They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel:…
This passage is not only a masterly interpretation of the motive and movement of certain chapters of undoubted history, but one of those characteristic accurate photographs of human nature with which the Scriptures abound. In the language of the stage here is a transformation scene, a quick transition from joy, hope, praise, to sadness, despair, and bitter complaining. We have no difficulty in discovering the wisdom and tenderness of the Divine dealing when it intervenes for our extrication or harmonizes with our wish; we are equally ready to denounce its injustice and pitilessness when it crosses our plan. The Christian mother, praying for the recovery of her sick child, adds, as she has been taught, "Not my will, but Thine, be done." If the child recovers she devoutly gives God the praise; if it dies she says, "I cannot understand this." Yet she believes the other life to be infinitely better than this, and humbly hopes that she and all her family may one day know its joy. I speak not now of sorrow, but of rebellion and bitterness. So is it with every inferior mystery — for every other is inferior to this mystery of death and bereavement — our praises depend upon compliance with our wishes. How small and foolish the petulance and resentments of your child appear when by some denial or exaction you have done what you knew to be best! Did you ever think how exceedingly childish your bitter thoughts and complainings must seem to the Father in heaven? But here is another pregnant suggestion: "He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls." You have looked upon a withered and sunken human form in the coffin, from which disease and the agony of dissolution had driven out almost the last trace of resemblance to the same form in health. Is that the suggestion here? — a shrivelled and shrunken spiritual nature, lean and ghastly, atrophied through ill-usage and neglect, withered by worldliness? Man's darling desire is often such as to interfere with God's purpose for him. We need constantly to have emphasized the truth that God's anxiety is for man's spiritual fatness and prosperity; and when the human wish refuses to yield to the Divine purpose there can be but one result — leanness of soul. The time is to come when the supreme question concerning human pleasures and pursuits will be, "Will they minister to the spiritual growth — that is, to the highest and best in man?" rather than that most commonly heard query of this day, "How will they affect the physical and material prosperity?" The lesson of this incident in the record of Israel, as well as of the passing years, is, wait for God to prove Himself; see what He will do, His past dealings being an unimpeachable pledge for the future. If we could believe that He knows what is best and will do it, that His ideals are the true ones, and the spiritual is infinitely more to be valued than anything temporal, life would have a new meaning and beauty and richness for us, and out of it would come diviner influences to cheer our fellow-men.
(W. L. Phillips, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:
WEB: They soon forgot his works. They didn't wait for his counsel,