Meditating On vs Studying Scripture

(SeanO) #1

Hey guys,

There are lots of different ways of approaching the Scripture and each has its own benefits. I thought it might be interesting to discuss the difference between meditation on the Word and study. By meditation I do not mean meditation like in eastern religions, but rather spending time dwelling on specific passages or verses with the intent of allowing the Holy Spirit to imprint them upon our heart and lead us to worship.

So, here is claim. Studying Scripture is the chief means of understanding the meaning of Scripture. Meditation chiefly helps us worship and imprint upon our heart the Scripture. Meditation without study is less likely to lead to correct understanding..

Part of my claim is that meditation does not generally lead to deeper understanding by itself - that is chiefly the role of study. So we should first study a passage to understand its meaning and then meditate upon it to let it transform us in deeper ways and move us to worship. Admittedly there is overlap - meditation can help us memorize / know Scripture better which in turn helps us study. Scripture memorization / meditation can help us connect passages because we have them in our noggin. So meditation can lead to deeper understanding, but I do not think that is its chief function.

What are your guys’ thoughts / experiences?

(Steven Kalinowski) #2

Think you are spot on Sean.
It is easy for people to meditate on some passages and come up with many sorts of ideas which are not grounded in context.
On the other hand, study without meditation and prayer can be quite dry and lifeless.
Guess it depends on what we are reading as well. Proverbs, Psalms, a book by Tozer or a Thomas a Kempis is too rich to not meditate on straight away I would think.
A book like Revelation is barely scratched without looking on numerous views by numerous authors and in historical context. Left to oneself and merely meditating would leave one without a ton of insight on how others have viewed it.

Actually, after reading many of your posts I find it difficult to disagree with anything you have written so far. :slight_smile:)

In general study first, meditate on what was studied after would seem the better way with a conversation about it with God as well.

(SeanO) #3

@Steven_Kalinowski I appreciate that confirmation - that helps me know I am on track. It is important to study together as one Body in Christ :slight_smile: I remember times in my own life where I spent time meditating and thought I knew what a passage meant only to be humbled after taking time to study, so that is one reason I think this topic is important. We can mislead ourselves or others if we do not take that time to study well.

You make a great point that study without meditation can leave us dry spiritually. That was one of the big warnings we received at seminary - take some time to read the Bible devotionally and do not neglect your prayer life - don’t let study get in the way of knowing the living God. Maintaining that ebb and flow of study and prayer/meditation is crucial.

(Steven Kalinowski) #4

Thanks for your input.
So are so right on thinking we really know the meaning of something. I have been humbled more than a few times on some verses I thought I was sure on only to see them in a deeper or greater light. So now I am a lot less dogmatic on some issues except the ones that really matter. I also find it is rare that people can get their egos out of the way on the more debatable stuff or at least it is pointless debating anyone unless the mutual respect is already there.
I read a book on historical theology by Allison and was intrigued by how the emphasis of what we think is important is not always the case down through Chritian history. One author has said it is good to stay in contemporary books but also in books of a century or more before. It gives a better perspective. I guess you must have encountered this in seminary I guess.

(Jimmy Sellers) #5


This morning our preacher used Psalms 1 as his text. I was thinking about your post and as he preached on verse 2, I couldn’t help but wonder what additional resources would a listener would have had beyond story and a handful of scripture. I believe that this is a Psalm of David and hence pre-dates any thing that would resemble 2nd Temple, 1st century or Rabbinic Judaism .

Verse 2 says to meditate. In the Hebrew from Vines it says: “to meditate, moan, growl, utter, speak.”
I agree that study is an important part of the process for me and likely many of the readers of connect but if I understand what the Psalms is saying I am not sure that it is necessary it would appear that the Law of Yahweh was sufficient. This likely will come up in your Andy Stanley discussion under the heading of sufficiency.

As far as I know it was the second temple writers that started writing what we would consider commentary the supposed silent years.

(SeanO) #6

@Jimmy_Sellers That’s a good point. My response would be that the people who lived in King David’s time did not need to study the cultural context because they were living in it :slight_smile: Also, the kings of Israel wrote by hand the entire Torah and the people were expected to know the law. Of course Israel failed to do so often, which explains their constant lapses. In a way you could say they failed to study. But I think that for them the meaning was probably more readily evident because the cultural barrier would have been far less of an impedance.

Also, I don’t think that Psalms 1 is implying that we should not study or directly addressing the order of study / meditation. Rather, it is an exhortation to be righteous, which means meditating on God’s law (something the wicked who are like chaff certainly do not do…). It is an appeal to think on the things above rather than the things below.

Psalms 1:2 - but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.

(SeanO) #7

@Steven_Kalinowski Yes, one thing I really appreciate about Connect and the environment @CarsonWeitnauer has helped create is that people here genuinely listen and engage one another. It is such a blessing to have a place like that…

I agree we need to read Christians throughout the ages to avoid what C. S. Lewis called ‘chronological snobbery’ - assuming that the modern view is inherently the correct view. What impresses me most about believing men and women throughout history is their lives - how much they sacrificed to love others and uphold the truth. I find their teaching is often affected by the common biases of their day - as I imagine ours is too and hence why we need them. But the power of their testimonies is always an encouragement.

