This book of the law . . . you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it . . . then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. (Joshua 1:8)
Do you drink in the Word of God, allowing it to feed and strengthen your heart and soul; or do you gargle it like mouthwash and spit it out of your mouth? The Bible on many occasions puts forth the virtue of meditation. As Joshua prepared to lead the sons of Israel into the Promised Land he was told several times to be strong and courageous. Yahweh said that wherever Joshua put his feet, he would give him the land, that no man would be able to stand before him, that he would have success (conquering his enemies) wherever he went as long as he did not turn from God’s path for him, as long as he meditated on the book of the law (Josh. 1:3-9). The book of the law obviously refers to the Bible they had at the time, the five books of Moses, the Pentateuch. In a similar fashion David says that the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, who does not stand in the path of sinners, who does not sit in the seat of scoffers (in other words, one who does not allow himself to be adversely affected by heresy or worldly wisdom) but who meditates on God’s law both day and night (drinking it as a way of life, not gargling it) will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season. He will be like a leaf of a tree that does not whither, that whatever this man does he will prosper (Psa. 1:1-3). At one of the low points of his life, while in a state of utter desperation in the wilderness, King David says, ‘When I remember Thee on my bed, I meditate on Thee in the night watches.’ It is because of this meditation that he then says, ‘For Thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy’ (Psa. 63:6-7). In another time of great upheaval David also says, ‘Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and trust in the Lord’ (<i<>Psa. 4:4-5). He closes this Psalm with great expectation of comfort and deliverance, saying, ‘Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for Thou alone, O Lord, does make me to dwell in safety’ (Psa. 4:7-8). Asaph says something similar, ‘I will remember my song in the night; I will meditate with my heart, and my spirit ponders (or searches)’ (Psa. 77:6). He ends by affirming his confidence in Yahweh’s protection and provision, that he will lead them like a flock (Psa. 77:20). And finally David in his masterful Psalm on the power, profundity, and purity of God’s Word says, ‘O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day’ (Psa. 119:97). From his delight in meditating on God’s law, David goes on to say that his commandments make him wiser than all his enemies, give him more insight than all his teachers, more wisdom than the aged, restrain him from sin, and keep him on the narrow way of holiness (Psa. 119:98-104).
What do I mean by meditation? I do not mean Transcendental Meditation1 which merely vacates the mind. In fact biblical meditation is just the opposite. It is a filling of the mind and heart with God’s Word. It is like a cow chewing its cud – the cow chews the grass, digests it, and then vomits it, and chews on it again. In biblical meditation one can bring up any portion of Scripture he has memorized or recently read, and chew on it some more. We are thus to ruminate on God’s holy, inerrant, inspired, and infallible Word.
If we have more solid evangelical books than ever, if we have such great preachers and ready access to their sermons through the internet, if we have such fine theological institutions and such wonderfully trained pastors, why then, do we lack power? We have the electrical wiring, as it were, the structure for power, but we lack the juice! If our people say they believe in the lostness of mankind without Christ, that these will go to hell for eternity if they do not repent and believe the gospel, then why do so few of us make a practice of sharing our faith! If we have our books on Christian marriage and our weekend seminars on how to fulfil our biblical roles better, why then does the evangelical church have as many divorces as the secular world? If Jesus is more powerful than Islam, if he is more powerful than secularism, if he is more powerful than materialism, then why has Islam conquered the Middle East and North Africa? Why has secularism won the day in Europe? Why is materialism the god of America, even within the church? The answer, my friend, is that we approach the Bible as a mere book, we embrace the Bible as mere doctrine, but we do not experience its life-changing power. We gargle it but we don’t drink it.
This life-changing power, this transforming work of Christ comes as you take in God’s Word, as you saturate your mind and heart with it; but it also comes to fruition as you take time every day – as you drive to work, as you walk or run for exercise, as you lie down at night before you sleep and think on the Word of God. You are to be mighty in the Word of God, and this comes through belief in the power of the Holy Spirit to energize you. Most of the great preachers in history have been masterful meditators on God’s Word. This was the secret of their power in the pulpit. Charles Spurgeon saturated his mind with God’s Word, thought deeply about it all week, and then prepared his Sunday morning sermon late Saturday night or even Sunday morning. George Whitefield spent hours meditating on God’s Word as his horse took him to his next preaching appointment. Whitefield then stood and preached extemporaneously for an hour or two at a time. Archibald Alexander, the great Princeton theologian, spent hours each week meditating on a passage and without concern for crafting phrases, would simply stand, open his mouth, and divine eloquence of unusual saving and sanctifying power came forth.
We must regain the heart of Jesus in life and ministry. Enough of sterile sermons, lifeless small group meetings, passionless preaching and public worship, and preoccupation with personal peace and affluence while the world languishes in darkness! Fill up your mind and heart daily with the life-changing power of God’s holy Word, and then see what he does in you and through you.
- TM gained notoriety through the Beatles in the late 1960’s and Maharishi Yogi who taught peace and serenity through mindless and repetitive mantras.
Rev. Allen M Baker is an evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Director of the Alabama Church Planting Network. He planted (2003) and served as Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Connecticut, until December 2011. His weekly devotional, ‘Forget None of His Benefits’, can be found here.
If you would like to respond to Pastor Baker, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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