May 23rd Hungry for God?

Reading: Proverbs 23:1-35

In today’s chapter there is much about eating and drinking. It’s always a surprise to me that in the fourth century lists of the ‘deadly sins’, gluttony used to head the list. It was the most significant! Pope Gregory wrote, ‘Unless we first tame the enemy dwelling within us, namely our gluttonous appetite, we have not even stood up to engage in the spiritual combat.” Gluttony, for Pope Gregory, stood for all the sins of the flesh: the love of comfort, luxury and laziness. We see that this is mirrored in today’s chapter. We are warned not to love the luxuries of a ruler (1-3), or a miser (6-8), not to over indulge our appetites (20-21, 29-35) because these all lead to laziness (21) and ultimately, death.

Gluttony is an inordinate obsession with food and drink. It is about getting eating and drinking out of proportion. We are actively encouraged to over-eat; food deals, and even supermarket food advertising is so over the top it is sometimes called ‘food porn’. On our T.Vs it seems that there are wall to wall food programmes. (Or perhaps that is just me when I’m hungry!)

John Piper helpfully writes, “Our appetites dictate the direction of our lives – whether it be the cravings of our stomachs, the passionate desire for possessions or power, or the longings of our spirits for God. But for the Christian, the hunger for anything besides God can be an archenemy, while a hunger for God – and him alone – is the only thing that will bring us victory.” I’m often hungry for food, but I want to be hungry for God

Paul writes,

Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:17-21 NIV)

For memorisation:

Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. (Proverbs 23:17 ESV)


Father, I come to you! Let my heart be changed and renewed by your Spirit. I realise that the greatest enemy of hunger for you in my life is that I can satisfy my needs, at least temporarily, with stuff, alcohol and food. Jesus, I can see that my desire for pleasures can at times dull my appetite for you. I am deeply sorry. I know that a person does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from you! Help me to live hungry for you. In Jesus name. Amen.


  • Harry Alston says:

    Following Mary’s comment: the use of physical punishment for children is not contained in any of Solomon’s proverbs but in the “Words of the wise”. It is likely that Solomon dealt too softly with his son and hence Rehoboam’s wayward behaviour as a young man. The Bible indicates that violence does not necessarily beget violence but is the only way that evil can be overcome. Remember the numerous times that God had to use violence – Noah’s flood, the destruction of the Amorites in the promised land and perhaps the most telling of all, when Jesus destroys all His enemies before He takes up the rule of the earth for His thousand year reign.

  • Mary Dicker says:

    I am not sure I would choose Solomon’s parenting style. We read what kind of man Rehoboam grew up to be.
    1 Kings 12:13-14: “And the king [Rehoboam] answered the people roughly, and forsook the counsel of the old men which they had given him, and spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.’
    Violence begets violence.

  • Harry Alston says:

    The Lord gives us an amazing promise in Matthew 6:” But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” He wants to provide all that we need in the way of food, clothing and housing, Not necessarily what we WANT. St Paul also confirms this: ‘But my God shall supply ALL your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Our physical needs are important to the Lord.

    On another tack, I find the command in verse 14 salutary: “Thou shalt beat him (the child) with the rod,
    and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” It is not politically correct to apply physical correction and discipline to a child. But the wise man says that it is necessary because “foolishness is in the heart of the child.” Physical correction is something that the child understands. We are not talking about gratuitous violence but the occasional smack or even the occasional cane in schools. The withdrawal of these sanctions appears nowadays to be associated with a marked increase in lack of discipline, rebellion and even violence in schools and society at large. It is interesting that the rod is used twice in this connection in the proverbs (see 22:15) as if to emphasise it.

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