A word loaded with figurative meaning is the word, “thirst.” In the Bible, “thirst” is a translation of the Hebrew sama, and the Greek dipsos. We have an English word that is derived from dipsos, the word dipsomania used of extreme thirstiness, but especially of the insatiable craving for alcoholic beverages. Thirst refers to the sensation of dryness in the mouth and throat caused by the lack of fluids which results in a desire to drink. From this sensation it seems that people of almost any language use the word thirst as a synonym for a strong desire or craving for whatever the object, like a thirst for knowledge, or a thirst for wealth.
Have you ever really been truly thirsty? To some degree we all know the sensation of thirst and the longing for a drink especially when expending a lot of energy. In the heat of summer when our bodies do a lot of perspiring they cry out for more fluids. But very few of us have ever been in the desert without water to the point of serious life-threatening dehydration and known the real pain of thirst or a craving for water like Hagar and her son in the wilderness of Beersheba (Gen. 21:14f).
Clearly, because of the obvious analogies, thirst is a prominent theme of the Bible. The term thirst or thirsty, etc., is found 57 times in the NASB. The word “drought” referring to a scarcity of water in the land and conditions that cause great thirst is used eight times. But in addition, three terms that refer to the arid and dry portions of the Middle East, the words desert, wilderness, and Negev (the wilderness or desert to the south of Palestine) are used altogether nearly 300 times. While these terms generally refer to specific locations, they are often used with the spiritual connotation of spiritual drought and barrenness.
The climate of Palestine, especially away from the coastline and the hill country, can often be hot and dry.
Occasional Sirocco winds bring intense heat from the desert. Maintaining an adequate water supply for human and animal consumption, as well as for agriculture, was in biblical times a perennial problem. Thirst was a frequent and occasionally life-threatening concern.
So obviously, the concept of thirst is naturally used in Scripture of both physical and spiritual thirst and naturally speaks of two things: (1) of the appetite, longing, or desire to quench one’s thirst, but also (2) of a state of dryness in which there is the need of liquid to quench the thirst, to refresh, and be protected from the life-threatening problems of dehydration. Statements like the one in Revelation 7:16, “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst,” speaks of the state of a perfect spiritual condition that leads to perfect and continued spiritual health and satisfaction that exists in heaven in the presence of the Savior.
We also know, however, that some things quench our thirst better than others. Yet water can never quench the thirst of some things such as salt regardless of how much you drink. So the concept of thirst becomes a powerful means of communicating spiritual truth in the Bible. And it is this that I want to address in this short study particularly as it might be used as a point of reflection in connection with the Lord’s Table. Why? Because in this memorial believers eat of the bread and drink of the cup which stand as pictures of feeding, sustaining, and satisfying one’s life through the person and work of Christ and that through the process of daily fellowship with Him, the abiding life…