Chewing the Cud

Joshua 1:8
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night…”

After Moses had died, God continued His plan to bring the nation of Israel into the land of Canaan through His personally appointed leader: Joshua. In order to do so, God needed His appointed leader to be maximally sustained, spiritually.

So, what did God do?

God made it crystal clear to Joshua that he was to meditate on scripture day and night.

The only way for one to be spiritually sustained, is to feed on His Word:

John 21:15-17
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because he said to Him the third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.””

Peter was directly commanded by God, Jesus Christ, to feed His sheep (believers). Just as with Joshua, Peter was to sustain the Lord’s sheep with His Word. He was to feed them with scripture.

Throughout the Psalms, meditating on God and His Word is also a common theme. The psalmists continually express the practice. We see it most referenced in Psalms 119. Six times meditation is described there (Psalms 119:15, 23, 27, 48, 78, and 148).

The interesting thing about the word meditation, is its connection to feeding. A synonym for meditation is rumination. Rumination not only points to brainwork, introspection, reflection, reasoning, and thinking, but it is also used to describe the digestive process of ruminants, mammals who ruminate or who “chew the cud”.

Here’s how the American Psychological Association puts it:

“The word ‘ruminate’ derives from the Latin for chewing cud, a less than gentile process in which cattle grind up, swallow, then regurgitate and rechew their feed. Similarly, human ruminators mull an issue at length.”

To “mull an issue” is to “chew” on something, to think over, or to meditate. In other words, “chewing the cud” can refer to meditating on scripture.

Another little, interesting side-fact regarding “chewing the cud” is that according to Levitical Law, it is one of the two characteristics of clean animals. One is that such animals must part the hoof and be cloven footed. The other is that it must chew the cud. (See Leviticus 11:3-8)

At the recent G3 Conference Dr. James White, during his first lecture entitled “Jesus’ View of Scripture”, made a point about the importance of meditating on scripture:

“It’s good to meditate on scripture. It’s good to sort of… slow down once in a while. I mean, I love ‘through the year’ Bible reading programs, but it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for meditation. So, you might want to mix into that a ‘through a third of the Bible in a year’, or something like that. Or, ‘through the Gospels in a year’. Something that will slow you down enough to allow you to actually concentrate.”

Joshua 1:8
“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. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

May we (Christians) learn to slow down and to meditate on scripture. Like Joshua, may we also benefit from God’s Word, and prosper spiritually… by “Chewing the Cud”.

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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  1. Thanks for publishing this. It made me recognize a weak spot in my spiritual life. I read the Bible a lot but I don’t spend enough time meditating on what I have read. The quantity of my Bible knowledge is good but the quality is poor.


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