(Jimmy Sellers) #8

I had forgotten about Dt 17:14-20. This might make a good companion discussion on 1 Samuel.
I don’t recall any of the Kings of Israel that transcribed the Torah do you?

It’s my understanding that the synagogue was not a part of the culture of the day. The synagogue was a results of the collapse of the Northern and Southern kingdoms and the diaspora.

My take away from this verse is that the word was/is sufficient for correct understanding.

(SeanO) #9

@Jimmy_Sellers I think we can infer that King David, Hezekiah and Josiah - and perhaps Jehoshaphat - probably made a copy of the Torah. There were a lot of bad kings, so I think one could infer they did not, but it is really hard to say…

Deut 17:28-20 - When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.

Yes - good point on the synagogue. They were supposed to read God’s Word and celebrate the yearly festivals, but of course they did not always do that either…

I think it’s kind of a given that you have to have a certain amount of knowledge - for example, you have to know the language in which it is being spoke for starters. Understanding the culture seems like another fundamental element. Are you assuming this fundamental knowledge is already in place? Would you say that it is an exception to the rule (miraculous in some way) when God gives someone understanding apart from that type of knowledge or normative?

(Jimmy Sellers) #10

Found this article on how to make a Torah Scroll. Thought you might like it. Quite involved not sure an of the kings every did this.

(SeanO) #11

@Jimmy_Sellers Haha - that would be fun. For a youth group activity it might be neat to make Scripture scrolls - have them write out a chapter or short book like Philemon or Colossians.

(Andrew Bulin) #12

Great question and I’m so thankful for the answers!
To be honest, it’s hard for me personally to define a difference between meditation and study. For me it feels one in the same:

  • I have not really meditated if I have not studied it thoroughly
  • I cannot thoroughly study something if I cannot say I’ve meditated on it

The answers given help me to better appreciate how different people approach scripture and that someone might need to be encouraged in different ways. :slight_smile:

(Benjamin ) #13


2 tim 2:15 (kjv) in context with studying scriptures and rightly dividing is for sure a verse to meditate on. Paul tells us explicitly to do so.

(SeanO) #14

@bracherbracher Good point! We are told to be like the Bereans and study to show ourselves approved.

(SeanO) #15

@andrew.bulin Yes, agreeing on how words are defined is so important to avoid talking past one another. I think it is interesting that for you meditation includes study and vice versa. Perhaps there are traces of that in the Biblical text as well? If we look at Joshua 1 we see that obeying God’s commands, which obviously requires understanding/studying them, and meditating on them are closely connected. I imagine there are other hints of this overlap in Scripture as well.

Joshua 1:7-8 - “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."

(Benjamin ) #16

Below i copied some other scripture parts regarding study and meditating the word of God besides 2 tim 2:15

By the way the word “spoudason” could be deserving some more study as it appears only 4x according to bible hub

In the kjv it was translated as study but then in all other translations study was not used anymore. Neither in german nor in spanish it is used as study.

Question: Is the word study used somewhere else in the bible such as a command towards us as the body of Christ?

My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
Proverbs 4:20‭-‬21 KJV

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me. For ever, O Lord , thy word is settled in heaven.
Psalms 119:9‭, ‬11‭-‬11‭, ‬30‭, ‬89 KJV

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Colossians 3:16 KJV

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 KJV

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
John 15:7 KJV

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.
Joshua 1:8 KJV

(SeanO) #17

@bracherbracher That particular word is translated as ‘make every effort’ in the NET Bible.

“Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately.”

Morphology: VMAA–2S Strong’s: 4704 Transliterated: spoudason Root: σπουδάζω

  1. to hasten, make haste 2) to exert one’s self, endeavour, give diligence

(Benjamin ) #18

thank you Sean for the link on the netbible

I am pasting here constable notes on that verse as well

although I believe that this written to all the members of the body of Christ and obviously not that just to Timothy. We all need to go back to scripture and be diligent as a workman in studying, meditating, analysing and discussing the word of God with God in prayer, alone with scriptures, in our churches and with all members of the Body.


Positively, in contrast, Timothy should be “diligent” (lit. zealous) to make sure that when he stood before God he would receive the Lord’s approval and not be ashamed (cf. 1 John 2:28).[51]Most important in gaining this goal was the way he would proclaim God’s truth. He must teach it consistent with God’s intended meaning and purpose. “Handling accurately” (lit. cutting straight) is a figure that paints a picture of a workman who is careful and accurate in his work. The Greek word ( orthotomounta ) elsewhere describes a tentmaker who makes straight rather than wavy cuts in his material. It pictures a builder who lays bricks in straight rows and a farmer who plows a straight furrow.[52] The way a minister of the gospel presents the Word of God was of primary importance to Paul, and it should be to us. The Greek word ergaten (workman) stresses the laborious nature of the task rather than the skill needed to perform it.