They spoke against God;
they said, “Can God really
spread a table in the wilderness?” — Psalm 78:19
I recently heard about a conversation that a rabbi who heads up a lifesaving organization had with a board member. After looking over the rabbi’s ambitious goals, the board member said, “Maybe we need to rein in those goals. You can’t save the entire world!”
The rabbi replied, “The reason why you think that we can’t save everyone is because you think that you can save 300 lives. If you realized that you can’t even lift your finger without God’s help, let alone save even one life, then you would understand that if God can help us save 300 people, He can help us save a million.”
When we realize that we can’t do a single thing without God, that’s when we finally understand anything is possible with God.
In Psalm 78, the psalmist addresses the doubts mankind has about God’s capabilities. He goes through a survey of history, from the time the children of Israel left Egypt until David assumed the throne, recounting how every time the people doubted God, He came through. Although God repeatedly proved His faithfulness and power, the people forgot His miracles and betrayed God.
The key to staying strong in faith and obedience is remembering God’s faithfulness and miracles in the past and believing wholeheartedly that they can occur in the present.
In verse 19 we read, “They spoke against God; they said, ‘Can God really spread a table in the wilderness?’” The Jewish sages teach that this was spoken by the nations of the world when the Israelites were in the desert. Could God possibly provide for His people in the desert?
According to the sages, God’s response is expressed beautifully in Psalm 23. Verse 5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies,” refers to the miraculous manna that fell from the heavens each day. God piled it up like snow on mountaintops so that all nations could see His miraculous provisions for the Israelites. “You anoint my head with oil” refers to the fatty meat that God rained down on the Israelites in the desert. It was such a drastic amount of meat that the nations couldn’t possibly miss the miracle. And “my cup overflows” refers to Miriam’s well, which overflowed with water to satisfy the thirst of a nation in the desert. Without it, the Israelites would have perished. Indeed, their very survival in the desert proved God’s greatness to the world.
The message is clear. God can provide for us in any desert – whether it be a dry financial season or a health scare that seems daunting. God can provide – He can provide sustenance, healing, love, and for all our needs. No matter what the doubters may say, God has the final say.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President