Meditation in our current cultural context is often perceived as something “uber spiritual” where only the “weird” people believe in that sort of practice. It has become a rare practice that only a select number of individuals actually indulge in, whether incorrectly or correctly. Our culture has highly secularized the concept of meditation, emphasizing its usage of bringing out the deepest thoughts of our mind and purging every source of evil from the body. This practice of meditation is fallible and truly reveals the self-centeredness of the heart, as opposed to aligning ourselves with God’s instructions for it. Early on in biblical history, the Lord commanded his people to listen to and to receive him. This was done through the hearing of his Word, the hearing of his commands, through the Shema; of which biblical, authentic, Godly meditation is being saturated with the Word of God in order to live by the Word of God.
God’s delivery of the law was vital to the success of his people. If Israel was to have any hope of succeeding as a nation, it would come through their commitment to his righteous law, engaged entirely through faith. His commands were and are truly holy, unlike any other given to a nation. Total self-sacrifice to the Lord was required, and the reward was unmatched: relational partnership with the God of all creation through authentic acceptance of his Word.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).”
The people of Israel were called to be entirely devoted to the law. They were to “shema”, or “hear” all of the words that were to be delivered to them by the Lord and through Moses, his servant (Deut. 6:4). Even more than this, they were also called to have these words “written on their hearts” (Deut. 6:6). Prayer is essential in a genuine companionship with the Lord, and the Shema, in Jewish culture today, is still being prayed fervently. For generations, the people of Israel have valued the Lord’s holy Word, treasuring it deep within their very being. They understood that God’s instructions were so important. He required those who received His Word to let it saturate every aspect of their lives: in the way they lived, the way they thought, the way they taught.
Expanding on this “shema” command, the Lord furthers the need for dedication to his law, declared in the very next book: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Josh. 1:8).” The most important command given to these people was to love the Lord with all their hearts, to serve the Lord in complete devotion. Meditation, dwelling upon God and his entirety, is the culmination of this dedication of the heart.
Godly meditation is dwelling upon the Word of God and being saturated by the Word of God, becoming utterly transformed by his righteous decrees. As it says in Hebrews 10:1, the law delivered to Israel was a foretaste of the realities to come. Now, through Jesus, all people share in the Lord’s righteous requirements. Although everyone has fallen short of them, Jesus alone stands as our righteousness. God sent his Son, his Word to dwell among us, and we are to be wholly devoted to him.
Jesus demands our ears to be attentive to his words, he demands us to listen, receive, and respond in prayer. What better way to do this than the way that the Lord instructed Israel! We, just like Israel, are to listen and receive the Lord and his holy, truthful Word. Allowing it to enrich our lives, we will be transformed into the likeness of Christ for the glory of God alone. Our reward is truly spectacular: an intimate relationship with God forever. We must meditate, dwelling upon him and his Word, being totally saturated with it.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Col. 3:16).”