Joshua 1:8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success
Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night
Most of us probably assume that “meditate” means something like, “get in a quiet place and think about the Word.” But is that precisely what the Hebrew word translated “meditate” means? Please consider the following:
- The Hebrew word translated as “meditate” (הגה) can also be translated: coo, growl, mutter, muse, imagine, read in an undertone, speak, proclaim.
- “Meditation may be characterized as deep, reflective thought, often occurring in a repetitive or enduring fashion. This is linked with adverbial phrases such as “day and night” (Josh 1:8; Ps 1:2) . . . It seems that the righteous meditate not only for the purpose of encouragement, but also that their life may actually conform to the object of such meditation.” The “most articulate use of the vb. הָגָה may be translated as declare, mutter, or utter” as in Psalm 35:28 “My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long” (New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, 1007–1008).
- Positive use of this word relates to meditating upon the Word of God, which “goes on day and night (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2). Perhaps the Scripture was read half out loud in the process of meditation” (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 205).
- There is a parallelism in Joshua 1:8 between “not depart from your mouth” and “meditate on it.” “Not depart” is the negative command. “Meditate on it” is the same command restated as a positive command.
- The Holman Christian Standard Version translates Joshua 1:8 as, “This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite, it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.” The CSB translators understand הגה to mean “recite.”
- Is it possible that “meditating” on God’s Word includes both reflecting on God’s Word and talking about Scripture?