MEDITATE: hagah (verb), to meditate, groan, moan, growl. (Strong’s 1897); hegeh (masc noun)/hagut (fem noun)/hagig (masc noun), a rumbling, a moaning, a meditation (Strong’s 1899, 1900 & 1901); higgayon (masc noun), meditational music. (Strong’s 1902).
Sounds like: haw-gaw; heh-geh; ha-goot; ha-geeg; hee-gai-own.
Meditate on God’s Word
The word “meditation” freaks some people out. It has often been associated with eastern religions but the truth is, it’s very much associated with the Bible. To meditate, Biblically, is kind of a combination between studying scripture and praying. The Psalms were written as musical, reflective, prayerful songs. They were meant to be experienced, through song by seeing the words, uttering them in melodic form, and then meditating on them. The very first Psalm talked about meditating on the law (torah) of God:
Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the Law of YHWH, and on His Law he meditates [yeh-h’geh] day and night.
He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
Meditating on scripture helps us grow, like a well-watered plant. We will blossom and grow fruit and that fruit will help feed others. But we can’t do this well unless we meditate on the word of God.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate [w-hagita] 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 achieve success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for YHWH your God is with you wherever you go.”
Meditating on the word of God, day and night, was quintessential to good living. It would bring success (not measured by a human definition of success, but by YHWH’s definition of prosperity and success). The greatest success was to walk alongside God and have a solid relationship with Him. Meditating on God’s word would bring us as close to God as we could be, while we live our lives here on earth.
To meditate on God’s laws or word was to read God’s word slowly, prayerfully, carefully and intentionally. To focus and meditate on every word was the best way to engage with the Scripture. We’re not meant to read through a passage quickly just so we can get our Bible reading in for the day. What is the point of that? We’re to take it slow: think, meditate, question, learn, and grow.
Meditating on God
All of our meditation should be focused on YHWH, not on anything related to chaos, evil, violence or destruction. Instead we should utter words of praise to the Creator and Maker of all things beautiful:
[Asaph:] I shall remember the deeds of YHWH; I will certainly remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate [w-hagiti] on all Your work, and on Your deeds with thanksgiving. Your way, God, is holy; what god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples. By Your power You have redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
Meditating on the characteristics of God was good practise; He was the Wonder-maker and the Redeemer; meditating on His goodness was the best way to live, filled with hope:
[David:] I remember the days of old; I meditate [hagiti] on all Your accomplishments; I reflect on the work of Your hands.
I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for You, like a weary land. Selah.
David was a big practitioner of meditation. He started his day, meditating to YHWH:
Listen to my words, YHWH, consider my sighing [my meditation: hagigi]. Listen to the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray.
In the morning, YHWH, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will present my prayer to You and be on the watch.
David began his day in meditation and he ended his day just the same:
[David:] When I remember You on my bed, I meditate [eh-h’geh] on You in the night watches, for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
A Noisy Meditation
Unlike eastern meditation, where you close your mind, close your mouth, clear your mind and focus on a solitary thought, Biblical meditation has taught us that sound was an integral part of meditation.
Meditation was not meant to be practiced silently… you were to express, moan, and use your voice to reflect your feelings. Hagah was sometimes described as growling lions and moaning doves:
For this is what YHWH says to me:
“As the lion or the young lion growls [meditates: yeh-h’geh] over his prey, against which a band of shepherds is called out, and he will not be terrified at their voice nor disturbed at their noise, so will YHWH of armies come down to wage war on Mount Zion and on its hill.”
Isaiah used this idea of focused meditation (like a lion growling over its prey) to show that when you are hyper-focused nothing can distract you; fear is nothing when you are earnestly focused on God.
But we are fearful creatures. It’s hard to be so devoutly meditative that we block out our worries and fears. YHWH gets that. Meditation can sometimes be a focused prayer asking for YHWH’s help:
“Like a swallow, like a crane, so I twitter; I moan [meditate: eh-h’geh] like a dove; my eyes look wistfully to the heights; Lord, I am oppressed, be my security.”
Muttering and moaning were meant to be bi-products of meditation. Like grumbling lions and moaning doves, human meditation was expressed orally. This was sometimes translated as a proclamation, an utterance, a sound or a sighing. When the mouth or tongue meditated, it made a sound:
[David:] The mouth of the righteous utters [meditated: yeh-h’geh] wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The Law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.
[David:] And my tongue shall
proclaim meditate on [teh-h’geh] Your righteousness and Your praise all day long.
