Posted in bible, reading, sanctification

Meditating on God’s Word

Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD. (Psalm 104:34)

Thomas Brooks offers an excellent description of Biblical meditation…

Remember that it is not hasty reading—but serious meditation on holy and heavenly truths, which makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the mere touching of the flower by the bee which gathers honey (cp Ps 19:10-note; Ps 119:103-note)—but her abiding for a time on the flower which draws out the sweet. It is not he who reads most, but he who meditates most—who will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.”

I’ve read oftentimes that meditating on God’s word is similar to chewing on cud. Not having an agricultural background, I researched exactly how cows digest their nutrients when they graze grass.

What is cud, and why do cattle chew it?

Have you ever noticed that when you see a cow it always seems to be chewing something? The reason is because cows must chew their food twice in order to digest it properly. Cows spend nearly eight hours out of every day chewing their cud. This plus normal chewing of food can total upwards of 40,000 jaw movements per day. 

Cattle are ruminant animals, this mean their stomach contains four compartments:
1. Rumen
2. Reticulum
3. Omasum
4. Abomasum 

Cows have one stomach with four different compartments. 

When a cow first takes a bite, it chews just enough to moisten the food. Once swallowed, the food goes into the first section, the rumen, where it mixes with other acidic digestive liquids and is softened. The softened food is called cud, small balls of food. 

Next, the rumen muscles send the cud back up to the cow’s mouth, where it is re-chewed and swallowed again, this time going to the Omasum section of stomach in order to squeeze out all of the moisture. 

Finally, the food enters the last part, Abomasum of the stomach where it mixes with digestive juices and makes its way to the intestine to be completely digested.

To “chew” on the Bible, we must first read it. I’m always surprised at the number of professing Christians who simply don’t directly read the Good Book. Secondly, when I meditate on God’s word, this is what I tend to do. It may not work like this for you but I find it’s easier to ask questions.

Why is this word here? What does it mean in the original language? What kind of writing is this, Law, Narrative, Poetry, Prophecy? What is the symbolism Agricultural? Cultural? Symbolical? Eschatological? An Idiom?

For example, we read many times in the Bible that they will be “going in and coming out”. (Psalm 121:8, Ezekiel 37:28). Barnes Notes (as well as other commenters) tell us that this is a common Hebrew expression meaning

The Lord shall preserve thou going out and thy coming in – Preserve thee in going out and coming in; in going from thy dwelling, and returning to it; in going from home and coming back; that is, everywhere, and at all times.

Who is the audience here? What do the parallel verses say? What does it make me think of? How does this inform me of God’s attributes?

Like that.

You may write some thoughts in a journal. You may want to discuss the verse or passage or chapter in your small group, or one-on-one with a friend or elder. However you meditate, as the saying goes, just do it.

Some people find that they are distracted during the day and forget the morning’s devotion or the day’s quiet time quickly. Here is where the very present help in the Holy Spirit aids us. He brings these things to mind, He keeps our mind focused on God. He reveals the attributes of Jesus. If you pray and ask for wisdom from reading and learning the verses, He will give it. One of His ministries is to draw us closer to the Lord. We do this through His word. (Ephesians 2:18, 1 John 3:24)

The Spirit sanctifies us through His word. When we meditate upon it, we aid the sanctification process. Ask the Spirit to apply the word you’re meditating upon to your heart and mind’s sanctification to the good of your soul. (John 17:17, Ephesians 5:26, Psalm 119:9-12, James 1:21)

He Guides into all truth. When we meditate upon the Word, the Spirit uses that clay of the Word as a Potter uses the lump of clay to form it into a new creation.

When I meditate upon the Word I find it helpful to mention it during the day, even at work. I might say, “I’m reading Genesis 40 and this morning I read about Potiphar’s wife. Where it says in Genesis 39:12 that Joseph fled the wife and left his coat behind…Man, Joseph and his coats, two times his coats were used against him.” This does several things. It gets the Word into public for any hearers nearby. It helps me process what I’ve read by talking about it out loud. And it helps wash the person you’re talking to when you use the verse, and last, they might have an insight to share back. I like sanctifying conversations.

However you meditate, I encourage you to do it. The process enlarges our heart, solidifies biblical world views in us, sanctifies us, and keeps our focus on Jesus.

“Cud” you do it? 😉


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.