HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
“ And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.” Psalm 78:28
The writer of this noble Psalm is meditating upon the past of Israel. He is recalling the wonders of the Exodus. He sings of how God fed the wanderers both with the manna and the quails. He gave them bread from heaven to eat and continued giving it in spite of all ingratitude.
But not only was the supply from God, there was another feature which impressed the poet, and it is this he writes of in our text. That bread might have been rained from heaven in places very difficult to reach. The quails might have fallen far away in regions almost inaccessible. And what impressed the poet was that God did not give His bounty in such a way–He let it fall in the midst of their camp. The gift was not far away from them. It did not call for any tiring journey. They had no long distances to travel to secure the necessities of life. God’s gracious bounty, new to them every morning, fell just where they were–and the quick eye of the poet noticed that.
“The Word Is Nigh Thee”
Then one thinks how true that is of other heavenly blessings than the manna. It is true, for instance, of the Bible–“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth.” When we read a confession or a catechism, we feel that it is very far away. The truth it embodies is remote from the beating of the human heart. But the wonderful thing about the Bible is that it is not only the most divine of books. It is that, but it is also the most human. It comes right into these sinful lives of ours, portraying them and understanding them. There is the throb of the human heart in it as well as the throb of the great heart of God. Our joys and sorrows, our victories and failures, our hours of triumph and the shadows on them, all these are mirrored on the pages of the Bible. It can never be treated just like other books. It is one great mark of inspiration that the Bible is not far away from life. He lets it fall in the midst of the camp.
Christ Was Born Among the Multitudes
And think how true this is of that unspeakable event, the Incarnation. In the fullness of the time God gave His Son. In palaces there is a certain isolation; they are remote from the common haunts of men. Even a cottage is a place withdrawn when within the cottage is a woman in travail. But not in a palace nor even in a cottage was our blessed Lord brought into our midst–He was born in the manger of an inn. Men were gathered there from every quarter. The world in miniature was there. Travelers had reached that Inn by lonely roads, but it was not on lonely roads they found the Babe. They found Him amid a gathering of folks drawn from every section of society in the welcome afforded by an inn. The Child was born where there were human voices and all the stir and confusion of a crowd, where some were sleeping and others eating and many telling the adventures of the road. Where there were light and noise and the throb of human life, the Bread from heaven was bestowed at Bethlehem. He let it fall in the midst of the camp.
And this marked all the ministry of Jesus, distinguishing it from that of John the Baptist, for the Baptist was a solitary figure loving the lonely spaces of the desert. When men wanted to inquire of John, they had to go out and seek him in the wilderness. When they wanted to inquire of Jesus, they found Him on their trodden ways. He was a lover of the haunts of men, no stranger to their lowly cottages, sitting where the common people sat and perfectly familiar with the crowd. He gave them bread from heaven to eat, and it was given just as was the manna. He never reserved it for the monastic shelter nor for the quietness of the academy. He healed men and He taught men in the places where they lived and toiled, in the dull routine of daily living. In the fields, down by the seashore, in the narrow streets of unimportant hamlets, in the rooms of overcrowded cottages, in the thronged meeting-places of the cities, there He fed them with that wisdom which dwelt with God before ever the earth was (Proverbs 8:23)–He let it fall in the midst of the camp.
The Rich Provision of the Gospel Today
Equally, does this apply to the rich provision of the Gospel now? We do not need to leave our place to gather it: it is given in the places where we are. The promises are not for imaginary circumstances; the promises are for here and now. The offered adequacy of the Holy Spirit is always available for us today. The fellowship of the Lord Jesus with all its cleansing and uplifting is not for the rare hours of mountain vision but for the common hours of ordinary life. Peace and joy are not for a few choice saints who move apart from the heavy cares of men. Serenity was never meant by heaven only for those who are withdrawn from things. The great distinction of the Gospel is that all its blessings are for common people immersed in the care and business of the hour. What struck this poet was that heaven’s supply fell right among the places where people tabernacled. That is why God has poets in the Bible because they see what others never notice. For this poet, there was a wealth of meaning, which it has taken ages to unfold, in the fact that when God gave bread from heaven, He let it fall in the midst of their camp.