Quenching the Thirst of the Soul

Bible Book: John  7 : 37-39
Subject: Water of Life; Life, Water of; Yearning; Desires

Quenching the thirst of the soul is the primary focus of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 7:37-39. Oh, the lengths people will go to quench the thirst of the soul! Solomon confesses in Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.” 1 Kings 11:4 reads, “For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.” Jeremiah 2:11-13 reads, “‘Has a nation changed its gods, Which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory For what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, And be horribly afraid; Be very desolate,’ says the Lord. ‘For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns--broken cisterns that can hold no water.’” In the words of James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), “Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide, In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side. . .” We have the answer to quench the thirst of the soul, and His name is Jesus Christ the Lord. As I prepared this message a line came from the chorus of a well-known song came to mind, “Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.” Rev. Richard Eugene Blanchard, Sr. (1925-2004), wrote the lyrics to “Fill My Cup, Lord,” in just a few minutes as he waited for a couple late for an appointment.[1]

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe shares the following about “Borrowing Boreham”: “[Rev. Frank W.] Boreham [1871-1959] pastored Baptist churches in Hobart, Tasmania, and Melbourne, Australia; and then left the pastoral ministry to devote himself to itinerant preaching and writing. He traveled widely and preached to large and appreciative congregations. He was once introduced as ‘the man whose name is on all our lips, whose books are on all our shelves, and whose illustrations are in all our sermons.’ One pastor confessed that he would be ashamed to meet Boreham personally, having ‘borrowed’ so much of his material for his own sermons.”[2]

In A Casket of Cameos, F. W. Boreham shares the following on “David Brainerd’s Life Text”: “One of Brainerd’s biographers has said of him that ‘he belonged to a class of men who seem to be chosen of heaven to illustrate the sublime possibilities of Christian attainment; men of seraphic fervor of devotion; men whose one overmastering passion is to win souls for Christ and to become wholly like Him themselves.’”[3]

Dr. Daniel L. Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, affirms, “Brainerd’s centuries-spanning influence for revival is positive proof God can and will use any vessel no matter how fragile and frail, if he or she is only radically devoted to the Savior!”[4]

“[His] affection for the Saviour’s stupendous proclamation at the Feast of Tabernacles”[5] recorded in John 7:37, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” Interestingly, in his brief life, David Brainerd related to this verse of Scripture in three distinct ways.

First, F. W. Boreham states, “There was a time when the text irritated him.”[6] Although Brainerd began to have a conviction of sin at age seven or eight, he remained in this dark period of distress until he was twenty-one years of age. Then, as he confessed, “It seemed to me that I was totally lost.” At this time, he received a copy of Mr. [Solomon] Stoddard’s Guide to Christ[7] and it only irritated him. He was angry with the author primarily because this book clearly stated his condition without clearly explaining to him the remedy. Brainerd recounts, “Mr. Stoddard's book told me to come to Christ, but did not tell me anything that I could do that would bring me to Him.”[8]

Second, Boreham explains, “The text captivated him. . . . It was a Sunday evening — the evening of July 12, 1739. He was walking in the same solitary place. 'At this time,' he says, 'the way of salvation opened to me with such infinite wisdom, suitableness and excellency that I wondered that I should ever have desired any other way of salvation. I was amazed that I had not dropped my own contrivances and complied with this lovely, blessed and excellent way before. If I could have been saved by my own duties, or any other way that I had formerly conceived, my whole soul would now have refused it. I wondered that all the world did not see and comply with this way of salvation.'” Following the pattern of the text, “Brainerd thirsted: Brainerd came; Brainerd drank!”[9]

Brainerd recorded in his diary, “Unspeakable glory seemed to open to the view and apprehension of my soul. I do not mean any external brightness, for I saw no such thing. It was a new view of God such as I had never had before. I stood still, wondered and admired. I had never before seen anything comparable to it for excellency and beauty; it was widely different from all the conceptions that ever I had had of God or things divine. I felt myself in a new world, and everything about me appeared with a different aspect from what it was wont to do. My soul was captivated and delighted. I rejoiced with joy unspeakable.”

