Food for Hungry Souls
by James Smith
"He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things!" Psalm 107:9
Quickened souls are hungry souls, and hungry souls need food. Some can eat solid food — and some must be fed with milk. God's word provides for all, and gives a portion to each; and God commands his servants to do so likewise. All believers need to be fed, and this little book is intended to set food before them. If the reader is a hungry soul — he will find something in it to meet his case; though it is probable that for some it may be too simple, and they may turn from it to seek something more to their taste. Solomon, long ago said, "The full soul loathes the honeycomb, but to the hungry soul — every bitter thing is sweet."
Babes in grace will here find some milk — and the young men will find some strong meat. The bread of life, and streams of living water — are to be found here. The Lamb of God, and the fatted calf — are set forth also, in these pages. May the Lord give the reader a good appetite, that he may eat, and in the strength he derives from the food, work right heartily for God. The Savior presides at the table, and he says, "Eat, O friends, drink, yes drink abundantly, O beloved!"
The hunger of the body is painful — but the hunger of the soul is worse; the Lord has provided for the former in his providence — and he has provided for the latter in his word. As in every family, the head provides — but an inferior often dispenses; so it is in the Lord's family. We have food in the Bible — but his servants are sent to place it in suitable portions before his children. But whoever may be employed, as the Lord gives the appetite — so the Lord satisfies it. "He gives food to the hungry." Or as in the language of the blessed virgin, "He has filled the hungry with good things." Luke 1:53. Observe,
The Favored Character."The hungry." The hunger intended is spiritual, and is produced by the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart. They hunger principally for the Lord Jesus, to know him as their own Savior, to love him from a consciousness that he has loved them, and to enjoy him in his gracious relations and glorious offices. The Spirit's work always produces a longing for Jesus, and a hungering and thirsting after righteousness. The hungry long also for holiness of heart and life: hatred to sin is produced within them, and a love of holiness is kindled in the bosom — so that before health or wealth, pleasure or pastime — they desire to be made holy within, and to live a holy life before men.
The hungry long also for the presence and blessing of God. Mere notions in the head will not satisfy them. Dry facts will not meet their case. They want to realize the presence of God with them as a kind and loving Father, and to enjoy his blessing resting upon them. Often they sigh, as from the very depths of their souls, "O for the presence and blessing of God!" They look beyond the boundaries of time, and long for a peaceful and happy end. As they wish to honor God while they live — so they wish to honor him when they die. They wish their death-bed to be made easy and happy by the divine presence, that from thence they may speak of Jesus, to all about them; and having testified of him with their dying breath, ascend to receive a crown of glory which fades not away. Reader, are you a hungry soul?
This hunger proves life; and as it is a hunger for spiritual things — it proves spiritual life. A life produced by the Holy Spirit, and which only finds its home and happiness in Christ. The strength and frequency of this hunger, proves the power of the spiritual nature within; life must be supplied with its proper nourishment — and life and health, requires constant supplies of nourishment. This hunger is distinguished from the natural craving of the soul, by its being fixed upon its object. It must have what it hungers for, nor will it accept a substitute. If it hungers for Christ — it must have Christ, and nothing but Christ will do. Just so, if it fix upon holiness, the sanctification of the Spirit — and the sanctification of the Spirit alone will satisfy it.
This hunger is also frequent, as the natural body needs to eat several times in the day, or it will experience the cravings of hunger — so must the soul which is made alive to God. Jesus is therefore called, "the Bread of life," as that food of the soul which is most necessary, and most frequently necessary. If I eat in the morning — I shall hunger again before night; and if my soul is in spiritual health — that will do so too.
This hunger is influential — it will lead to action. The hungry man will do something, almost anything, to obtain food to satisfy the cravings of his body; and the hungry soul will make use of any means, of all means, to obtain the food desired by the soul. It will not be satisfied with desiring, longing, or talking about its needs — but in real earnest it will set about seeking, nor will it rest until it obtains a supply! Reader, have you this appetite?
The Lord's Kind Conduct."He fills the hungry with good things." He gives them the good things of his grace — so that they discover their interest in Jesus, they feel their hearts drawn out in love to him, and are filled with the sweet enjoyment of his presence. The soul that hungers for Christ, will never be left to die of starvation; but Christ in his glorious person, finished work, and complete salvation, will be its portion! Nor will the soul that longs for holiness, die unsanctified — for the Lord will sanctify it, and preserve it unto his kingdom and glory.
He satisfies the longing soul; and fills the hungry soul with goodness. He gives them the good things of his providence — so far as they will be for their good. Sometimes he diminishes the desire — and sometimes he satisfies it. Sometimes he gives a special blessing with a little, and it is enough — and sometimes he opens his hand and satisfies the desire as it is. In the end, he gives the good things of glory — and then comes perfect, perpetual, and everlasting salvation.
Yes, soon all that have over felt a hungering of soul after spiritual things, will be filled with the joys, the wealth, and the splendors of glory! The whole company will stand together, and upon every bright! and beaming countenance shall be read, "He has filled the hungry with good things."
But why does the Lord manifest such kindness to poor hungry souls? The reasons are many — but chiefly because it exalts his name and gives him glory!