“Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
There’s a lot to this to be sure. I believe it’s Ezra the scribe, speaking to the people that had assembled in the newly built Jerusalem just after completing the walls. “Eat the fat”. Because some fat is necessary. It’s not all bad and it’s not the worst thing you can ingest. If we had no fat at all, we wouldn’t be able to move. And “sweet”? Probably referring to wine. When I read “sweet” in the Bible though, I think “honey”. But I can’t think of drinking honey. That’s kind of gross. And dangerous if you’re under a year old. Babies can’t digest honey.
“Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.” (Proverbs 25:16)
Milk and honey
Melliferous. It means “producing honey”. Think about what Solomon is saying in the above verse. Jesus expresses a similar point in cautioning one to maintain discipline and near-austerity in the face of radical blessing from the Lord: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting (too much), and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” (Luke 21:34) Really, He’s referring to His Second Coming. Because that’s better than all the best the world has to offer. But what if you’re entering a period of blessing–a windfall as it were, as were the children of Israel from the verse in Nehemiah–and you forgot to keep your mind and heart affixed to the God who brought you out from the desert and into a “city of refuge”? Don’t want to throw up and lose the very things God had been preparing since God knows when.
Think about what it took to get something sweet like honey. Let alone a land “flowing” with it. Bees have a thankless job. As bees are central and essential to the pollination (How come pollination isn’t spelled pollenation? Because “pollen” has an “e” but…nevermind.) process in ecology, we’d do well to respect the process. The Hebrew meaning for the name “Deborah” refers to the complex dance of bees in the hive. Bees rotate and wiggle in a circle whose tangent is analogous to the position of the sun with reference to the source of pollen. Amazing. See, we did nothing but wait on God for Him to come through with the “fat” and the “sweet”. This is why it says to “send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared”. The Lord’s eyes are always on the least. “Go out quickly into the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” (Luke 14:21a) Says Jesus. This is also what He’s getting at when He says to “take heed to yourselves”. None of the blessings God gives for His sake are in any way meant to eclipse His face. Remember, “the Joy of the Lord is your strength”. In walking through the forest, Saul’s son Jonathan (and David’s best friend) breaks the forced fast by tasting honey. It says how he hadn’t heard his father’s order to not eat and so tastes of the honey “upon the ground”, “and his eyes were enlightened.” (1 Samuel 14:26, 27) A forest without fruit doesn’t do one any good. The honey is meant to draw your attention to God so He can continue producing fruit in you.
“How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)
Flesh and blood
“They are inclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly.” (Psalm 17:10)
And here’s the other side. Just after his declaration that “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) Peter hears some of the hardest words ever spoken by Jesus. After Jesus commends him for testifying to the truth of who He is, and then reminds him that He still has to die, Peter tells Jesus that it won’t be necessary. From “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee” (16:18) to “Get thee behind me, satan…for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (16:23) It’s very important that we let God do all that He wants to do. Jesus could have stopped there. But it wouldn’t have gone to the top floor and we wouldn’t have had salvation (!). When we only focus on, or “savour” the things everyone else clamors for, we aren’t looking at the God who wants to meet our deepest need with Himself, first. Things come and go. States of satisfaction and circumstance-based-happiness vacillate. God is ever the same. Yes, if you’re happy and you know it, “clap your hands”. But as a child of God, we always have a reason to be happy. Whether we’re in the desert or in the forest or safe in a walled city. And whether we know it or not. Remember. The best thing I can recommend is to mentally scale down to a state of contentment based on what you never used to have. God has so much more than enough to go around.
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)