February 14.—Morning. [Or March 29.]
“I give waters in the wilderness.”
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. (God’s people are never long untried.)
2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?
Complaining of second causes is really complaining of the Lord, let us disguise it as we may. What, after all, had Moses to do with it? The root of this sin of murmuring was unbelief. Could they not trust Jehovah? Would he not be sure to supply their wants? Had he ever been unmindful of them? Alas, notwithstanding all our experience of his faithfulness we ourselves are not clear from unbelief. He that is without fault among us, let him throw the first stone at Israel.
3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?
4 And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. (Moses took the case into the right court. The people cried against him, but he cried unto the Lord. Here is our best resource. We may cry to God now.)
5 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.
6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. (See how the Lord answers their murmurings; not by fulfilling their bitter speeches and leaving them to die of thirst, but by fetching living streams from a rock. Surely the Lord, who thus recompenses good for evil, deserves our heart’s unwavering confidence from this day forward. It is wanton insult to doubt one who is so overflowing with kindness. Render not evil for good.)
7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not? (The Lord takes note of his people’s chidings and commemorates them. We must not think a grumbling spirit to be a small evil. The Lord has here set a mark and a brand upon it.)
THE God who supplied Israel with natural water is ready to grant us the living water of his grace. Hear what his words are in
Isaiah 41:17, 18
17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
TO strengthen our faith in this promise we are bidden to look back upon the Lord’s wonders of old and to expect yet greater things, for God has not changed, nor are the fountains of his power and grace exhausted.
18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
20 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.
21 This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. (Glory be unto the Lord, we can bear witness that we daily and hourly receive fresh supplies of grace from him. No good thing hath he withheld from us. His praise shall continually be in our mouths.)
Poor needy souls athirst and faint,
Who gasp for my redeeming love;
I will attend to their complaint,
And pour them rivers from above.
Water’d by me, the desert-soul,
The garden of the Lord shall prove,
Replenished as a wide-spread pool,
By springs of everlasting love.
February 14.—Evening. [Or March 30.]
“Watch and Pray.”
THEN came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. (These ferocious wanderers attacked Israel unawares in a cowardly and unprovoked manner, when they were least able to defend themselves. They seem to have been of all Israel’s foes the most wantonly malicious, and hence they are instructive emblems of sin and Satan.)
9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. (We must fight as well as pray. Though effort without prayer would be presumption, prayer without effort is mockery. Joshua must go to battle as well as Moses to the hill. Jesus said, “Watch and pray.”)
10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. (Let all of us labour to uphold the prayerfulness of the church, for if that flags all flags. “Lift up the hands that hang down, and confirm the feeble knees.” Spiritual evil can only be overcome by the energy of prayer, and when we fail in devotion, the enemy easily overcomes us.)
13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
It has been suggested by a quaint author, that the Lord’s reason for specially commanding this event to be recorded is, that his people may imitate it. We are to fight against sin, and to expect victory over it by God’s help, afforded us in answer to supplication. Our Lord Jesus is both our Joshua to slay our sins, and our Moses to intercede for us against them, and his hands never need upholding. “He shall not fail nor be discouraged.” Amalek shall be utterly destroyed, and we shall be for ever freed from sin.
15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi: (or, the Lord my banner, for the uplifted rod had been as a sacred banner to Israel. Whenever we win victories we ought to bring thank-offerings, and ascribe the glory unto the Lord alone.)
16 For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. (We find this war carried on in Saul’s day, and he was bidden to root out the nation.)
ON account of the sinfulness of Amalek, as well as its unprovoked hostility to the tribes, the nation was doomed by divine justice to utter extirpation, even as our sins are by divine grace doomed to be crucified with Christ, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Let us read
17, 18 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. (God will not endure it that his people should be assailed. He counts their injuries as done to himself.)
19 Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it. (By the aid of the Eternal Spirit let us carry on war to the knife against all sin, whether in ourselves or others. All sins are our deadly foes, with whom we must hold neither truce nor parley. Death to them all, for they all aim at our death, and they were the crucifiers of our Lord Jesus.)
While Moses stood with arms spread wide,
Success was found on Israel’s side;
But when through weariness they fail’d,
That moment Amalek prevail’d.
O thou whose hand is stretch’d out still,
Our sinking hands confirm and stay;
While praying for us on the hill,
Fight with us in the plain to-day.