Food and water are essential to life. We are driven to satisfy the body’s demands of hunger and thirst. We know what it feels like to be hungry and thirsty and the cravings for food and water such hunger generates. In the fourth beatitude Jesus used this most basic human need to teach His hearers their souls needed nourishment as well.
Just as the body craves and demands food and drink, so the soul hungers and thirsts. But there is a difference – our bodies let us know when we’re hungry and thirsty. We experience physical discomfort and anxiety – not so the soul. We can’t feel its lack of nourishment, so we must be all the more cautious and alert to its needs.
But just what is “righteousness?” The word in the Greek New Testament is dikaiosunā, and it refers to the act of doing what God requires; a characteristic to be taught and learned because it depends on a knowledge of God’s will; the compelling motive for the conduct of one’s whole life.
For the child of God there is nothing more vital or essential than knowing and doing the will of God. Sometimes we forget that – you know, life happens!!! The world is good at distracting us, capturing our attention, and diverting us from our intended path. In fact, it would supplant our hungering and thirsting for God with other things. Jesus warns us to not let that happen with wording and concepts taken from the Psalms. Look at how these familiar verses are reflected in Matthew 5.6:
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God? Psalm 42.1-2
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul,
And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. Psalm 107.9
For those who are poor in spirit, free of ego and pride, who mourn for sin, for the awful cost of sin upon the world, for those who are meek, the surrendered, God-controlled people – for all who are attempting to live so as to be characterized by these values – there has to have been an emptying of all those past selfish qualities. Let the soul now be filled with righteousness – a longing for God and a compelling desire to do His will.
“Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”