Growling in the Word of God


November 10, 2021

Joshua 1:7-9 (NIV)

7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”


Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

So yesterday, we delved into, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips;”

And we worked on keeping this Word from God in our mouths all day long. 

Be strong and very courageous.

Anyone who tries this will realize just how challenging it is to keep our attention focused. It is why gentleness (the fruit of the Holy Spirit) is so important. We must not scold ourselves for losing attention or becoming distracted, but gently recall our attention to the Word and Spirit. I knew I was making progress when upon first waking up this morning, those words came first into my mind, and I spoke them aloud as though God were speaking them to me. Be strong and courageous. It didn’t hurt that they were the last words I spoke aloud as I lay down to sleep the night before. ;0) But that’s another series

Now we turn to this next word:

meditate on it day and night,

Do you know when that is? Yep. Always. It is always either day or night. But this little word, “meditate,” might mean more than you think it does. Many Eastern religions have laid claim to this concept of meditation. The biblical idea of meditation, as I understand it, is quite different. Meditation is often an attempt to empty one’s mind. The biblical practice of meditation is about filling one’s mind—with the Word of God. 

The Hebrew word (transliterated) hagah is pronounced “daw-gaw.” Get this. It means to growl, utter, speak, or muse. And yes, you read it right, “to growl.” The biblical concept of meditation carries the image of a lion growling over, eating and savoring its freshly caught prey. We so often think of the Word of God as a duty we must exercise. The Spirit teaches us the Word of God is a meal to be savored and enjoyed. Recall the signature instruction of Psalm 1.

But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on his Law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2. 

I have a working rubric that helps me engage the Word of God over time and it has led me from a disciplined, dutiful reading of Scripture to a deeply delighted and desirous appetite for God’s Word. The hand is the mnemonic device with each finger representing a sequential step of engagement. And of course, it is alliterated, each beginning with the letter R.

Little finger: Read (mouth),
Ring finger: Ruminate (meditate)
Middle finger: Rememberize (memory)
Index finger: Research (dig deeper)
Thumb: Rehearse (Do it.) 

Ruminate is an agriculture term. It is what cows do when they eat. They delight in grazing on grass. They chew it up. They swallow it and it goes into one of their multiple stomachs where it is formed into a “cud.” Then they regurgitate it back into their mouth and chew it some more. They are getting every last bit of taste and morsel of nutrition. That’s how biblical meditation works. We must, however, get to the source—the Scriptures themselves.

In my own personal journey and now significant experience as an awakening and discipleship coach, I find most of us tend to compartmentalize our faith into a small block of time in the mornings. And this time is not so much characterized by reading and ruminating on the Word of God as it is spent reading and thinking about others thoughts on the Word of God. It’s not bad, but it tends to tilt heavy on others words and short on God’s words. And yes, I know, I write some of this material. But remember, I am coaching you up here. Our strength and courage must depend on far deeper sources than the words of women and men like me. This is why the text makes a bee line from “Be strong and very courageous,” to “meditate on [the Word of God] day and night.”

So, in closing, here’s the encouragement for TODAY:  

Be strong and very courageous . . . Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night,

We will get to rememberize, research, and rehearse tomorrow. 


Father, thank you for your Word. One word of your Word is worth more than all of the words of men and women over all the history of the world. How we love your Word and your Spirit. Come Holy Spirit and increase my appetite for your Word, my delight in your Word, my desire for your Word. And all of this that I might become made more every day in the image of your Son, Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen. 


So how about it for you–are you more on the duty and discipline side or on the delight and desire side of God’s Word? How might you grow more appetite than aspiration? 


ENCOURAGEMENT #10 TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SEEDBED ADVENT EXPERIENCE: These morning together in Advent will be an experience in all the things I am talking about here. are going to be like showing up at the gym together (sans burpees and medicine balls). We are going to be in training and conditioning and you are going to love it. Come on! I want to see you there. Deeper Advent = Better Christmas. You can see all the details here. If you already have the book, The Christian New Year, be sure to choose that option on the dropdown to avoid buying another book—OR EVEN BETTER—get another book and invite a friend to join us. COME ON!

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

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