As We Read the Bible May We Imagine All God Has in Store for Us
I’ve always been wary of meditating. It seems so mystical, so ungodly. This is because I encountered the idea of meditation from Eastern religions, not biblical Christianity. Though there are many types of meditation, I’ve heard most about transcendental meditation. As I understand it, the goal is to push aside all thought, to empty our minds.
Two Concerns about Meditation
Emptying my mind of all thought alarms me for two reasons, so I won’t meditate in this manner. First, the Bible says to hold every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5). It doesn’t say to empty our minds of all thoughts, but to control them.
Second is when Jesus teaches about impure spirits. He warns against an impure spirit that finds a house (a mind) unoccupied and clean. It goes out and rounds up it’s even more wicked friends to go there to live, making the person even worse off than before (Matthew 12:43-45).
These are the two biblical reasons why I won’t empty my mind of thought.
What the Bible Says about Meditation
Just because we best know this concept of meditation from Eastern religions doesn’t mean it’s not in Scripture. The word meditate occurs eighteen times in the Bible, with meditation showing up three more, in the NIV. A recurring theme in these verses is to meditate on God’s Word and on God’s goodness.
Meditate on God’s Word or Imagine?
In Psalm 1:2, the writer proclaims blessings on those who delight in God’s law, who meditate on it day and night. Though most translations use the word meditate, other versions say ponder, study, recite, think about, and focus. When I read the Bible, I ponder it, study it, recite it, think about it, and focus on it. Given these alternate understandings, I’m happy to meditate on God’s Word.
Now let’s turn to the next chapter in Psalms. It talks about people with evil intent. Various translations of Psalm 2:1 describe this action as devise, plot, and make. Some versions, however, use the word meditate, with others saying imagine.May we meditate on God’s Word. Click To Tweet
Do the words imagine and meditate mean the same thing? I understand that the Hebrew word translated meditate in Psalm 1:2 is the same word that’s translated imagine in Psalm 2:1. This suggests that as we meditate on God’s Word, we can imagine what it means, how we can understand it, and the ways it can inform our lives.
The word imagine also occurs elsewhere in the Bible. In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he talks about God being able to do even more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Meditate on that.
I have a good imagination. I can imagine additional details for the various stories we read in the Bible. I can also imagine myself in those ancient situations and doing today what God tells us to do.
May our meditations on God’s Word use our imagination to amplify its impact.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.