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Pure Honey

Wisdom in seeking the sweetness of Christ

Proverbs 24:13-14

13 My son, eat honey because it is good,
And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste;

14 So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul;
If you have found it, there is a prospect,
And your hope will not be cut off.


The Battle of the Somme was fought from 1915 to November 1916 and was one of the most horrendous battles in modern history. With the “War to End all Wars” now in its second year, it seemed that there would be no end to the fighting and bloodshed. Of the 120,000 allied troops who left their muddy trenches on July 1, 1916 to begin the long advance across “no man’s land” and into the teeth of German machine guns, nearly 20,000 of them fell during the first hour. 

One of those casualties was a 34-year old signals officer of the 4th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Old for a lieutenant, Alan had answered the call of king and country, and like most young men of that lost generation, he paid the price. Wounded and evacuated, Alan convalesced at home under the care of his wife. He was discharged from the army in 1919, and like many veterans, he struggled to come to grips with the horrors that he had witnessed.

Prior to the war, Alan had been an accomplished writer and poet. He had laid his pen aside as his heart struggled for words in a world that no longer seemed to have beauty. On August 21, 1920, a light at last shone into his darkening life: his wife bore him a son, and for the first time in many years, Alan was happy.  

They named the boy Christopher, and moved to a home in the pastoral English countryside of East Sussex. When his wife went away to visit a friend, father and son were left alone. For lack of better ideas, Alan and Christopher began to take long walks in the woods and fields near home. The tall, thoughtful father could be seen smoking his pipe, holding the hand of the little boy—from whose other hand dangled a cream-colored teddy bear. 

The presence of the little boy, and the peacefulness of the forest seemed to calm the struggling veteran. The sensations of war still haunted him: a popping balloon in a child’s nursery sounded like artillery. The buzz of bees around a tall hollow tree sounded like bullets whizzing past. But the happiness of his son and the joy in his heart reawakened old love, and soon Alan began to write once more.

He picked up where he left off, completing novels and writing quick screenplays for a British film industry hungry for material. The works dearest to his heart, however, concerned the little boy who walked with him in the woods. In 1924 he published a collection of children’s poems, that included a poem to the teddy bear that Christopher carried. 

In 1926 he published a book of stories entirely about the little bear and his forest friends—and included a character based on Christopher. Winnie the Pooh became an immediate commercial success. Alan, writing as A.A. Milne, had finally discovered a way to deal with the nightmare of war—and share his love for his son, Christopher Robin.

One reason for Winnie the Pooh’s success was its absolute simplicity. “Pooh” the bear seemed to have one goal in his silly little head: the procurement of honey. With toddler-like focus, he would set about his task as only a bear could:

“The only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey.”
And then he got up, and said: “And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it.”  So he began to climb the tree.     

There is just something about honey that a “bear of little brain” just cannot resist. Honey is a very special food, and though made by bees of “little brain,” it nevertheless represents a miracle of God’s creation.

Honey is a purely natural sweetener that is made by bees (of course) as they bumble about inside flower blossoms and return to their hive with nectar. Back at the hive, the bee does a little dance to let the other bees know the direction of the source of his treasure, and then deposits the nectar in the honeycomb. 

In the comb, the nectar is processed over and over until the correct sweetness and consistency, all the while kept cool by the beating of thousands of buzzing wings. When the honey is just right, and before it can ferment, it is sealed with wax for future use. 

If you have ever tried to knock sugar from your diet, you know how nearly impossible this can be with modern processed food. Artificial sweetener, processed, bleached sugars, syrups and chemicals make modern food sweet, and it is no wonder diabetes and other conditions run rampant. 

Honey is healthy, and even has medicinal properties, because honey is already processed. It keeps indefinitely, never going bad, and when drizzled on a biscuit or used to sweeten a pie, it makes the most delicious, satisfying kiss of flavor that is unsurpassed by modern mass-market additives. 

Solomon knows the value of this almost magical provision of God in the gift of the bees.  Many of the wise sayings in the book of Proverbs use honey as a metaphor, as indeed it is used in other places in scripture. Here, in chapter 24, Solomon gives a sweet lesson in wisdom to his young readers:

13 My son, eat honey because it is good,
And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste;–Proverbs 24:13

Solomon’s use of “my son” is a bit of a jolt, for it means he wants his pupil to sit up and take notice of what he is about to teach him. He then commands him to “eat honey,” which for a treat-loving child is not something that a parent will need to ask twice. 

