God has placed in His creation an insatiable hunger for Himself
The first four Beatitudes describe the character of one who has been awakened and filled with the Spirit of God:
- Being poor in spirit affirms your own inadequacy and humility before the Lord.
- You are conscious of your own sinfulness and mourn.
- You are gentle and allow God to control your life.
- You are not self-righteous, but realize only God Himself can offer what it needed. Your spiritual sensitivity brings a complete change of perspective.
Each Beatitude builds upon the previous one and prepares for those that follow.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Gk dikaiosunen, “what God requires, what is right, what is just,” v. 6) have a craving for righteousness, comparable to such physical hunger and thirst as was known only in lands where people died for want of food or water. God has placed in His creation an insatiable hunger for Himself – a God-shaped vacuum only He can fill. “Righteousness” equaled the will of God. Matthew used this word seven times in his Gospel, and five times the word was used in the Sermon on the Mount (3:15, 5:6,10,20; 6:1,33; 21:32). In the Greek text the noun was prefaced by the article (lit “the righteousness”), demanding a character from which right actions flowed. God’s standard for righteousness is the life of the Lord Jesus. The text does not say that the person full of righteousness would be blessed; rather the one blessed would “hunger and thirst” or yearn after righteousness, realizing the journey of spiritual nurture never ends. The desire for spiritual sustenance must be renewed daily even as in your physical appetite. The word for filled (Gk chortasthesontai, “feed, be satisfied, eat one’s fill”) is in the passive voice, indicating that the filling was to be done by an outside agent. The Lord did the filling. The verb is in the future tense, affirming that the filling was not a one-time event. God means for the filling to continue to supply nourishment and satisfaction. The emphasis turns from character to how character is shown in relationship to others.
The merciful (Gk eleemones, “sympathetic”) are moved to pity and compassion – sympathetic to the suffering of another. However, this mercy is not merely pity or an emotional response. To extend mercy God’s way is an act of the will, and once extended, mercifulness draws more mercy. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day prided themselves in doing deeds of service, but their hearts were often indifferent to the sufferings of others (Mk 3:1-6). Mercy ruled out merit and overshadowed other attributes of God. God’s justice was satisfied by the sacrifice of His Son, and that was mercy.
The pure [Gk katharoi, “clean, guiltless] in heart (v. 8) are people who are morally upright and holy and not just ritually cleaned. They have a lifestyle not only different and set apart in what they do but also marked by a difference in thought and motivation. To be “pure in heart” is to be obsessed by God and controlled by Him. This purity is an inner fountain that feeds all you do and say. The pure in heart do not harbor ill intentions toward anyone and are obsessed with pursuing genuine godliness. Those whose debt has been paid by Christ on the cross will indeed see God. Having been redeemed, they enter His holy presence and see things as God sees them. Many of the religious leaders in Jesus’ day observed the laws concerning ritual cleanliness of the body, but only a person who turns to Christ to cleanse him of his sins will ever see God (Heb. 12:14)
Excerpt from Dorothy Kelley Patterson, “The Blessed Woman,” in The Study Bible for Women (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2014), 1248.