Proverbs 13:25 ESV
The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want.
Despite the words of this proverb, a fairly large number of Christians have starved to death, whether by persecution or mishap. Of course, that’s hardly proof of its falsity; properly understood, this verse is a statement of what should be, what the world tends towards (more and more as the victory march of the church progresses ever farther), even if we just think about it in terms of normal, fill-your-stomach-for-a-few-hours food. The import of this verse, while certainly applicable to such food, does not stop there; for an understanding of the eternal truth which this reflects, we must inspect the symbolism of food in Scripture.
First, let’s review Genesis 3. Adam, at Eve’s prompting, eats of the fruit of the Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. Does this eating confer any knowledge through the fruit? No; it is fairly clear here that Adam’s sin lay in eating the fruit, not in the fruit being eaten (a small but vital distinction). The disobedience was the problem, and the disobedience was the path by which he and his wife gained the knowledge promised by the tree’s name. Nevertheless, in a symbolic sense, in taking the fruit of the tree into himself, Adam took the knowledge of good and evil (a knowledge which was more than information, which was a radical (root-deep) tainting of his nature) into himself- fruit to the body as knowledge to the soul, yet the second was assuredly more destructive than the first.
Second, let’s take a gander at two instances in Ezekiel and Revelation, the second being a clear reference to the first. In Ezekiel 2-3, Ezekiel is commanded to eat a scroll; in Revelation 10, John is likewise ordered. Ezekiel’s scroll tasted “as sweet as honey” (3:3), while John said of his, “[The scroll] was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter” (Rev. 10:10); of additional note is the fact that Ezekiel’s scroll is explicitly stated to be inscribed with “words of lamentation and mourning and woe” (Ez. 2:10). Both Ezekiel and John are, upon eating the scroll, directed to prophecy: to Ezekiel, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them” (Ez. 3:4) and to John, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings” (Rev. 10:11). Here again eating has a symbolic weight. Ezekiel takes the words of mourning into himself in the scroll given him by God and is commanded to bear the words which God has given him to Israel, to be, as verse 16 states, a watchman, warning those who go astray (what better purpose for divine words of woe?). John, though less obviously, participates in the same symbolism (of taking in God’s words via eating that he might speak God’s words), strengthening that symbolism by his obvious and doubtless intentional resonance with Ezekiel 2-3.
Third, let’s remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3 concerning spiritual meat and milk. Here the symbolism does not pertain to literal food, of course. The words are rather a way of communicating different types of spiritual sustenance. Milk, the food of infants, is here analogized to the basic spiritual guidance healthy for spiritual young-‘uns, the immature, while meat, the food of the grown man, is analogized to deeper, more complicated doctrines, such as are appropriate to the mature Christian, whose faith has taken deep roots. Food is to the physical as God’s words and council, in whatever part or form, is to the physical.
With all this in mind (and we didn’t even get into the topic of Passover or communion or manna), re-consider the promise of this proverb: God’s people (the righteous) will be satisfied. In the physical sense, God does provide what provision is necessary to His people when it is for their benefit (Romans 8:28- a verse about sovereign providence, not effective adaptation to non-ideal circumstances). In the spiritual sense, He, according to His steadfast love (Ps. 136), provides us with spiritual sustenance, through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and through His Holy Spirit (John 14:16), the third person of the Trinity, that we might be raised up in our last day to stand before His throne and worship.
How ill it is, then, for the wicked, who goes hungry. How great is God’s mercy, that he saves us, who but for His inexorable hand would assuredly die eternally for the sake of our inveterate rebellion against His rule.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.