Chewin’ the cud

July 11, 2013

It’s been over a year now since I started writing this little essay I call “Ruminations.” Quite frankly I have no idea who reads it. Every now and then I’ll get some feedback which I appreciate greatly. I guess it’s mostly for my own enjoyment and on occasion amusement. I have been asked by several folks why I chose to call it “ruminations.” I don’t really know… the word just came into my brain when I was thinking about calling it something. Somehow “Bill Stuff”, “words of wisdom”, “really cool thoughts”, “my brain at word”… all seemed a bit… well… arrogant and maybe just silly.

If you have read many of these in the past year, you have noticed my curiosity with words and their origins.  I know what “rumination” means, i.e., having something swirl around in your brain, talking something out, thoughts that interest you…, but I didn’t really know it’s origin.  Well, I find that to be fascinating.  The word comes from the Latin word ru-mi-nant which refers to “any even-toed, hoofed mammal of teh suborder Ruminantia, being comprised of cloven-hoofed, cud-chewing quadrupeds, and including, besides domestic cattle, bison, buffalo, deer, antelopes, giraffes, camels, and chevrotains.”

The point being, it refers to animals that “chew the cud.” Of course we use that phrase in English to mean “to be thoughtful about something” or “to contemplate something.” So to ruminate means to “chew something over in our minds.” Pretty cool huh?

So are there any spiritual insights here? Sort of. In the Old Testament we find a collection of songs or poems that we call the Psalter. There are 150 of them. Scholars have debated for years the “order” of the Psalms… if in fact there is an order. And if so, what is it? Well, surely there is an order it’s just not always easy to see. The simplest order can be seen in the breakdown of the Psalms into 5 different books. If you look at your Bible you will probably (not always) have a note above Psalm 1 saying it is the 1st book. Then above Psalm 42 the 2nd book and so on. You can find the other three books by searching through the remainder of the Psalms. The order from here gets a little more complicated. Rather than write a VERY long article about how they may be ordered let me point out just a couple more obvious examples.

If you look at the end of the Psalter… particularly beginning with Psalm 144 you will notice a theme to these Psalms. They are Psalms ascribing praise to God. It seems that whoever put this collection together wanted to end on a note of Praise. The order seems purposeful and clear. Now go back to the very first Psalm.

Psalm 1

1 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. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Notice the theme of the Psalm surrounds the 2nd verse… i.e. the blessed ones are those who meditate on Scripture. This Psalm was not placed here by accident. It seems clear to me that the “compiler” was sending a message from the very beginning… mediate on the Word of God! Meditate is not unlike ruminate… chew it around… let it sink in… push other things out of our minds as we thing about Gods Word to us…

Start today… Let the Psalm above swirl around your mind and your spirit.


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