The Watched Pot – An Elul Meditation

Perhaps you’ve heard the proverb, “A watched pot never boils.” In a time when people boiled water over a wood fire, bringing water to boil would certainly seem to take forever; especially if you stood, watched, and waited beside the fire.

And this is the heart of the proverb, as you are waiting for, or anticipating something to happen, time seems to move more slowly; yet the thing waited for has more value.

On the traditional Jewish, and Messianic calendar, we have entered the month of Elul. אֱלוּל/Elul comes from a root meaning harvest; yet as an acronym, it teaches something beautiful.

Elul traditionally is a time of preparing for, and anticipating the fall feasts, specifically Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Much like the “watched pot,” Elul takes time, yet it develops longing for the calling from, and connection to the Lord. In Messianic faith this season is a dress rehearsal for, and anticipation of the coming of our first love, Yeshua/Jesus, and the final harvest.

In the Song of Songs 6:3, Solomon writes,

אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִי

“I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine” (Song. 6:3).

The rabbis have long recognized אֱלוּל/Elul as an acronym of the above verse, drawing our attention to the heart of the month itself – the beloved.

In Hebrew “beloved” comes from a root picturing a boiling pot: דוד. (Which is also the root of the name David.) This describes a love and relationship between spouses, friends, and family members developed over time, having an intensity of emotion, and longing continued connection.

Time in anticipation for this connection seems to move more slowly, as in the watched pot. Yet when it reaches a boil, and anticipated hope is realized, the relationships have more meaning and value.

With regularity the apostles referred to their readers as “beloved,” as Jude wrote, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 1:20-21).

The apostles recognized the maturation of relationship, and it’s value between humans; to include the joy and pain, separation and connection.

As we face the ups and downs of life, and seemingly daily tribulation, this season is meant to refocus us on our first love, as we learn to experience the grace of this relationship. Waiting for His return may seem to be like a watched pot, it will take time, but Scripture reminds us that the boil is worth the wait, as we long to be with Him in the place He has prepared (Jn. 14:2-3), and we experience the beauty of relationship with each other.

As Tom Petty sings, “the waiting is the hardest part.”

Be well. Shalom.

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