What does the Bible teach us about meditation?

Written by Schalk_and_Elsa on. Posted in Deception, Training in righteousness

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meditation_smallMany people in our overstressed, health-conscious society are discovering yoga and meditation as a way of relaxation and a means to good health. Meditation is also done by those who practice kabbalah as part of their religious beliefs. We touched briefly on this in the previous article. This study prompted us to look deeper into this topic as more believers are also practicing meditation either for health reasons or in their search of spirituality. The question is, is it acceptable for Torah-observant believers in Y’shua to practice yoga and meditation?

The purpose of this article is not to attack those who are practicing yoga or meditation. The purpose is to give information in order to be able to make a wise decision in this regard. Please consider this information and ask YHVH to lead you in all truth as you ask, is what I am practicing pleasing in YHVH’s sight?

We shall first look at what meditation is from a scriptural point of view.

The concept of meditation is not foreign in Scripture, however, is this concept the same as that which is practiced by those practicing eastern religions? When David spoke of meditation what did he mean and how did he do it?

Meditation in Scripture

When we study the concept of meditation in Scripture, we learn that a few different Hebrew words are used to convey this concept. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia gives us a breakdown of these specific words and their meanings.

MEDITATE

[Heb śî (a)ḥ, śû (a)ḥ] (Gen. 24:63; Ps. 77:3, 6 [MT 4, 7]; 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 148; 145:5); AV also COMPLAIN, “commune with mine own heart” (Ps. 77:6), TALK OF, SPEAK OF; NEB also “hoping to meet” (Gen. 24:63), “lay thinking” (Ps. 77:3, 6), STUDY, “my theme shall be” (Ps. 145:5);

[hāg̱â] (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2; 38:12 [MT 13]; 63:6 [MT 7]; 77:12 [MT 13]; 143:5); AV also IMAGINE; NEB also “keep in mind” (Josh. 1:8), MUTTER, “think on,” MEMORY; [Gk promeletáō] (Lk. 21:14); NEB “prepare beforehand”; MEDITATION [Heb śî (a)ḥ] (Ps. 104:34);

[śîḥâ] (Job 15:4; Ps. 119:97, 99); AV also PRAYER; NEB SPEAK, STUDY;

[higgāyôn] (Ps. 19:14 [MT 15]); NEB “all that I … think”;

[hāg̱ûṯ] (Ps. 49.3 [MT 4]); NEB “thoughtful.”

In the biblical world meditation was not a silent practice. Hāg̱â means “growl,” “utter,” or “moan” (cf. BDB, p. 211) as well as “meditate” or “muse.” No doubt meditation involved a muttering sound from reading half aloud or conversing with oneself (cf. Ps. 77:6). Consequently, translations can vary: e.g., in Job 15:4 “meditation” (RSV) is rendered “prayer” by the AV and “to speak” by the NEB; in the AV Ps. 5:1 (MT 2) has, “O Lord, consider my meditation”, but the RSV has “give heed to my groaning” and the NEB “consider my inmost thought.”2

From this we learn that when we read the word “meditate” in Scripture, we can understand it to mean the following:

  • to commune with my own heart,
  • to lay thinking,
  • to study,
  • to keep in mind,
  • to think on,
  • to commit to memory, and
  • to pray.

The word and the context will determine which of these apply, however, this gives us an idea of what this concept can mean. Take note here of what scriptural meditation is, so you can compare it with what is practiced by New Agers, Kabbalists and those practicing other religions.

Now that we understand the meaning of the words, we need to look at what we are to meditate on, the object of our meditation.

The object of meditation

The main object of meditation is YHVH’s Word. We find some wonderful instruction in the psalms.

YHVH’s commandments

Psalm 119:48
48 And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes.

Psalm 119:97
97 O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.

YHVH’s testimonies

Psalm 119:99
I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.

YHVH’s precepts

Psalm 119:15–16
15 I will meditate on your precepts and keep my eyes on your ways. 16 I will find my delight in your regulations. I will not forget your word.

YHVH’s promise, Y’shua

Psalm 119:148
148 My eyes are open before the night watches, so that I can meditate on your promise. (Stern D, Complete Jewish Bible)

The NASB translation has this translated as word, but most other translations have it as promise (singular.) What is YHVH’s promise? Why singular?

We believe it refers to Y’shua, He is YHVH’s promised salvation. The word “word” would therefor also be an appropriate translation as we know Y’shua is the living Word.

YHVH’s works

From Genesis and onwards, we read about YHVH’s works and wonders and we have all experienced it in our lives as well. We are to remember it and meditate on it. In other words, we are not to forget it.

Psalm 77:11–12
11 I shall remember the deeds of YHVH; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. 12 I will meditate on all Your work And muse on Your deeds.

Psalm 143:5
5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands.

Psalm 145:5
5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.

All these mentioned above make up YHVH’s Word and that is what we are to meditate on.

The next logical question would be, why are we to meditate on YHVH’s word?

The reason for meditation

What is the reason for, and the result of this meditation?

So that you may be careful to do according to all that is written

This is the most important reason to meditate on YHVH’s Word.

Joshua 1:8
8 “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 success.

If we do not know YHVH’s word and meditate on it, how will we know how to live? YHVH’s word is our instruction manual for life. Without it, we are lost in more than one way. It is life to us; we can choose the blessing or the curse.