Third, Boreham writes, “The words that first irritated and then captivated him, at length animated his whole being. . . . As soon as the burning thirst of his own soul had been divinely slaked, it occurred to him that such thirst was no monopoly of his. The text as good as said so. . . . Brainerd seemed to be looking out upon a thirsty world. His lot was cast in an age that knew nothing of missionary enterprise. Our great societies were yet unborn.”[10]

Dr. J. M. (John Milton) Sherwood (1822-1872) says, “No eulogy can exalt such a man. The simple story of his life proves him to be one of the most illustrious characters of modern times, as well as the foremost missionary whom God has raised up in the American Church—one whose example of zeal, self-denial, and Christian heroism has probably done more to develop and mould the spirit of modern missions, and to fire the heart of the Church in these latter days, than that of any other man since the apostolic age. One such personage, one such character, is a greater power in human history than a finite mind can calculate.”[11]

Boreham concludes, “He died on October 9, 1747. He was not yet thirty, but he had no regrets. 'Now that I am dying,' he exclaimed, 'I declare that I would not for all the world have spent my life otherwise!' Near the end, Miss Edwards, to whom he was betrothed, and who followed him into the unseen about four months later, entered the sickroom with a Bible in her hand. 'Oh, that dear book!' he cried, 'that lovely book! I shall soon see it opened! The mysteries in it, and the mysteries of God's providence, will all be unfolded!' Thus he clung to the promise of the text to the last. He was radiantly confident that the thirst of the soul — the thirst for knowledge and illumination — the thirst that had been only partially quenched in this world — would be abundantly satisfied in the realms of everlasting light.”[12]

In his diary dated, Lord’s day, July 26, 1747, missionary, David Brainerd (1718-1747), confessed, “I saw clearly that I should never be happy; yea, that God Himself could not make me so, unless I could be in a capacity to ‘please and glorify Him forever.’ Take away this, and admit me into all the fine heavens that can be conceived of by men or angels, and I should still be miserable for ever.”[13] David Brainerd pursued happiness to the fullest extent, not just the frivolous expression of many in our day. Reading his journal inspired William Carey (1761-1834), Henry Martyn (1781-1812), Jim Elliot (1927-1956) and a host of others to go into missions.

John 7:37-39 reads, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” Note several things from our passage about Jesus Christ.

I. Note the glorious self-identification of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Paul Lee Tan shares, “This was what happens, in ancient Israel, during the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. There was a great procession, from the Temple through the streets of Jerusalem to the pool of Siloam.

It was led by the temple band, with the white-robed priests marching in front. It passed through Jerusalem, out at the Water Gate, and down the hill of Zion to the pool of Siloam, where each of the priests filled his golden vessel with water.

When the procession returned to the Temple, the priests gathered around the altar of sacrifice, where each one emptied his vessel of water on the side of the altar. As they did so, the Levitic choir chanted the words of Isaiah 12:3: ‘With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.’

Seven-and-a-half centuries after Isaiah wrote those words, Jesus stood near the Temple watching the procession, and listened to the music of the trumpets and the chanting of the Levites on the last great day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Lifting up his voice, he cried out, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.’ (John 7:37).”[14]

Dr. John Phillips (1927-2010) explains, “During the week of the Feast of Tabernacles, the gladdest of all of Israel's annual feasts, the one feast that was intended to prefigure the coming millennial age, water was poured forth as part of the ritual. The feast itself always lasted a full week, but an eighth day was added for a new beginning. That added day, by law, was always observed as a special Sabbath.

The symbolism that grew up around the feast was interesting, and Jesus used it to draw national attention to Himself and to His claims. The other side of the promise will be fulfilled at His second coming; then the desert will blossom as the rose and Israel will become a source of blessing to mankind. Israel, as Balaam put it, will ‘pour the water out of his buckets,’ [Numbers 24:7] not symbolically as in the Feast of Tabernacles but in actuality. The prophecy will be fulfilled both physically and spiritually.”[15] Rev. J. R. (John Roberts) Dummelow (1860-?) explains, “On the eighth day, when the water was not poured out, Jesus came forward declaring Himself the giver of the true water which that water typified, viz. the Holy Spirit.”[16]

Rev. W. H. (William Harvey) Jellie (?-1916) shares in The Preacher’s Commentary on the Book of Leviticus, “Christ chose ‘the great day of the feast,’ of this very Feast of Tabernacles [John 7:2], to identify Himself with one of its incidents. While the waters of Siloam were being, on that eighth day, poured on the altar steps, ‘Jesus stood and cried, If any man thirst let him come unto Me and drink’ (Jno 7:37-39). . . . Yet His tabernacle life was not permanent. Booths are for pilgrims, not residents. And Jesus was here but for a season. ‘Yet a little while I am with you.’”[17]

