Principles of Interpretation: Meditation (Part 1)
Last week we began a series of lessons regarding some principles of Bible interpretation. We emphasized the importance of the original languages of the Bible in interpreting difficult passages. We noted the importance of believing that the Bible is infallible, authoritative, and understandable--if we are to interpret it properly. We also underscored the importance of being spiritually receptive (i.e., having a proper attitude) toward the Scriptures.

This week we will continue considering some vital principles that we must embrace if we are to interpret the Bible properly. The principle we will begin considering today is simple yet exceedingly significant: We must meditate on the word of God daily.

I believe that meditation upon the Scriptures is critical to successful Christian living and to arriving at a proper interpretation of the biblical text. The Bible is a storehouse of treasures. Some never discover these treasures because they have not learned to look past the cover. In order to obtain the precious gems contained in God's word, we must search fervently and continually--as if we were searching for gold!

Let us first consider some words of wisdom from Job 23:12. Job, while in the midst of intense suffering, had this to say - "I have not departed from the commandment of His [i.e., God's] lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." There are several necessities of life (e.g., food, clothing, and shelter). Do you treasure God's word more than these things? Job did. He meditated upon the word of God, and so should we. If we fail to internalize the Scriptures, we will undoubtedly sin against God (Psa. 119:11).

Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 - "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" In addition to food for life, we also need to feed upon the word of God daily (e.g., Acts 17:11). Our spiritual life is dependent upon such. Studying the Bible daily should not be a burden upon one who is truly seeking God's kingdom first (Matt. 6:33) and desiring to mine the priceless jewels of the inspired text to the fullest extent. It is impossible to fully absorb the teachings of the Scriptures without sincere meditation or reflection.

There are a variety of reasons why people don't meditate on God's word. Consequently, they miss discovering the treasures of the Scriptures.

In some cases, spiritual blindness is the problem. There are those who verbally affirm that the Bible is divinely inspired, yet their actions are inconsistent with that claim. They may attempt to guide their lives by their own standard, essentially ignoring what God declares. Consequently, they have blinded themselves to the truth. Jeremiah would remind such ones that "the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jer. 10:23). Proverbs 16:25 echoes those sentiments - "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." May we always endeavor to have open eyes to the truth. Let us strive to be true to the Scriptures, even if that requires us abandoning a currently held belief or practice.

Others never meditate upon the Scriptures because they are using a false balance or scale. They may attempt to weigh spiritual blessings in physical, temporal terms (e.g., "how much is this worth to me right now?"). They mistakenly value material things over the worth of their own souls! Let all be reminded that the value of the entire world pales in comparison to the worth of one eternal soul (Matt. 16:26)! Some don't find the treasures of the Scriptures because they simply don't value God's word. May we always be ready to affirm that it is "better to get wisdom than gold" and "understanding is to be chosen rather than silver" (Prov. 16:16). We must place a high value upon the Bible and upon our understanding of its message. Meditation is important in this regard.

We will continue this study on meditation tomorrow.