Psalm 119:131 “I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.”
The human body can’t do without certain fundamental things. The most basic of these are food and water. God has created us in such a way that if we don’t get these things, we become very aware of our need. We hunger and we thirst. These sensitivities are built into us at birth. Newborn babies don’t know much, but they do know when they are hungry or thirsty, and they make sure everyone else knows as well, until that hunger and thirst are satisfied. These are the most basic desires of physical life.
Spiritual life has some very clear parallels to this. God’s Word is described as spiritual bread and living water. These things proceed from the Bread of Life and the Living Water, i.e., Jesus Christ himself. A newborn spiritual babe longs for pure spiritual milk (I Peter 2:2), and a truly mature believer, one like the righteous man Job, desires God’s Word more than his necessary food (Job 23:12).
After 40 days of fasting Jesus was given the temptation of eating bread if he would only bow to Satan. His response was that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). When human beings are deprived of food and water yet do not experience hunger of thirst, it is an indication of one of two things: either that person is ill, or that person is dead. And if an otherwise healthy person fails to eat and drink adequately, they will eventually become very weak.
What about you and me? Do we long for God’s word. Do we pant for it? Do we have the spiritual sensitivity born in us by the Holy Spirit that quickly experiences spiritual hunger and thirst when we are deprived of time in the Word of God for whatever reason? If we lack this, it’s time for a spiritual self-examination – either we are spiritually dead, or we may be on the way to becoming “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” although we may not recognize it, as was the Church at Laodicea, which Jesus rebuked for its lukewarm condition in Revelation 3.
May God give us the hunger and thirst for his Word that indicates we are full of the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.