There are a few scriptural pitfalls to take notice of as we continue to wait upon the Lord. We can learn a great deal from those who have gone before us. Let us learn from them, rather than judge or condemn them.
Psalm 106:13-15 13 They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: 14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. 15 And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.
The First Problem: “they quickly forgot His works” (13a) So what happened? They quickly forgot all that the Lord had done. “Forgot” is the Hebrew word shakach which carries the idea of being oblivious to something. How sad! But they forgot because they lost their focus on the Lord, and they lost their focus because they failed to wait on God’s counsel.
How did they fail to wait? It means they failed to cling to the Lord and rest in the promises of His love, provision, timing, and wisdom as it pertained to their needs and His purpose for them. “Wait” here is chakah which originally may have meant “to adhere, cling to,” and then “to wait.”
When we fail to wait on or seek God’s counsel, we quickly not only lose our focus and forget who God is and what He has done, but in a spirit of idolatry and human foolishness, we begin to look to and depend on (a) the details of life, the things of the world like pleasure, position, power, and prestige, and (b) our strategies to get what we want or think we need for our happiness, security, and satisfaction.
The Second Problem: “But craved intensely in the wilderness” (14a)
First, notice the place where this occurred. It was in the “wilderness.” In Scripture, the wilderness or desert represents the testing places of life, the places and conditions God’s uses in our lives to train and develop our faith, enhance our walk with Him, and prepare us to be the people of God. They looked back on the past and craved after some of the pleasures of Egypt—the meat, fish, cucumbers (six inches of indigestion), the melons (ninety percent water), the onions, leeks and garlic (these speak for themselves). How quickly they forgot the slavery under the whip of their task masters. They were coveting the details of life, and the New Testament defines coveting as a form of idolatry (cf. Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5).
Why is covetousness a form of idolatry? Because when we covet the details of life (position, power, praise, pleasures, possessions, comfort, etc.), we value and worship them as though they were gods with the power to give security, significance, and satisfaction—things which only God can truly give.
The desire for food, clothing, pleasure, comfort, love, significance, and security are all legitimate desires given to us by God who gives us all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). They lead to sin when they control our lives or when we seek our happiness in them rather than in God. They are sinful when they cause us to abandon God’s purposes and His timing so that we turn to our own strategies to grasp after our wants what we perceive as our needs. With the words, “they tempted God” the Psalmist defined the nature of such coveting.
When we fail to wait on the Lord and crave after the details of life as our source of happiness, we may end up only tempting God. Men test God by behavior which constitutes in effect a defiant challenge to him to prove the truth of his words and the goodness and justice of his ways (Ex. 17:2; Nu. 14:22; Pss. 78:18, 41, 56; 95:9; 106:14; Mal. 3:15;Acts 5:9; 15:10). The place-name Massah was a permanent memorial of one such temptation (Ex. 17:7; Dt. 6:16). Thus to goad God betrays extreme irreverence, and God himself forbids it (Dt. 6:16; cf. Mt. 4:7; 1 Cor. 10:9ff.). In all distresses God’s people should wait on him in quiet patience, confident that in due time he will answer their prayers according to his promise (cf. Pss. 27:7-14; 37:7; 40; 130:5ff.; La. 3:25ff.; Phil. 4:19).5
The Results: “So He gave them their request” (15)
In other words, they received what they thought they needed to be happy. They finally got what they wanted. So now, they would be happy and satisfied, right? Absolutely not! God does not force His will on us, and sometimes He allows us to get what we think we must have. He sometimes allows us to live by our own strategies and substitutes through the energy of the flesh. The results, however, are always disappointing and often disastrous to some degree. The only blessing to come from such self-centered, self-dependent living is when, in the face of our disappointment or the problems incurred, we come to the end of ourselves, repent of our rebellious ways, and return and cling to the Lord.
Rather than trustful waiting, the pitfall is lustful cravings.