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The Benefits and Dangers of Meditation

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SIH STSTA ICONIt seems as if the practice of meditation is becoming more popular with the passing of each generation. And no wonder, the claimed benefits of habitual meditation are far reaching.  They range from alleviating stress to helping to break smoking or drinking habits and to help reduce pain.  It is claimed that “Meditation is wonderful in that it’s free, always available, and amazingly effective in short-term stress reduction and long-term health.”  With claims such as these, is it any wonder that the number of those who practice meditation is growing throughout the world?

Mediation is described as:

“Meditation involves sitting in a relaxed position and clearing your mind.”

“Meditation encompasses a variety of practices that are somewhat different, while holding to the basic principles of consideration and quiet thought to bring about a state of rumination.

“Meditation is not a technique but a way of life. Meditation means ‘a cessation of the thought process’ . It describes a state of consciousness, when the mind is free of scattered thoughts and various patterns . The observer (one who is doing meditation) realizes that all the activity of the mind is reduced to one.”

To view the source of the preceding quotes, the results of meditation and the descriptions of meditation please see: http://stress.about.com/od/tensiontamers/p/profilemeditati.htmhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditationhttp://www.project-meditation.org/what_is_meditation.html ;

http://www.healthandyoga.com/html/meditation.html

Based upon the above, it seems as if meditation, in some cases, involves “clearing the mind’, while in other cases, it is said to centered on one centralized point of attention, while excluding “scattered thoughts and various patterns”.   There seems to be lacking a uniform, consistent definition for meditation.

Is meditation mentioned in the Bible?  If so, what is the Bible teaching on meditation?

THE SCRIPTURES:

 Gen 24:63 – 63) And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels [were] coming.

Josh 1:8 (KJV) – 8) This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Ps 1:2 (KJV) – 2) But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Ps 5:1 (KJV) – 1) To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David. Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.

Ps 19:14 (KJV) – 14) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Ps 49:3 (KJV) – 3) My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart [shall be] of understanding.

Ps 63:6 (KJV) – 6) When I remember thee upon my bed, [and] meditate on thee in the [night] watches.

Ps 77:12 (KJV) – 12) I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

Ps 104:34 (KJV) – 34) My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

Ps 119:15 (KJV) – 15) I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

Ps 119:23 (KJV) – 23) Princes also did sit [and] speak against me: [but] thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.

Ps 119:48 (KJV) – 48) My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.

Ps 119:78 (KJV) – 78) Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: [but] I will meditate in thy precepts.

Ps 119:97 (KJV) – 97) MEM. O how love I thy law! it [is] my meditation all the day.

Ps 119:99 (KJV) – 99) I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies [are] my meditation.

Ps 119:148 (KJV) – 148) Mine eyes prevent the [night] watches, that I might meditate in thy word.

Ps 143:5 (KJV) – 5) I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.

Isa 33:18 (KJV) – 18) Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where [is] the scribe? where [is] the receiver? where [is] he that counted the towers?

Mark 13:11 (KJV) – 11) But when they shall lead [you], and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

Luke 21:14 (KJV)- 14) Settle [it] therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:

1Tim 4:10-15 (KJV) – 10) For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.  11) These things command and teach. 12) Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13) Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14) Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.15) Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

 THE STUDY:

In the Old Testment, the word “meditate” or “meditation” is translated from three different words.

  1. In Genesis 24:63 the Hebrew word means “to muse” or “to be absorbed in thought, to turn over in the mind”
  2. In all the Psalm 119 references to “meditate” the Hebrew word means “to speak to yourself, to think deeply and thoroughly”
  3. In all the other OT references a different Hebrew word with much the same meaning is used “to mutter, to ponder”

In all the New Testament references, the word “meditate” is translated from a Greek word that means “to revolve in the mind, to look over from every angle”.

What does the definitions for meditate teach us about Biblical meditation?:

  1. In EVERY case, to meditate Biblically involves having our mind thinking about something.  NEVER does the Lord tell us to “empty our mind” or “clear your mind” or “cease your mental processes”. I believe this is a point that needs emphasis… To empty our minds of every thought is a very dangerous practice.  The dark (sinful, demonic) powers of this world seek to inhabit lives that are “emptied” (Matt 12:43-45)  I believe, by emptying one’s mind opens up an opportunity for Satanic oppression of the emptied mind.
  2. Biblical mediation involves active mental concentration and examination.  If you notice in our definitions some of the terms used are “to turn over in the mind”, “to think deeply and thoroughly”, “to ponder, and to look over at every angle”.  None of these words implies a state of rest or cessation of the minds activities.

