There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave; the barren womb; land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’ – Proverbs 30:15-16
The end of proverbs contains some interesting and odd rhetorical language. The author seems to be making a point about three things that are never satisfied and four that never say enough. I assume this is some sort of hyperbole that was more common at this time or part of the world. I am not sure I understand the distinction between the first three: the grave, a barren womb, and land never satisfied with water; and the fourth item “fire” which is apparently sometimes satisfied but never says enough.
The general theme of the passage seems to be a failure to be satisfied with what God is providing, whether it is in the form of a long life (the grave), a baby (barren womb), or rains to grow crops (water). The Israelites have expressed dissatisfaction with God on many occasions. I think most of the time the root of this dissatisfaction is a sense that the thing God provided was different than what the Israelites desired. For example the bitter water God provided in the desert.
The last item, fire, is not something most people would ask for unless it was to cook dinner. Most people do not want to experience fire in their homes or their lives. For some reason fire has always been associated with hell, so perhaps this passage is saying something about hell not ever having enough souls to be satisfied. In order for fire or flames to exist something must be consumed like fuel or wood. Does hell require a steady stream of souls to exist? I have no idea, but it is something interesting to ponder….
I am struggling to find a deep spiritual meaning in this passage, perhaps there is none. I am intrigued by the almost puzzle-like language being used. This is a new thing in my readings so far. Perhaps the author is demonstrating his earthly cleverness and I am simply not clever enough to understand.
Prayer: God sometimes the truths you are trying to communicate remains veiled. Help me to be content with what you offer even when I am not sure what to make of it.
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