September is National Honey Month. Did you know that honey has been an important part of human diet and culture since Bible times? In fact, the word “honey” or “honeycomb” appears at least 62 times in the New International Version of the Old and New Testaments. The Bible uses honey to illustrate some important concepts. Take a look at a few verses featuring honey below:
A Promise of Plenty—Exodus 3:8
“So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”
Throughout the Old Testament, the land God promised to give Israel is described as a land of “milk and honey,” probably indicating how fertile and pleasant this land was. It was a place full of good things and well suited to provide for their needs.
God’s Provision—Exodus 16:31
“The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.”
When the people of Israel hesitated to go into the promised land, God made them spend 40 years in the wilderness before they could move there. During that time, He miraculously provided food for them in the form of manna and quail. While their wilderness wandering was bitter, God’s provision for them was still sweet.
A Delicious Snack–1 Samuel 14:27
“But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.”
Jonathan, the son of Saul (Israel’s first king), nearly gets in trouble for accidentally breaking a fast his father imposed on the army during a conquest. He’s ultimately forgiven, although he does make the argument that the whole army would have fought better had they not been suffering from low blood sugar.
Half of John the Baptist’s Main Menu—Mark 1:6
“John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.”
John the Baptist is probably well known for his strange habits and diet. He lived off the land—eating provisions from the wilderness like locusts and honey as he preached about Jesus.
“Eat honey, my son, for it is good;
honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.
Know also that wisdom is like honey for you:
If you find it, there is a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.”
Biblical authors also used honey to represent intangible things that are sweet, good, wholesome, rare, or pleasant. One of those concepts is wisdom. The Psalmist says that we should seek after it and rejoice when we find it.
The Words of God—Psalm 19:10
“They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.”
God’s Words are the ultimate source of wisdom. And the Psalmist says to prize them like gold and enjoy them like honey. God’s Word should be sweet to us as well as nourishing.
A Mysterious Scroll?—Ezekiel 3:3
“Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.”
Finally, take a look at this strange scene from Ezekiel. In Ezekiel’s vision, the Lord feeds him a scroll flavored like honey, then tells him to speak His words to the people of Israel. There’s a similar scene in Revelation 10:10, in which John is given a scroll to eat that tastes like honey. This is likely a callback to the idea in the Psalms that the Word of the Lord is sweet and wholesome, like honey.
Kind Words—Proverbs 16:24
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
As we dwell in God’s Word, it’s only natural that sweet, wholesome words and thoughts proceed from us too. Proverbs says that gracious words are sweet like honey to others. Let’s make sure our words are healing and kind.
From these verses, two themes seem to emerge. First, the Lord provides good things for His people—whether that’s miraculous sustenance in the wilderness or a land full of natural resources. Second, the sweetness of honey illustrates how the Word of God is wholesome and pleasing. As we are nourished by it, our words also become sweet, gracious, and wise. We should enjoy and lead others to this treasure!