Verses 13–21

Now they begin to be provided for by the immediate hand of God.

I. He makes them a feast, at night, of delicate fowl, feathered fowl (Ps. 78:27), therefore not locusts, as some think; quails, or pheasants, or some wild fowl, came up, and covered the camp, so tame that they might take up as many of them as they pleased. Note, God gives us of the good things of this life, not only for necessity, but for delight, that we may not only serve him, but serve him cheerfully.

II. Next morning he rained manna upon them, which was to be continued to them for their daily bread. 1. That which was provided for them was manna, which descended from the clouds, so that, in some sense, they might be said to live upon the air. It came down in dew that melted, and yet was itself of such a consistency as to serve for nourishing strengthening food, without any thing else. They called it manna, manhu, “What is this?” Either, “What a poor thing this is!” despising it: or, “What a strange thing this is!” admiring it: or, “It is a portion, no matter what it is; it is that which our God has allotted us, and we will take it and be thankful,” Exod. 16:14, 15. It was pleasant food; the Jews say that it was palatable to all, however varied their tastes. It was wholesome food, light of digestion, and very necessary (Dr. Grew says) to cleanse them from disorders with which he thinks it probable that they were, in the time of their bondage, more or less infected, which disorders a luxurious diet would have made contagious. By this spare and plain diet we are all taught a lesson of temperance, and forbidden to desire dainties and varieties. 2. They were to gather it every morning (Exod. 16:21), the portion of a day in his day, Exod. 16:4. Thus they must live upon daily providence, as the fowls of the air, of which it is said, That which thou givest them they gather (Ps. 104:28); not to-day for to-morrow: let the morrow take thought for the things of itself. To this daily raining and gathering of manna our Saviour seems to allude when he teaches us to pray, Give us this day our daily bread. We are hereby taught, (1.) Prudence and diligence in providing food convenient for ourselves and our household. What God graciously gives we must industriously gather; with quietness working, and eating our own bread, not the bread either of idleness or deceit. God’s bounty leaves room for man’s duty; it did so even when manna was rained: they must not eat till they have gathered. (2.) Contentment and satisfaction with a sufficiency. They must gather, every man according to his eating; enough is as good as a feast, and more than enough is as bad as a surfeit. Those that have most have, for themselves, but food, and raiment, and mirth; and those that have least generally have these: so that he who gathers much has nothing over, and he who gathers little has no lack. There is not so great a disproportion between one and another in the comforts and enjoyments of the things of this life as there is in the property and possession of the things themselves. (3.) Dependence upon Providence: Let no man leave till morning (Exod. 16:19), but let them learn to go to bed and sleep quietly, though they have not a bit of bread in their tent, nor in all their camp, trusting that God, with the following day, will bring them their daily bread.” It was surer and safer in God’s store-house than in their own, and would thence come to them sweeter and fresher. Read with this, Matt. 6:25; Take no thought for your life, etc. See here the folly of hoarding. The manna that was laid up by some (who thought themselves wiser and better managers than their neighbours, and who would provide in case it should fail next day), putrefied, and bred worms, and became good for nothing. Note, That proves to be most wasted which is covetously and distrustfully spared. Those riches are corrupted, Jas. 5:2, 3. Let us set ourselves to think, [1.] Of that great power of God which fed Israel in the wilderness, and made miracles their daily bread. What cannot this God do, who prepared a table in the wilderness, and furnished it richly even for those who questioned whether he could or no? Ps. 78:19, 20. Never was there such a market of provisions as this, where so many hundred thousand men were daily furnished, without money and without price. Never was there such an open house kept as God kept in the wilderness for forty years together, nor such free and plentiful entertainment given. The feast which Ahasuerus made, to show the riches of his kingdom, and the honour of his majesty, was nothing to this, Est. 1:4. It is said (Exod. 16:21), When the sun waxed hot, it melted; as if what was left were drawn up by the heat of the sun into the air to be the seed of the next day’s harvest, and so from day to day. [2.] Of that constant providence of God which gives food to all flesh, for his mercy endures for ever, Ps. 136:25. He is a great house-keeper that provides for all the creatures. The same wisdom, power, and goodness that now brought food daily out of the clouds, are employed in the constant course of nature, bringing food yearly out of the earth, and giving us all things richly to enjoy.