We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic:…
The ancient Jews were, by no means, the only people who grumbled at the provision set before them. The Bread of Life, provided in the various ordinances of the gospel, for the strengthening of our souls, is not always received with thankfulness. Whatever rank we may choose to assign to preaching, among the other agencies for good, none can deny that it has its place, and an important one; and, yet, how many who listen to it, actuated by the complaining spirit of God's ancient people, presumptuously exclaim, "Our soul loatheth this light bread!" The manner of God's servant, and the message which he delivers, are both brought to the test of the most unsparing criticism. Imagine a prisoner, condemned to die, awaiting the day of his execution, when the door of the cell opens, and the governor's deputy appears, bringing a pardon for him. The prisoner is overjoyed at this, but, instead of availing himself of the permission to depart, he stops to criticise the manner in which the deputy has discharged his duty. "Why did not the governor send a man of more ability?" he impatiently asks. "How can he expect me to listen to a message delivered in tones so harsh and discordant?" Has this pardoned criminal any just appreciation of the favour shown him? Very humble men, so far as worldly wisdom is concerned, often accomplish more, in teaching people "the good and the right way," than those who are learned in the schools. One who had been listening to the preaching of such a servant of God, asked, in surprise, "How is it that he always has something new to tell us?" The answer was, "Why, he lives so near the gates of heaven, that he hears a great many things which we who remain afar off know nothing about!" It is not the musical sound of the bell which assembles the large flocks of pigeons at noonday in the square of Old St. Mark's in Venice, but the liberal scattering of food. The complaint of the text is most often made with reference to what is called "doctrine preaching," and even those who enjoy sermons of another sort are ready to say, when matters of this kind are dwelt upon, "Our soul loatheth this light bread." God's truth, in the hands of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:17), is the great instrument for the world's sanctification. It is obvious, however, that this truth must take the shape of definite doctrine, and be expressed in becoming language, before it can accomplish this purpose. The Church and her ministers deal fairly with you; but are you dealing fairly with yourselves? You listen to preaching; but is it with the sincere desire that you may grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour?
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: