Word Study: Satisfy




Jeremiah 31:25: “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

SATISFY – Hebrew: mala – satisfy, fill, to insert into or fill as the setting of precious stones into a bracelet, necklace, or crown.

Jeremiah is speaking of the future restoration of Judah after going through captivity. He talks of refreshing the weary but then he will satisfy or fill the faint. The word “refresh” in the Hebrew is “ravah” which is very hard to define. You really need to experience “ravah” to understand the word. The English word “refresh” is probably the best we can do but “ravah” means much more than that. The word “weary” is “aphah” which could mean weary or could mean thirsty. Considering the picture that is being drawn and the fact that the word “aphah is a direct object of the word “ravah” I would be incline to render this as “thirsty.” The picture being drawn is that of one who has wandered in a desert without water and is taking his first sip of water.

The next words are curious. He will “satisfy the faint.” What satisfaction does a fainting person need? The word “satisfy” in the Hebrew if “mala’” which is commonly used to express the idea of filling. The word “faint” is “da’avah” which means to flow away. It is also used to express anxiety or distress. However, to stay with the picture of wandering in a desert, we would best render this as faint. The picture is one who has wandered in the desert until he has reached the point of collapse. He has fallen to the ground overcome with thirst and weariness to the point of fainting. God then rides up on His camel loaded with bags of water where the weary travel can drink his fill and God puts him on the camel to carry him to his journey’s end.

What I find a little curious is the use of the word “da’avah” (faint) as the direct object of “mala (fill, satisfy).” How do you fill someone that is faint. A person becomes faint because they lack something, either water or air. Hence, God is not just reviving someone who is faint, He is filling them with whatever is lacking that is causing them to faint or be weary.

Many times I am thirsting after something but I am not sure what it is. I soon find myself growing wearing in that quest to satisfy this unnamed thirst. God has promised to quench that thirst and to not just revive me when I have grown weary, but to supply whatever it is that lack that is causing me to be weary or grow faint.

There is one word that is in the Hebrew text and not found in the English translation used above. It is the word “nephesh” or “soul.” God will satisfy the weary “soul” and fill the soul that is fainting. Here it makes sense to use the word “mala” for fill. The word itself tells us what God will fill our souls with. The word is spelled “Mem – Revealed knowledge of God. Lamed – learning, and Aleph – God.” Our weary souls are revived when we fill it with the revealed knowledge or the Word of God.