Contentment: “Ye Shall Be Satisfied”

The Tenth Commandment in the Prophets

5 min

Anyone who has held a baby has witnessed the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction. A satisfied baby rests in your arms without struggling. His diaper is clean. His tummy is full. He is cradled in loving arms or his parents are near. He senses that he is in a secure environment. He is satisfied because all of his needs are met. On the other hand, a dissatisfied baby cannot rest. Maybe his diaper is soiled. Perhaps he is hungry or his tummy is gassy. No one is holding him or nearby, and possibly he feels insecure or alone. His crying alerts others of his distress. Everyone nearby knows that this baby is not satisfied!

It is relatively easy to satisfy a baby. But when that baby gets older, he develops new reasons for dissatisfaction. He may see another child’s toy and seeds of discontent take root in his heart and mind. As babies, we are satisfied with our mother’s milk. However, as we grow older, we must learn to eat a wonderful variety of food to continue to be healthy. Yet, how hard it is sometimes to be content with vegetables when the freshly-filled cookie jar is nearby on the counter! For adults, beyond this example of food choices, life itself becomes more complicated as competing affections, ambitions, desires, and hopes are envisioned, gained, and lost suddenly or with disappointing regularity.

Are you satisfied? This profound question calls for an answer from the heart. Real satisfaction springs from a heart deeply filled with gratitude to God—not only gratitude for what He has provided, but a deeper gratitude for the essence of Who He is. A soul that is truly satisfied with God’s provision is a soul that is living in submission to the tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.” That person is fully content with God’s goodness, resting in His unchanging character even amidst the changing circumstances of life.

The Old Testament prophets spoke often about satisfaction. Speaking to a nation of people who had forgotten God and followed their own selfish, covetous ways, the Hebrew prophets warned that men and women would never find satisfaction in the selfish pursuit of wealth and pleasure.

Isaiah warned that even when wicked men eat everything in sight, “they shall not be satisfied” (Isaiah 9:20). He went on to say that the wicked “are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt” (Isaiah 57:20). The prophet Ezekiel spoke in a similar vein that even gold and silver “shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity” (Ezekiel 7:19). Hosea announced: “they shall eat, and not have enough” (Hosea 4:10).

The prophets of Israel not only pointed out the dissatisfaction of the wicked, but they also promised abundant satisfaction to any man, woman, boy, or girl who would turn from his covetous ways and find true satisfaction in what God Himself offers. The prophet Isaiah cried, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1).

Here are five specific blessings that the prophets of Israel declared would bring satisfaction:

  1. You will be satisfied with God’s guidance – Isaiah 58:11
    “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isaiah 58:11). Men who live without direction are never satisfied. Like a headless chicken running around, spastic, reactionary, without purpose and the life draining from it, men without the guidance of the Lord experience spastic, reactionary, directionless and purposeless lives, lacking God’s blessing of satisfaction. However, men who are guided by God are in the care of the Good Shepherd. Believers are His flock; the Good Shepherd guides them into “green pastures” and leads them to “still waters” (Psalm 23:2). Are you living without direction, wandering astray like a lost sheep, or are you resting in God’s guidance as He faithfully leads you in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake?
  2. You will be satisfied with God’s comfort – Isaiah 66:10–11
    “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory” (Isaiah 66:10–11). This article began with reference to a baby’s satisfaction, and here is a Biblical picture that the prophet gave of a nation satisfied like a contented baby. Just as nourishing milk consoles a baby, so God’s people are comforted with the consolation that God provides through His Word. God instructed Isaiah to proclaim God’s comfort to His people: “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people” (Isaiah 40:1). What followed this proclamation was God’s consoling His people through the promises—His sure word that would be fulfilled—that He gave to them: promises of forgiving iniquity, coming salvation, and all the earth one day seeing the glory of the Lord. Have you personally found the comfort that comes in the promises of the Lord? Are you resting daily on those promises?
  3. You will be satisfied with God’s goodness – Jeremiah 31:14
    “And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:14). Whenever you are disappointed by the evil around you or betrayed by friends, forsaken by family, or grieving over your own sin, you can always rest in the goodness of the Lord. God is eternally good in His character; we can know that because of His attribute of goodness, all the evil that He allows in our lives is ultimately for our good and for His glory. For example, in this passage, Jeremiah was speaking to people who had lost their children in the savage destruction of Jerusalem. They had lost homes, livelihoods, and their own little ones who had been slain. Still, the prophet proclaimed, the people could be satisfied by resting in God’s eternal goodness. Have you learned to rest in the unchanging goodness of God, even when you see ugliness and sorrow all around you?
  4. You will be satisfied with God’s vengeance – Jeremiah 46:10
    “For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood” (Jeremiah 46:10). God’s people have always labored under the scorn and persecution of the world. Forbidden to take vengeance ourselves, we must trust that God will avenge His name on the Day of the Lord. The martyrs that John saw under the altar in Revelation 6:10 cried out “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” The next time you are tempted to worry about injustice in the world, don’t try to take matters into your own hands. Instead, be satisfied with the knowledge that God will one day avenge Himself.
  5. You will be satisfied with God’s provision – Joel 2:19
    “Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen” (Joel 2:19). Are you truly grateful for the provisions that God has given you? He provided the children of Israel with manna in the wilderness, but they lusted for quail. Do you realize that God knows what you need better than you yourself understand? Are you grateful for what He has provided for you?

True contentment involves turning from our selfish desires to find satisfaction in the truth that all we need has been provided by our Lord. That satisfaction stems from a relationship of trust that He truly knows best and has our ultimate good in store. As we mature in faith, this trust comes from reminders that God has always been our source of life and that we can rest in the life-giving truth of His Word.

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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