The Jews looked back to “the glory days.” Jesus identifies with the glory days and promises more glory for the future. The One who emptied Himself (Philippians 2:5-11) did not deny His identity. John records that Jesus “stood and cried out” (John 7:37) for everyone to hear. Remember the “I am” statements of Jesus: Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life” (John 6: 35, 48); “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12, 9:5); “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8: 58); “I am the door” (John 10:9); “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11); “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25); “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6); and “I am the true vine” (John 15:1). Jesus leaves no doubt about His identity. His “I am” statements go back to Exodus 3:14 reads, “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

The study of symbols and types of Jesus Christ is a fascinating thing. Jesus Christ is the smitten Rock according to 1 Corinthians 10:4, “and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” Paul refers to the events recorded in Exodus 17:1-7. Isaiah 53:4-10 reads, “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”

John 19:34 reads, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.” The water flowed from our Lord Jesus Christ, the smitten Rock!

II. Note the gracious saving invitation of Jesus Christ.

The extent of the invitation of Jesus Christ. Dr. Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) writes, “‘Whosoever will.’ A wish is enough, but a wish is indispensable. How strange, and yet how common it is, that the thirsty man is not the willing man! . . . Further, what is offered? ‘The water of life.’ . . . What is that? Not a thing, but a person. The water of life, in its deepest interpretation, is Christ Himself; even as He said: ‘If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink.’ . . . And what are the conditions?’ ‘Let Him take the water of life for nothing;’ as the word might have been rendered, ‘For nothing.’ He says to us, ‘I will not sell it to you, I will give it to you.’ And too many of us say to Him, ‘We had rather buy it, or at any rate pay something towards it.’ No effort, no righteousness, no sacrifice, no anything is wanted. ‘Without money and without price.’ You have only got to give up yourselves.”[18]

Isaiah 55:1-2 reads, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance.”
The explanation of the invitation of Jesus Christ. Dr. Maclaren writes, “What is it to come? Listen to His own explanation: ‘He that cometh unto Me shall never hunger,’ etc. Then ‘coming,’ and ‘taking,’ and ‘drinking,’ are all but various forms of representing the one act of believing in Him. We come to Him when we trust Him. To come to Christ is faith. Who is it that are asked to come? ‘He that thirsteth’ and ‘he that willeth.’ The one phrase expresses the universal condition, the other only the limitation necessary in the very nature of things. ‘He that thirsteth.’ Who does not? Your heart is parched for love; your mind, whether you know it or not, is restless and athirst for truth that you can cleave to in all circumstances. Your will longs for a loving authority that shall subdue and tame it. Your conscience is calling out for cleansing, for pacifying, for purity. Your whole being is one great want and emptiness. ‘My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God,’ it is only He that can slake the thirst, that can satisfy the hunger.”[19]

Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). Three words “thirsts. . . come. . . drink” parallel three Latin words, notitia. . . fiducia (faith) . . . assensus (assent) representing the elements of saving faith, according to the early church fathers.

III. Note the generous spiritual impartation of Jesus Christ.

“Rivers of living water” (John 7:38) refers to the gift of the Holy Spirit, yet to be given at that time. Luke 11:13 reads, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” John 14:16, 17 reads, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 16:5-15 reads, “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

Acts 2:1-4, 16-18 reads, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. . . . But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.”

Rev. J. R. Dummelow shares the following comments on John 7:37, “Here, as to the woman of Samaria, Christ declares Himself the giver of ‘the living water.’”[20] John 4:4-15 reads, “But He needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.’”

Romans 8:9b, 16 reads, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. . . . The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” 1 Corinthians 12:13 reads, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” Ephesians 5:15-21 reads, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

Dr. Samuel Chadwick (1860-1932) former principal of Cliff College, warns, “The Church that is man-managed instead of God-governed is doomed to failure. A ministry that is College-trained but not Spirit-filled works no miracles. The Church that multiplies committees and neglects prayer may be fussy, noisy, entertaining and enterprising, but it labours in vain and spends its strength for naught. It is possible to excel in mechanics and fail in dynamic. There is a superabundance of machinery; what is wanting is power. To run an organization needs no God. Man can supply the energy, enterprise and enthusiasm for things human. The real work of a Church depends upon the power of the Spirit.”[21]

