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How to Eat the Word
by James M. Gray
"Thy words were found and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart" (Jeremiah 15:16).
There is a great difference between "finding" the Word of God and "eating" it, and it is the man who eats that gets the benefit out of it. Eating makes digestion and assimilation possible, and when these functions are normal in their working, the result is health and strength, and all the usefulness and joy of living.
But eating comes first, and the eating that counts is that which has taken plenty of time for mastication. You must retain the food in your mouth, and get the full taste out of it, and let it mingle with the saliva, and chew, and chew, and chew, until the least possible amount is left to swallow. The man who does this has learned one of the great secrets of his physical being. He has learned how to keep well, and how to eat almost anything he likes without ill results. Keeping the food in the mouth is the key to it all.
Something like this is true in the higher realm. Usefulness and joy in the spiritual life depend on spiritual health and strength. But these in turn depend on the spiritual nourishment one takes -- its kind, its quantity, its condition. The only nourishment for man's soul is the Word of God. "Desire the sincere milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby," is the inspired exhortation (I Peter 2:2), and the more you get of it the better, always provided that you can digest and assimilate it.
Holding the Word in Your Mind
Here comes the thought of eating again. Holding the Word in your mind is like holding the food in your mouth. That is how to get the full taste of it. Prayer does in the one case what the saliva does in the other. Turning it round and round, thinking of it from this point of view and that, asking questions about it, taking it to your parents, your Sunday school teacher, your pastor, searching its meaning in a commentary, all these things correspond to the chewing that makes good digestion and assimilation.
Now the only way to hold the Word in your mind is to memorize it. It is not hard to do this, and when you begin to see the benefit of it, it becomes a real pleasure. Make the task as easy as possible by taking a small portion at a time.
Don't "Bolt" Your Food
In other words, while you are a beginner let the passage of Scripture be so small that it may be readily recalled several times during the busy day. And see that you do recall it, that is the point. Master your will in the matter until it obeys you almost automatically and you are able to recall the Scripture without effort. You will be surprised how soon you will be able to do this, and it will mean so much to you. It will be better than counting the bank notes you have been hoarding up somewhere, or tasting a sweet morsel hidden away, or conversing with a friend whom you love very much.
The other morning at family prayers I read this verse in Proverbs 18:10: "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." I at once fastened it correctly in my mind, and as I walked to my office, I kept "eating" it, turning it over and over, and getting such a sweet taste out of it and such a sense of strength and spiritual satisfaction.
What I Found in the Word
"'The name of the Lord,"' said I, "why that means the Lord Himself! He is a strong tower." "And the 'strong tower'? In olden time, that was a place of defense and protection, like our forts today." "The 'righteous runneth into it.' Who can the righteous be, save those who are made righteous through receiving Christ by faith as their righteousness?" "'Runneth,' there is a thought of haste because of the pursuit by the enemy," and Paul's words came into my mind, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." "'Runneth into it and is safe.' Oh, the security and peace of the believer who puts his trust in God!" And so I kept on "masticating" the Word and finding something new in it at every bite.
But that was not all. Before the day was over I needed all the strength I got out of it. There were trials that day, the enemy was on my heels, and how glad I was to run, and to know the place to run to and be safe!
What the Prophet Meant
I think this is what the prophet meant when he said: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." And this is why I urge every Christian to memorize a portion of the Word of God every day. It gives his soul something to feed upon, and the more he feeds upon, and digests and assimilates it, the greater is his spiritual strength, and joy, and power, and fruitfulness in the Lord.
Let me illustrate this. The next day after my experience with Proverbs 18:10 I was at a prayer meeting, and being suddenly called upon to give a word of exhortation, I had an opportunity to pass on that verse to three or four hundred other people. And to how many more will they pass it on? They were all Bible students preparing for Christian work in the uttermost parts of the earth. Can you compute the number of souls to whom they may pass it on in a lifetime, and who, in turn may pass it on, and on, and on while the age lasts? And all because of that one little bite of truth I got that morning, and because 1 held it long enough to chew it well! Memorize the Bible if you want to be blessed and become a blessing.
This page Copyright © 2002 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: http://www.peterwade.com/.
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