Honey from the Rock
“But I would feed you with the finest wheat.
I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.”
In Psalm 81, the Lord invites Israel to receive the very best of his blessings. “Open your mouth wide,” he says, “and I will fill it with good things” (81:10). In order to receive this bounty, God’s people need only to listen to his words and walk in his paths (81:13). Then, the Lord promises, “I would feed you the finest wheat. I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock” (81:16).
“The finest wheat,” literally in Hebrew, “the fat of the wheat,” is that from which one makes the best bread and other baked goods. That which comes from the finest wheat is both tasty and healthy. “Wild honey from the rock” adds some zest to the bread. The psalmist may envision a bees’ nest under some rocky crag, from which one takes delicious honey.
As I think about Psalm 81:16, I’m impressed by God’s offer of wild honey. To be sure, honey has some nutritional benefits. But, unlike wheat, it is meant mostly to delight the one who eats it. Honey adds sweetness and joy to eating. So, without pressing the imagery of this verse too far, I think it’s true to say that God offers, not only nutrition, but also pleasure to those who hear and do his words. Sometimes we think of obeying God so much in terms of what we must give up that we fail to remember the rewards of obedience. Our God, who created honey and our ability to enjoy it, wants us to live a full, rich life, a life of genuine pleasure. This comes as we seek the Lord and follow his ways.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Do you tend to associate pleasure and enjoyment with God? Why or why not? When has obedience led to joy for you?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, today I hear your invitation to Israel as if it were for me. You are urging me to hear and follow your words, to walk in your ways. I’m to do this, not only because it’s right, which would be reason enough, but also because it leads to the best possible life. Obeying you is the way, not only of righteous and significant living, but also of joyful and truly pleasant living.
Help me, Lord, to delight in your good gifts, to enjoy them, and to give you thanks for them. Remind me even to savor my food, to relish the varieties of flavors you have created, yes, even the tastes of good bread and honey.
Thank you, gracious God, for your goodness to me, for filling my life with your grace. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: For a fascinating series of photos depicting the taking of honey “from the rock” in Nepal, check out this website.
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