Happy Are Those Hungering And Thirsting For Righteousness, Because They Shall Be Filled
Which do hunger and thirst.–We seem in this to hear the lesson which our Lord had learnt from the recent experience of the wilderness. The craving of bodily hunger has become a parable of that higher yearning after righteousness, that thirsting after God, even as the hart desireth the water-brooks, which is certain, in the end, to gain its full fruition. Desires after earthly goods are frustrated, or end in satiety and weariness. To this only belongs the promise that they who thus “hunger and thirst” shall assuredly be filled. The same thoughts meet us again in the Gospel which in many respects is so unlike that of St. Matthew. (Comp. John 4:14; John 4:32).
Verse 6. – They which do hunger and thirst. The application of the figure of eating and drinking to spiritual things (cf. Luke 22:30) is not infrequent in the Old Testament; e.g. Isaiah 55:1. Yet the thought here is not the actual participation, but the craving. The Benediction marks a distinct stage in our Lord’s argument. He spoke first of the consciously poor in their spirit; next of those who mourned over their poverty; then of those who were ready to receive whatever teaching or chastisement might be given them; here of those who had an earnest longing for that right relation to God in which they were so lacking. This is the positive stage. Intense longing, such as can only be compared to that of a starving man for food, is sure of satisfaction. After righteousness (τὴν δικαιοσύνην). Observe:
(1) The accusative. In Greek writers πεινάω and διψάω are regularly followed by the genitive. Here by the accusative; for the desire is after the whole object, and not after a part of it (cf. Weiss; also Bishop Westcott, on Hebrews 6:4, 5).
(2) The article. It idealizes. There is but one righteousness worthy of the name, and for this and all that it includes, both in standing before God and in relation to men, the soul longs. How it is to be obtained Christ does not here say. For they. Emphatic, as always (ver. 3, note). Shall be filled (χορτασθήσονται); vide Bishop Lightfoot on Philippians 4:12. Properly of animals being fed with fodder (χόρτος); cf. Revelation 19:21, “All the birds were filled (ἐχορτάσθησαν) with their flesh.” At first only used of men depreciatingly (Plato,’ Rep.,’ 9:9, p. 586 a), afterwards readily. Rare in the sense of moral and spiritual satisfaction (cf. Psalm 17:15). When shall they be filled? As in the case of vers. 3, 4, now in part, fully hereafter. “St. Austin, wondering at the overflowing measure of God’s Spirit in the Apostles’ hearts, observes that the reason why they were so full of God was because they were so empty of his creatures. ‘They were very full,’ he says, ‘because they were very empty'” (Anon., in Ford). That on earth, but in heaven with all the saints –
“Ever filled and ever seeking, what they have they still desire,
Hunger there shall fret them never, nor satiety shall tire, –
Still enjoying whilst aspiring, in their joy they still aspire.” (‘Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family,’ ch. 9, from the Latin Hymn of Peter Damiani, † 1072.)
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