Biblical meditation is about filling the heart, not emptying the mind. And so Christian meditation is always meditation on something. But on what?
Philippians 4:8 seems like a good place to start, as it gives us a list of things on which we’re to meditate:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil. 4:8)
So what meets the criteria Paul lays out for the Philippians of things on which to meditate? It’s important for us to see that he isn’t just saying think about good stuff instead of bad stuff. For there’s only one thing that meets all the criteria listed here. Only one thing is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue, and praiseworthy – and that’s the Lord Himself! So Paul isn’t telling us to think about good stuff; he’s telling us to meditate on our good God. Which is exactly what we’re taught to meditate on elsewhere in the Scriptures too.
Meditate On the Name of God
Malachi tells us that those who fear the LORD ‘meditate on His name’ (Malachi 3:16). And so it’s good for us to meditate on all the names and titles given to the Triune God in Scripture. We can think of how He is our Shepherd, our Rock, our Lord, and our Almighty God. We can consider that He is Jehovah Jireh (the LORD will provide), Yahweh Shalom (the LORD is Peace), and Yahweh Tsidqenu (the LORD our righteousness).
We can think of how the Father is our Father, of how Jesus is our Sin-bearing Lamb, of how the Holy Spirit is our Comforter. There is much to meditate upon in the names of God.
Yet, in Scripture, the name doesn’t only speak of a name by which we address someone, but of someone’s very identity. And so when we meditate upon the name of the LORD, we not only meditate on His names and titles, but on who He is and what He is like. So we lift our minds to the attributes of God. We lift our minds to the ways He has revealed His character in His saving works. As the Psalmist says, ‘I will meditate on the glorious splendour of Your majesty’ (Psalm 145:5).
Meditate On Things Above
The beginning of Colossians 3 must be one of the most significant passages in the Bible on meditation:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)
We’ve already looked at these verses in the last post and seen how they show us how meditation is possible. But they also show us what we are meditate upon. We’re to meditate on things above. But what are these things above? They are the things ‘where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.’
So what is there up there above where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Well, there’s Christ Himself, and God the Father (at whose right hand Christ is sitting), and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. So we meditate upon the most holy and blessed Trinity, our one God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And where is Christ sitting at the right hand of God? In the heavenly throne room. And so we set our minds on heaven – and not only the present heavens, but also the new heavens which are to come and the new Jerusalem which will descend from heaven to the new earth, and where the Triune God will dwell with us, His beloved people, for all eternity.
And it’s the Ascended Christ who is sitting at the right hand of God. So we meditate on what He has accomplished for us in His ascension, entering into the most holy place for us with His own blood. We meditate upon the One who is our Mediator, Intercessor, and Great High Priest, on the One who died and rose for us, on the One who is coming again for us.
And, Paul reminds us in the midst of this meditation, that we ‘died and [our] life is hidden with Christ in God.’ So we set our mind on our union with Christ in His death and resurrection. We ponder our regeneration and new life in Christ. We consider our justification as we are clothed with Christ for righteousness. We marvel at our sanctification, for Christ is ours for holiness. We set our mind on things above, where we are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.
Meditate On the Works of God
The Psalms repeatedly encourage us to meditate on the works of God:
I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, And talk of Your deeds. (Psalm 77:11-12)
Make me understand the way of Your precepts;
So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works. (Psalm 119:27)
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. (Psalm 143:5)
I will meditate on the glorious splendour of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works. (Psalm 145:5)
And what are God’s wondrous works on which we should set our minds? Everything that the Lord does. We can meditate on His work of creation, both in time we set aside to meditate, but also as we are out enjoying the beauty of His handiwork, whether on a walk in the countryside, relaxing on the beach, eating a fruit salad, climbing a mountain, or enjoying a sunset through the kitchen window. As we enjoy all these things, we can lift our minds to the wonder of the creative work of God the Father Almighty.
And not only do we meditate on His work of creation, but also on His works of providence, of redemption, and of special blessing in our own individual lives.
Meditate On the Whole of God’s Word
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night (Josh. 1:8)
Your Word have I hid in my heart (Ps 119:11)
The Scriptures are the Word of God, and we should value and treasure every word which our God has spoken. And so we should meditate on every part of His Word. Whatever you read in the Scriptures each day, mediate on it. When you hear the Scriptures read in church on the Lord’s Day, meditate on them that afternoon. When you hear the Scriptures expounded in the preaching of the Word, meditate on it afterwards.
Take the Psalms as your guide in mediation. For, really, that’s what they are: a series of meditations on all sorts of subjects. And yet we’re invited to take these meditations in the Psalms and make them our own.
And as we meditate through the Psalms, we’re also reminded that we can’t separate prayer and meditation. True Biblical meditation begins and ends in prayer.
(Next time we'll think about how to meditate.)
Here's something to help you with some suggestions for what to meditate on:
And here are the links to the rest of the series so far: