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.
JOSEPH CARYL (1602-1673): They waited not for his counsel, which neglect of theirs may be understood two ways. First, that they waited not for His open or declared counsel, to direct them what to do, but without asking His advice would needs venture and run on upon their own heads, to do what seemed good in their own eyes. Secondly, that they waited not for the accomplishment of His hidden and secret counsel concerning them; they would not tarry God’s time for the bringing forth and bringing about His counsels. Not to wait upon God either way is very sinful. Not to wait for His counsel to direct us what to do, and not to wait for His doing or fulfilling His own counsel, argues at once a proud and an impatient spirit; in the one, men do even slight the wisdom of God, and in the other vainly presume and attempt to [rush] His providence.
RALPH ERSKINE (1685-1752): Now, who are these that wait upon God? I answer, in the words of the psalmist David, This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob, that is, O God of Jacob, Psalm 24:6. And hence seeking and waiting are joined together; The Lord is good to them that wait for Him, and to the soul that seeks Him, Lamentations 3:25. The true waiter is a seeker, and the true seeker is a waiter upon God.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Waiting upon the Lord describes an attitude of soul when we are engaged in true prayer, but waiting for the Lord is the exercise of patience while His answer tarries.
WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): While I wait upon God, I must also wait for Him, and integrity and uprightness are to preserve me while I do so.
A. W. PINK: But O how impatient is the flesh. It was at this point that Abraham failed: when Sarah bare not the promised son, he determined to have one by Hagar. It was at this point Moses first failed—taking things into his own hands (Exodus 2:11,12), instead of waiting God’s time.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The insatiable nature of our desires is astonishing, in that scarcely a single day is allowed to God to gratify them. For should He not immediately satisfy them, we at once become impatient, and are in danger of eventually falling into despair. This, then, was the fault of the people, that they did not cast all their cares upon God, did not calmly call upon Him, nor wait patiently until He was pleased to answer their requests, but rushed forward with reckless precipitation, as if they would dictate to God what He was to do. And, therefore, to heighten the criminality of their rash course, He employs the term “counsel;” because men will neither allow God to be possessed of wisdom, nor do they deem it proper to depend upon His counsel, but are more provident than becomes them, and would rather rule God than allow themselves to be ruled by Him according to His pleasure.
R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): Faith waits upon God; but she waits also for God. Jacob, in Genesis 32:9-12, waited upon God regarding Esau his brother: but he did not wait for God. Had he done so, he would not have bowed down seven times to his brother, (Genesis 33:3): Esau must have bowed down to him, (Genesis 27:29).
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): He that waiteth on his master shall be honoured, Proverbs 27:18, even though the waiting be almost passive. Sometimes our master may not require us to do anything more than stand still. But you know John, the footman, behind his master’s chair―if his master bids him stand there, he is as true a servant as the other attendant who is sent upon an errand of the utmost importance. The Lord for wise reasons may make us wait awhile.
R. C. CHAPMAN: The moment a servant acts independently, he acts from himself, and out of character.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): He that believeth doth not make haste, Isaiah 28:16. There is no time lost while we are waiting God’s time. It is as acceptable a piece of submission to the will of God to sit still contentedly when our lot requires it, as to work for Him when we are called to it.
ALEXANDER COMRIE (1706-1774): It is sweet to observe how graciously and how frequently the Lord mentions this exercise. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and He shall strengthen thy heart: wait, I say, on the Lord, Psalm 27:14; Wait on the Lord and keep His way, Psalm 37:34; I will look unto the Lord: I will wait for the God of my salvation, Micah 7:7; and hundreds of other places.
C. H. SPURGEON: Waiting upon the Lord for direction will never fail to afford us timely intimation of His will, for though the ephod is no more worn by a ministering priest, the Lord still guides His people by His wisdom, and orders all their paths in love; and in times of perplexity, by ways mysterious and remarkable, He makes them to “hear a voice behind them, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it.” Probably, if our hearts were more tender, we might be favoured with more of these sacred monitions; but, alas! instead thereof, we are like the horse and the mule, which have no understanding, and therefore the bit and bridle of affliction take the place of gentler means, else might that happier method be more often used, to which the psalmist alludes when he says, “Thou shalt guide me with Thine eye,” Psalm 32:8.
JOHN CALVIN: And thus we are to learn to put a bridle on ourselves and not to be rash and unseasonably hasty, according to our usual habit.
C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): O that we better understand all this! Would that we knew more perfectly the meaning of divine guidance! How often do we vainly imagine, and confidently assert, that the cloud is moving in the very direction which suits the bent of our inclination! We want to do a certain thing, or make a certain movement, and we seek to persuade ourselves that our will is the will of God. Thus, instead of being divinely guided, we are self-deceived. Our will is unbroken, and hence we cannot be guided aright; for the real secret of being rightly guided—guided of God—is to have our own will thoroughly subdued. The meek will He guide in judgment; and the meek will teach his way, Psalm 25:9. And again, I will guide thee with mine eye. But let us ponder the admonition: Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee, Psalm 32:9. If the countenance be turned upwards, to catch the movement of the divine “eye,” we shall not need the “bit and bridle.” But here is precisely the point in which we so sadly fail. We do not live sufficiently near to God to discern the movement of His eye. The will is at work. We want to have our own way, and hence we are left to reap the bitter fruits thereof.
C. H. SPURGEON: The old puritans said, “As sure as ever a Christian carves for himself he’ll cut his own fingers;” and that is a great truth.