The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.
The other day I was reading Proverbs when I came across the above passage. My first reading of the passage was on the literal level, where the passage was speaking literally about the righteous never going hungry. Immediately, I thought this verse was not true. Undoubtedly, there are those who trust in God fully who go hungry, who do not know where their next meal is coming from, or when they had their last meal. Also, I thought of situations where it seemed like the wicked had their cravings for food satisfied.
As I kept reflecting on the passage, however, I realized the are multiple layers to Scripture. I have written before on the interpretive method of the Orthodox tradition. As I understand the Orthodox interpretive method, the literal meaning is the lowest level of meaning for Scripture. There are higher levels of scriptural meaning. Here’s what I mean in this case.
If you read Proverbs 10:3 in light of Christ’s incarnation, life, and passion, the text takes on another meaning, a meaning “more true.” Jesus said if you hunger for righteousness, you will be filled. Jesus said of himself, “I am the Bread of Heaven.” During Jesus’ passion he said his body was bread, and his blood was wine. In John 6, Jesus says unless you eat my flesh, you have no part of me. In short, what Proverbs is talking about is true because the righteous never go hungry because the righteous are satisfied on the Bread from Heaven, Christ himself.
On the other hand, the craving of the wicked is thwarted. What does that mean? People crave peace, security, hope, and meaning (among other things). Those things cannot be provided in created things, but only in our Creator. Finding fulfillment in money or power leads only to bondage. A desire to fulfill lustful impulses in search of love shows itself to be loneliness. If you’d like just a small bit of evidence for such a claim, stand in the check-out line in a grocery store and look at the magazines. Divorces, scandals, and brokenness cover the pages. (And, sadly, we consider that entertainment) The desires of the wicked are thwarted because they desire contentment where it cannot be found.
Now, coming back to the text of Proverbs I see the truth of these words not laying on the literal, physical level, but the spiritual level which is interpreted perfectly in God’s self-revelation in Christ. This is a case where we must learn to see with our spiritual eyes and not rely as much on the physical things our eyes perceive. When we do, Scripture is opened to us in phenomenal new ways.
The righteous are never hungry because the food upon which they feast in the Manna from heaven, Jesus himself.
*Image from public domain