Verse 15. And he gave them their request. Prayer may be answered in anger and denied in love. That God gives a man his desire is no proof that he is the object of divine favour, everything depends upon what that desire is.
But sent leanness into their soul. Ah, that "but!" It embittered all. The meat was poison to them when it came without a blessing; whatever it might do in fattening the body, it was poor stuff when it made the soul lean. If we must know scantiness, may God grant it may not be scantiness of soul: yet this is a common attendant upon worldly prosperity. When wealth grows with many a man his worldly estate is fatter, but his soul's state is leaner. To gain silver and lose gold is a poor increase; but to win for the body and lose for the soul is far worse. How earnestly might Israel have unprayed her prayers had she known what would come with their answer! The prayers of lust will have to be wept over. We fret and fume till we have our desire, and then we have to fret still note because the attainment of it ends in bitter disappointment.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 15. And he gave them their request, etc. The throat's pleasure did shut up paradise, sold the birthright, beheaded the Baptist, and it was the chief of the cooks, Nebuzaradan, that first set fire to the temple, and razed the city. These effects are,
- Grossness; which takes away agility to any good work; which makes a man more like a tun upon two pottle pots. Caesar said he mistrusted not Antony and Dolabella for any practices, because they were fat; but Casca and Cassius, lean, hollow fellows, who did think too much. The other are the devil's crammed fowls, too fat to lay. Indeed, what need they travel far, whose felicity is at home; placing paradise in their throats, and heaven in their food?
- Macilency of grace; for as it puts fatness into their bodies, so leanness into their souls. God fatted the Israelites with quails, but withal sent leanness into their soul. The flesh is blown up, the spirit doth languish. They are worse than man eaters, for they are self eaters: they put a pleurisy into their bloods, and an apoplexy into their souls. --Thomas Adams.
Verse 15 Sent leanness into their soul. God affords us as great means for our increase in these Gospel times as ever he did; he puts us into fat pastures, and well watered, Psalms 23:1 - 6; therefore it is a shame for God's people not to grow, not to "bring forth twins", as So 6:6. They should grow twice as fast, bring forth twice as fast, bring forth twice as many lambs, twice as much wool, twice as much milk, as those that go upon bare commons. All the world may cry shame on such a man that is high fed, and often fed with fat and sweet ordinances, if he be still like Pharaoh's lean kine, as lean and ill favoured as ever he was before. Certainly, fat ordinances and lean souls do not well agree. We are to look upon it as the greatest of judgments to have leanness sent into our souls while we are fed with manna. We look on it as an affliction to have an over lean body; but it's a far sadder condition to have a lean soul. Of the two, it were far better to have a well thriving body and a lean soul: it is a great mercy when both prosper, 3 John 1:2 : "I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." Oh it is a sweet thing, especially to have a prospering soul, and still upon the growing hand: and God expects it should be so, where he affords good diet, great means of grace; as Daniel 1:10 : "The prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink." If you should look ill, who fare so well, I should be sure to bear the blame; it were so much as my head is worth. So certainly, where God affords precious food for precious souls, if these souls be lean under fat ordinances, either those that are fed, or those that feed them; either the stewards or the household; either minister, or people, or both, are sure to bear the blame. It is but equal and just that such should grow. We do not wonder to see lean sheep upon bare commons, but when we see sheep continue lean in fat pastures, we think their meat is ill bestowed on them; and therefore let us strive to be on the growing hand. --Matthew Lawrence.
Verse 15. Leanness is rendered "loathing" by Bishop Horsley, which accords with the literal state of the case; but I think leanness, as applied to the soul is exceedingly descriptive of its spiritual barrenness and emptiness of aught like Divine tastes or enjoyments. --Thomas Chalmers.