Chewing the Cud (09-30-07)

Why do cows spend so much time chewing their cud?  And just what is a cud. When a cow grazes in a pasture it fills its first stomach (yes, they have more than one) with grass and other foods. When filled, it settles down in a quiet place and brings back up that which has been eaten so that it can chew it more fully and prepare it for digestion. This regurgitated food is the cud.

Although that whole process sounds decidedly disgusting to us, nevertheless one can find some food for thought here for the disciple of Christ. We should first of all realize that when we approach the Word of God to feast upon its nourishing contents, we should fill ourselves with its goodness and then find a quiet place to bring it back up and chew on it for awhile. In fact, the phrase chewing the cud has occasionally been used to describe the process of meditation. The people of God need to spend time reflecting upon the teachings of Scripture. The fast food/gobble and go approach of many to the inspired revelation of God simply will not bring spiritual nourishment and growth.

O how I love Thy law. It is my meditation all the day. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my meditation. How sweet are Thy words to my taste. Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth (Psalms 119:97, 99, 103) Throughout the 119th Psalm the poet speaks repeatedly of the spiritual value of meditation – what one scholar, perhaps with the cud chewing cow in mind, called mental mastication. Just as the contented cow reclines in the pasture chewing its cud, so does the devoted disciple delight in spiritual reflection. Thy servant meditates on Thy statutes; Thy testimonies also are my delight (Psalms 119:23-24). I will meditate on Thy precepts, and regard Thy ways. I shall delight in Thy statutes; I shall not forget Thy word (Psalms 119:15-16).

In a society dominated by the demand for instant gratification, fast food, and quick fixes, we, the people of God, need to promote a calmer, quieter, more reflective approach to life. Let us fill our innermost parts with spiritual food, and then in a quiet place devote ourselves to calmly chewing and re-chewing this life-sustaining feast from God’s lush pasture – His Holy Word.