Deuteronomy 30:19–20
19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving YHVH your Elohim, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which YHVH swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

Consider this, YHVH’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation, was given to us in order for us to know how to live. Consider the life of Y’shua, the Living Word. Y’shua was the prefect example for us. The Torah made flesh. YHVH’s Word is therefor life to us on more than one level. Physical but also spiritual. We are to believe in Y’shua, our prophesied Messiah and Salvation, but also do YHVH’s commandments. That is the fruit of our salvation. Isn’t it wonderful how YHVH has planned it for us in order for all people to have access to eternal life?

Another reason for meditating on YHVH’s Word is in order for us to gain wisdom.

Wisdom

Psalm 119:97–100
97 O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine. 99 I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, Because I have observed Your precepts.

Wow, don’t we need wisdom in everything we do? YHVH has given us access to wisdom. It is up to us to choose to obey.

Inward strength and joy

Another reason for meditating on YHVH’s Word is for inward strength and joy.

Psalm 63:6–9
6 I am as satisfied as with rich food; my mouth praises you with joy on my lips 7 when I remember you on my bed and meditate on you in the night watches. 8 For you have been my help; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice; 9 my heart clings to you; your right hand supports me.

(Stern David, Complete Jewish Bible)

Now that we know what scriptural meditation is and we know what to meditate on and why, we need to find out when we are to meditate.

When are we to meditate?

Joshua 1:8
8 “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 success.

Psalm 1:1–3
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of YHVH, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

This is easy to understand. We are to be so filled with YHVH, and His Word that we meditate or think about it day and night. If we do that, we will not depart from it, we will bear fruit and prosper. This is acceptable meditation.

Unacceptable meditationmeditation yoga_small

David also spoke of acceptable meditation. He prayed in Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O YHVH, my rock and my Redeemer.”

He repeated this in psalm 104 as well.

Psalm 104:34
34 Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in YHVH.

We must be able to say the same “Let my meditation be pleasing to Him” Our meditation must be acceptable to YHVH. If we belong to Him, we must reflect that in everything we think, say and do. Does it give Him glory if we dabble with things that originated from eastern religions like yoga and transcendental meditation? A friend of mine said the other day on Facebook ” if you don’t want to become ensnared, don’t dabble! These are very wise words indeed and scriptural. YHVH told the Israelites not to inquire after the gods of the nations, not to ask how they serve their gods and not to do likewise.

Deuteronomy 12:30–31
30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ 31 “You shall not behave thus toward YHVH your Elohim, for every abominable act which YHVH hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

We cannot take what the nations do unto their gods and adapt it and do it unto YHVH. A good example is yoga. There is no such thing as “Torah Yoga,” it is an abomination. Why do I say that? If you were to study the origin of yoga and meditation as it is practiced by new Age, Hinduism and Buddhism, you will know that it is not just something they do for their health. To them, it is a way to become one with their deity. It is an idolatrous practice. Where in scripture are we taught that we can become one with YHVH through meditation?

Furthermore, specific positions are necessary in order for spiritual gateways to open. Mantras or words are repeated, chanted and “meditated” on. This is similar to what is practiced in kabbalism. An empty mind is required. None of this is scriptural as we are taught to be sober of spirit.

1 Peter 1:13
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Y’shua Messiah.

1 Peter 4:7
7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.

What does it mean to be sober?

3768 νήφω (nēphō): vb.; ≡ Str 3525; TDNT 4.936—1. LN 30.25 (most versions) be sober-minded, i.e., clear-headed, not drunk (1Th 5:6, 8; 2Ti 4:5; 1Pe 1:13; 4:7; 5:8+; Mt 6:28 v.r.), for another interp, see next; 2. LN 88.86 be restrained, be self-controlled (NIV), for another interp of all the same verses, see prior3

So, considering all this, can we, as believers, take on this practice and do it for the sake of health or spirituality by adapting it, even calling it “Torah Yoga”? The answer is no!

Deuteronomy 12 is quite clear on this; we are not to study this or practice what the nations do unto their gods. We will become ensnared when we do that. Without being really aware, we will start to compromise. You will become progressively interested in what they do because you feel so good when you do the yoga and meditation. I know, because I have been involved in new age before I became a believer, and you would be surprised how quickly you get drawn into this. One thing leads to another and before you know it, things you would previously never consider, becomes acceptable even pleasant to you. It is only through YHVH’s great mercy that I was shown His way, repented and became a believer. Don’t dabble or you WILL become ensnared. YHVH didn’t give this commandment in Deuteronomy 12 to spoil it for us, He knows how it works with these things.

It is for this same reason that we will not be going into great detail as to where yoga, and this kind of meditation originates from and entails. You who are practicing this, please consider this and compare what you are doing with what is written in Scripture. Make wise decisions, repent and be what YHVH has destined for you to be. You have become side-tracked, but it is not too late.

Here is a link to a short article titled “Dangerous Meditations.” You might want to read this too for some more information as to why this is not an acceptable practice for a believer.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/november/10.78.html

We will end with two verses from the book of Romans:

Romans 12:1–2
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of Elohim, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to Elohim, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of Elohim is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Remember as my friend Lydia said “If ya don’t want to become ensnared….don’t ‘dabble’.”

References

  1. All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Y’shua for Jesus.
  2. Bromiley, G. W. (Ed.). (1979–1988). In The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised. Wm. B. Eerdmans.
  3. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
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