God’s Sweet, Sustaining Word

With Valentine’s Day approaching, the greeting card industry reminds us of the value of having the right words when you’re trying to communicate an important message, especially to the ones you love. Not to be left out, the confectionery industry reminds us that one of the quickest ways to a sweetheart’s heart is through the sweet tooth. It’s no secret that our senses affect our emotions. That’s why we talk about comfort foods and why chocolate seems to make so many people happy when they smell and taste it. Pulling words and senses together is a powerful combination to tell someone how much you love them.

The writer of Psalm 119 understood this and many times expressed his love for God and his Word, as in these words from Psalms 119:97-104:

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. (NIV 1984)

Not only does the psalmist reveal how much he loves God’s Word and how the Word draws him closer to God and makes him a better man, but he describes God’s Word as a delicious, delicate delight: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (vs. 103). The connection between the psalmist and God, through God’s Word, is practical and emotional and even sensational.

More than that, God’s Word is vital. It gives life and sustains life, but only if you trust it, internalize it, and respond to it. God has given his Word to people throughout history, but only those who trust God and his Word have find life; those who reject God’s Word reject God and die. This was the promise and warning God gave Israel before he led them into the Promised Land in Deuteronomy 7:9, 10. This was the promise and warning Israel ignored throughout their history until, finally, God allowed his people to be exiled from the Promised Land and from his presence.

That’s where we find Ezekiel, as we study through his book of prophecy. While God is punishing his people, he also prepares them for deliverance and restoration by giving Ezekiel his Word:

“But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. (Ezekiel 2:8-3:3, NIV 1984)

Even though the scroll was covered with “lament and mourning and woe,” when Ezekiel ate it, “It tasted as sweet as honey” (Ezekiel 3:3, NIV 1984).

Hard words taste sweet when they’re spoken in love, even in discipline. Hebrews 12:6 reminds us, “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (NIV 1984). As we read, study, hear, memorize, and internalize God’s Word, even when it disciplines us, it will sustain us by God’s love. If you want to know God’s love, even when times are tough, stay in God’s sweet, sustaining Word.