"The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting" (Prov 12.27), and thus loses the benefit of the energy expended in the excitement of the chase. On the other hand, "the substance of a diligent man is precious", for he both obtains it by toil, and then makes use of it. This proverb is an illustration of spiritual things. When some special effort is being made, or some unusual meetings are being held, many children of God seem alive and full of joy and praise. But how often it happens that, when the excitement is past, the ordinary meetings give little evidence of their having received true reviving and profit. It is even possible to be diligent in the Scriptures, so as to gain much knowledge of their varied teachings, and yet fail to get nourishment from them through lack of meditation on what has been discovered.
God required the king of Israel not only to write for himself a copy of the law, but to read therein all the days of his life. It was not sufficient for him to know it; he needed by constant meditation to have it on his heart, that he might "learn to fear the Lord his God" and might do His will (Deut 17.18-20). The happy result of obedience to this command is seen in the case of David, and the sad consequences of disregarding it are equally manifest in the latter part of the reign of Solomon. The Lord said to Joshua, "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 (Josh 1.8).
In the description in Psalm 1 of the man of God - the true portrait of the Perfect Man - it is said that "his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night" (v.2). Meditation is like the action of clean animals in chewing the cud (Lev 11.3). They first gather up the food and then lie down and ruminate. We compare it to digesting what is eaten. As food hastily taken and not digested fails to nourish as it might otherwise do, so spiritual food will not minister strength unless it is appropriated by prayerful meditation.
Studying the Scriptures is not necessarily feeding upon them; all depends upon the spirit in which the study is carried on. The natural man may study the Bible, and form a system of theology, but he simply puts it on a level with other sciences, and the "things of the Spirit of God" he knows not (1 Cor 2.14). Mere love of knowledge may lead to study, but only love of Gods Word can lead to meditation: "O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day"; "Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word" (Ps 119.97,148). Such meditation leads to understanding and obedience: "I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation" (Ps 119.99); "I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways (Ps 119.15). It also brings comfort in all circumstances. If princes sat and spoke against the psalmist (Ps 119.23), or the proud dealt perversely with him (v.78), he simply turned to Gods statutes and precepts and meditated therein. So he writes again, "My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord" (Ps 104.34). What a theme for the souls meditation is the "Blessed God" as revealed in His Word and in His works - God as manifested to us in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The exhortation of Paul to Timothy as a servant of Christ suggests that if meditation is good and needful for all the children of God, it is especially so for those who are called to preach His gospel, to teach His Word or to care for His people. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all" (1 Tim 4.15). Whether we render "meditate" as "meditate carefully" or as "be diligent in" makes little difference. The training of his own spirit by the diligent use of the Scriptures was the great point: "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine" (1 Tim 4.16). The very exercise of any ministry God entrusts to us will soon enfeeble us, and destroy the spirit in which alone acceptable ministry can be rendered, unless it is sustained by habitual communion with God, in meditation and in prayer.