Articles & News

How God Opens His Word to Us

July 04, 2024

-Dr. J. Vernon McGee, from "How to Understand the Bible"

When the Bible says “meditate,” God is asking us to “ponder.” Different from just reading or studying, meditating is sitting with God’s truth for a while—giving it careful consideration. God asks you to think about His Word with a receptive heart, trusting His Spirit to work in you through those words. In this excerpt from “How to Understand the Bible,” Dr. McGee teaches us how to meditate.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. –Deuteronomy 6:6-9 

God taught His people how to meditate. The Word of God was to be in front of the children of Israel all the time—so that they could meditate on it. God told them to write the Word of God on the doorposts so wherever they turned, it was like looking at billboards. He told His people to get the Word where they would see it. It was on their doorposts, on their gates, and they wore it on their garments. And they were to talk about it when they were walking. They were to talk about the Word when they sat down. They were to talk about it when they went to bed and until they went to sleep. God asked His people to meditate on His Word.

Now what does it really mean to meditate on the Word of God? Psalm 1 tells us: 

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. –Psalm 1:1, 2

To meditate is to ruminate, to bring to mind and consider over and over. Ruminating is what a cow is doing when she is chewing her cud. She meditates on it. She brings the grass she ate in the morning (a cow has a complex stomach) out of one chamber and transfers it to another. In the process she is going over it again, chewing it up good. You and I need to learn to do that in our thought processes. We are to get the Word of God, read it, have it out where we can look at it, then think about it, meditate on it.

Many times in preparing a message I’ll take a verse of Scripture and spend hours doing nothing but reading it over and over, checking what others have said about it, and just keep reading it. Finally new truth will break out from that particular passage.

There are couples who write to us saying that the wife listens to our Bible study by radio at home, and the husband listens to it at work, and in the evening at the dinner table they discuss the Scripture that was covered. That is meditation; it is going back over it again. Riding along in the car alone is a good place to take a passage of Scripture and really give thought to it.

How many of us, after we’ve had our “devotions,” meditate on that passage during the day? Most read it and then forget it—never thinking about it again until it is called to our attention. Or, if we read it at night, we jump into bed as quickly as we can, turn out the light, and go to sleep, forgetting all about it.

Meditation is almost a lost art in our contemporary society. So much noise blots out the possibility for meditation. One of the reasons that our churches are becoming colder and more indifferent to the Word of God is simply because there is that lack of meditation upon the Word of God.

Remember meeting the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 who was riding along reading the prophet Isaiah? He was studying it but not understanding it—he did not know what it meant. Now the Spirit of God is going to open the Word of God to him. That is the reason the Holy Spirit had Philip there to explain the chapter to the Ethiopian. It opened up a new world to him, and he came to know Christ. The record says that he went on his way rejoicing. What was making him rejoice? He was meditating, friend. He was going back over that Isaiah 53 with new understanding.

My Turn

How can I have a “reflective heart”?

What separates just thinking about God’s Word and meditating on it? It’s the state of your heart. Are you open to what God wants to show you? What are you hoping and expecting Him to do? It starts here.

  1. Come to God’s Word expecting God to do something. Is there something He wants to teach you? To correct in you? To calm in you? Come to His Word believing He can do it.
    • Jesus promised in Luke 11:9 that those who seek Him will find Him.
    • Hebrews 11:6 says we can trust God will reward those who seek Him with a better understanding of His will and His ways.
  2. Ask God to show you His Word. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.”
  3. Tune your attention to listen to Him in your spirit. Ask yourself:
    • What does this verse or passage teach me about God?
    • What does this teach me about myself?
    • How might this change me and my thinking if I believed it?