Have you ever seen a dog with a fresh bone? Quite often when they have a new bone, they are very proud of what they have and they like to show you. After a while however, the dog will go off away from people and enjoy its bone. If you have ever gotten close to a dog who is working on a bone, you hear a sound kind of like a rumbling, low growl. Some say, it is like what a cat does when it purrs. You know the dog is thoroughly enjoying this new treat.
There is a Hebrew word that, when pronounced, sounds like the sound a dog makes while working on a bone. That Hebrew word is Hagah. You can almost hear the sound of the dog when you say this word: hagggaaahhhh. The word hagah is used in Isaiah 31:4,
“This is what the Lord says to me:
“As a lion growls,
a great lion over its prey—
and though a whole band of shepherds
is called together against it,
it is not frightened by their shouts
or disturbed by their clamor—
so the Lord Almighty will come down
to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights.”
The word translated as “growls” is the word hagah. “As a lion growls, a great lion over its prey…” we get a picture of a satisfied lion, the picture of a dog with its bone.
But this word is also used in Psalm 1:1-2:
“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.”
This time it is used in verse 2, the word “Meditates” is the same word Hagah. What an interesting picture we have. The picture is of a lion over its prey, or a dog enjoying a bone. The Psalmist says, “Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” “Blessed is the one who ‘growls’ on his law day and night…”
What an amazing picture – one who treats God’s word as a dog treats a bone, hagahs over it. This is what we are called to do. A few weeks ago we talked about meditating on God’s word, this week we will talk about studying God’s word. There are differences here. The hagah of scripture is to ingest God’s word, as Eugene Peterson says, it is to “Eat this book.”
We can read the Bible each day and be touched by it. But do we truly ingest his word. Do we feed on God’s word? According to a study Donald Whitney quotes from the USA Today, that a poll taken “showed that only 11 percent of Americans read the Bible every day. More than half read it less than once a month or never at all.”
The Study of God’s word is more than a light reading. The more we study, the more we read it to understand what God is trying to show us. Eugene Peterson says in his book, Eat this Book, “What I want to call attention to is that the Bible, all of it, is livable; it is the text for living our lives. It reveals a God-created, God-ordered, God-blessed world in which we find ourselves at home and whole.” In God’s word we find how we are to live, and we find how we are to live in relation to him. God is a relational God and he is revealing himself to us in his word.
This week we will look at what it means to study God’s word, but also why we should study his world. To see how he is revealing himself to us. The discipline of study is something that I am privileged to do as part of my job. It is something that I thoroughly enjoy doing. As the more I study, the more I learn, and the more I learn the more I realize I need to study!