And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.…
An army must have a commissary department well administered. The ordnance, or recruiting, or medical, divisions are not more essential to its existence, whether in peace or war. A soldier's pay is but a trifle compared with the expense of maintaining him in vigour. Yet a more strange venture and gross neglect would seem to be recorded in the early history of Israel than has ever since been seen. Here were some two million souls led out of bondage, of whom it is said: "They had not prepared for themselves any victual." Every hour increased the peril and the need. Desperation was in their threats. Bread-riots have always been the fiercest outbreaks. The great camp was on the verge of mutiny.
I. THE LORD DID DAILY AND AMPLY PROVIDE FOR HIS PEOPLE. The fact of abundant food is clear and indisputable. There is no hint, however, as to its immediate source or methods of distribution. A similar mystery veils the agencies through which we find our present necessities met. Here the natural and the supernatural seem to work together. The political economist makes them his study, and extremists undertake to tell exactly how the nations of the earth are kept alive. The farmer, manufacturer, artisan, carrier, trader, accountant, teacher, labouring with hand or head, or both — each furnishing just that without which the rest must languish — constitute a most complex problem. Laplace set himself at no such intricate task when attempting the solution of the solar system. We fall back on the conviction that while none can see the vast organism, or all the forces which are operative in it, yet it does move by an instinctive impulse under s beneficent direction whose secrets none can wrest, whose failure no one can imagine. The suspension of one class of labourers affects, more or less, every other. But to trace, or tell, the infinite processes through which every person in the land finds daily that which will maintain the body and restore its energies, as they are constantly spent, is beyond the ability of any mortal. Over all is He upon whom all eyes, though so blind, wait. Men call Him God, or Nature, or Chance, or Law, each term being somewhat of a cloak for their ignorance.
II. THE LORD REQUIRED EACH MAN TO PROVIDE FOR HIMSELF. The combined wisdom and efforts of men could not create a grain of corn. Yet each and all must gather for themselves. The increase will vary as occasions and necessities do. But how often has the world seen that they who would for their own selfish ends heap up their stores find to their surprise and horror that it breeds only loathsome and hateful forms of death! Capital, unscrupulously held and wielded, is becoming the terror even of its possessors. Vast fortunes have generally proved vast vexations, while Agur's prayer, "Give me neither poverty nor riches," etc., seems to have its happiest answer in the state of those who are most observant of these very precepts given to Israel. To idle, or hoard, or squander, or fret, is sin now as then.
III. THE LORD PUT SPECIAL HONOUR ON THE SEVENTH. Good doctrine still, neither abrogated nor superseded, ye buoy men in these days of railroads, and steamships, and telegraphs, and fast mails, and Sunday papers, and apoplectic fits! Feel you not the Almighty hand on these flying wheels, bringing them to pause? Will you say, we must work a few of these forbidden hours to gain reprieve for the rest? Will you make hay, or post accounts, or write your commercial letters, or draw out your plans for greater barns, or repair your machine, or set foot on the train, to be first at the market on the morrow? Thus you do but repeat their folly, who hoped to gather the needful food, but failed. Emptiness will fill all your omers when the results of such disobedience are weighed.
(De W. S. Clarke.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.