“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Mt 5:6)
Righteousness is holy and upright living, in accordance with God’s standard. God’s character is the definition and source of all righteousness. He is all holy, just and good; He is the standard of righteousness. Therefore, the righteousness of man is defined by doing what is right in God’s eyes.
To hunger means to be needy. It is joined with thirst. When man is spiritually reborn, he has a God-given hunger and thirst or inner passion for righteousness. This hunger and thirst continue throughout the life of the believer. The act of hungering and thirsting for righteousness is the by-product of a renewed life. We can become righteous in Christ and be led in the paths of righteousness through His presence within.
Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!” (Ps 35:27, ESV)
The Hebrew word for welfare in this verse, shalom, also refers to completeness, peace, tranquility, and contentment. Many seek after these things in life, and we often think that it is for our own good. But it turns out that God is also delighted when we are well and at peace.
Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people. (Ex 33:3)
After the Israelites worshiped the golden calf, God said that He would not go with the people, but would send an angel instead. So, God showed the Israelites that their perverseness made this severe punishment necessary for them. However, even in His judgment, He remembered to show mercy to them. The Ten Commandments and related laws defined Israel’s relationship with God. To obey those laws was to act righteously, because such obedience maintained the covenant between God and His people. As David wrote, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy” (Ps 103:7-8).