLY part so that we can move on.

Genesis 24 tells us about the journey Abraham’s servant made in order to find a wife for Isaac. It is a long and interesting chapter, in which God showed to His servant the chosen bride. Later, as Rebekah neared her new home, the man she was to marry was spending the evening out – as probably he often did. He wasn’t playing cards with this friends, or watching the ball game or staring at the TV. “Isaac went out to MEDITATE in the field at the eventide.” This is the first time we read of “meditation” in the Bible.

Despite his dwelling in the “Near East” and this taking place 4,000 years ago, Isaac was not meditating in the fashion of the Buddhists, Hindus or any other ancient or Eastern religion. He was not sitting in the Lotus position, holding his fingers in an unnatural way. He was not humming or reciting some mantra over and over again with eyes closed or rolled back into head. And more specifically, he was not trying to empty himself. Rather he was FILLING himself. Biblical meditation is diametrically opposed to the meditation of the Eastern religions. They are complete and utter opposites.

The Hebrew word “meditate” in Genesis 24 is repeated throughout the Old Testament. It is the same word – used in the same way – as David used it in Psalm 119:97 – Lord God, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” It is the same word in verse 15 – O Lord, “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.” It is the same word in verse 48 – “My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments (Lord), which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.”

As we will see in moment, God’s saints are exhorted, and even commanded, to meditate. But it is in the sense of filling our hearts, minds – and perhaps even our rumens – with God and His word. To meditate in the sense of emptying ourselves in order to be open for refilling, as in the practice of Yoga, is heretical, unbiblical and idolatrous. Not only is it contrary to the Bible, it is extremely dangerous, opening the door to demonic activity. I have read the testimonies of several converts from Hinduism and Buddhism, who have unequivocally declared that there can be no such thing as “Christian yoga.” Over and over again, they have said that the meditation involved in yoga is designed for demonism. Wikipedia defines yoga as: “A meditative means of discovering dysfunctional perception and cognition, as well as overcoming it to release any suffering, find inner peace, and salvation.” Inner peace and peace with God are, again, diametrically opposed to one another. The evil and ugly side of meditation is the emptying of the heart, exposing it to demon possession.

The GOOD side of meditation is quite the reverse; it is the FILLING of the HEART with thoughts of God.

That is what we see in the God-blessed man of Psalm 1. And that was the command which God laid upon Joshua, Israel’s second national leader. After promising to go with Joshua, the Lord told him to be strong and very courageous. It would take courage to “observe to do according to all the law,” something which would be necessary that he might prosper. And “prosperous” sounds very much like the language that the poet employed in Psalm 1. Then God reiterated, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

A preacher named Hall, expounding on God’s words to Joshua, said: “It is not he that READS most, but he that MEDITATES most on Divine truth, that will prove the choicest, wisest, strongest Christian.” The Apostle Paul could have been thinking of either Psalm 1 or Joshua when he wrote to Timothy – “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” The Apostle ties together meditation and giving thyself wholly. He was saying, “Give thyself wholly to the Biblical instruction that I have shared with you.” To meditate, may necessitate going out into the field to get away from the TV, the computer and the kids, in order to give ourselves wholly to the Biblical subject which the Lord has laid on our heart.

“Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy PROFITING may appear to all.” Even though Paul’s word “profiting” may sound exactly like Psalm 1 and Joshua 1, it is a bit different. The Greek word is translated both as “profiting” and “furtherance” – as in “furtherance of the gospel.” It speaks of PROGRESS in addition to growth. Even though worship and fellowship with the Lord will be one of the blessings of meditation, I think we can see in each of our earlier scriptures, that meditation results in progress. “Joshua, I want you to ruminate on my Word, because you are going to need it moving forward. That is the only way you are going to be strong and of a good courage.” “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life… I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee,” but there is a caveat – be filled with my word – learn it and meditate upon it.

Before Paul told Timothy to – “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them…” he wrote: “Exercise thyself… unto godliness,” and then he made a comment or two about bodily exercise. There are a number of machines and lots of equipment at the gym designed to strengthen the body. And I suppose that there are several ways to exercise ourselves unto godliness. One of them is Godly, Biblical meditation. We might apply the verb “exercise” to “meditation” – “Meditate thyself unto godliness.” How can we love God with all our hearts, soul, strength and mind, if we haven’t filled ourselves with Him?

Joshua and Timothy were COMMANDED to meditate, and the man of Psalm 1 was COMPLIMENTED for his meditation. I’ve touched on this next point, but, again, of what does godly meditation COMPRISE? In Psalm 63 David wrote: “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips; when I remember thee upon my bed and meditate on THEE in the night watches.” At the top of our meditation list should be the Lord himself. Oh, if we were more filled with the Lord. And then over and over again in Psalm 119 David speaks of his meditation on the Word of the Lord. Asaph chimes in with “I will meditate also of all thy WORK, and talk of thy DOINGS – Psalm 77:12. David says in Psalm 143:5 – “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy WORKS; I muse on the work of thy hands.” There are lots of things to think about in our world today. But if we could meditate on God, God’s Word and those things which God has done even if limiting them to what He has done for us personally we’d never need anything else to think about.

And that leads me to my last point –

Some meditation may not be as EVIL – as in the Eastern religions – but it is still BAD.

I expect that you are familiar with Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that “THINK on these things” is the Greek word for “meditation.” It isn’t, but I will apply it in that direction anyway.

The things about which we think, can become the subjects of our meditations, in the sense that we spend a lot of time considering them – perhaps too much time. The more often we think about those things, the more ingrained they become in our hearts. And “as (a man) THINKETH in his heart, so is he” – Proverbs 23:7. There are many men who spend every free moment thinking about sports. There are others who can’t think about anything but winning the lottery, or their next fishing trip, or how good they feel when intoxicated.

And by the way, meditation is not an exercise of the mind; it is found primarily in the heart. “As (a man) thinketh in his HEART, so is he” – Proverbs 23:7. The Psalmist said, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my HEART, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” – Ps. 19:14. “My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my HEART shall be of understanding. – Ps. 49:3. If what fills our heart is not of the Lord, then isn’t it idolatrous?

Philippians 4 is the place in Paul’s epistle where he reminds us to think on whatever things are positive. One of the reasons why this is so important is because “as (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Are you aware of the context of Paul’s positive exhortation? It can be summarized by the command: “stop worrying.” “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

There are multitudes of Christians whose meditations are corrosive and poisonous – not glorifying to the Lord. It is because they won’t keep their minds from corrosive, poisonous and non-glorifying subjects. They constantly think about their deteriorating health, or their penury, or the rottenness of government. They wouldn’t claim to be meditating on these or other negative things, but their hearts are so full of them that this is the reality. Rather than counting their many blessings, they are counting their many problems. Rather than praising God for His innumerable gifts, they are cursing someone for their many difficulties.

Joshua and Timothy may have been timid souls, yet God put them into positions of leadership and responsibility. In order for them to be good servants of God, they needed to become more focused on Him. They needed blinders, like the frightened horse, to keep them looking forward rather than off to the side. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt MEDITATE therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” The more the heart is filled with Christ, the less room there will be for anything else. And there is the place of victory and progress.

Wen was the last time you spent any significant amount of time, meditating on the things of God? Is your answer something which pleases your Saviour?