To summarize our definition study we find that to meditate in a God honoring, Scriptural way involves a mind actively examining and thinking.  NEVER does the Lord advocate a empty or inactive mind.  This type of inactivity, very possibly, can open the door to demonic influence.

Now, let’s continue our study by answering the question what subjects should a Christian be meditating about?

“To meditate” or “meditation” is mentioned in the Bible 21 times… Gen 24:63;  Josh 1:8; Psa 1:2, 5:1, 19:14, 49:3, 63:6, 77:12, 104:34, Psa 119:15, 23, 46, 78, 97,  99, 148, 143:5;  Isa 33:18;  Mark 13:11;  Luke 21:14;  1 Tim 4:15.

If we study these references, in their context we find the following:

  1. Subject of meditation not described: Gen 24:63

(Although we are not told, Isaac was thinking about something!  Based upon the word used for meditation he was “absorbed in thought” over some subject, we are simply not told what that subject is.)

  1. Subject of meditation Word of God: Josh 1:8, Psa 1:2, Psa 119:15, 23, 46, 78, 97, 99, 148
  2. Subject of meditation burdens on heart seeking His mercy: Psa 5:1
  3. Subject of meditation desires of heart being acceptable to the Lord: Psa 19:14,
  4. Subject of meditation spiritual understanding: Psa 49:3
  5. Subject of meditation The Lord and His works: Psa 63:6, Psa 77:12, Psa 104:34, Psa 143:5
  6. Subject of meditation terror for disobedient facing Divine judgment: Isa 33:18
  7. Subject of mediation the gospel message and need for service to Him: 1 Tim 4:10-15
  8. Not to be a subject of meditation: Concern, worry about answering opponents of Lord : Mark 13:11, Luke 21:14

To summarize the above:

  1. As faithful children… we are to be thinking about Our Heavenly Father, His works, and His Word.  They should always be on our minds.   We should seek quiet times when uninterrupted, we can solely place our minds and hearts on Him.
  2. As burdened pilgrims on earth… we should be taking quiet times to concentrate on turning our trials over to Him seeking His presence, mercy and strength.
  3. As faithful servants… we should be meditating on our desires, making sure they are pleasing to Him; we should be examining the understanding He has given to us to enable us to serve Him in greater ways.   Finally, our meditations should also involve an examination of our lives making sure we are leading lives of holiness and separation to His work.
  4. As witnesses of His grace in salvation,… we are to always have the gospel message of grace upon our hearts, remembering what He has done for us and our need to share it with others. We are to lay aside any worry about how to answer those who oppose our message.
  5. As those who have never experienced God’s gracious salvation but are continuing to face His wrath… examine your current condition and allow terror to fill your mind, as you continue to face judgment from Almighty God.  Turn to Him and trust in Him, realizing that the Lord is abundantly gracious, slow to anger and of great mercy.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

The Lord summarize what our daily meditations should be based upon….

May the Lord bless our times of Godly meditation when we turn our minds to these things….

Phil 4:4-9 (KJV)

4) Rejoice in the Lord alway: [and] again I say, Rejoice.

5) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord [is] at hand.

6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.

9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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8 Comments

  1. pj54 says:

    I enjoy “meditating”. It truly does help. The thing is, a person must be careful. I think that the purpose of meditation should be to “clear your mind of all “negative” thoughts. When “clearing your mind completely, you are leaving the “door” open for Satan to sneak in his thoughts. When I meditate, I think of the Lord. I think of God’s Word. I continually “chant” “IN JESUS’ NAME” in my mind. This way, only the things of God will I allow to enter my head. Completely emptying your mind to me is definitely not a good thing. Of course, this is only “my” preference, I have done no research on this subject, land the only thing backing me up is God’s Word, but to me that is all I need. God Bless,

    PJ

    • Rob Barkman says:

      PJ,

      Sounds to me as if you have some really good meditation times. It is a wonderful blessing to enjoy a time of Biblical meditation when we can quietly think about our wonderful Lord, His Word, and all He has done for us.

      Thanks for a great comment. Lord bless you PJ.

      Rob

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  5. What a complete account of meditation! Thank you.
    I totally agree with the danger of “emptying” the mind. Scripture places an importance on the mind and it is necessary to keep our mind, our thoughts, on God and His will. I like to take one thought from my morning devotion and meditate on it throughout the day. I often write the thought out and place it near me to keep it fresh.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Angela,

      I’ve found that keeping our minds on Him is important but also very difficult. It seems as if I am constantly bombarded with the cares and concerns of this world that tend to drag my minds off of Him…. really, they should keep my minds on Him, they should remind me of how much I NEED Him throughout my day.

      Lord bless you.

      Rob

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