“Food for those who fear Him” — from Luther on the Psalter


Teth, 9: He provides food for those who fear Him.


Here the psalmist begins to describe how the remembrance of Christ takes place and what is done in it. First, he thanks God for giving him food, food of the kind that benefits those who fear Him, and not food for the body. It is true, physical bread and wine are there, a physical food. However, this does not nourish the body but the soul. For it is not simply material bread and wine but the true body and blood of Christ, as He says: “This is My body; this is My blood,” instituted by His Word that by faith it may nourish the soul for eternal life.


Because of the wicked and coarse people who use the grace of God wantonly as a cover for their wickedness, it is a necessary addition when the psalmist says: “Those who fear Him.” They come without thinking, without decency and reverence, like a hog to the feed trough. “Ah!” they say, “if it is pure grace and mercy, then I, too, will come, and I need not be afraid; He will not denounce me.” As though the Sacrament had been instituted for the purpose of impertinence and sport! They do not hunger and thirst for grace; they belittle sin, they show no improvement, they are smug and untroubled, with a clear and carefree mind. Such coarse and impenitent hearts will not find this food, even if they receive the Sacrament. It must be those who fear God, that is, those who fear His threats and His wrath and have a sorrowful and heavy heart. Of this we have heard and said much elsewhere.


(Blessed Martin Luther, Lectures on the Psalms [Psalm 111:9]; AE 13:376)