śrī-kāmo mābhajat purā
prāpto mām asya dāsyāmi
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī comments that the Lord momentarily wondered, “How has it come about, despite My omniscience, that this devotee of Mine has fallen into such poverty?” Then, quickly understanding the situation, He spoke to Himself the words related in this verse.
But someone may point out that Sudāmā should not have been so poverty-stricken, since appropriate enjoyment comes as a by-product of service to God even for a devotee who has no ulterior motives. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (9.22):
ananyāś cintayanto māṁ
ye janāḥ paryupāsate
yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham
“But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form — to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.”
In response to this point, a distinction must be made between two kinds of renounced devotees: one kind is inimical to sense gratification, and the other is indifferent to it. The Supreme Lord does not force sense gratification upon the devotee who is extremely averse to worldly enjoyments. This is seen among such great renouncers as Jaḍa Bharata. On the other hand, the Lord may give limitless wealth and power to a devotee who is neither repelled nor attracted by material things, such as Prahlāda Mahārāja. Up to this point in his life, Sudāmā Brāhmaṇa was totally averse to sense gratification, but now, out of compassion for his faithful wife — and also because he hankered to have Kṛṣṇa’s audience — he went to beg from the Lord.