When the mouth meditated it uttered a praiseful sound. Singing and meditational uttering was the way to praise YHWH:
I will also praise You with a harp, and Your truth, my God; I will sing praises to You with the lyre, Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed.
My tongue also will meditate [teh-h’geh] on Your righteousness all day long; for they are put to shame, for they are humiliated who seek my harm.
An Empty Meditation
Meditational singing and uttering were beautifully human. So when humans started worshipping hand-made idols it made no sense. How could humans worship an object that couldn’t sing or meditate or even speak?
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they cannot hear; they have noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but they cannot feel; they have feet, but they cannot walk; they cannot make a sound [a meditation: yeh-h’gu] with their throat.
Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them.
Golden idols could not meditate; they could not utter a word. They were worthless, and those who worshipped them would become like them… worthless. Their meditations were misguided. It was a pointless practise; meditating on pagan gods was like meditating on emptiness:
Why are the nations restless and the peoples
plotting in vain meditating on emptiness: [yeh-h’gu riq]?
Plotting in vain (as most translations provide) was an empty meditation; it had no value or merit. It wasn’t focused on God, it was focused on the worthless.
Meditation was not exclusive to God’s righteous people. Those who meditated on violence and destruction brought about violence and destruction:
Do not be envious of evil people, nor desire to be with them; for their minds plot [meditate on: yeh-h’geh] violence, and their lips talk of trouble.
Mediums and spiritists of the occult mis-used meditation by turning the focus on the dead instead of the living:
When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and [do] the meditations [w-ha-ma-h’gim],” should a people not consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?
The Adversary (ha-Satan) was the god of death and his followers (like mediums) focused on death, destruction and chaos.
We should never meditate on the dead, but we should always meditate on YHWH alone, for He is the God of Life!
But humans, being human, have a bond with death. There is an utter fascination because the grave waits for everyone. Many reject YHWH’s promise of salvation from death, and their meditations are on themselves and not on YHWH. There is a separation between Creator and creation:
Your wrongdoings have caused a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with wrongdoing; your lips have spoken deceit, your tongue mutters [meditates on: teh-h’geh] wickedness…
The people meditated on the wrong things; their mutterings were wicked. But if they recognized and owed up to the fact that their meditations were misguided, and they turned back to YHWH, they would benefit from a Redeemer who would save them:
Isaiah 59:9-14, 19-20
…Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us; we hope for light, but there is darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like people who are blind, we grope like those who have no eyes.
We stumble at midday as in the twilight; among those who are healthy we are like the dead.
All of us growl like bears, and moan sadly [moaningly moan: hagoh neh-h’geh] like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.
For our wrongful acts have multiplied before You, and our sins have testified against us; for our wrongful acts are with us, and we know our wrongdoings: offending and denying YHWH, and turning away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering [horow w-hogow] lying words from the heart.
Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter…
…So they will fear the name of YHWH from the west and His glory from the rising of the sun, for He will come like a rushing stream which the wind of YHWH drives.
”A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those in Jacob who turn from wrongdoing,” declares YHWH.
Those who were against God were also against His followers. David’s enemies were described as plotters (meditators) against David:
[David:] Those who seek my life lay snares for me; and those who seek to injure me have threatened destruction, and they plot [meditate: yeh-h’gu] deception all day long.
But I, like a person who is deaf, do not hear; and I am like a person who cannot speak, who does not open his mouth.
Yes, I am like a person who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no arguments. For I wait for You, YHWH; You will answer, Lord my God.
Those who meditate on bringing destruction against YHWH and His people do not deserve a replied utterance, which was why David stayed silent. Yeshua (Jesus) stayed silent when His enemies accused Him.
The religious elite plotted (meditated on) Yeshua’s destruction, and had Him arrested. During His trial Yeshua stayed, primarily, silent:
Now the chief priests and the entire Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward.
But later on two came forward, and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’”
The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You offer no answer for what these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent.
Yeshua knew these people wanted to destroy Him; it was their focus and meditation… the death and destruction of the only truly innocent one on the planet. The High Priest did not deserve a reply. But when he point-blank asked Yeshua if He was the Messiah, Yeshua broke His silence:
And the high priest said to Him, “I place You under oath by the living God, to tell us whether You are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? See, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?”
They answered, “He deserves death!”
Then they spit in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, and said, “Prophesy to us, You Messiah; who is the one who hit You?”
