Ezekiel 3:3
And he said to me, Son of man, cause your belly to eat, and fill your bowels with this roll that I give you. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) It was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.—That is, the first impression made upon him by his prophetic call was one of delight. Such it must always be to those whose high privilege it is to bear God’s message to their fellows. He does not expressly add, as St. John does (Revelation 10:10) after a similar first sensation, “as soon as I had eaten it my belly was “bitter;” but it may easily be inferred from Ezekiel 3:14 that such was his experience also, when he went with his heavy message to a people indisposed to give ear. (Comp. Jeremiah 15:16; Jeremiah 20:7-18.)

3:1-11 Ezekiel was to receive the truths of God as the food for his soul, and to feed upon them by faith, and he would be strengthened. Gracious souls can receive those truths of God with delight, which speak terror to the wicked. He must speak all that, and that only, which God spake to him. How can we better speak God's mind than with his words? If disappointed as to his people, he must not be offended. The Ninevites were wrought upon by Jonah's preaching, when Israel was unhumbled and unreformed. We must leave this unto the Divine sovereignty, and say, Lord, thy judgments are a great deep. They will not regard the word of the prophet, for they will not regard the rod of God. Christ promises to strengthen him. He must continue earnest in preaching, whatever the success might be.Before, there was a direct commission, now there is a symbolic action. John has the same vision (Revelation 10:8 ff), but there that is expressed, which is here left to be inferred, namely, that "as soon as he had eaten it his belly was bitter." The sweetness in the mouth denoted that it was good to be a messenger of the Lord (compare the margin reference), but the bitterness which accompanied it, denoted that the commission brought with it much sorrow. 3. honey for sweetness—Compare Ps 19:10; 119:103; Re 10:9, where, as here in Eze 3:14, the "sweetness" is followed by "bitterness." The former being due to the painful nature of the message; the latter because it was the Lord's service which he was engaged in; and his eating the roll and finding it sweet, implied that, divesting himself of carnal feeling, he made God's will his will, however painful the message that God might require him to announce. The fact that God would be glorified was his greatest pleasure. In this verse is confirmed and explained what was spoken Ezekiel 3:1, which see.

Cause thy belly to eat; the mouth is the proper instrument of eating, but when meat is eaten and digested, the belly is said to eat; the prophet must not just taste, but he must chew, swallow down, retain, and fill his belly with God’s word.

And fill thy bowels: this is the same repeated, unless it add to the other the measure, the fulness of the measure wherewith we should read, meditate, and digest the word of God and his works. And since bowels are the seat of compassion, it is likely the Lord would have his prophet be affected with pity toward that captive people, whose miseries he must foretell, and he foresees they must suffer.

This roll that I give thee: the roll and all that was in it came from God, and Ezekiel must remember this.

Then did I eat it, Heb. And I did eat it.

It was in my mouth as honey for sweetness; upon the palate it was sweet (this done in vision still) as honey. If you wonder that such bitter tidings could be sweet to the prophet, if it be doubted how this could be, since, Ezekiel 2:10, it was full of lamentation, &c..

Answ. It was sweet to receive such things by revelation from God, and so to converse with God; it is sweet to foresee future events, and to foretell God’s just judgments against sinners, and to have prospect of a vindication of the honour of God and credit of the prophet, who seeing all, these things with a well-composed mind, and just zeal for God, could not but approve and be pleased therewith. Or, it was sweet, as usually the first part of the ministerial work is pleasant, but at last wicked men’s opposition and persecution make it bitter, as Ezekiel 3:14 Jeremiah 15:16-18 Revelation 10:10. And he said unto me, son of man, cause thy belly to eat,.... Or "devour" (f), and consume; that is, concoct and digest; do not cast it out of thy mouth, as soon as thou hast tasted of it; but let it go down into the stomach, and there digest it; and from thence into the belly, that so, upon the whole, virtue may be received, and nourishment come by it:

and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee; eat to satiety; so the Targum,

"son of man, thou shalt satiate thy soul, and fill thy belly, if thou receivest what is written in this roll, which I give thee:''

this was sufficient to qualify the prophet for prophesying, and furnish him with materials enough; and these fit and proper for the discharge of his office; and so such who study the word of God with application become scribes well instructed in the kingdom of heaven; and being filled themselves, are able to bring forth things to the comfort and satisfaction of others:

then did I eat it, and it was in my mouth, as honey for sweetness; that is, as the roll was spread before him, he looked into it, and read it, and meditated upon it, and laid it up in his memory, in order to deliver it out when commanded; and though it contained things very distressing, and which would occasion lamentation, and mourning, and woe; yet, considering that these were the will of God, and in righteous judgment to men, he could not but acquiesce in and approve of them. All the words that come out of the mouth of God are as sweet as, honey, yea, sweeter than that, Psalm 19:10; and so the Targum interprets it of the words of the Lord,

"and I took it, and his words were in my mouth as sweet honey;''

and especially the Gospel, and the truths of it, are like honey; they are gathered by laborious ministers, as honey by the industrious bee, out of the various flowers of the Scriptures, with which being laden, they bring into the hive of the church, and dispose of for general usefulness; these are like honey for healthfulness, for nourishment, and for sweetness to the taste; that which makes the Gospel so are the exceeding great and precious promises in it: its doctrines of grace, and those of peace and reconciliation, of pardon, righteousness, eternal life and salvation, by Jesus Christ; and, above all, Christ himself, who is the sum and substance of it; and all its truths being quickening; comforting, and refreshing: but thou the Gospel is, only sweet when it is eaten; not merely heard, assented to, and superficially tasted of, but eaten and fed upon by faith; and so, it is sweet, not to unregenerate persons, whose taste is not changed; nor to nominal and notional professors, who have only a superficial taste of it; but to true believers in Christ, spiritual men, who judge and discern all things; see Revelation 10:9.

(f) "devoret, consumat", Vatablus.

And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 3. - It was in my mouth as honey, etc. The words remind us of Psalm 19:10; Proverbs 24:13; and again of those of Jeremiah in the darkest hour of his ministry (Jeremiah 15:16). They are reproduced yet more closely by St. John (Revelation 10:9). There is, after the first terror is over, an infinite sweetness in the thought of being a fellow worker with God, of speaking his words and not our own. In the case of St. John, the first sweetness was changed to bitterness as soon as he had eaten it; and this is, perhaps, implied here also in ver. 14. The first ecstatic joy passed away, and the former sense of the awfulness of the work returned.
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