Dr. Stephen F. Olford (1918-2004) explains, “The exchanged life is one of abundance. The Savior promised ‘rivers of living water’ to flow from the Spirit-filled life (John 7:38). There is provision for life more abundant (John 10:10). And that life is indeed one of constant adventure, for it learns the wonderful reality of John 10:4: ‘And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.’ Who knows where He will lead and what He will say? Ear is tender to hear His voice, and heart is [set] on what the Altogether Lovely One will do. And that life can be yours and mine!”[22]


Dr. Horatius Bonar (1808-1899) wrote these words:

I heard the voice of Jesus say,

“Behold, I freely give

The living water; thirsty one,

Stoop down, and drink, and live.”

I came to Jesus, and I drank

Of that life-giving stream;

My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,

And now I live in Him.[23]

Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). Dr. John Phillips (1927-2010) explains, “With this text David Brainerd quenched the thirst of his own soul.”[24] David Brainerd’s biography demonstrates three responses to John 7:37. Does it irritate you, does it captivate you, or does it animate you? Brainerd thirsted; Brainerd came; Brainerd drank! Have you? John 7:37 provides God’s remedy for quenching the thirst of the soul.


[1]Paul Lee Tan, “Fill My Cup, Lord,” Accessed: 07/16/14, http://www.tanbible.com/tol_sng/sng_fillmycuplord.htm .

[2]A Frank Boreham Treasury: Sermons from Texts that Made History, comp.Peter F..Gunther, Warren Wiersbe, Foreword. Accessed: 07/17/14, https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10151973324331387&id=121475236386 .

[3]F.W. Boreham, A Casket of Cameos, or, More Texts That Made History, (New York, NY: The Abingdon Press, 1924), 23.

[4]Daniel L. Akin, 10 Who Changed The World, (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2012), 122.

[5]Boreham, Cameos, 24.


[7]Solomon Stoddard, Guide to Christ, (Princeton, NJ: William D’Hart, 1827), Accessed: 07/18/14, https://archive.org/stream/aguidetochristo00mathgoog#page/n6/mode/2up

[8]Boreham, Cameos, 25.

[9]Boreham, Cameos, 26-27.

[10]Boreham, Cameos, 28-29.

[11]Memoirs of Rev. David Brainerd: Missionary to the Indians of North America, based on the life of Brainerd prepared by Jonathan Edwards, rev. and enl. Serano E. Dwight, ed. J. M. Sherwood, (New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls, 1891), xxx.

[12]Boreham, Cameos, 32.

[13]The Works of Jonathan Edwards in Two Volumes, Vol. II, “Mr. Brainerd’s Journal,” (London: Ball, Arnold, and Co., 1840), 381.

[14]Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times: a Treasury Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers, #10815, “Feast of Tabernacles Final Day” (1998), 243, Database © 2004 WORDsearch.

[15]John Phillips, Exploring the Future: A Comprehensive Guide to Bible Prophecy, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1983), 154, Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

[16] A Commentary on the Holy Bible: The One Volume Bible Commentary, gen. ed. J. R. Dummelow, (New York, NY: Macmilllan Company, 1908, 1909), 788. Database © 2010 WORDsearch Corp.

[17]William Harvey Jellie, The Preacher’s Commentary on the Book of Leviticus, (London: Richard D. Dickinson, 1885), 286.

[18]Alexander Maclaren, Music for the Soul: Daily Readings for a Year, “Whosoever Will,” Isaiah 55:1, (New York, NY: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1897), 271.

[19]Maclaren, Music, “The Wonderful Invitation,” Revelation 22:17, 270.

[20]Dummelow, Commentary, 788.

[21]Glen Spencer, Jr., Ephesians: Life in the Heights, 2011, Database © 2013 WORDsearch Corp.

[22]Stephen F. Olford, Not I, But Christ, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1995), xxii, Database © 2006 WORDsearch Corp.

[23]Horatius Bonar, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say,” (1846).

[24]John Phillips, Exploring Proverbs, Volume One: An Expository Commentary, (1995), 349-350, Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on Amazon.com in hardcover, paperback and eBook]

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Miss-Revival-Spiritual-Awakening/dp/1462735428 & http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Biblical-Preaching-Giving-Bible/dp/1594577684 / fkirksey@bellsouth.net / (251) 626-6210

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