Verse 14. But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness. Though they would not wait God's will, they are hot to have their own. When the most suitable and pleasant food was found them in abundance, it did not please them long, but they grew dainty and sniffed at angel's food, and must needs have flesh to eat, which was unhealthy diet for that warm climate, and for their easy life. This desire of theirs they dwelt upon till it became a mania with them, and, like a wild horse, carried away its rider. For a meal of meat they were ready to curse their God and renounce the land which floweth with milk and honey. What a wonder that the Lord did not take them at their word! It is plain that they vexed him greatly,
And tempted God in the desert. In the place where they were absolutely dependent upon him and were everyday fed by his direct provision, they had the presumption to provoke their God. They would have him change the plans of his wisdom, supply their sensual appetites, and work miracles to meet their wicked unbelief: these things the Lord would not do, but they went as far as they could in trying to induce him to do so. They failed not in their wicked attempt because of any goodness in themselves, but because God "cannot be tempted," -- temptation has no power over him, he yields not to man's threats or promises.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 14. In the wilderness. When God by circumstances of time and place doth call for moderation of carnal appetite, the transgression is more heinous and offensive unto God: "They lusted exceedingly in the wilderness", where they should have contented themselves with any sort of provision. --David Dickson.
Verse 14. In the wilderness. There, where they had bread enough and to spare, yet nothing would serve them but they must have flesh to eat. They were now purely at God's finding; so that this was a reflection upon the wisdom and goodness of their Creator. They were now, in all probability, within a step of Canaan, yet had not patience to stay for dainties till they came thither. They had flocks and herds of their own, but they will not kill them; God must give them flesh as he gave them bread, or they will never give him credit or their good word: they did not only wish for flesh, "but" they "lusted exceedingly" after it. A desire even of lawful things, when it is inordinate and violent, becomes sinful; and therefore this is called "lusting after evil things", ( 1 Corinthians 10:6 ), though the quails as God's gift, were good things, and were so spoken of, Psalms 105:40 . Yet this was not all, "they tempted God in the desert", where they had had such experience of his goodness and power, and questioned whether he could and would gratify them therein. See Psalms 78:19-20 . --Matthew Henry.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 14. The wickedness of inordinate desires.
- They are out of place -- "in the wilderness."
- They are assaults upon God -- "and tempted God."
- They are despisers of former mercies -- see preceding verses.
- They involve solemn danger -- see following verse.