Christians often differentiate biblical meditation from Eastern mysticism by pointing out that it is filling one’s mind rather than emptying it. We should go a little further with this. Meditation is not just filling the mind with facts. It is also applying those facts to one’s life, allowing them to shape, mold, and change us. Meditation is like piling burning coals around an iron ingot until it changes from cold and rigid to hot and malleable. The Christian fills his or her mind with these burning, living truths and dwells on them until they bring about change. But the question remains: what is the Christian filling his or her mind with? What are these burning coals?
A quick search in any Bible concordance will show that there are three broad categories that the Bible puts forth as subjects for the meditation of a Christian – what God has done, what God has said, and Who God is.
“I will also meditate on all your work, and talk of Your deeds” (Psalm 77:12). What has God done? The most immediate answer is creation – everything that is. Not one atom of it exists without His permission and constant support (Colossians 1:15-17). Things that boggle the most intelligent human mind, such as the mysteries of gravity, time, and dimensions beyond perception, are all just the work of His fingertips. The most impressive thing we can think of in creation required no effort on His part. Meditation on what God has done puts all in perspective.
“My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on your word” (Psalm 119:148). What has God said?
“The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.’ The Lord shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people shall be volunteers in the day of your power; in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, you have the dew of your youth. The Lord has sworn and will not relent, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’” (Psalm 110:1-4).
“The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:5).
The words of God stand, and He will not take them back. Meditate on the passages above: the glory promised to Jesus Christ, to be shared with His Church, which will be revealed at the conclusion of time. How are these truths changing us, Christians?
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name” (Malachi 3:16). Who is God?
“And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation’ (Exodus 34:6-7).
How can this change us? Do we live like children of a God who is merciful and gracious? Do we live like children of a God who does not tolerate sin in His people?
These are but a handful of the burning coals that are found in the pages of scripture, and all of them have the power to transform the minds of those who seek them out and meditate on them, like cold iron being tempered in the forge.