Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6 (ESV)
Hunger and thirst are two things that are constant in our lives. There isn’t a day that goes by that we are not hungry and thirsty. Eating and drinking are essential to sustaining life. Hunger and thirst are often used in scripture to express ardent desires (Psalm 42:1-2; Isaiah 55:1-13; 65:13). David wrote, O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1 ESV) Jesus, knowing the strong desires of hunger and thirst, could not have used better words to express our desire for righteousness.
In this beatitude Jesus is relaying the message that extremely blessed, fortunate, well off and happy are those who crave (famish) and thirst for equity of character and action for they will be abundantly supplied or gorged. Jesus is mainly speaking here of a spiritual hungering and thirsting as well as a spiritual satisfaction. He made a similar assertion when he said, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35 ESV) Later in John 6 when Jesus exhorts the disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he clarifies that his words are not physical in meaning but rather spiritual (John 6:52-63).
Being satisfied is the blessing for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. With what will they be satisfied or abundantly supplied? They will be satisfied with righteousness. They will receive in abundance the thing they hunger and thirst for. As stated before, righteousness is equity of character or act. It could be that the righteousness which fills those who hunger and thirst for it is the righteousness produced from the characteristics mentioned in the preceding beatitudes; the righteousness of being broken over personal sin and mourning over that sin and the sins of others, a longing to be pure in thought and action, the righteousness produced by a lifestyle of meekness; accepting wrong and choosing to forgive rather than seek vengeance.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will also be satisfied with everything they need to sustain life and fulfill God’s purpose for their lives. Jesus said, But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 ESV) Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied with the abundance of the kingdom; righteousness, peace and joy (Romans 14:17 ESV).
We are often guilty of hungering and thirsting for things in this world that bring no lasting satisfaction. After the initial thrill of our indulgence we are left with a feeling of emptiness and our longings return. The reason we are not fulfilled in these endeavors is that we were made for something greater than anything this world can offer. We will only be satisfied as we hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God.
Scriptures for meditation:
Psalm 17:15; 34:10
John 4:13-14; John 7:37-38