It’s a different way of saying that they got exactly what they asked for. They chose to walk away from God and God simply said, “Have it your way” and honored their choice.
You have to remember that the Jews were people of the covenant. The covenant with God was everything to the Jews. The covenant defined the identity of the Jewish people as God’s own, apart from the other nations. And the benefits for faithfulness to the covenant as well as consequences for unfaithfulness were crystal clear:
See, I have today set before you life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I am giving you today, loving the LORD, your God, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and ordinances, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. If, however, your heart turns away and you do not obey, but are led astray and bow down to other gods and serve them, 18I tell you today that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the LORD swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them. (Deuteronomy 30:15-30)
Life and death, good and evil, blessing and curse… Crystal clear. God still does that to us. We are under no less of a covenant, and God honors our choices. Like the Israelites however, God is always willing to fogive if we turn back to him.
It was a covenant, a family bond made with God, and it had consequences. Never forget that it was a covenant.