Taste and See: An Invitation to Meditation in a World of Agitation

27 Minutes

Abstract: The God of the universe offers citizenship to His enemies and union with His Son to those who were once strangers. He invites His people into communion with Himself as temples of His very presence. He calls us to stillness in a world of distraction, and to “taste and see that He is good” (Ps. 34:8)1 through meditating on His Word. So why is our experience in reading His Word so often lacklustre? I propose that one of the solutions to our habitual, yet at times bland experience in God’s Word is the intentional meditation on and absorption of it. It is the synthesising of Scripture that actually leads to a transformed heart and a life of increasing Christlikeness. In this article I will explore these ideas of communion with God through meditation on His Word and the variety of means by which we are able to enjoy both. I will also offer a suggestion on a method of meditation that has been incredibly fruitful in my own life and invite the reader to incorporate it into their own practice as an example of what ongoing meditation could look like in the life of a believer.

Keywords: meditation, communion, absorption, transformation, poetic response

The Struggle

     The God who is there spoke into existence all things. He is wholly other than and authoritatively over all things. He has simultaneously made Himself known and beckons His image bearers to relish in His presence and know Him intimately, both before and after the rebellion changed everything. The rebellion—that moment when all creation was plunged into darkness and a cavern too wide for any creature to cross was formed. Communion was replaced with an unbridgeable divide; separated by sin, divided by perfection, a broken people cannot be in the presence of a holy God. And yet, the promised serpent-crusher arrives on the scene, ready and willing to sacrifice all for the sake of His own. The divide is miraculously and eternally bridged, and a way is made once more for His image bearers to enjoy the sweet intimacy of communion with their Maker. The cavern was crossed by the Creator himself—Emmanuel, God with us.

     There is a call to draw near, come close, sit at His feet. Father, Son, and Spirit have made a way for sons and daughters to know Who they were made for. At the marriage feast, the King makes holy His bride, calling her to enjoy Him forever. Strangers and aliens are now children and citizens. He invites us into communion with Himself as temples of His very presence. The enemy masquerading as a friend advertises a better way, but the Father shows us the way to life itself. He gives us eyes to see reality as it actually exists, and He calls us to stillness in a world of distraction. In the pages of His Word, He has revealed Himself as a God of mercy and grace, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, justly and patiently forgiving sin (Exod. 34:6-7). And now, He invites us to meditate on this Word and commune with Him, the divine Writer of this Word. He bids us to linger on the fullness of His feast, to taste and see that He is good (Ps. 34:8).

     And yet at times our experience does not match the generous invitation of intimacy. He has sovereignly chosen to reveal Himself in the pages of a book, preserved throughout time and space, a metanarrative of sin and redemption—and yet it can be so hard to open the book, let alone be changed by it. The words on the pages can strike us as dull, lifeless, and merely informational. Where is that delight and rest promised to those who open its pages?

The Invitation

     There is good news, oh travelling saint. We do not have to wait until the eternity to come to experience His goodness, we can experience it now! His Word is not an enigma, a tease, or a bore. It is living and active, exposing and refining; it is a divine exfoliator to the hardened soul, and sweeter than honey to those who run to it for solace.

     But how does one bridge the gap between a desire for relationship with God, and the flat reality of our experience when we spend time at His feet? How does our habitual, yet bland time in God’s Word take root in our lives and form us more into the image of the Son? How do we move beyond the attainment of knowledge to a stirred and captivated heart that is wholly devoted to making much of Him?

     I propose that one of the solutions to our, at times, dry experience in God’s Word is by meditating on and absorbing it. It is the absorption of Scripture that actually leads to a transformed heart and a life of increasing Christlikeness. His Word, His character, His ways are all a summons to respond, to be transformed, to eat and be satisfied. The table is set, the aroma of a feast to come lingers in the air, the invitation is open—will you come, taste, and see?

     It is of first importance to be reminded of the reason why we meditate on God’s words. It is not to solely gain knowledge, and certainly not to give the appearance of holiness. First and foremost, a citizen of the kingdom of God meditates on His words and His ways to interact with the living God, the author of every word. One way to define meditation is as “the repetitive going over of a matter in one’s mind because it is the chief concern of life.”2 For the Christian, we do not meditate to empty our minds of all of life’s cares, but rather to fill our minds with what is of chief importance, our most prized possession. And when the distractions, temptations, and to-do lists are set aside, is He not the One whom our souls love, desire, and cling to? He is our light in the darkness, our hope in the night, our delight and our Friend—for it is only in Him that we are most satisfied. So with a willing spirit (Ps. 51:12) and through the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2), we take hold of that gift which holds the words of eternal life, and we savour and enjoy His storehouse of marvels. Repeatedly bringing to mind Who our God is gives us a Spirit-empowered confidence in Who holds our future.

