Psalm 78:18 "Fancy Food" (Gluttony & Self-Control - Week 1)
They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. (ESV)
They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. (NIV)
They stubbornly tested God in their hearts, demanding the foods they craved. (NLT)
This verse kicks off the fifth installment of our Vices and Virtues Series, focusing on the theme of Gluttony and Self-Control. A warning in scripture that I fear very few of us heed. It may even be a forgotten sin and certainly an ignored warning in our day.
We intentionally placed this theme to land in the month of October as we enter into the holiday season. We begin to bake our favorite treats, plan our feasts, reflect on what we have, and ask for what we don’t. It’s of utmost importance to enter this season with reflection and with scripture in our hearts. Over the next four weeks, we will dive into God’s word, reflecting on the blessings and provisions we have from our heavenly Father, the freedom that’s found through fasting, understanding our own cravings, the pitfall of overindulgence, and finally, discover the joy found in both celebrating and feasting.
A Table Furnished in the Wilderness
Psalm 78 is a “historical” Psalm written by the choir director Asaph. Asaph calls his listeners to remember and proclaim what God has done, so we may avoid repeating the folly as those who came before us did. That is, a rebellious heart tends to complain about the cup or portion that God gives it or doubt his faithfulness and ability to come through. A doubt that often leads to overindulgence and a constant demand for more.
This is what we see in this week's verse. The Israelites, though given a passage through the sea, freedom from oppression, guidance in the wilderness, a light to follow, and water from the rock, still doubted God’s ability to furnish a table in the wilderness. But despite their doubt, God still chose to extend his grace by providing manna. But even while their stomachs were still full from the bread, they thought the blessing to be insufficient and tested God by demanding more. They craved meat, thought God could not provide, and tested Him by demanding this “fancy food.”
Can’t a God who frees His children from an oppressive nation not provide a way through the sea? And He who parts the sea, can he not light a path in the wilderness? He who provides a way in the desert, can’t He also cause water to burst forth from a desert rock? Can’t the one who causes a dry stone to become a stream in the wilderness cause bread to rain from heaven? Is there anything too impossible for our God? No, all things are possible for our King. So what was the Isrealites deal? Why did they doubt and why did they complain?
"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:6-8).
Although Israel had seen the wonderful works of God, received His continuous grace, and welcomed His provision, through their lack of surrender, they still questioned His ability to provide bread and to furnish a table in the desert, and so they demanded the food they craved. They wanted “fancy food,” and cared more about the quality of food on their plates rather than the posture of their heart.
Praying big prayers is not what God rejects; it’s a demanding and unbelieving heart. This person is like a wave tossed at sea. (James 1:6-8). God welcomes big prayers, He asks, though, that we trust in His answer and sovereign choice of provision. All things are possible with God; when we ask great things from Him, we must pray in humility: Lord, if you will, you can.
Whether it’s food or something else, we crave, we must trust in the Lord's provision. Whatever he chooses to give, we welcome it with grace and gratitude, not demanding a blessing of “higher quality.” For a father does not give a child a scorpion when he asks for bread. How much more does our Heavenly Father desire to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? (Luke 11:13)
The question that this passage demands an answer to is this: Is God enough?
We all know the answer is yes, but this question is not meant to be answered with matter of factuality, but instead, sincerity. Do you truly trust that He is enough? Or will you fall into the lie of self sufficiency and doubt as those who came before us?
The Bread of Life
“Our God surely blesses us, but if we aren’t careful, blessings can become our god.”
A necessary observation of this week's verse is the parallel to the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 found in the Gospel of John. After Jesus fills the stomachs of five thousand-plus people with just five loaves and two fish, the crowds earnestly seek Him out and demand to stay with Him. Jesus immediately points out their folly. That they are only seeking Him because they have eaten their fill of the loaves, not because they want more of Him.“You want to be with me only because I feed you.” He explains how, just as the Lord sent down manna to the Israelites, God sent Him down to be the true bread to the whole world.
We are to stop striving merely for the bread that perishes, and instead, pursue Jesus, who satisfies all hunger and all thirst.
“I am the bread of life.Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat of it and not die.I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:48-52
You must trust that the Lord will give you what you need when you need it and that what He chooses to give is enough, as God commanded the Israelites in the wilderness only to take enough manna for a day so they would remain dependent on Him. We also are to request daily portions of bread from the Lord, remaining dependent on God, not overindulging ourselves in the cravings of the world, doubting that God is enough, or with a lack of contentment, constantly demanding more and more. Trust that the Lord cares for you and knows your needs before asking. He is all-sufficient. He is all we need. He is the Bread of Life!
Written by Blake Stanley
Passages to Read this week: