"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, from the same verse we read that "the precious substance of men is to the diligent" (RV), who obtains it by toil and then makes use of it. This proverb is an illustration of spiritual things.
When some special effort is being used, or some unusual meetings are being held, many children of God seem to be 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 or profit. It is even possible to be very diligent in searching out the meaning of Scripture so as to gain much knowledge of its varied teachings, and yet fail to get nourishment from it through lack of meditation on what has been discovered.
God required the King of Israel not only to write 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 in his heart that he "may learn to fear the Lord his God", and might do His will (Deut 17.18-19). The happy result of obedience to this command is seen in the life of David and the sad consequences of disobeying it is equally manifest.
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: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (Josh 1.8). Joshua proved the blessedness of fulfilling the conditions for prosperity thus laid down, for "Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua" (Josh 24.31).
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.1). Meditation is like the action of clean animals in chewing the cud (Lev 11.3). They first gather up their food and then lie down and ruminate. Or may we compare it to digesting what is eaten. As food hastily taken and not digested fails to nourish, 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 on the spirit in which the study is carried out. The natural man may study the Bible, and form a system of what he calls theology, but he simply puts it upon a level with other sciences. Mere love of knowledge may lead to study, but only love of God's Word can lead to meditation. Such meditation leads to understanding and obedience. "I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation" (Ps 119.99).
This also brings comfort in all situations. If princes sat and spoke against the psalmist (Ps 119.23) or the proud dealt perversely with him (Ps 119.78), he simply turned to God's statutes and meditated therein. So the psalmist writes again, "My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord" (Ps 104.34).
The exhortation of Paul to Timothy as a servant of Christ suggests that if meditation is good and needful for all children of God it is especially so for those who are called to preach the gospel, minister His Word, and care for His people: "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all (1 Tim 4.15). The training of Timothy's own spirit by the diligent use of the Scriptures was the great point: "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine" (v.16). The very exercise of any ministry with which God entrusts 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 prayer.