The Hungry Soul

For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness. ~ Psalm 107:9 (NKJV)

I’m thinking about this verse… I read it in various translations, but I do like the one above.

The NIV says this:

for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things. ~ Psalm 107:9 (NIV)

The Message says this:

He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
    the starved and hungry got plenty to eat. ~ Psalm 107:9 (The Message)

It’s interesting the “longing soul” and “thirsty” are both used synonymously. I suppose if I hadn’t read that verse in different versions, I wouldn’t necessarily have connected the two so directly or thought to substitute one for the other. The Message applies the “thirsty” theme, with the imagery of “parched throats”.

It’s interesting to take a look at verses 1-9 in the NKJV:

107 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.

They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way;
They found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.
And He led them forth by the right way,
That they might go to a city for a dwelling place.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.

The expressions like “their soul fainted in them” and “distressed” and “longing soul” seem to suggest more than just a physical thirst and hunger; it suggests something deeper, a soul-thirst and hunger. At least, that’s how I’m reading- without the benefit of consulting any Bible notes or commentaries.

The same verses in the NIV read:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
    from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
    to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things.

In this version, verse 5 says “their lives ebbed away”. It doesn’t have the same reference to that “soul hunger”. Ebbing away could refer to a physical wasting away because of hunger and thirst. The deeper sense of yearning and thirst doesn’t seem to come out as strongly in the NIV, at least it doesn’t to me.

In verse 8, the NKJV says, “O that men would give thanks to the Lord….” It has a sense of yearning behind it. Verse 8 in the NIV says,”Let them give thanks to the Lord…”, as if they need to be “allowed” to do so? The yearning for men to give praise seems to be missing, or less pronounced.

In the last half of verse 9, the word “soul” is missing from the NIV. Is the connotation physical hunger, or spiritual hunger, or both? If it’s both, why is the world “soul” missing from the NIV?

I have been thinking about the “I AM” statements recently, too. I had them listed them out, so I looked up this verse:

3And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” ~ John 6:35 (NKJV)

Connecting these two verses, the one from Psalm 107:9 and the above verse from John 6:35, it would seem that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise of filling the soul-hunger. He is the living bread. Filling our souls or lives with other things ultimately will not fill the emptiness.

It reminds me (once again) of the miracle of feeding the five thousand: He is constantly giving to us so we won’t be hungry; there is no end to the “bread of life”. It keeps on giving. Jesus explains this further in John 6:48-51:

48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” ~ John 6:48-51

The “bread of life” keeps on giving, and he gave through his dying, so we can keep on living. And we must keep on dying, so we can continue living.

Anyway, I do like Psalm 107:9; it is a beautiful verse. (Trying to claim this promise, Jesus!)

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