Israel finds itself in a world with nations all around them. These nations have kings. They have relationships with those around them and they have the ability to mobilize for war quickly. So, Israel clamors for their own King. Samuel, God’s Prophet, explains the consequences of having a King: High taxes, drafting sons and daughters into government service, taking fields and crops for support of a lavish lifestyle, etc. But the nation either doesn’t care and is willing to pay that price, or they just won’t listen. They insist on becoming like the nations around them. Samuel further warns them that when this oppression becomes too severe for you and you cry out for help from God, “but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” All you’ll get from me and God is, “I told you so.” Psalm 106, verse 15, in the King James Translation, says, “And He (God) gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls.”  This was specifically referring to Israel’s demand for meat to eat rather than the manna.

Our daily life sometimes seems like we are just getting manna to eat over and over again. It gets boring after a while. Imagine having nothing but manna to eat for 40 years! Be quiet and eat your gruel! I think God wants us to learn contentment in all of our circumstances in life. When Paul wrote his famous passage to the Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” he was not talking about winning a football game. He was talking about being content in all circumstances of life, even being in prison unjustly. My life often feels like 40 years of “manna.” I can live with that, trusting God to work out his own good plans for me. If we insist on having something we want, God just might give it to us and bring leanness into our souls. We can be confident that when God doesn’t answer our prayers, He has a good reason. Since He knows the future, and we don’t, we should trust His decisions. When he doesn’t give us what we want, it’s often because we don’t actually know what is really good for us. He does! The next time you feel down because you didn’t get what you want, sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you. By the way, God doesn’t just give us gruel to eat. At mealtime, I thank God for filling the world with color and giving me eyes. I thank Him for filling the world with music and giving me ears. I thank him for filling the world with good things to eat and giving me the ability to enjoy it. If we’re honest, we have much more in our lives in Christ than just manna!

Courson adds an exhortation to his comments on this idea. He writes, “Be careful, dear saint, what you insist upon, for it could have disastrous results. Unless you are in the center of God’s will, the desire of your heart could lead to leanness in your soul (Psalm 106:15). We make so many mistakes by complaining and griping and murmuring about what God is doing in our lives. And sometimes the Father says, ‘If that’s what you want, have your way.’ Saints, go with the flow of what God is doing. Yes, offer your requests, but always in submission to the perfect will of God.”[1]

[1] Courson, Jon. 2005. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume One: Genesis–Job. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.