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 (Joshua 1:8, ESV)
God instructed Joshua not to allow the Book of the Law to depart from his mouth but to meditate on it day and night. This instruction can be challenging for modern readers to grasp, yet it’s essential for believers to reap the benefits of God’s Word.
In modern times, meditating largely involves thinking about something specific. However, the ancient Israelites practiced a form of meditation that is unfamiliar to modern readers—using the mind and the mouth. Such an approach may be hard for us to grasp, accept, and put into practice. In fact, the Good News Translation translates this verse as “Be sure that the Book of the Law is always read in your worship…”; this translation is “more acceptable” to the modern reader, yet it is not what God commanded Joshua to do.
The term meditate here is the Hebrew hagah which means “meditate, mutter, growl, speak in an undertone”. The NET Bible translation truly captures the essence of hagah in this particular verse. “The ancient practice of reading aloud to oneself as an aid to memorization is in view here”. So God instructed Joshua to meditate on the Law by using his mind and mouth—read in an undertone, coo, growl, mutter( HALOT Hebrew Lexicon).
To summarize, we meditate on the Word with our minds and mouths. Such meditation is the key to cultivating God’s Word in your life and allowing it to flourish.
What is the meaning of “meditate” in Joshua 1:8?
Apply the Word
Reading God’s Word is wonderful, but it is not enough. To see the Word flourish in your life, you should meditate on it continually with the mind and mouth. Start or grow in your meditation on the Word.
Ask the Spirit to help you grow in meditation.
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