     Moses, the leader of God’s people Israel and the writer of the first five books of the Old Testament, shows us a little of what meditation means for a child of God. In his final sermon to his people, shortly after rehearsing much of God’s law to them, he says:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 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. (Deut. 6:6-9)

     Moses was calling the people to continual, perpetual, and total remembrance of all of God’s law—for how could they follow Yahweh if they forgot His words? While the world may suggest that meditation is the emptying of the mind, Moses, under inspiration of the Spirit, reveals the essence of meditation to instead be the filling of the mind. A meditative life is a life of calling to mind God’s character, God’s words, and God’s ways. Moses called God’s people to write His words on their hearts, to teach them, talk about them, think about them throughout the day, and put them up on the walls and in front of their eyes. The idea behind this being to absorb each word and let it change the way you live. And what is the result of living a life saturated with God’s words? Moses finishes his address to the people by describing the deep and vast blessings that would come as they followed God, but also the cursings when they didn’t. The meditation that Moses was calling Israel to was what would protect them from their sin and their short memories and lead them into life abundant. To follow Yahweh was the only path that led to life and life abundant. To remember Yahweh and His words was the way to stay on that path.

     Ultimately, humanity was unable to live a perfectly obedient life that led to life abundant. And yet our covenantal God was so abundant in grace that He freely gave His only Son as the ultimate blessing for our disobedience. An imperfectly obedient people received a perfectly obedient Saviour’s record of righteousness, so that all who trust in Him will not perish but rather receive eternal life. That is good news! So while our time in God’s Word does not earn us any blessings for such obedience, it offers us the ultimate blessing of knowing and enjoying the Father who we have already been granted eternal and free access to.

     So as we, God’s people now, encounter the Word of God, and the Word of God encounters us, we are affected by it. Our emotions are stirred, our souls are moved, our affections shift. And yet to sit under the ministry of the Spirit through the absorption of His Word is something that takes time, space, and stillness. Unless we create the space and allow the time to take in the greatness of God, our affections will not be moved and our hearts will not be stirred as they could be. We spend more time meditating on social media, being captivated by television shows, making plans, or absorbing recipes than we do being seated before the most high King of the universe. He’s commanded us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30) and yet we hope and presume that all of our faculties can be captivated and transformed in a few minutes. Let’s look at two biblical examples of meditation to further our understanding.

     In the Old Testament, just as the leadership of Israel passes from Moses to Joshua, the Lord speaks directly to Joshua to encourage him in taking up the mantle. Yahweh calls him to be strong and courageous, not fearing, but rather resting in the Lord’s constant presence and provision. But the caveat for Joshua to be able to live out this call of courage, strength, and peace is found in verse eight. The Lord says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it” (Josh. 1:8, emphasis added). Joshua is not miraculously provided with a sense of peace or divine strength, but rather is given the keys to such a kingdom: he must meditate continually on the Lord’s ways, and so walk fearlessly and courageously. For how could this new leader trust in a God he did not know, or follow the ways of One whom he did not ponder? It was through the meditation on the redemptive, covenant-keeping, life-giving ways of the one true God that Joshua would know the way forward. His strength and courage were not found in leadership strategies, tactics of war, or self-aggrandizement, but wholly and solely through communion with his Commander.

     Later on in the Old Testament, we pause to observe Asaph, a psalmist and one of three Levites charged with singing worship in the house of the Lord. Psalm 77 gives us a window into one of his dark times when he is found crying out to the Lord in the midst of trouble, distress, and feelings of abandonment by God. His initial meditations led to groaning, and his prayers seemed fruitless. He questions whether the Lord will abandon him and his people forever, and is unable to match what he knows to be true of God and what he is currently experiencing. In verse ten, we get a window into Asaph’s mind as he chooses to turn his train of thought to meditation on who the Lord is and what He has done in the past. When he does not understand or see His ways at work in this current situation, he calls to mind the eternal, never-changing character of a God who is holier and higher than all else. Asaph then forms his understanding of the here and now by pondering all God’s works and meditating on His mighty deeds (Ps. 77:12) in the days gone by. This becomes his confidence and anthem for the same Yahweh who will provide in his life now. His meditation became his resolve.

     By nature of who we are made to be (reflections of our Maker), we are always meditating on something or someone. We meditate on what we worship or love most—so I would ask, what consumes your thoughts? What holds sway over your affections? What does your heart treasure most? For “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). Fellow sojourner, may our meditations lead to a confidence in, communion with, and certainty in our Maker who hangs the stars in the night sky and knows you and me by name. May our meditations on His Word and His ways lead us to sing, both in the night and in the brightness of day, with strength and courage, “holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty” (Rev. 4:8).

