“He spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light by night. They asked, and he brought quail, and gave them bread from heaven in abundance.” (Psalm 105:39-40)
This psalm erupts like a volcano of wonder spreading awe through our heart as it testifies of God’s incredible provisions for his people. The rebellious, cantankerous Israelites were wanderers in a scorching land, desert sand under their feet, blazing sun overhead. Jehovah offered a cloud to cover his people the way a loving father shelters his children in safety. They are undeserving complainers, and yet God does not heap on them what they deserve. He spreads his favor over them with a cloud to guard them from the withering heat.
In like manner, the God of heaven orchestrated the skies at night with fire to reign overhead. When the desert temperature plummeted with the sun’s descent, God showed up with fire that wrapped warmth around his children, provided visibility during the dense darkness, and safeguarded them from ravenous nocturnal predators. No necessity escaped God’s watchful eyes.
To assuage their hunger pangs, God brought them more quail than they could devour. For breakfast nourishment, the Israelites awakened to the bread of heaven spread on the ground in abundance. To quench their thirst, water erupted from the rocks at Jehovah’s command and flowed like cool mountain streams across this barren region.
All because God remembered. The Lord had promised Abraham “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore” (Genesis 22:17). Now God was making sure that the descendants he had promised to Abraham were well cared for even if they had disobeyed and were reaping the consequences with 40 years in the wilderness. The psalmist reminds us “He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham” (Psalm 105:8-9).
What do we learn from the journey of these ancient people that applies to our lives today? God is still cloud cover and illuminator, shielding us from harm, defending us from predators great and small. He is the one who miraculously provides the abundance we could never supply for ourselves. Spreading a feast of spiritual meat and drink before us through his Word, the Lord fills us to the brim with the power of his Spirit, ensuring that as his children we remember he will always keep his promises to us as well.
We may find ourselves in bleak surroundings. We serve a God who has made us written promises that we will endure. He is still cloud cover and fire by night, regardless of the rugged landscape in view ahead.
Elizabeth Karram Mitchell