Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #301 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Psalm 119:97-128 today and our focus is on The Unexpected Power of Biblical Meditation What is the Difference between Biblical Meditation and Buddhist and Hindu Meditation?. We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Open with a quote from one of my heroes of the faith:
The more we, the children of God, meditate in the Holy Scriptures, the more perfectly we shall become acquainted with the true loveliness of God, and the more shall we therefore ourselves seek to please Him, and the more shall we seek to stir up others to acquaint themselves with Him, that they may please Him.
George Müller, Jehovah Magnified: Addresses (Bristol, England: The Bible and Tract Depot of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, 1876), 56.
The words power and meditation don’t seem to go together too well, because most people living in the West, including even most Christians, have some preconceived notions when they hear the word “meditation.” Generally, most people think of Eastern meditation when they hear that word – chanting, emptying your mind, centering, deep breathing, etc. Here is a very brief step by step way of Eastern meditation:
1) Take your seat. Sit cross-legged and upright on a meditation cushion…
2) Find your sitting posture. Place your hands palms-down on your thighs and sit in an upright posture with a straight back — relaxed yet dignified. With your eyes open, let your gaze rest comfortably as you look slightly downward about six feet in front of you.
3) Notice and follow your breath. Place your attention lightly on your out-breath, while remaining aware of your environment. Be with each breath as the air goes out through your mouth and nostrils and dissolves into the space around you.
4) Note the thoughts and feelings that arise. Whenever you notice that a thought, feeling, or perception has taken your attention away from the breath, just say to yourself, “thinking,” and return to following the breath.
Buddhist meditation and Hindu meditation and other forms of meditation are fairly similar to that. Buddhist meditation, In the most general definition,is a way of taking control of the mind so that it becomes peaceful and focused, and the meditator becomes more aware.The purpose of meditation is to stop the mind rushing about in an aimless (or even a purposeful) stream of thoughts. People often say that the aim of meditation is to still the mind. Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/customs/meditation_1.shtml
But biblical meditation is really radically different from all that – so much so, in fact, that they should have different words entirely to describe biblical meditation vs. every other form of meditation. The Hebrew word for meditation is sîyach, see’-akh, and it comes from a word that means to talk – when that word is translated as “meditate,” in the Bible, it is usually in a Hebrew verb stem/form called the polel, and in that case it means to muse, ponder, or, quite literally talk to yourself. This word appears at least seven times in Psalm 119, including these verses:
I will meditate on your precepts
and think about your ways. Psalm 119:15
I will lift up my hands to your commands,
which I love, and will meditate on your statutes. Psalm 119:48
How I love your instruction!
It is my meditation all day long.
98 Your command makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is always with me.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers
because your decrees are my meditation. Psalm 119:97-99
I am awake through each watch of the night
to meditate on your promise. Psalm 119:148
Notice especially that the FOCUS of biblical meditation is radically different from other forms of meditation. Biblical meditation is focused on God’s Word. The goal is not to empty the mind. The goal is not to calm the spirit, nor to become one with your surroundings, nor to focus on your breathing, or still your thoughts, or anything like that. The goal is to focus in on God’s Word – thinking about it, musing over it, chewing on it, pondering it, and talking to yourself about it. Christian meditation is THINKING deeply, focusing sharply on the TRUTHS of GOD’S WORD.
In meditation, the Word goes from a shallow place, barely on the surface of the soil of our hearts, to a much deeper place where it can take root.
Consider this analogy – think about a cup of tea. One dip of the tea bag into the water does not make tea. Hearing the Word is one dip of the Word into our mind and thinking, Reading is maybe like two dips, Memorization is a few more dips…meditation on a particular passage is even more – the Word of God soaking into our thinking like a tea bag soaks into hot water. The end result is that our thoughts and emotions have been changed – transformed by God’s Word. Here Charles Spurgeon commends the practice of biblical meditation to us, and compares it to bodily exercise:
THOSE who would be in health do not sit still in their houses to breathe such air as may come to them, but they walk abroad and seek out rural and elevated spots that they may inhale the invigorating breezes; and thus those godly souls who would be in a vigorous spiritual state, do not merely think upon such holy doctrines as may come into their minds in the ordinary course of thought, but they give time to meditation, they walk abroad in the fields of truth, and endeavour to climb the heights of gospel promises. It is said that Enoch walked with God: here is not an idle but an active communion. The road to bodily health is said to be a footpath, and the way to spiritual health is to exercise one’s self in holy contemplation.
C. H. Spurgeon, Feathers for Arrows (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1870), 142.
I will close with the wonderful words of George Muller on how Bible meditation leads into prayer and how meditation on God’s Word invariably strengthens our prayer life and deepens our walk with God:
While I was staying at Nailsworth, it pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost,…I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit. Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now I saw, that the most important thing I had to do was, to give myself to the reading of the word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the word of God whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord. I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon his precious word, was, to begin to meditate on the word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication: so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer.
Source: George Müller, A Narrative of Some of the Lord’s Dealings with George Müller, vol. 1 (London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1860), 406–407. From: https://biblereadingpodcast.com/how-can-we-be-happy-in-the-lord-303/
Bible Memory passage for the month of October: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
Happy by Mike Leite https://soundcloud.com/mikeleite
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