As you may remember from elementary school an onomatopoeia isÂ a word that sounds like its meaning. For example, saying the word â€œsplashâ€ sounds like a rock landing in a pond. Â In the Hebrew language there are a lot of these. Â I learned one this past weekend from Ray Vander Laan at his weekend conference. The Hebrew word is â€œHagah.â€ Â Unfortunately, when the word as it is used in the Old Testament got translated into English, translators decided to go with itâ€™s more literal meaning â€“ â€œmeditate.â€ Â But this only slightly captures itâ€™s original intent when written by the Hebrew writers. Â Â Look with me at Joshua 1:8 :
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; 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.
The word â€œmeditateâ€ here is â€œhagah.â€ Â Typically we think of meditate as a quiet reflection. Â So here we get the idea that we should quietly reflect on Godâ€™s law day and night, which is of course a wonderful thing. Â But the original idea was even more powerful! Â So what did it mean? â€œHagahâ€ is an onomatopoeia for what a hungry lion does when heâ€™s seeking food. Â Imagine that lion in your mind and hear his roar as he passionately and even desperately seeks after something to eat â€“ â€œHagaaahhhhhhh!â€ Â Does that sound like meditation to you, at least as weâ€™ve defined it? Â Joshua 1:9 is about focusing on Godâ€™s Word but maybe not as quietly and passively as we might think. Â Itâ€™s about being HUNGRY for Godâ€™s Word day and night! Â And not just a little bit hungry for a snack. Â Weâ€™reÂ to desire Godâ€™s Word like a starving lion. Â â€œHagaaahhhhhhh!â€
I would suggest that most Christians treat Godâ€™s Word more like a snack, if that. Â No wonder it has â€œdeparted from our mouthsâ€ and we arenâ€™t careful to â€œdo everything written in itâ€ as God declares boldly in Text. Â But thereâ€™s more. Â God goes on to say in Joshua 1:8 that our hunger and obedience to His Word is directly relatedÂ to our â€œsuccessâ€ in life. Â Obviously itâ€™s not being implied here that if you read Godâ€™s Word that everything will always go well. But no matter what you face in life, if you have been â€œHagaaahhhhhhhingâ€ on Godâ€™s Word then youâ€™re going to be able to follow God through that moment. Â Why? Â Because His Word is not only our guide, itâ€™s the way to live life fully. Somehow weâ€™ve reduced it to a set of rules and obligations. But Godâ€™s Word is LIFE as itâ€™s meant to be LIVED! Â Â The Â laws and â€œrulesâ€ are there but not to merely restrict us â€“ they are there to give us LIFE! Â Of course there are things there about what Â NOT to do. Â But thatâ€™s because those things that weâ€™re being told to avoid will DESTROY us! Â We have to really believe Godâ€™s Word is life if weâ€™re going to hunger for them.
Listen to the â€œHagaaahhhhhhh!â€ Â used again in Psalm 1:1-2
Blessed is the manÂ who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinnersÂ or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates (hagah) day and night.
If weâ€™re going to follow Jesus as our Rabbi and truly be â€œcovered in His dustâ€ then we must know Him. Â And the way we know Him is by immersing ourselves in His Word. Â I want to wake up every morning hungry. Â I want to â€œHagaaahhhhhhh!â€ all day for His Words so that I can be more like Him, so I can do what He does, and so I can go where He goes.
Itâ€™s time to work up an appetite and then to devour Godâ€™s Word.Â Â Day and night, I canâ€™t get enough. Â â€œHagaaahhhhhhh!â€ Â Godâ€™s Word is my food and I want it more than anything! Â â€œHagaaahhhhhhh!â€ Â Godâ€™s Word is LIFE and to live it I have to know it. Â â€œHagaaahhhhhhh!â€
Maybe the more we â€œHagaaahhhhhhh!â€ the more we can be like Jesus, the LION of Judah.