The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.
The poor have an advantage over the rich – they appreciate and enjoy things more. The abundance of the rich steals simple pleasures from them. But this advantage does not depend on economic status. The temperate man can choose it for himself. By choosing to be moderate in his use of all things, he enhances the pleasure of each individual thing.
Honeycomb is extremely good and sweet to the taste, one of creation’s greatest pleasures (Pr 16:24; 24:13). But if a man is full of dainty foods or gorged on an ordinary diet, the honeycomb’s sweetness is revolting and may even cause vomiting (Pr 25:16,27). Yet a laboring man who is hungry can find great pleasure even in simple soup (Gen 25:29-34).
Marriage is a sweet thing, a gift of God (Pr 5:18; Gen 2:18; Eccl 9:9). But if a wife is gorged on discontented fantasies of a better life, she can easily loathe her husband and the pleasures she should be enjoying. If she would choose to hungrily consider the abused or lonely state of many women, she would find sweet pleasure in even an average marriage.
A rule of wisdom is to live moderately. Wise Agur prayed to be saved from both poverty and riches: he wanted moderate food convenient for holy living (Pr 30:7-9). Paul learned to be content in any circumstances; he could be full or hungry, regardless of supply (Phil 4:11-13), and he taught this moderation in light of Jesus Christ’s coming (Phil 4:5).
Contentment, and the pleasure it creates, is a choice. Part of the great gain of contentment is greater enjoyment it brings (Pr 15:15; 17:22; I Tim 6:6). It is possible to be happy and pleased with whatever you have (Heb 13:5-6). Paul taught the Corinthians this carefree life by looking temperately at all their activities in a disciplined way (I Cor 7:29-32).
The world is obsessed with abundance and excess. This generation has more than ever before, but they scream for yet more. They are addicted to covetousness. Bloated with every conceivable pleasure, they are neither happy nor satisfied. They rush from one activity to the next, always looking for one satisfying event, which they never find. They overwhelm their senses in a mad search for fulfillment, but in the end it is disappointing.
Since a modest meal does not give them pleasure, they supersize it. Since ordinary athletic events do not satisfy, they invent X-treme sports. Though they drive only one at a time, they think three cars will provide greater pleasure. Since monogamy does not match their obsession for variety, they choose fornication and adultery as a way of life. Since a simple singing and preaching service is too bland and boring, they hire Christian rappers.
Unless the righteous are careful, their contented peace will be stolen by these pleasure addicts, who are never content or satisfied. Israel murmured against their free supply of manna (Num 11:4-9), then the LORD sent them quail until they loathed it (Num 11:18-20). It did not matter for such wicked people; they were committed to discontentment.
Reader, are you content with your life? Are you truly satisfied and at peace? Is the joy of your continual feast obvious to others (Pr 15:13,15)? Do you enjoy the simple pleasures of a honeycomb? Are you thankful for pleasant enjoyments the world would call bitter? Or have you joined their rat race and obsession for more in a vain pursuit of happiness?
You will not find happiness in another activity, another goal, a different spouse, an exotic vacation, a new car, another event, a different house, a better job, a more romantic husband, etc. Happiness is having your heart right with God, Who is the only true source of joy, peace, and hope. Then these things can give the pleasure you thought was lost.
Only contentment with what you have brings happiness and peace. And contentment is a choice – a choice of being full when there is little and being hungry when there is much. Such a choice makes both honeycomb and bitter things pleasant. This choice is the great gain of wise men, valuing godliness over thrills (Ps 73:25-26; I Tim 6:6; Heb 13:5-6).
The more you have of any thing, the less pleasure any increment can give, until a further increment becomes revolting. This is true of food, sex, entertainment, or most anything. A life of moderation, the discipline of temperance, will maximize the pleasure of things sweet and bitter. Believe it! Of course, you will not hear such things from the world.
It was when the prodigal was in the pigpen, lusting after the husks the pigs were eating, that he realized how good life had been at home (Luke 15:16-17). How did he get in such a fix? Fantasizing that pleasure was in the big city with whores! If you set your affection on any thing in this life as necessary for your happiness, you create a great temptation for presumptuous sin and guarantee yourself the lean soul of the covetous (Ps 106:13-15).
It is not luxurious fare that makes a great dinner; it is love at the table, which is a simple choice (Pr 15:17). It is not a different spouse that would enliven your life, it is loving the spouse you have (Pr 5:19). A man with a good wife, who is disappointed with his marriage, cannot appreciate what he has – his full soul loatheth the honeycomb. If he were to consider many lonely men without wives, he could find his wife quite sweet.
The rich in this world, full of sumptuous living and social activities, have no interest in the Lamb of God or His spiritual kingdom. They loathe the simple life of faith with lowly sinners. But the poor rejoice that the kind God has given them the riches of heaven. The rich are sent away empty, and the poor have the gospel given to them (Luke 1:52-53).
The wisdom here is the temperate use of all things. The rich should learn moderation, and the poor should learn contentment. The pleasure in any thing is the attitude toward it. True success in life is godliness with contentment, and there is no shortcut or alteration that will work. A continual feast is waiting for those who make the LORD their portion.
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