I received a wonderful, new perspective on the idea of meditation while on this last trip. I had memorized Psalm 1 and Joshua 1:8 and knew I need to meditate on God’s Word. My mental picture of meditating was more like musing, pondering over what was said. I had a mental picture of meditation as a guy with his fist under his chin, quietly pondering the words of the Bible. It turns out that meditation is much more than what I thought. Let’s look at some interesting stuff.
First of all, meditation on God’s word was a very high priority for the Bible authors. The Hebrew Bible is divided into three major parts, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. Joshua is the first book in the prophets, right after the law (first five books). It’s opening statement in chapter one is a command to meditate on the law (first five books) day and night. The book of Psalms is the first book of the Writings and its opening chapter opens with the same idea to meditate on God’s law, day and night. Meditation is the key theme that binds the three dimensions of the Hebrew Bible together.
In each of these texts the Hebrew word translated meditate is “hagah” (Strong’s 1897). This is the same word that is used in Isaiah 31:4 — “As the lion growls (hagah), a great lion over its prey, and though a whole band of shepherd is called together against him, he is not frightened by their shouts.” The word “hagah” is not just a lion roaring, (arrgh!) but chewing, ripping, snarling, shaking his pray, holding on to not be driven off — you get the picture. You are very persistent, chewing and wrestling with the word. The word also means to emit a sound, verbalize, mutter, to speak in an undertone; it was not silent (See Our Father Abraham, pp 154-155).
This understanding of the meaning of hagah gives graphic insight into what meditation is. Meditation is the outward verbalization of one’s thoughts towards God, and talking out loud as you pour over his teachings and words. It is the wrestling with the Word; you can’t be driven off of it, you are chewing on it, pondering it, day and night. Meditation in English is too nice a word.
In addition the use of hagah in the context of Psalm 1 and Joshua 1:8 implies that the word is designed to be read out loud. As you verbalize the word and your thoughts it allows you to pray with more intensity and focus. You are pouring out to God your personal prayers, doubts, fears, and problems.
This thought of “hagah” was a great revelation to me! I love the picture of the lion wrestling with his pray and want to do that in my reading and talking time with YHWH.
Psalm 19:14 says, “may the words of my mouth and the hagah of my heart be acceptable unto you, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer!” Cool!