“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness–for they shall be filled.” _5:6
Hunger is a painful sensation. It is not merely an appetite for food; but an appetite for food attended with pain. So spiritually. It is not merely a desire after Christ that constitutes spiritual hunger. “The sluggard desires, and has nothing.” But it is a desire attended with pain; not merely a wish for spiritual food, but also with such painful sensations, that unless this appetite is satisfied, the soul must perish and die. Nothing short of this constitutes spiritual hunger. There are many who say, “I have a desire.” If it be a spiritual desire, it will be granted. But spiritual desire is always attended with painful sensations which many are completely ignorant of who profess to have a desire. “The desire of the slothful kills him.” Why? Because he rests satisfied with a desire, and never takes the kingdom of heaven by violence.
The expression “thirst” conveys a still larger meaning. Hunger is more supportable than thirst. People die sooner when left without water than without food. Intense thirst is perhaps the most painful of all bodily sensations that a human being can know. The Spirit has therefore made use of this figure in order to convey the intense desire of a living soul–that he must have Christ, or perish–must feel his blood sprinkled upon the conscience, or die in his sins–must “know him, and the power of his resurrection,” or pass into the gloomy chambers of eternal woe–must have the presence of Jesus sensibly realized, and the love of God shed abroad, or else of all men be the most miserable.