Eat This Book

July 24, 2012

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I’ve been reading Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book recently. His analogy of us reading the Word of God was striking. I want to share it with you.

“Years ago I owned a dog who had fondness for large bones…He gnawed on the bone, turned it over and around, licked it, worried it. Sometimes we could hear a low rumble or a growl, what in a cat would be a purr. He was obviously enjoying himself and in no hurry.

Imagine my further delight in coming upon a phrase one day while reading Isaiah in which I found the poet-prophet observing something similar to what I had enjoyed so much in my dog, except that his animal was a lion instead of a dog: “As a lion or young lion growls over his prey…”

Growls is the word that caught my attention. What my dog did over his precious bone.., Isaiah’s lion did to his prey.

The nugget of my delight was noticing the Hebrew word here translated as “growl” (hagah), but usually translated as “meditate” as in the Psalm 1 phrase describing the blessed man or woman whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, on which he meditates day and night”…

When Isaiah’s lion and my dog meditated, they chewed and swallowed, using teeth and tongue, stomach and intestines; Isaiah’s lion meditating his prey and my dog meditating his bone.

There is a certain kind of writing that invites this kind of reading, soft purrs and low growls as we taste and savor, anticipate and take in the sweet and spicy, mouth-watering and soul energizing morsel words…

I am interested in cultivating this kind of reading, the only kind of reading that is congruent with what is written in our Holy Scriptures…

Do we read words or truly take them in?
Does the truth in Scripture change us, or is it a check on our daily Bible Reading plan?

The image of eating or meditating on Scripture is throughout the pages of the Word:
– St John was eating a book in Revelation 10:9-10
– Jeremiah and Ezekiel had also eaten books in the past.
– Psalm 63 tells us of “meditating on God in the watches of the night.”

“Reading is an immense gift, but only if the words are assimilated, taken into the soul – eaten, chewed, gnawed, received in unhurried delight.”

Don’t just read to fulfill a requirement.

We don’t read a verse to tweet it or post it to Facebook hoping someone will like it, or better yet share it!

We read to be changed, to be impacted, to be doers of the Word, not merely hearers. (James 1:22)

Growl, Gnaw, and Savor.

Eat This Book!

Italicized portions taken from Eugene Peterson’s “Eat This Book”  Copyright  2006. 

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God