The kind of deep, concentrated thinking in which a person seriously reflects on past experiences, ponders and muses over current matters, or thoughtfully contemplates possible future events.
In order to meditate properly, a person needs to be free from distractions, alone with his thoughts, so to speak. Isaac, for example, went out walking alone in the early evening to meditate, possibly about his coming marriage to Rebekah. (Ge 24:63) It was during the solitude of the night watches that the psalmist meditated on the greatness of his Grand Creator. (Ps 63:6) The meditations of the heart should be focused on beneficial things, on Jehovah’s splendor and activities, on things pleasing to him (Ps 19:14; 49:3; 77:12; 143:5; Php 4:8), and not on the devices of the wicked.—Pr 24:1, 2.
By engaging in profitable meditation, one will not be inclined to give foolish answers. He will seriously think out these matters of importance, and as a result, the answers given will be from the heart and will not be something to regret later on.—Pr 15:28.
When Joshua was appointed as the overseer of the nation of Israel, he was instructed to make a copy of Jehovah’s law, and he was told (as rendered in many Bible versions) to “meditate” thereon day and night. (Jos 1:8; AS, KJ, JB, RS) The Hebrew word here for “meditate” is ha·ghahʹ. It basically means “utter inarticulate sounds” and is rendered “moan,” ‘growl,’ ‘coo,’ and ‘mutter.’ (Isa 16:7; 31:4; 38:14; 59:3) Ha·ghahʹ also has the meanings “utter in an undertone” and “meditate.” (Ps 35:28; Pr 15:28) The New World Translation appropriately renders the Hebrew term ha·ghahʹ, appearing in Joshua 1:8, “you must in an undertone read.” (See also Ps 1:2.) Reading in an undertone would impress more indelibly on the mind the material on which one was meditating. Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (translated by S. Tregelles, 1901, p. 215) says of ha·ghahʹ: “Prop[erly] to speak with oneself, murmuring and in a low voice, as is often done by those who are musing.”—Compare Ps 35:28; 37:30; 71:24; Isa 8:19; 33:18.
The apostle Paul told Timothy that he should ponder over or be meditating on his conduct, ministry, and teaching. As an overseer, Timothy had to be unusually careful that he taught sound doctrine and that his way of life was exemplary.—1Ti 4:15.
Wrong Meditation. After the apostles Peter and John had been arrested by the captain of the temple and the Jewish rulers had threatened them and charged them not to teach further on the basis of Jesus’ name, the apostles returned to the other disciples. These prayed to God, referring to David’s prophetic words, saying: “‘Why did nations become tumultuous and peoples meditate upon empty things?’ . . . Even so, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with men of nations and with peoples of Israel were in actuality gathered together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, in order to do what things your hand and counsel had foreordained to occur.”—Ac 4:1-3, 18, 21, 23-28.
The “empty things” here spoken of are shown by the context to be, not the things that people ordinarily seek in life, but things that are devoid of all good—actually thinking, speaking, and attempting to fight against Jehovah and his servants—utterly futile things.—Ac 4:25.
King David said of those who hated him and sought his death: “Deceptions they keep muttering [form of ha·ghahʹ] all day long.” (Ps 38:12) These meditations were not mere passing thoughts. They were deeply rooted in the heart, their inclination being toward that wicked pursuit. The writer of Proverbs says of such men: “Despoiling is what their heart keeps meditating, and trouble is what their own lips keep speaking.”—Pr 24:2.
Jesus said to those hating him: “Why are you reasoning these things in your hearts?” (Mr 2:8) Of all who would ‘suppress the truth in an unrighteous way,’ the apostle Paul says: “They became empty-headed in their reasonings and their unintelligent heart became darkened.” Such meditation proves fatal to those indulging in it.—Ro 1:18, 21.