As I was looking up a passage in Psalms today, I noticed several verses I have underlined on the pages. Two verses stuck out to me, and although they were in separate chapters, the verses really went well together.
“And He (God) gave them their request;
but sent leanness into their soul.” ~Psalm 106:15
and across the page read this:
“He (God) satisfieth the longing soul,
and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”~ Psalm 107:8
What a contrast! At first glance, it would appear that God is fickle – to one He sends leanness to the soul, and to the other He sends satisfaction and goodness. Why?
Psalm 106 tells a history of Israel’s return from Egypt. It is a sad account, really, of the nation’s failure to see God’s hand and follow Him. Yet God extends His hesed (steadfast love) to them regardless. Verses 9-11 tell of God’s deliverance at the Red Sea. In verse 12 the people turn to God as a result of His miraculous salvation.
By verse 13, Israel has forgotten. They are no longer willing to wait for God’s leading. Israel turns to its own desires, its own way. They declare God unjust because their cravings were not being met.
Desires, in themselves, can be good. A favorite verse of my dear grandmother is Psalm 37:4 –
“Delight thyself also in the Lord;
and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
When our eyes are on God, and He is our soul’s delight, He will fulfill our desires; because God’s desires have become our desires. And God’s desires never disappoint.
*Israel was not interested in delighting in God. They were interested in themselves and their comforts. The Bible says they “fell a lusting” and thought of all they left behind. Because they had such a good life in Egypt, you know… the slavery and all. Real fun. Israel desired meat and were no longer content with God’s provision of manna. That’s it. Nothing life altering; just a craving. For meat.
God was not happy about their complaining, for they weren’t just complaining about their food – they were complaining about God Himself. Despite their behavior, God gave them exactly what they asked Him for.
They did not pray for God’s will to be done but their own. Here’s the key to asking God to do something for you:
“And this is the confidence that we have in Him (God),
that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.” ~ 1 John 5:14
Ever hear the expression “Be careful what you wish for”? It certainly applies here.
God gave the people their desire, but it wasn’t fulfilling. It brought a plague and death throughout the camp. Leanness in the soul. Can you imagine how desolate the people who survived were, having people – loved ones- dying about them? The place where all this death happened would be called, literally, “the graves of craving.”
At least they got what they wanted, right?
Have you ever received something you thought you really wanted just to find out that it wasn’t that great? Disappointing, isn’t it?
When our desires are God’s desires, that simply does not happen. As ridiculous as it sounds, God will often give us things we didn’t even know we needed! And those things always satisfy and delight.
There were souls in Israel who were satisfied in God and His will. Moses, Joshua, Caleb… they were willing to wait on Him. What delighted God delighted them. What grieved God grieved them.
They each left this world fulfilled.
~Moses was able to view the Promised Land before he died. He never entered the land because of a punishment, but even God’s punishment allowed for satisfaction. (Deuteronomy 34:1-5)
~ Joshua succeeded Moses as leader, and witnessed God do all that He said He would for Israel. (Joshua 23:14)
~ Caleb still had enough energy at the age of 85 to conquer and inhabit the land he had been promised. (Joshua 14:6-15)
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
We ought to earnestly, sincerely, genuinely be seeking God’s will and delighting in Him. He will always do His will, His perfect will, when asked. It always satisfies. It always nourishes. It always fills us completely.
*Read Numbers 11 to get the full story.