When our younger son, Joshua, was a toddler, he followed Jeremiah's lead and ate a page out of the Bible—literally, much to our frustration and his brother, Andrew's, consternation, since it was his Bible! Obviously, this was not what God had in mind, when He had Jeremiah record his experience; however, it does serve to illustrate a truth that is reiterated many times in the Word of God: the Bible is of no personal benefit until it is internalized. In fact, the writer of Hebrews tells us, we can hear good Bible preaching all day long, but if it doesn't get mixed with faith on the inside, we might just as well have not heard it (Heb.4:2).
The metaphor of receiving the Word of God as food is common in the Bible. For instance, Deuteronomy 8:3 says, "[M]an shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live"; and Job proclaimed, "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food," to name but two.
Notice in the verse that Jeremiah doesn't say the "joy and rejoicing" came when the words were found, but only after they were consumed. There is a great deal of difference between reading the Bible and assimilating it. In other words, allowing it to go beyond comfort and encouragement (both important) to conviction and instruction, the bitter with the sweet, if you will (Rev.10:9-10). Like food, some things in the Bible just slide down easily, like mashed potatoes; other things need to be chewed thoughtfully and purposely, as you would steak; while still others are just plain hard to swallow! (Can you say, "Cod liver oil"? ) But here's the thing: whatever it is, just get it down.
Do you want to know the part that is dessert for me? It's the last part of the verse, the "joy and rejoicing" part. The glorious assurance that when I call myself a Christian ("I am called by thy name"), I'm telling the truth. I claim Him, and He claims me. That is absolutely...delicious!
"Come and dine," the Master calleth, "Come and dine"; You may feast at Jesus' table all the time. He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine, To the hungry calleth now, "Come and dine!" — C.B. Widmeyer