Fat and Fatness
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.
Psalm 63:5 is one of those verses that doesn’t sound as inviting when it’s translated literally. If you were to look at the Hebrew phrase rendered here as “You satisfy me more than the richest feast,” and then translate it verbatim, you’d get something like: “Like with fat and fatness [chelev wa deshen] my soul is satisfied.” Given our current understanding that fatty foods aren’t necessarily our friends, we may not get the original sense of Psalm 63:5.
Above, the NLT translates the verse faithfully, though perhaps not as creatively as Eugene Peterson in The Message: “I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy; I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!” Actually, this verse reminds me of deep-fried cheese curds at the Rutabaga Fest in Cumberland, Wisconsin, where my family and I used to visit on summer vacations. (Ironically, as I write this reflection, the Fest is going on in Cumberland, only 1,320 miles up the road!)
For speakers of ancient Hebrew, chelev wa deshen conjured up pictures of rich food, bounty reserved for special feasts. Moreover, the word chelev was used in Scripture mainly for the fatty portions of a sacrifice that were reserved for God and burned on the altar, rather than eaten. As it says in Leviticus 3:16, “All the fat belongs to the LORD.” It makes a “pleasing aroma” to him, rather like grilling a piece of prime steak on a barbeque.
So, when David speaks of “fat and fatness,” he’s not only imagining the most lavish of feasts, but he’s also including the Lord as a fellow feaster. As he spends time with God in prayer and praise, David’s whole being is satisfied. It’s a feeling that’s similar to sharing a celebratory meal with your dearest loved ones and closest friends.
Of course, such a feeling of deep satisfaction doesn’t just happen. It comes only as we savor the rich food on our plate and the lavish love around our table. So it is in our relationship with God. We will only be satisfied in him as we spend time with him, drinking deeply of his truth and reveling in his presence.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When have you experienced deep satisfaction and delight? Has this happened in the context of a meal? What made this experience so wonderful? Have you ever known this kind of satisfaction with God? How might you open yourself to a deeper and more satisfying experience of the Lord?
PRAYER: Gracious God, first of all, though it’s not the main point of this psalm, I do want to thank you for the delights of good food. How wonderful that you have created such marvelous tastes and textures, allowing us to enjoy your culinary masterpieces. Thank you!
Even more, I thank you for the opportunity to know you in a deep and deeply satisfying way. I think of times when being with you has been like enjoying a fine meal with my loved ones. How amazing and profoundly gratifying!
Help me, dear Lord, to spend time with you, the kind of quality time that opens my soul to be satisfied by your presence. May I eagerly seek you, even as you are seeking me. Amen.
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This devotional comes from The High Calling of Our Daily Work (www.thehighcalling.org), a wonderful website about work and God. You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace.