I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways. Psalm 119:15
Meditate – Perhaps we “meditate” more than we think. For us, meditation usually implies something like quiet and deliberate reflection. But the Hebrew word siyach has some unusual history and application that just might open the door to a different world of meditation. You see, the word siyach is primarily about complaining. Its word picture involves consuming works or deeds. It’s as though this kind of meditation eats up the actions it describes. Isn’t that what we do when we complain? We eat away at things until we have consumed the object of our complaint. When we are done complaining, there’s nothing left of God’s blessing. You can see this use of the word siyach in a verse like Job 7:11.
So, how does a word about complaining become associated with the idea of meditation? Maybe the connection is experiential. When I complain, I dwell on some aspect of life that I don’t like. My complaint might be to a person or a community, but ultimately it is a complaint against God. After all, He is the sovereign Lord of life. All that occurs passes through His will. When I complain, I am really lifting my voice against His engineering and decisions. If I recognize that my complaints are objections to God’s engineering, I am forced to deal with issues much bigger than the cost of food or the lack of appreciation by my boss. Every complaint hurls me into the throne room of the Most High. That just might cause me to think before I voice my objection – and the process of thinking before I speak is synonymous with meditation.
Suppose that every time we felt like complaining, we remembered that the Hebrew word siyach converts a complaint into a meditation. Do you think that we would reflect a bit more about God’s hand in our circumstances? Look at Job’s complaints. How does the story of Job end? Job realizes that God does not owe him an explanation and Job repents of his arrogance after he demanded that God justify His decisions. Does Job learn something about meditation? I think so. Maybe we should take a lesson from Job.
It’s important to know that siyach is also translated as converse, speak, ponder and pray. Perhaps we need to connect all of these descriptions of vocalization to the sovereign Lord. Shouldn’t our complaints drive us directly to pray? Shouldn’t we ponder our true state of blessing when we are inclined to complain? Shouldn’t our speech and conversation reflect an underlying acknowledgement of God’s grace? Maybe the ancient Hebrew connection between all of these ideas isn’t so far from the truth. Meditation just might be the means for me to place all of my thoughts and words into God’s hand.
If you’ve ever wondered why God chose Hebrew as the language of His self-disclosure, maybe this small investigation of meditation will help you find the answer. God’s self-disclosure is bound into a language of human experience, not lofty theory. God is right there in the midst of our frustrations and friction just as much as He is found in the heavenly vision. The God we serve is a serving God – and that means His revelation occurs in the valley of sorrow too. He is preparing a feast for us when the shadows seem darkest. It’s right there if we have eyes to see it.
Topical Index: Meditation