One who is full loathes honey,
but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.
I am sure many of us can recall a time when we were “stuffed”. Maybe it was a Thanksgiving dinner or other holiday eating occasion; perhaps it was a second (or third?) dessert that you lived to regret. Kids can stuff themselves with candy and spoil their appetites. Part of today’s proverb addresses this problem. When we are full, we despise what we usually enjoy.
Also, on the other side of the coin, when we are hungry, we desire what we would normally reject as bitter. Someone who is a “picky” eater will gladly expand the bounds of their personal menus when they are very hungry.
The need dictates the experience.
The one who is full has only himself to blame. He made himself full by giving into his impulses. Initially he cannot resist the honey, but soon he loathes the honey he craved. Meanwhile, the hungry person’s taste buds acclimate to the bitter in order to satisfy the hunger. The hungry person’s bitter situation may be due to his life’s circumstances or sin.
Neither extreme is good. What is best is the disciplined enjoyment of what one possesses. It is best to work for one’s food and obtain the sweet honey, and then to enjoy it in a measured manner that keeps the sweetness from turning into something bitter and keeps hunger at arm’s length.
This proverb cautions against the popular philosophy of eat, drink, and be merry that often leads to bitterness, and also that of the sluggard whose laziness leaves him always hungry and in want. It promotes moderation in all things so that life can be enjoyed daily without being interrupted by the extreme distractions of deprivation and overabundance.