But he commanded the skies to open; he opened the doors of heaven. 24 He rained down manna for them to eat; he gave them bread from heaven. 25 They ate the food of angels! God gave them all they could hold. 26 He released the east wind in the heavens and guided the south wind by his mighty power. 27 He rained down meat as thick as dust— birds as plentiful as the sand on the seashore! 28 He caused the birds to fall within their camp and all around their tents. 29 The people ate their fill. He gave them what they craved (Psalm 78:23-29 NLT).
The people were dissatisfied with the Manna; they wanted meat, or so they said. The LORD sent in millions of quails to satisfy their desire, but He was displeased with their desire because it found fault with what He already was doing on their behalf.
But before they satisfied their craving, while the meat was yet in their mouths, 31 the anger of God rose against them, and he killed their strongest men. He struck down the finest of Israel’s young men. 32 But in spite of this, the people kept sinning. Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him. 33 So he ended their lives in failure, their years in terror. 34 When God began killing them, they finally sought him. They repented and took God seriously. 35 Then they remembered that God was their rock, that God Most High was their redeemer (Psalm 78:30-35 NLT).
The Wrath of God rose against the men who had led Israel in their complaints against God. Ultimately, they died in the wilderness and never did see the Promised Land.
In their desire for God’s judgment against them to stop, the Israelites entered into something of a forced repentance in hope that He would deliver them from their enemies.
But all they gave him was lip service; they lied to him with their tongues. 37 Their hearts were not loyal to him. They did not keep his covenant. 38 Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and did not destroy them all. Many times he held back his anger and did not unleash his fury! 39 For he remembered that they were merely mortal, gone like a breath of wind that never returns (Psalm 78:36-39 NLT).
It seems that their repentance either wasn’t real or it was very short-lived. What they were saying with their mouths as not what they actually believed or felt in their hearts.
But the LORD was full of Compassion and Mercy, and He forgave their iniquities, even though their repentance was half-hearted. When they took one step toward Him, He took a thousand steps toward them. Though they deserved destruction, He destroyed them not, and He took His anger away from them.
Source: They ate the food of angels