Page images
PDF
EPUB

REFLECTIONS.

I. "\7C7"E sec nere the variety of events that befel the Israel V V of God ; we left them at Elim ; perhaps they expected to move toward Canaan, but we find them in the wilderness still. This is frequently the case of good men, in their journey toward the heavenly world ;' when pleased with the prospect, they are unwilling to leave the delightful place: but they must arise and depart, and enter into the wilderness again. Let us expect such things in this world, and be easy in every place, since God's providence is as real and as great a security, as the pillar of cloud and fire was to Israel.

2. Let us guard our hearts, that they do not murmur against God, when we are in difficult circumstances. What a strange and perverse people was this! They quarrelled with Moses, with Aaron, and with God; as if there were a combination between them to starve them all. The heart is too ready to fret against God when brought into straits; therefore should be kept with all diligence. We should not speak against God, nor distrust his power and care; especially after having had experience of it; having sang his praise for past mercies, let us notJorget his works, lest we dishonour him, injure our own souls, and provoke him to take away our remaining comforts. A suspicious, murmuring temper, is a sufficient plague to any man ; therefore, watch and pray; neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and were destroyed in the wilderness.

3. Let us be more concerned about God's honour than our own. Thus Moses and Aaron were, v. 7. And what are we, that ye murmur against us? Your murmuring* are not against us, hut against the Lord; our injury is little when compared with his. We should be much more grieved when sinners affront God, and injure their own souls, than when they affront and injure us. We may perhaps deserve it from them, at least from God; but he never deserves it: it is daring impiety against him, and therefore should affect and grieve us.

4. Let the daily supplies of life teach us to know the Lord, and depend upon him. v. 12. At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God. God giveth food to all flesh, for his mercy endureth for ever. The eyes of all wait on him; he spreadeth our table, and filleth our cup. The producing corn out of the earth, is as wonderful as the raining of manna from heaven; let us therefore acknowledge God's hand in the supplies of life. We as constantly depend upon his providence and care, as Israel did; therefore Christ teacheth us to pray, Give us this day, our daily bread. He expects that we, like Israel, should labourfor the meat which perisheth, but with an eye to and dependence upon his providence ; without his blessing we shall labour in vain ; we

shall eat, but not be satisfied. Let our daily bread teach us to know and serve him, who giveth us food to eat, and giveth lis 'richly all things to enjoy. Let us not be anxious for the morrow, but cast all our care on him who careth for us.

5, Let us be careful that we sanctify God's sabbnth. Remember, it is the rest of the holy vabbath of the Lord, therefore to be kept holy. It is our duty to be careful that we do not unnecessarily stir abroad. Provisions must be had on the Lord's day ; but good householders, and wise managers, will take care so to order it, that it may be ha(T with as little trouble as possible. Such dressing of meat as keeps servants from public worship, when otherwise they might go out, is very wrong. It shows too great a fondness for the body ; it is doing unspeakable injury to servants; it is setting before them and children a very bad example ; it is affronting to God, and polluting his sabbath. To such masters and mistresses it might be said, as the Ix>rd doth, v. 28. How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?

6. Let us bless God for that living bread which came down from heaven, of which the manna was a type. Manna was pleasant, wholesome and nourishing; but those who ate of it died; it did not make them immortal ; but the bread of life that Christ gives, doth. This comes down from heaven: it feeds and nourishes us in the wilderness, and strengthens us for the active sen.ices of the christian life. If any eat of this bread, they shall live for ever. Christ, in his doctrines and grace, is the true manna. Let us receive his doctrines, feed on them by faith, and with understanding eat his flesh, that is, maintain a lively regard to him. This is the true bread of God, which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world; let us therefore say, as the*disciples did, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

CHAP. XVII.

Contains an account of the water brought from the rock, and the defeat of Amalek. .

1 AND all the congregation of the children of Israel JLx. journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim: they had two stages between, but as nothing remarkable occurred there, they are not mentioned:

2 and [there was] no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, instead of addressing him in a respectful manner, and said, Give us water that wc may drink, ^nd Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with

me, can I give you rain or wells of water? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord? distrust his piower, goodness and fidelity, refusing to submit to his wilt, and to seek him by fervent prayer?

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, and my

5 life is in great danger among them. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel, that they may be eyewitnesses of this glorious work, and may reftort it to the people; and thy rod, where

6 with thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb, in the pillar of the cloud, the sign rf my presence; 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

7 of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah, that is, tenptation, and Meribah, that is, chiding or strife, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not? will he be as good as his word, or not?

8 Then came Amalek, who was descended from the eldest son of Esau, by a concubine,^ (see Gen. xxxvi. 12.) and fought

9 with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said upto Joshua, Choose us out men, some of the ablest and best, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with

10 the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek : and Moses, Aaron, and Hur, Miriam's husband, a person of great wisdom and ex. /ie«enfe,wentup tothetopof the hill, whe re the glory of the Lord '11 appeared. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed : and when he let down his hand, Amalek

J 2 prevailed.$ 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, or one after another; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people, that is, Amalek and his allies, with the edge of the sword.

