Friday, August 22, 2008

The Full Soul

Verse: The full soul loathes a honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. Proverbs 27:7

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. The funny thing is I’ve never been able to say for sure if fullness of soul is a good thing or not. Is the proverb praising those with a full soul? Are there different things a soul can be full of? Can one be full of good things as well as bad? And what does “every bitter thing” mean? Can the “bitter thing” be good?

Let’s see what the verse would mean if we took the word “full” in a good sense.

There can be a fullness of joy that no one can take away. The person who feels truly fulfilled by a loving spouse would not be tempted by an extramarital relationship. Or consider the fullness one feels in one’s stomach after eating a satisfying meal. If you were offered a sickly-sweet chocolate bar after such a meal, you would most likely refuse. If one has a satisfying relationship with God, or a satisfying knowledge of God, one will not be tempted by the pious trappings and false truths of false religions that satisfy other searching souls. But the hungry spirit searching for truth will cling to fodder that a full soul would recognize as a mere honeycomb, mere empty calories.

There are hungry souls who hungers and thirsts after righteousness. They are so desperate for spiritual meaning they end up latching onto a “bitter thing” and thinking it is the sweetest thing they ever tasted. They will be fed by bad religion and their lives might even be sweetened by it for a while.) How many of us have known people who joined strange cults or got into strange religious practices because they met up with just the right "ambassador" of that religion at just the wrong but opportune time?

But now let us ponder fullness. Perhaps “fullness” can also be a bad thing. The full soul might be full of itself, full of false pride, full of false teaching. In this case, the honeycomb they loath might be a good thing. A person who is rich, self-satisfied, handsome, powerful and respected might be so full of the joys of this life that he needs some shaking up. What would happen if such a person encountered a bitter thing? Such a man would be profoundly disturbed if he lost his money. He would be lost in his bitterness. And yet, spiritually speaking...this bitter thing would be a true sweetness to this man's soul because it would be leading him towards the better things in life. It would be like what is mentioned in another proverb: the medicine tastes bitter but it makes us well.

So what should we do with this verse? In many Bible studies, believers want to share what a particular verse means to them, but in this case the exact interpretation of this verse isn’t important. It merely tells us something we can all agree on. There are full souls and empty souls. And there are choices that are made depending on how full or empty a particular soul is.

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