7 ¶ The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
Taken very literally; a person who is sated with the delicacies he desires, for that moment, wants no more and, in fact, wants nothing to do with them. The starving person will eat almost anything. But, look at this. In the Old Testament, under the Law, the body and the soul were talked about as one thing. Even, as Jesus spoke before the resurrection the Jews were still under the jurisdiction of the Law given to Moses. They were not born again. They carried no Spiritual presence of God within them predicated upon their belief and trust in Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, as their Saviour.
Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
But, after the resurrection, when a person can be born again spiritually by believing on Jesus Christ the soul is separated from the sins of the flesh.
Colossians 2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Pleasant words are likened to a honeycomb in the following Proverb.
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
The words of the pure are pleasant in this verse.
Proverbs 15:26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.
God’s words are said to be sweet.
Psalm 119:103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Now, let’s take this very Old Testament Proverb, written under the Law, and give it a spiritual application to Christians.
One of the things that is amazing about American Christians is their self righteous certainty that they’ve gotten all of God that they will get or need. They sit in a church and hear a preacher exhort them to do right or, if he’s got an agenda, to vote a certain way or to hate certain people. Leaving, they feel smug and self satisfied, full of themselves and sensing that they’ve done what God expects. Some of them don’t even make the effort to meet with a body of believers as the church regularly and often. Often, in churches across the nation, and this is true of even Fundamentalist churches, humanism is taught from the pulpit like a lecture on philosophy in a college lecture hall.
These Christians are full, they leave the building in which the church meets and want nothing more to do with God’s words. They might mutter a hurried prayer each day or even read a verse or two for “inspiration”. But, unless some tragedy or calamity confronts them it is doubtful they’ll even crack open the Bible. Some will go to the Bible for a story or a lesson or some moral principle underlined, particularly, though, for verses to comfort or support.
They lack the love and hunger for God’s words that the hungry soul of years before thirsted for every day. It is ironic to hear preacher’s talk about the “old time religion” when their religion is anything but old when daily Bible reading is not a part of it.
“The American version of Protestantism was a religion of a book, and to practice the religion required being able to read the book. In many a log cabin, parents taught their children the rudiments of reading in the only book they had; a Bible……” (page 192 of Daniel Walker Howe’s Pulitzer prize winning “What Hath God Wrought”.) By the way, this was always a King James Bible, called “the common Bible” in colonial America. Bible reading was important to be an American and to be a Christian. Christine Leigh Heyrman, in her book “Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt” also underscores the importance of Bible reading in early America. The book “Pagan Christianity” points out that it was the Puritans who believed that God spoke to His people principally by the weekly sermon, which they required you to attend by law, rather than Bible reading at home, as well.
The hungry soul will find even the harshest, bitter judgments of the Bible sweet. The hungry soul will come to the Bible to be fed and filled every day, to have God speak to them from His own words each day. Hungry souls will “take up and read” as Augustine reported he heard a disembodied voice tell him. Whether or not you believe what Augustine said, the hungry Christian soul will want to read and to hear God’s words. They are sweet to his taste and we know from the Bible that….
Job 34:3 For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat.
As I said, many Fundamentalist preachers do not teach and exhort a love of God’s words read and heard directly from the Bible. Mostly that is because they want to control what you think and believe about God’s words rather than guiding you and keeping you from heresy, in spite of the Baptist doctrines of soul liberty and the priesthood of all believers. As Dr. Ruckman has so accurately pointed out, from most fundamentalist pulpits all you hear is about attendance and giving.
Christians need to know about the power of God’s words. The Christian needs to come to the Book expecting that God will use it to change Him, not merely by the Christian’s assent to the doctrines and moral teachings of the Book, but by a supernatural power the Bible has been imbued with by God to reach into the person and make him or her different. The Holy Spirit can take His own words and change your heart, your circumstances, and your life even while you simply read a list of names in a book of the Bible. It is daily Bible reading, expectation, and submission to accept whatever God’s will is for your life that enriches a Christian’s life far beyond his mere wish to be a “good Christian”.
God’s words go beyond your intentions. They take you further than your seemingly heartfelt desire. The Bible is the principal way that God speaks to His people; read, heard, preached, and taught, and there is no substitute for daily reading of it accompanied always with much prayer.
Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Paul tells the young preacher, Timothy, to “give attendance to reading” in 1 Timothy 4:13 and I assure you he wasn’t talking about Plato. The king of Israel was to read the Scriptures every day.
Deuteronomy 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
And the psalmist makes these declarations;
Psalm 119: 9 ¶ BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
11 ¶ Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Christian, be a hungry soul and fill yourself with the delicacies in God’s words in His Bible. Even the bitterest of words will be sweet to your ears in its judgments. And, as Dr. Ruckman has said, “either the Bible will keep you from your sins, or your sins will keep you from the Bible.” Amen to that.