The wise king is not inviting his son to have a snack, he is teaching him another important lesson in the pursuit of wisdom. He wants his son to eat honey “because it is good,” and to know that honey is a metaphor for holy wisdom—and wisdom comes with the promise of eternal life. 

The first lesson then, is the goodness of honey. As mentioned, honey is pure, useful and seemingly eternal in its wholesomeness. Solomon is, perhaps, actually encouraging his son to partake in and enjoy this simple gift of God as a matter of earthly blessing. Indeed, he can indulge in wine or foreign delicacies, but none will have the lasting goodness of pure, sweet honey. 

Food is God’s gift to us, and eating and joy go together. Eat right, and know God’s love for you. As J.R.R. Tolkien (a fellow veteran and contemporary of A.A. Milne) writes:

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.—Tolkien “Fellowship of the Ring”

There are medicinal properties to honey too, that benefit body and mind. Honey made of local bees and flowers can be rich in nutrients, antioxidants and other natural properties that can boost health and happiness. Much like you wish your own children to eat and live healthy, this proverb can serve simply as peek into the life of father and child conversing at the dinner table. Solomon, as a loving parent, urges his son to be well, and treat his body right.

This brings us to the second lesson, that Honey is also an image of holy wisdom:

14 So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul;
If you have found it, there is a prospect,
And your hope will not be cut off.–Proverbs 24:14

Ever the teacher, Solomon cannot help but turn even a sweet treat into a moral lesson. Honey is a very biblical image. The Hebrews are led for forty years in the wilderness to the Promised Land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). Wisdom is like honey, medicinal and sweet, as Solomon teaches in another chapter:

24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.–Proverbs 16:24

Honey can even have sexual undertones. The purity and sweetness of honey is a metaphor for romance between a husband and wife, as Solomon writes in his ode to biblical love:

 11 Your lips, O my spouse,
Drip as the honeycomb;
Honey and milk are under your tongue;
And the fragrance of your garments
Is like the fragrance of Lebanon.–Song of Solomon 4:11

The allure of a beautiful wife and satisfying husband, the completeness and fullness of God’s blessings, and the richness of the earth can have its limitations—or can be abused in selfish pride. 

Samson displays this in his rashness and oath-breaking when he partakes of the honeycomb found in the corpse of a lion (Judges 14). Samson’s pursuit of a wife from among the Philistines, and other sinful excesses is a reminder that even honey in excess overwhelms. As Solomon cautions in chapter 25: 

16 Have you found honey?
Eat only as much as you need,
Lest you be filled with it and vomit.–Proverbs 25:16

Is this not the way of the modern world? In this day and age of plenty and prosperity, the culture calls you to over-indulge in all of life’s pleasures. Even during times of inflation and economic slump, the west still enjoys more blessings than ever. You are encouraged to eat, drink and be merry until you are sick or obese. You are called to have the latest car, phone, and clothes. Pressure is on you to go on lavish cruise or ski vacations. 

But in the end, you are far from satisfied. You may not be a veteran of the muddy trenches of WWI, but you know your own pain and suffering in this world. Like artificial sweeteners, the world’s wisdom can never fill, only leave you needing more—and can even poison you. 

True wisdom, Solomon is saying, is like that pure, sweet honey. Its pursuit will being eternal satisfaction. Seeking the moral righteousness of God in an age of excess and selfishness is like seeking a gift from heaven.  

There is a fascinating picture of the messiah in Isaiah, chapter 7. In his prophesy, Isaiah describes the Messiah as a child who “shall eat honey:”  

15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good.–Isaiah 7:15

Jesus, the God-man, will not be some miraculous non-human entity who comes from another world, but will be a small child himself, a toddler who will even enjoy a delicious snack. Christ will be the ultimate sweet gift of honey from God.

In Christ you find the same purity of honey, for in Him you will see there are no hidden agendas, no money-hungry grift, and no secret strategies. His wisdom has an eternal shelf-life and does not change on the whim of social tides. And His comforting peace is good for body and soul, as a life given to Him in which your heart is laid bare and your sins are revealed—only to be forgiven and washed away. 

As Alan walked in the “Hundred-Acre Wood” with young Christopher Robin, the buzzing of bees no longer sounded like the flying bullets of war. He could only hear the sound of his son’s laughter at the thought of a “silly old bear” in his pursuit of honey. 

Pursue the honey of the wisdom of God in Jesus Christ during your own daily walk, and the sounds of war in your own life and in the world around you will fade with the sweet taste of honey. 


The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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