Psalm 119:15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. (KJV)
Psa 119:15 In thy precepts, will I meditate, that I may discern thy paths. (Rotherham, Emphasized Bible)
I listened to Pastor W. L. Wade this morning. He addressed the important issue of the lost art of meditation. Meditation is an important Christian exercise. We are encouraged to meditate on God’s Word, the Bible (Joshua 1:8), by the Bible itself. The word “meditation” seems to have been taken over and applied to Eastern religion. No one seems to emphasize meditation upon Scripture, nor is much ever said about how to do it.
In connection with Scripture, meditation involves thinking deeply about what we read there. Scripture memorization, I have found, helps in meditation because once portions of Scripture are committed accurately to memory, we can think about the verses or passages we have memorized more readily, even when, and especially when, we don’t have access to the printed page (or the electronic page these days) immediately before us. But for me, Scripture memorization has its limits, for I have never been able to memorize a great number of Bible verses. I stopped when I reached 200 verses when I was a student in high school. But some of my friends had memorized triple that.
Meditation upon Scripture cannot really be done in a group, not even in church. Meditation is an individual thing; we must do it for ourselves. It must be done when we are alone, or at least when we can close out all other distractions.
I find that reading Scripture, and then studying it more deeply by consulting cross references to striking verses I have just read, promotes meditation.
Meditation can also involve thinking back through what has just been read. Thinking back through is a powerful learning tool. If done formally as a means of remembering what we have learned, the process is straightforward, but is not easy to do because it requires great concentration. When reading, read through a verse, or in a paragraphed Bible read through a paragraph (if the paragraphs are not too long–the advantage of doing this verse by verse). Then close your eyes, and think back through the verse or short paragraph. Then, open your eyes and check back to see what idea you may have left out. Then, go on to the next verse or short paragraph, and do the same. Read it through. Close your eyes. Think back through the first and second verse or paragraph. Open your eyes, and check back to see what you left out when thinking back through. Spend 80% of your time thinking back through the material, and 20% of your time reading new or further material. That is the most efficient use of your time when reading and learning new material. It is best to keep the “blocks” of material short when using this process to keep from getting bogged down. A chapter, or even section of a chapter is long enough at a time. It is one of the “How to Study” strategies I shared with my high school classes. I learned about the strategy in my reading in college, and have used it myself when I needed to learn and remember accurately what I was studying in the shortest time. The strategy is not the same as meditation, but I think it could be used for meditation very effectively.
In following up Pastor Wade’s message today by getting into the Bible for myself, I turned to Psalm 119, one of the passages Pastor Wade made reference to. I focused in my study upon Psalm 119:15, because it contains the first mention of “meditation” in Psalm 119. I read that verse in more than one English translation, and found that Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible was most helpful to me because it confirmed a sort of “hunch” I had in reading the verse. I thought I saw a potential “cause/effect” relationship there. I looked at the now quite extensive list of “cause/effect” verses I have made and saw it was not on my list. Now it is.
The idea is this: “I will meditate in thy precepts” is the “cause” in the first clause of the verse; “that I may discern thy paths” is the “effect” presented in the second clause. Focus upon the “cause/effect” relationship is instructive. Scripture thus teaches us that meditating upon God’s Word equips us to “discern thy paths.” In other words, the Bible is designed to provide us guidance from God. Sometimes, when we read such a cause/effect statement, considering its opposite is instructive. If we do not meditate upon God’s Word, we will not be in a position to discern God’s paths, his leading.
To dig deeper into Psalm 119:15 study the cross references shared below:
- I will meditate. ver. Ps 119:23, 48, 78, 97, 148. **Ps 1:2. 19:14. 104:34. 143:5. Ge 24:63. +**Jsh 1:8. Pr 12:5. 1 Tim 4:15. James 1:25. in thy precepts. ver. +Ps 119:4. have respect. or, discern (Emphasized Bible). ver. Ps 119:6, 117. **Jb 23:11, 12. unto thy ways. or, toward Thy paths. The paths Thou hast marked out for me across the Desert (Kay). ver. Ps 119:9, 27, 59, 101, 104, 128. Ps 16:11. 17:4. 25:4, 10. 27:11. 44:18. 139:3. 142:3. *Pr 3:5, 6.