And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Exodus 17:1
suggested further reading: Psalm 78:12–22
A double accusation is brought against the children of Israel; first, for insulting God by quarreling and chiding with him, and second, for tempting him. Both arose from unbelief caused by ingratitude. It was vile of God’s people to so soon forget what he had so graciously given them. He had brought them supplies when they were suffering from hunger, so why did they not fly to him when they were oppressed by thirst? It is plain that God’s former favor was ill-bestowed upon these people since it so directly vanished in their ingratitude.
Their unbelief is also apparent because they neither expected nor asked anything of God. Pride is also apparent in their daring to chide him. Indeed, what almost always happens is that we who do not depend on God’s providence nor rest on his promises provoke him to contend with us. We rush impetuously against him. The brutal violence of passion hurries us to madness, unless we are persuaded that God will in due time be our helper, and we are submissive to his will.
In the beginning of the chapter, Moses indicates that the Israelites journeyed according to the commandment, or, as the Hebrew expresses it, “the mouth” of God, as if he would praise their obedience. From that we understand that when they first left Egypt, the children of Israel were sufficiently disposed to their duty. Then a temptation occurred that interrupted them from proceeding in the right way. That example warns us that when we undertake anything at God’s bidding, we should beware that nothing should hinder our perseverance. None are fitted to act rightly but those who are well prepared to endure the assaults of temptation.
for meditation: How many undeserved blessings have we disregarded when we have forgotten God’s gracious provisions and made ungrateful demands of him! How can you be more submissive to his will today?