• This was absurd, foolish and wicked language. No doubt Moses attempted to quiet them, to reason with them, to show them the wnnd'.rs God had wrought, and to direct their eyes to him, but alt in vain

t The Amalekites lived near the wilderness, where Israel were encamped, and were a very powerful nation. Perhaps they thought the Israelites came to take possession of soma part of their country, and therefore, though they might have heard of their great deliver, ance, resolved to attack them.

% This was a posture of prayer, which he undoubtedly ofiered op, The expression alte dignities, lifting jp of the rod, which was their standard.

14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this [for] a memorial in a book, and rehearse [it] in the ears of Joshua, that he may form no leuguf with the ^male/cites: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven: though thdy are a numerous and flourishing pectjde, by degrees tltey shall be so weakened, as to become of no note, and be

15 forgotten, like dead men. (See Dent. xxv. 17—19.) And

Aloses built an altar, whereon to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and to stand as a memorial of this Jirst victory against the Jtmalekites,- aTid'called the name of it jEHOvAH-nissi, that is,

16 the Lord, my banner.: For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn [that,] or, as the margin more Jilainly renders it, Because the hand of Amalek is against the throne of the Lord, therefore the Lord [will have] war with Amalek from generation to generation. Accordingly he was defeated by Saul, ruined by lïavid, and never heard of afterward.

REFLECTIONS.

l. "ТДТ'Е have reason to be astonished at the untractable and •

V V incorrigible temper of Israel, and adore the patience of God, in bearing with their murmurings. They were strangely forgetful of his appearances for them, and fidelity to them. All the neighbouring nations knew it, but Israel would not see it. Moses argued with them, but all in vain. They showed themselves to be an obstinate and selfwilled people. If not humoured, they would affront God, and stone Moses. How wonderful was the divine patience that he did not make a full end ! but overcame evil with good. It in of the Lord's mercies that we are not contwnfd. Thus he still bears with untractable, rebellious men. Muy the goodness of God lead us to repentance, and make us careful not to temfit him, or chide with his messengers.

2. Let us adore God's hand that could bring water out of a rock. This is often taken notice of in scripture, as a marvellous event. To have brought it out of the earth, would have been remarkable ; but out of a rock, was much more so. We should learn hence, to trust God in every exigency; he can open rivers in the wilderness ; he can turn flints into fountains of water. Blessed are the souls that seek him, that trust in his providence, and rely on his promises.

3. What a dreadful thing is it to rise up against God ; to lift up the hand against his throne, as Amalek did! This we do, whenever we oppose his judgments, or trample his laws under foot; especially when we abuse his mercy, and receive his grace in vain. The persecutors of God's people lift op their hand against hi» throne, and certain and great will their destruction at length be. Those who think to carry matters with a high hand against God and his people, will sink into contempt and ruin.

4. See the prevalence of prayer, when attacking an enemy. This is true in a spiritual as well as a temporal sense. Christians thould therefore be instant in prayer, and to that should add vigorous endeavours. Moses ordered Joshua to choose proper men, to use the most likely means of success, though his dependence was upon God. Thus let us take the whole armour of God; go out to fight manfully; and, joining our prayers and endeavours, wc may hope for success; out of weakness we s/tall be made strong. The interest of religion in the church of Christ, and in our own souls especially, is most likely to be successful when our prayers are most fervent.

5. We must be careful to remember the signal appearances of Providenqe for us. We should keep a memorial of them for our own use ; and inform posterity what God hath done for his church and people, in conquering their proud and unreasonable enemies, and in restoring and establishing their peace. Let us raise our domestic altars to Jehovah our bamier, and say, as Samuel, hitherto the Lord hath helped us.

Jethro brings Moses' wife and two sons to him; Motes entertains him, and accepts his counsel.

1 "TXT" HE N Jethro, the priest of Midian, who was probably

V V a pious man, and a worshipper of the true God, the great grandson ol Abraham, by Keturah and Moses' father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, [and] that the Lord had brought Israel out of

2 Egypt; Then Jethro, Moses' father in law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, aftex he had sent her back, (see ch. iv. 26.)

3 And her two sons, of which the name of the one [was] Ger. shom, that is, a stranger there, for he said> I have been an

'4 alien, in a strange land: And the name of the other [was] Eliezer, that is, my Go.lis an help ; for the God of my father, [said he, was] mine help, and delivered me from the sword of

5 Pharaoh: And Jethro, Moses' father in law, came with hi* sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness, where he

6 encamped at the mount of God, near mount Sinai: And he, that is, Jethro, sent a message, and said unto Moses, I thy father in law Jethro am come unto thee, to congratulate thee on Israel's deliverance, and thy wife and her two sons with

7 And Moses went out to meet his father in law, and did obeisance, after the manner of that country, and kissed him; .. and they asked each other of [their] welfare ; and they came « into the tent. And Moses told his father in law all that the

[merged small][graphic]

her.

« PreviousContinue »