A lesson I learned the hard way—at least in terms of my grocery budget years ago was to never shop on an empty stomach. When that sensation of hunger is present, all sense of an orderly journey through the aisles to carefully fulfill the needs of a pre-planned list is gone, replaced with the desire and willingness to fill the cart with anything and everything that looks tasty. In the aftermath of such a trip, at some point when I am no longer hungry, I inevitably see the purchases I made from a much different perspective and regret over my foolishness soon follows. Spiritually speaking our hearts can operate much the same way, succumbing to any manner of dangerous desires if there is a lack of satisfaction in our inner man.
The Hope from the Proverbs
Proverbs 27:7 speaks directly to this condition using an analogy not too different from what I have talked about in my shopping experience:
“A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” (NKJV)
Honey straight from the comb is a rich delicacy, thick and filling, sweet to the taste all by itself, and enhancing any number of other foods with which it may be paired. One may be hard-pressed to think of a situation in which a taste of this would not sound at least appetizing, if not outright incredible. The writer of Proverbs under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit speaks of a satisfaction our souls can experience where we would find ourselves so content as to hate such a treat. What could possibly be so satisfactory at a heart level as to render us immune to such a desirable thing? Passages such as Psalm 19:7-11 give us some insight. In these verses from this Psalm, the author is describing the worth and power of God’s Word, and he spares no turn of phrase as he does so:
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalm 19:7-8, NKJV)
He culminates his description with language that should sound familiar to us in light of our meditation on the Proverbs, as he says that God’s Word is “sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:11) In another place Psalm 34:8 invites us to taste and see that the Lord is good. The recurring theme that answers our question about the soul’s satisfaction is that it is Lord and His Word which can do this for us.
The Warning from the Proverbs
The other side to the words of Proverbs 27:7 is the danger of a hungry soul. To the hungry soul, like my empty stomach in the grocery store, everything looks good. The selfish act we would consider unconscionable seems entirely rational when we are discontent in our hearts. The thought of evil that we would dismiss out of hand if we had no sense of dissatisfaction is suddenly all we can think about. Those things which would ordinarily provoke feelings of disgust are now tolerated, even enjoyed as we seek to slake the appetite of our hungry souls. The sense of regret I feel after overspending at the grocery store is nothing compared to the shame that can accompany activity born out of a hungry soul.
A Well-fed Soul
The source of our soul’s true satisfaction is something we have already talked about, the Lord and His Word, but it is one thing to know what will satisfy and it is another thing to experience it. Like our physical bodies, we must not neglect the work of feeding our souls. The Psalms are once again a helpful source of the kind of imagery and instruction that brings the solution to life. Psalm 1:2 speaks of the blessed man, and says of him that “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” This is not a picture of someone having a light snack in order to curb their appetite, but rather more like someone pushing the limits of an “all you can eat” buffet. This is why we must never substitute our time in the Word with Christian books, no matter how profitable they may be.
If we are to satisfy our soul in the Lord, then we must be about the work of meditation on Him and His Word often, looking for opportunities to reflect and bring His truth to bear on our lives. Psalm 131 similarly paints for us the picture of someone who has committed themselves to trusting the Lord and hoping in Him. The image of verse 2 from this short Psalm is that of a weaned child in the lap of his mother. The weaned child no longer craves his mother’s milk but has come to be satisfied by other food, better and more necessary for his growth and maturity.
We must regularly expose ourselves to the better things of God’s truth, His wisdom, and grace so that we will no longer cry like an unweaned child for the unhealthy facsimiles the world will offer. May we daily go to the fountain of life, drink, feast, and be resolved to never leave until we are satisfied with the Source of true satisfaction—our sweet Lord Jesus Christ. We are best equipped to counsel others when we are doing so from a satisfied soul.