Joshua was instructed to meditate day and night on the written book of the law. It wasn’t just a case of reading the written word but also of speaking it out loud – for it to be on his lips. Linked with this is obedience, to actually do what God’s word says, and from this blessings flow. The Psalmist also spoke many times about meditation on the word of God. Here are two examples:
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night (Psalm 1:2).
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches” (Psalm 63:6).
This form of meditation requires an intimate familiarity with God’s Word, which is His law. It demands constant consideration – filling our minds with God’s thoughts, God’s words and God’s instructions day and night. It results in being able to bring to mind what we have read about God so that we can be guided by Him. Perhaps this is part of what Paul had in mind when he wrote to Timothy, instructing him to meditate upon “these things”.
Interestingly, the NIV does not use the word “meditate” in 1 Timothy 4:15, but says “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them” which implies a similar degree of focused attention. My NIV Interlinear translates the Greek word ‘meletao’ as diligent, meaning to care for, to bestow careful thought upon, to give painful attention to, be earnest in.
By this time, of course, Timothy and all the New Testament Christians had much more to meditate upon than the Law as given to Joshua and the Israelites. They had the Wisdom Literature, the History of the nation, the writings of the Prophets, and also the New Testament letters and gospels.
Paul paints an uplifting word picture on the beauty of meditating upon the higher things of God in Philippians 4:8-9:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you.
Here, the expression “think on these things” (KJV) or “think about such things” (NIV) is translated from the Greek word ‘logizomai’ meaning to think upon, to ponder. After the heavenly hosts appeared to the shepherds and they found Mary, Joseph and Jesus in Bethlehem, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:20). Perhaps to ponder in your heart is a form of meditation?
I confess “to think upon” or to “ponder” does not infer the same depth and degree of attention or focus as does the word “meditate.” However, by thinking on all those things in God’s Word, the accumulated wisdom from all of the Word of God, and by giving himself wholly to such instruction, Timothy would be filling his mind with godly things resulting in blessings.
I have no idea what the Hebrew word for “meditate” is or if the Greek word translated into English as “meditate” carries the same meaning, but perhaps it carries the same intent as that described in Joshua 1:8 and in the Psalms. I do so hope someone with linguistic skills in Hebrew and Greek can provide clarity and insight. Regardless, I have benefitted from this word study and your question has given me much to ponder (meditate) upon. Thank you.
P.S. Forgive me if I have misunderstood your question.