Sweeter than honey


Philip Owen

The Word of God is self-described as being LIKE milk, LIKE meat, and LIKE water. But if we are to be technically correct, the Word does not say it is like honey; rather, it contrasts itself with honey in that, as sweet as honey is to the natural palate, the Word of God is sweeter to the spiritual palate. This thought is mentioned in each of the two psalms (19, 119) that stand out as special paeans to the Word of God. “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (119:103); “the judgments of the Lord are . . . sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb (19:9b, 10b).

Under the figure of water, we are reminded that the Word of God is essential for life. Under the figure of milk, we are instructed that the Word of God is to be coveted above all else and that it provides all that we need to sustain spiritual life, particularly for infants. Under the figure of meat, we are informed that the Word of God also provides nourishment to mature us and to make us strong. But under the figure of honey, we are shown that the Word of God is infinitely sweet. Yes, it is necessary for life; yes, it nourishes and strengthens us. But the point of this figure is to explain that the Word of God is infinitely desirable: its life imparting work is sweet to us; its nourishing and strengthening work are not merely to be endured; they are to be enjoyed. When David (Psa. 19) and the psalmist (Psa. 119) describe the Word as “sweeter than honey,” they suggest at least two things.

SWEET WHEN WE TAKE IT IN. There is no substitute for feeding on the Word of God. We taste its sweetness when we attend a church that faithfully preaches the Word of God and carefully listen to its proclamation. We taste its sweetness when we read it, meditate on it, and memorize it. We taste its sweetness when we believe and obey it. To such a palate, the Word of God is sweet. An accurate measure of our spiritual state is how the Word of God “tastes” to us. Just as when we become physically ill we often find food distasteful, so when we are spiritually sick we lose our taste for the Word. Should we find the Word of God distasteful, we are in a state of resistance or rebellion. Those walking in the light find it infinitely sweet; sin makes it tasteless, even offensive.

And we should note that it is not just the “dessert” (the promises) that we find sweet, but all the Word—the commandments, the exhortations, the corrections, reproofs, and rebukes. All alike are sweet because all come from the mouth of a God who loves us and intends His every word to bless us. We may say with the utmost reverence, that the Bible is a sweet love letter from the Lord to His cherished children.

SWEET WHEN WE GIVE IT OUT. But the Word of God is sweeter than honey to our tongues, not only when we take it in but also when we give it out. How sweet we find it to talk of our children and our grandchildren. Our eyes light up and our faces glow with joyful enthusiasm. So it is when the faithful saint speaks of the Word. It is a joy to quote the promises; it is a thrill to recite the glories of our precious Savior and Lord and to exalt His name in the words of Scripture. It is sweet to testify in the words of Scripture the way of salvation and to offer hope to a lost and sinful soul. But it is also precious to instruct the ignorant or reprove the rebellious, knowing that the message of the Word of God is a message that offers deliverance and blessing for those who will hear. It is wonderful to expound more fully the meaning of some text and to have a small share in opening the eyes of someone to some blessed truth in the Word. All else that we speak of is temporal. But when Scripture is on our lips, we are filled with the sweet realization that we are speaking eternal truth and fellowshipping with our eternal Lord.


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