A Method

     My invitation to you is, first, to selah in His presence. Be still and know that He is God (Ps. 46:10). Pause before your Maker, and make quiet your mind and your heart. Choose a regular spot you go to within your house, or (if time allows) in nature. Perhaps it is the same armchair in the living room, the same closet in the spare room, or the same corner of the laundry room that offers a safe abode to rest a while. Or maybe you set aside a morning on the weekend to drive up the mountain and witness the sunrise. For Isaac, the son of Abraham, it was an open field he sought for meditation (Gen. 24:63); for me, it is the sand at the ocean where the constancy of waves and the sound of ripples quiets my heart. Wherever it might be, seek that place and the presence of the Lord at all costs.

     Perhaps you are not a morning person—fine. Neither was I. But as someone who does not love mornings, are your first thoughts a flurry of the day ahead? A growing to-do list, a quick scan of world news, an anxious thought of what is to come? Or perhaps you experience a general groaning and a desire to avoid what the day holds. Do you reach for your phone, read your emails, check the news, scroll through social media? Does the world get your first and last thoughts of each day, and the Maker of that world gets squeezed into the “when I have time” moments? My encouragement to those of you who struggle with mornings would be to choose to give at least the first five minutes of the day to meditation on your Saviour. Before the day grips your mind and affections, selah before your heavenly Father. Be still and remind yourself who God is. Who is on the throne, undefeated, unrivaled? Who beckons His kids to come close, always gracious and abundant in mercy? Over time, I believe the Spirit will warm your heart to desire more of this stillness with your heavenly Father. It may forever be a discipline, but it will grow in sweetness and have lasting effects in your life.

     One method of meditation (following the stillness) that I have found incredibly fruitful and soul-filling is poetic response. God has initiated a conversation with us through giving us His Word. He has started a dialogue, and we get to respond in prayer, song, and the meditation of our hearts. So, in the quiet of the morning, when the noise within our minds fades, I settle into the silence and let His Words fill the room. They are honey from the rock, and I savour them slowly. I love the way His words sway and move in the wind, linger on the tongue, taste of beauty and pain, capture truths and hearts. I begin to form those words into prayers of poetry, turns of phrase that echo His Words, melodies of the heart that overflow into speech. I respond to His stories of creation, tales of His people, promises of a Saviour, answers to prayer, hard truths of life and death, whispers of a new creation to come. This form of poetry is neither exact nor precise, but is a way to guide my thoughts and give the gift of meditation back to Him. It has produced a resolute absorption and understanding of His character, and has allowed truths to frequently come to mind throughout my days that I may have otherwise forgotten. It has provided me a freedom to express the overflow of my heart in response to the overflow of His. He is a speaking, communicating God who has chosen to use language to reveal Himself to His creation, and I am similarly a communicating creature embodying His likeness. He has graciously used this gift of language in my own spiritual formation and Christification. 

     So I extend an invitation to you, one that echoes His invitation to us, to sit, ponder, linger a little longer. The storehouse of wealth and goodness is waiting. Sit before Him and His Word with a pen and a blank notepad, and write what comes to mind. Let the words tumble out of your thoughts and fall from your soul as you ponder the inner workings of His heart. Meditate, absorb, be transformed. Beauty awaits, He bids you come.


An example of a meditative response to Scripture from my personal musings:


Response to Ps 50:2


Out of the perfection of beauty, He shines forth.

Here is where He tabernacles,

He rules,

He invites,

He dwells.

Among His people,

always for them,

always with them.

Fire by night, cloud by day.

Transient tent to Solmon’s temple.



Out of the imperfection of His likeness, He now shines forth.

Zion, here and now.

Here is where He tabernacles,

He dwells.

Holy Spirit here and now.

In his people,

for His people.

Always present,

always interceding.

An inheritance, a seal.

Zion, here and now.


Resources to aid in a transformative practice of meditation on Scripture: 

    • My Heart Cries Out: Gospel Meditations for Everyday Life Paul David Tripp
  • A Thousand Gifts Ann Voskamp
  • The Apricot Memoirs Tess Guinery
  • Every Moment Holy, Volume 1 Douglas Kaine McKelvey
  • Alabaster Book of Psalms Alabaster Co.

1 Unless otherwise stated, all scriptural passages are from the ESV translation.

2 Brand, Chad, Eric Alan Mitchell, Steve Bonds, E Ray Clendenen, Trent C Butler, and Bill Latta, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, Tn: Holman Reference, 2015), 1097.

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