An Appetite for the Word
As a follow-up to the last post, 7 Directives for Meditating on Scripture, let’s think more about meditating on the Word.
Compare your appetite for physical food to your hunger for the Word of God. Do you treasure Scripture more than food? Do you delight in it? Jeremiah contrasts these two appetites. “Behold, their ears are closed and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the Lord has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it” (6:10). In contrast to those who found no delight in God’s Word, the prophet’s personal testimony was “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). In order to crave a steady diet of the Word, we need to discipline ourselves for two kinds of intake: personal and public.
Personal intake of the Word requires daily meditation and study. The blessed man is the one who rejects the counsel of the world because his habit of delighting in the law of the Lord causes him to meditate on it day and night. This results in spiritual growth and fruitfulness (Ps. 1:1–3). Peter indicates that our relationship to the Word of God is a key part of our growth “in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). This is not growing into being saved, but rather speaks of growth as the outworking of salvation that has already been received in the heart. In other words, since we have experienced God’s salvation, “tasted the kindness of God,” then we must crave the Word that will make us grow. In light of this, John Piper’s words are especially challenging: “Our approach to the Bible should be like a miser in the gold rush, or a fiancée who has lost her engagement ring somewhere in the house.” That is what our attitude toward the Scriptures ought to be like! The psalmist also understood the connection between delighting in the Word and his walk of obedience and therefore prayed, “Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it” (119:35).
The growing disciple is also one who places a high priority on listening to the public reading and preaching of the Word of God. Paul warned Timothy that the last days will be a time when “men will be lovers of self” (2 Tim. 3:2) and, therefore, professing Christians will turn their ears away from sound preaching toward man-centered myths that tickle their ears (2 Tim. 4:1–4). In contrast, faithful followers of Jesus make participation in public worship services a high priority for themselves and their families as they involve themselves in the lives of their local churches. They do not forsake their local assemblies, “as is the habit of some” (Heb. 10:25), but instead they delight in gathering for corporate worship and fellowship so that they may hear the preaching of God’s Word and encourage one another to press on toward becoming like Jesus, whose return they eagerly await.
Like newly born nursing babes, we need to have an intense desire for the pure, uncontaminated Word of God. Peter says that if we “long for” it, we will grow (1 Peter 2:2).