“They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul (Psa 106:13-15).”
Psalm 106 recounts the sad history of Israel, filled with accounts of the people’s unfaithfulness. From the time of the Exodus to the time of the judges, Israel repeatedly turned against her God.
A chilling fact was revealed in verses 13-15. God gave His wilful people their hearts’ desires, “but sent leanness into their soul.” He gave them over to the consequences of their unholy desires, to gradually destroy their souls like a disease would the physical body.
Jacob Stole His Brother’s Blessing
We read in Gen 27:18-29 of how Jacob, in his desire for the blessing which belonged to his brother, deceived his father, Isaac. Isaac was shocked that his own son had done this. He said to the distraught Esau, “Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing (v. 35).”
Jacob got what he desired but it caused the break-up of the family. He had to flee for his life from his brother who intended to kill him. There was no peace for Jacob at Haran. There he received a taste of his own medicine. His uncle Laban was also a crafty man and deceived Jacob into marrying Leah. Imagine Jacob’s shock in the morning when he discovered his wife was not the woman he wanted to marry (cf. Gen 29:25).
Over the years Jacob continued to suffer from Laban’s deception. He said to his wives: “And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me (Gen 31:7).”
Even his own sons deceived him. After they sold Joseph to slave traders, they dipped his coat in animal blood and brought it to Jacob. Believing that Joseph was dead, Jacob was inconsolable (Gen 37:33-34). Jacob had a tough life, deceiving but being deceived in return.
Israel Demanded a King
Israel looked at their neighbours with their kings and they wanted the same. They demanded a king from Samuel (1Sa 8:5-6). Their desire for an earthly king was in fact a rejection of God as their King (1Sa 8:7-8).
Despite Samuel warning them of the demands a king would place on them, the people persisted in their desire for a king. “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles (1Sa 8:19-20).”
Most of the kings they had were not godly men, and they led Israel and Judah on a downward spiral. They lived to regret their foolishness. They would have been better if they had stayed with God as their king (cf. Hosea 13:9-11)
Be Careful of Our Hearts’ Desire
No one complains of having a job that pays well. Some jobs pay better than others, and people commit themselves to education and training hopefully to find employment that pays well.
What happens if a well-paying job requires us to do things which we know is not right? Which requires us to compromise morally? Or to forsake the assembly of the saints? What would we choose? Paul says:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1Ti 6:6-10).”
Approval of men.
Some people are not greedy for money, they are greedy for approval. There is a passage in the gospel account of John that reveals just such an attitude. There were among members of the Sanhedrin, believers of Jesus. These were men on the right path – they were given “power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his (Jesus) name (John 1:12).”
But what do we learn of these men? “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:42-43).”
Be careful what you choose. You may get it, and with it, leanness of soul.