Saba: to satisfy, to provide abundantly, to saturate. Verb (Strong’s 7646).
Sounds like: sah’bah/sah’vah
How’s life? Are things okay? Are you satisfied?
These are questions that we often get asked. You may even ask yourself those things. Are you happy with the way things are in your life? Would you call yourself, “satisfied”?
The Bible has some specific things to say about satisfaction. The verb saba means to be satisfied, or provided with abundance, or saturated. It’s a feeling of being fulfilled, fully content… like the feeling you get after a satisfying meal.
Saba is rich with meaning. Often it was associated with food, feeling full with a satisfied stomach, but the word could also be attached to anything that meant being filled up. For example:
- Job talked about being filled [s’va] with shame (Job 10:15), full [u-s’va] of turmoil (Job 14:1), and saturated [ya-s’biani] with bitterness (Job 9:8).
- The Psalmist felt heavy-hearted because they had more than enough [rabat sav’ah] torment from those who scoffed at them and showed contempt to them (Psalm 123:4).
- Jeremiah spoke of the Day of YHWH when the sword would devour and be satisfied [w-sav’ah] by blood (Jeremiah 46:10).
- In his old age, David was described as being full of days [w-sava yamin] (1 Chronicles 23:1).
- YHWH filled up [l-ha-s’bia] the desolate wilderness with sprouting grass and rain (Job 38:27).
- YHWH will satisfy [ah-s’bi’ehu] His children with long life and show them His Salvation (Psalm 91:16).
- YHWH said He was filled up [saba’ti] with useless burnt offerings (Isaiah 1:11) and that He was tired of bearing them (Isaiah 1:14).
A satisfying meal
Even though the word saba was used liberally, the most common use of satisfaction, in the Bible, was associated with eating. The prophet Isaiah painted a picture of YHWH nurturing His children like a mother nursing an infant:
“Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her; be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her, so that you may nurse and be satisfied [u-s’ba’tem] with her comforting breasts, so that you may drink fully and be delighted with her bountiful breasts.”
For this is what YHWH, says: “Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and rocked back and forth on the knees.
As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you will be comforted in Jerusalem.”
A mother feeding an infant at the breast was the ultimate picture of combined nurture and comfort. In the same way, YHWH was the ultimate nurturer and comforter for His children.
The earliest mentions of the word saba can be found in the story of the exodus of Egypt. The Hebrew people weren’t used to hunger, and in the desert wilderness there was very little to eat or drink. So they questioned their decision to leave Egypt, which was full of provisions. Wasn’t oppression and hard labour with food better than freedom without food?:
And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, “I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled [ti-s’b’u] with bread; and you shall know that I am YHWH your God.’”
So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which YHWH has given you to eat.”
YHWH provided for the people in the wilderness. He would fill them up with exactly what they needed.
A satisfied stomach brought a sense of comfort and fulfillment, but indulgence would not be beneficial for the stomach; in fact it would bring discomfort:
Have you found honey?
Eat only what you need, so that you do not have it in excess [ti-s’ba’enu] and vomit it.
It was wonderful that YHWH provided so much goodness for His people, but unfortunately an easy life often made one forget where all the goodness came from. The only way to remember would be to make a concerted effort to follow YHWH in good times and bad:
Deuteronomy 8:6-20 (see also Deuteronomy 6:10-15, Deuteronomy 11:13-17, Nehemiah 9:25-28)
Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of YHWH your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For YHWH your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of streams of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, fig trees, and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without shortage, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are satisfied [w-sava’ta], you shall bless YHWH your God for the good land which He has given you.
“Be careful that you do not forget YHWH your God by failing to keep His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied [w-sava’ta], and you build good houses and live in them, and when your herds and your flocks increase, and your silver and gold increase, and everything that you have increases, then your heart will become proud and you will forget YHWH your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; He who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions, and its thirsty ground where there was no water; He who brought water for you out of the rock of flint. In the wilderness it was He who fed you manna which your fathers did not know, in order to humble you and in order to put you to the test, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ But you are to remember YHWH your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, in order to confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And it shall come about, if you ever forget YHWH your God and follow other gods and serve and worship them, I testify against you today that you will certainly perish. Like the nations that YHWH eliminates from you, so you shall perish, because you would not listen to the voice of YHWH your God.”
In the scroll of Hosea, this very point from the Torah was reflected in YHWH’s words:
[YHWH:] Yet I have been YHWH your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no Saviour besides Me. I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of drought.
In their pasture, they became satisfied [wai-yi’-s’ba’u]; as they became satisfied [sav’u], their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me.
Forgetting YHWH had some terrible side effects:
They will eat, but not have enough [w-lo yi-s’ba’u]; they will play the prostitute, but not increase, because they gave up devoting themselves to YHWH.
You can eat until you feel stuffed, but you won’t feel truly satisfied if you’re walking on the path that leads to death.
Share Your Abundance! Satisfy the Needy.
We’re supposed to keep the commandments of YHWH and walk in His ways, and by doing so we will remain devoted to YHWH. But it’s more than just walking in the right direction; we’re expected to reflect YHWH’s behaviour. Just has He has given us all that we need so we can be satisfied and filled up, so we ought to give to all those who struggle:
Deuteronomy 14:28-29 (see also Deuteronomy 26:12)
“At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and you shall deposit it in your town. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the stranger, the orphan, and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied [w-saveh’u], in order that YHWH your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.”
This tithing commandment, to share with the needy, was what God Himself promised to do for His people:
[YHWH regarding Zion:] “I will abundantly bless her food; I will satisfy [a-s’bia] her needy with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation, and her godly ones will sing aloud for joy.
I will make the horn of David spring forth there; I have prepared a lamp for My Anointed. I will clothe his enemies with shame, but upon himself his crown will gleam.”
Boaz reflected the heart of YHWH when he met and helped the widowed Ruth:
And at mealtime Boaz said to her (Ruth), “Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.”
So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied [wa-ti-s’ba] and had some left. When she got up to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. Also you are to purposely slip out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it so that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.”
Boaz didn’t just offer food to Ruth, he made sure Ruth’s hunger would continue to be satisfied.
Those who reflected YHWH’s heart, for continually satisfying the needs of the afflicted, would be rewarded:
And if you offer yourself to the hungry and satisfy [ta-s’biya] the need of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday.
And YHWH, will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
If you satisfy the needs of others… feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick and lonely, comforting the widowed and orphaned, welcoming the foreigner… you will find your life more satisfying than ever before. When we give, we are filled up.
What Satisfies the Wicked?
Their own way:
The wicked, however, follow their own path. Helping others is not on their agenda. They hold onto power and greed and self-satisfaction.
They have turned away from YHWH and have taken the path that led to death and destruction. “Their own way” would not end in true satisfaction:
The backslider’s heart is satisfied [yi-s’ba] with his own ways.
“So they (the wicked) shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled [yi-s’ba’u] with their own schemes.
For the faithlessness of the naive will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. But whoever listens to me will live securely and will be at ease from the dread of evil.”
His watchmen are blind, all of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs unable to bark, dreamers lying down, who love to slumber.
And the dogs are greedy, they are never satisfied [lo yad’u sav’ah]. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each one to his unjust gain, without exception.
One of the key things that seemed to satisfy the wicked was money. Financial gain provided a false sense of security and power, but really it could never be fully satisfactory. The pursuit of it would have no end, and life would turn into a continual chase for more:
Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 (see also Ecclesiastes 4:8)
One who loves money will not be satisfied [yi-s’ba] with money, nor one who loves abundance with its income. This too is futility. When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the profit to the owners except to see it with his eyes?
The wealthy merchant city of Tyre was lavished with money, but what would happen if the market crashed?:
“And they will weep for you in bitterness of soul with bitter mourning. Moreover, in their wailing they will take up a song of mourning for you and sing a song of mourning over you:
‘Who is like Tyre, like her who is silent in the midst of the sea?
When your merchandise went out from the seas, you satisfied [hi-s’ba’at] many peoples; with the abundance of your wealth and your merchandise you enriched the kings of the earth.
Now that you are broken by the seas in the depths of the waters, your merchandise and all your company have fallen in the midst of you.”
In the Day of YHWH, money would be rendered useless and invaluable:
They will put on sackcloth and shuddering will overwhelm them; and shame will be on all faces, and a bald patch on all their heads. They will fling their silver into the streets, and their gold will become an abhorrent thing; their silver and their gold will not be able to save them on the day of the wrath of YHWH. They cannot satisfy their appetite [y-sabey’u], nor can they fill their stomachs, because their wrongdoing has become a cause of stumbling.
The prophet Micah lamented over the destruction caused by the violently rich. He shared God’s plan for the city of lies:
“For the rich people of the city are full of violence, her residents speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
So also I will make you sick, striking you down, making you desolate because of your sins.
You will eat, but you will not be satisfied [w-lo ti-s’ba], and your filth will be in your midst. You will try to remove valuables for safekeeping, but you will not save it all, and what you do save I will turn over to the sword.”
If the wicked could not hold onto their wealth, what would they be left with? Only YHWH would truly satisfy; money had no part in the process.
Personal Satisfaction Cannot Save
The rejection of YHWH, clinging to money and following the path that you’ve laid out for yourself, was a death sentence. There’s a story in the scroll of Isaiah about a man who planted a laurel tree. After it had grown, he used the tree to build a fire, roast meat over the flames, and warm himself by the heat of the embers. By this, he was satisfied. But that wasn’t enough for him. With the leftover wood he carved images of a god, in order to worship it:
Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat, he roasts a roast, and is satisfied [w-yi-s’ba]. He also warms himself and says, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” Yet the rest of it he makes into a god, his carved image. He bows down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Save me, for you are my god.”
They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see, and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend. No one remembers, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I bow down before a block of wood!” He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has misled him. And he cannot save himself, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
The man did not recognize that YHWH was the Creator of the tree. He was the planter of the seed, but it was YHWH who created the seed. He fed himself and warmed himself by the provisions of YHWH, and yet took God’s creation and “created” a god. It was nothing but a block of wood and it would provide nothing in return. There would be no satisfaction for this man.
True satisfaction was seeking and finding the true image of YHWH:
They are satisfied [yi-s’b’u] with children, and leave their abundance to their babies. As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied [eh-s’b’ah] with Your likeness when I awake.
Many people think that true satisfaction was begetting their own little image bearers (their children). They wanted little reflections of themselves, but forget to reflect the Creator who created them!
We need to seek the Image of our own Creator, the One who brings true satisfaction. Having children can be very satisfying, but if your legacy relies on your offspring then that doesn’t say a whole lot about you.
Our lives on earth are brief, but we hold onto a future beyond his life, where we can face YHWH in His heavenly Kingdom. That is true satisfaction. After my final breath I will awake in the Presence of my Creator and see His likeness in front of me. That will be satisfying indeed!
We were born with a desire for basic needs. And YHWH provided those things… He gave us breath to live, touch and comfort from parents or nurses, milk for nutrition, and a roof over our heads as we took that first breath. As we age, we ought to be thankful for those basic needs but the truth is, we rarely give it a thought. How often do we thank God for the breath in our lungs? The basics just don’t satisfy us like they used to. We fluctuate through life being sometimes satisfied and, more often, not satisfied.
However, according to the Bible, there are only a few things that are never satisfied:
The leech has two daughters: “Give” and “Give.”
There are three things that will not be satisfied [lo ti-s’ba’na], four that will not say, “Enough”: Sheol, the infertile womb, earth that is never satisfied [lo sav’ah] with water, and fire that never says, “Enough.”
According to the this proverb the four things that are never satisfied are:
- Sheol/the grave/death
- An infertile womb
- A parched earth
The most repeated of these unsatisfied things was Sheol. Death had an insatiable appetite:
Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied [lo ti-s’ba’nah], and the eyes of a human are never satisfied [lo ti-s’ba’nah].
“Furthermore, wine betrays an arrogant man, so that he does not achieve his objective. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied [w-lo yis’ba].”
This was a problem. YHWH was the God of Life; death had no place in the Kingdom of YHWH. But death was there, clinging to the people, leading them down the path which led only to destruction. Humans were in bondage to death, but YHWH had a plan:
They shall give thanks to YHWH, for His mercy, and for His wonders to the sons of mankind! For He has satisfied [hi-s’bi’a] the thirsty soul, and He has filled the hungry soul with what is good.
