A Whimsical Dictionary: Q is for Quail

A Whimsical Dictionary: Q is for Quail

A Whimsical Dictionary of Surprising Influences.

Q is for Quail –

“They asked, and He brought them quail.” (Psalm 105:40)

A┬áchoice game bird that has blessed Sinai residents for over 3,500 years; an unexpected sign of God’s presence and care, overlooking the grumbles for the time being; an example of God’s lowliness, lowering Himself to fulfill the requests of a wandering, bickering, griping pack of malcontents. Heaven knows they didn’t deserve to eat anything but crow, which they eventually did in fact do in God’s anger.

Oh, the mystery of mercy: Those who deserve the worst (them and us) receive the best (quail, manna, water, God Himself). And that is the Father’s design for us: To make us lowly as He to dispense that same mercy to others, to provide quail for the unfaithful and water for the disrespectful, taking menu orders from those who are unable or unwilling to pay the bill.

The Exodus account of quail (Exodus 16) indeed seems to be all about mercy. But the Numbers account (Numbers 11) adds a frightening twist to the quail story.

The Lord became impatient with the constant complaining about the lack of meat, so He basically told them, “You want meat? I’ll give you meat!” So the Lord, in an almost comical fashion, sent so much quail that they stacked up three feet deep on the ground, and quail were found as far as a day’s walk from the camp. The whining Israelites were literally tripping over all the quail sent by the Lord. In fact, the people gathered so much quail that they each collected the equivalent of 60 bushels full of quail meat. By the end of the month, they were sick of meat. They weren’t sure they liked it anymore when, day after day, the wind blew the quail in from the sea.

But the comedy soon turned to tragedy. As the people were gorging themselves on quail dinner, “while the meat was still between the teeth,” the Lord in His anger sent a plague that evidently was quite severe. Many people died. This plague may have come from the meat itself, we don’t know. But that’s the last time they complained about meat, at least for awhile.

Mercy and judgment, mixed together. What a mystery are God’s ways.