New International Version (NIV)
25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content,
but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.
A cursory read of this couplet might lead you to conclude that God blesses the righteous man and withholds blessing from the wicked. But I wonder if that’s what Solomon (or whoever composed Pr 13:25) was really getting at. I wonder if there’s something deeper going on.
Here’s an alternative interpretation.
One mark of righteousness and blessedness is to look at what you possess, no matter how much or how little, and be satisfied. To look at your station in life, no matter how high or low, and be content. To be satisfied with the work of your hands whether you’re a gardener or CEO of a multinational corporation. To embrace your spouse with all of his or her imperfections and flaws and limitations and rejoice in who he or she is rather than pick at what they’re not.
Conversely, a mark of wickedness is gnawing hunger, the inability to be satisfied with what you hold, the endless craving for something more.
Maybe contentment, satisfaction, fulfillment and joy have way more to do with the inner posture of the heart than with the externals of our station or our environment or what we possess.
I’m reminded of a scene in Solzhenitzyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Someone asks Ivan how in the heck he can be singing while wearing rags and mopping the floor of a seemingly godforsaken Siberian gulag. Ivan shrugs and says simply, “I’m doing the will of God.”
What secret did Ivan possess? What did he know that his bitter inquisitor (who probably represents Solzhenitzen himself) didn’t? Since Ivan was a Christian, could he have been meditating on Paul’s thoughts in I Timothy 6:6-10?
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Or maybe Paul’s counsel to the Philippians (4:12-13)?
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.