There were those who lived in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains, because they had rebelled against the words of God and rejected the plan of the Most High. Therefore He humbled their heart with labour; they stumbled and there was no one to help.
Then they cried out to YHWH, in their trouble; He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, and the shadow of death, and tore away their chains.
I love this image. If we cry out to YHWH to be saved from death, He will save us. He will lift us up, out of the dark, and destroy the chains that weigh us down. But we have to cry out. We have to want to be saved. We have to want our ultimate satisfaction to come from our Creator.
YHWH Provides Ultimate Satisfaction
True, ultimate, satisfaction comes from YHWH. He is the bringer of abundant life, where we can be well-fed and well-loved. The writers of the Psalms sometimes prayed to YHWH directly and sometimes the poems were directed to God’s people. To YHWH they prayed:
Satisfy us [sab’enu] in the morning with Your graciousness, that we may sing for joy and rejoice all our days.
Psalm 65:4, 8
Blessed is the one You choose and allow to approach You; he will dwell in Your courtyards. We will be satisfied [ni-s’b’ah] with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple…
…They who dwell at the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the sunrise and the sunset shout for joy.
YHWH, support all who fall and raise up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand and satisfy [u-ma-s’bia] the desire of every living thing.
…They all wait for You to give them their food in due season. You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied [yi-s’b’un] with good.
You hide Your face, they are terrified; You take away their breath, they perish and return to their dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground.
May the glory of YHWH, endure forever!
To the people they said:
Bless YHWH, my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless YHWH, my soul, and do not forget any of His benefits; who pardons all your guilt, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with favour and compassion; who satisfies [ha-ma-s’biya] your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Satisfied with the Sacrifice
Death is a part of our lives. We will all go to the grave at some point. But YHWH promised to break the chains of death and set us free. How would He do that?
When Eve and Adam chose to disobey YHWH they had to leave the Garden, not because God wanted them out of there, on the contrary. The couldn’t stay because they had tasted death; they had become tainted and there was not place for death in YHWH’s Garden Kingdom.
God didn’t want them to leave. He loved His Creation, so He made a plan to bring them back home. He would have to release the chains of death, by sacrificing a part of Himself. And so He sent a Son, an Anointed Healer to redeem and save His people. The only way to conquer death was to die, go to the grave, and overcome death itself.
All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but YHWH has caused the wrongdoing of us all to fall on Him.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off from the land of the living for the wrongdoing of my people, to whom the blow was due?
And His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
But YHWH, desired to crush Him, causing Him grief; if He renders Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of YHWH will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied [yi-s’ba]; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, for He will bear their wrongdoings.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the plunder with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and was counted with wrongdoers; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the wrongdoers.
Yeshua (Jesus), the Anointed One (Mashiach/Messiah) of God, sacrificed Himself to free us from guilt and shame. He bore the sins of many, went to the grave, and defeated death. He paid the ticket price back into Heaven. He removed the curse of death that all of us carry, so we could enter into heaven without burdens or chains.
For YHWH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he.
They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion, and they will be radiant over the bounty of YHWH— over the grain, the new wine, the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd.
And their life will be like a watered garden, and they will never languish again.
Then the virgin will rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old together; for I will turn their mourning into joy and comfort them, and give them joy for their sorrow.
I will refresh the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people will be satisfied [yi-s’ba’u] with My goodness,” declares YHWH.
This was true satisfaction, to be ransomed and redeemed and free from the chains of guilt. If you are a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) then you are free and forgiven from all the guilt you are carrying. The chains of death and destruction are not on you anymore.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.
YHWH is waiting for you to come home. He has a place waiting for you in His Kingdom. Seek His face and at the end of your days here, you will find Him, and then you will know what real satisfaction looks like:
Joel 2:19, 26-27
YHWH will answer and say to His people,“Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied [u-s’va’tem] in full with them; and I will never again make you a disgrace among the nations.”
…“You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied [w-s’voah], and you will praise the name of YHWH, your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; then My people will never be put to shame.
So you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am YHWH, your God and there is no other; and My people will never be put to shame.”
No worries, no shame, no death… that’s a satisfying end to a new beginning!
Next week: manna