At this, Yeshua returned to His silence. Who hit Him? Ha-Satan (the Adversary) hit Him, because the people bore the image of Satan that day. Their hearts were not open to hearing the truth because their meditation was on death and destruction. They were deeply immersed in the practices of God’s Opponent and their mouths reflected their own misguided meditations.
The heart of the righteous ponders [meditates: yeh-h’geh] how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
Those with righteous hearts would be willing to listen and contemplate, because they were YHWH’s image bearers. YHWH constantly contemplated and meditated on His righteous people and He always listened to them when they called. But when humanity turned away from YHWH, it broke His heart. He would moan and meditate for His lost people:
[YHWH:] “We have heard of the pride of Moab—he is very proud— of his haughtiness, his pride, his arrogance, and his self-exaltation.
“I know his fury,” declares YHWH, “But it is futile; his idle boasts have accomplished nothing. Therefore I will wail for Moab, for all of Moab I will cry out; I will moan [yeh-h’geh] for the men of Kir-heres.”
We are the object of YHWH’s meditation-moaning. His focus is squarely on us because He deeply cares for His people.
The enigmatic fourth friend of Job emphasised the audible meditation of YHWH towards His people:
[Elihu:] “At this also my heart trembles, and leaps from its place. Listen closely to the thunder of His [YHWH’s] voice, and the rumbling [meditation: w-hegeh] that goes out from His mouth.
Under the whole heaven He lets it loose, and His lightning travels to the ends of the earth.
After it, a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice, and He does not restrain the lightning when His voice is heard.
God thunders wondrously with His voice, doing great things which we do not comprehend.”
The meditations of YHWH are to be a reminder to us of what meditation is all about… a focused, audible, contemplative prayer, and it brings with it wondrous beauty and awe.
The Meditation of my Heart: I will be Redeemed and LIVE!
When it all comes down to it, a deep meditation of Scripture highlights the focus of redemption. From the moment we messed up in the Garden, YHWH put a plan into place to save us, redeem us, and bring us home to Him. Eve and Adam, by their own actions, had to leave Eden, but that’s not what God wanted… and so He made a plan to conquer the human curse of death in order for us to be able to return to His Garden Kingdom. Psalm 49 celebrated the Good News, and understanding, of YHWH’s redemptive plan:
[Sons of Korah:] Hear this, all peoples; listen, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together.
My mouth will speak wisdom, and the meditation of my heart [w-hagut libbi] will be understanding. I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will express my riddle on the harp.
Why should I fear in days of adversity, when the injustice of those who betray me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast in the abundance of their riches?
No one can by any means redeem another or give God a ransom for him— for the redemption of his soul is priceless, and he should cease imagining forever— that he might live on eternally, that he might not undergo decay.
For he sees that even wise people die; the foolish and the stupid alike perish and leave their wealth to others. Their inner thought is that their houses are forever and their dwelling places to all generations; they have named their lands after their own names.
But man in his splendour will not endure; he is like the animals that perish. This is the way of those who are foolish, and of those after them who approve their words. Selah
Like sheep they sink down to Sheol; death will be their shepherd; and the upright will rule over them in the morning, and their form shall be for Sheol to consume so that they have no lofty home.
But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me. Selah
Those who put their trust in death, will die… they will sink into the grave (Sheol); but those who put their trust in YHWH, the God of Life, will rise up and be redeemed. Sheol cannot hold them down. They will be received by YHWH, back in the Kingdom where they belong.
Yeshua’s death paid our entrance fee back into YHWH’s Garden Kingdom. His resurrection meant that death could be conquered and all the children of God could follow in Yeshua’s footsteps and return home to YHWH.
The apostle Paul preached the Good News of salvation across the known world after Yeshua’s death. He taught that prayer and meditation should be though about and practised:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
As for the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Who is true, honourable, right, pure, lovely and commendable? YHWH! So when we meditate on these things our focus is in the right place.
Yeshua was the perfect Image Bearer of God because He was one-with-God, so meditating on the life of Yeshua gives us hope:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
We need to read the Scriptures and really meditate on them, slowly and with great consideration. What’s the rush? Read, meditate, pray, and experience the wonders that will be revealed to you. Because when we dive deep, we’ll see the many mysteries of the depths that you just can’t find on the surface.
Read, grumble, moan and squirm… Meditating was never meant to be a comfortable thing. Don’t be afraid to get noisy… YHWH wants to hear from you! We should meditate as David meditated:
[David:] May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart [w-heg’yown libbi] be acceptable in Your sight, YHWH my Rock and my Redeemer.
Next week: FASTING