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Verses of Exodus 15

24

Exodus 15:24 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

DISCOURSE: 85
THE WATERS OF MARAH SWEETENED

Exo 15:24-25. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There he made for them a statute and an ordinance; and there he proved them.

GREAT are the vicissitudes of human life: nor is there any person exempt from them. Even the most favoured servants of God, when moving expressly in the way that he has appointed for them, may be reduced as it were in an instant from the highest pinnacle of earthly prosperity to a state of the deepest distress and anguish. Not to mention an imprisoned Joseph, a dethroned David, an incarcerated Daniel, we notice the whole nation of Israel exulting in the completest deliverance that ever was vouchsafed to any people in the world, and within three days brought down to utter despondency. But from this we may derive much profitable instruction; whilst we notice,

I.

Their trial—

This was indeed severe—
[We have no idea in general how much our happiness, and even our very lives, depend on the common bounties of Providence. We acknowledge this indeed in words; but we have by no means a proportionate sense of our obligations to God for a regular supply of water. The Israelites had travelled three days, and had found none; till at last, coming to Marah, they found an abundant supply: but, behold, the water was so bitter, as to be incapable of being turned to any general use. When the Israelites, in addition to their want, were made to experience this painful disappointment, they broke out into murmuring and complaints.]
But their murmuring was wrong—
[Had the question they put to Moses, been nothing more than a simple interrogation, it had been innocent enough: but it was an unbelieving, passionate complaint. (How often are our words also, or our actions, inoffensive perhaps as to their external form, while, on account of the spirit with which they are blended, they are most hateful and detestable in the sight of God!) But why should they murmur against Moses? He had not conducted them thither of his own mind, but by God’s command. Their displeasure against him was, in fact, directed against God himself. (And it will be well for us to remember, that in venting our wrath, and indignation against the instruments by whom God at any time afflicts us, we vent it in reality against him who uses them.) And why should they murmur against God? Had he committed an oversight in leading them into that situation? Had he forgotten to be gracious? Was he so changed within the space of three days, that he could no longer devise a way for their relief? Or was his ear become so heavy that he could not hear, or his hand so shortened that he could not save? Should they not rather have concluded, that now, as on many recent occasions, he had permitted their trial to be great, in order that he might the more abundantly magnify his own power and mercy in their deliverance? Doubtless this would have become them who had seen so many and such stupendous miracles wrought in their behalf.]

We next fix our attention upon,

II.

Their deliverance—

Some have thought, that the healing of the waters by casting a tree into them, was intended to typify the sweetening of all our afflictions, and the removing of all our sorrows, by the cross of Christ. It might be so: but we are afraid to venture upon any ground not expressly trodden by the inspired writers. We therefore rather content ourselves with shewing what God indisputably declared by this singular interposition:

1.

That he is never at a loss for means whereby to effect his purposes—

[If we cannot see some opening whereby God can come to our relief, we are ready to think that he is quite excluded from us. But what need has he of any means at all? What means did he employ in constructing the universe? Indeed the very means he does use, are generally such, as tend only to evince, by their utter inadequacy, the mighty working of his own power. It was thus when he healed the deleterious waters of a spring, and the barrenness of the land through which they ran, by a single cruse of salt [Note: 2Ki 2:21.]: and thus also when he restored the serpent-bitten Israelites by the mere sight of a brasen serpent. As to the idea of the tree itself possessing qualities calculated to produce the effect, it cannot for one moment be admitted; because the waters were sufficient for the supply of two millions of people, besides all their cattle; and because the effect was instantaneously produced. We therefore say again, that the insufficiency or the means he used, displayed only the more clearly the all-sufficiency of his own power, precisely as when by the voice of a feeble worm he awakens men from their death in trespasses and sins [Note: 2Co 4:7.].]

2.

That he will put honour upon humble and believing prayer—

[There is such “efficacy in the fervent prayer of a righteous man,” that God, if we may be permitted so to speak, is not able to withstand it. See persons in any circumstances whatever, and you are sure to find them extricated from their difficulties, and made victorious over their enemies, when once they begin to pray. Even if the people themselves be ever so unworthy, yet, if they have an Advocate and Intercessor for them at the throne of grace, they almost invariably escape the judgments which God had denounced against them; so cordially does “God delight in the prayer of the upright,” and so desirous is he to encourage all persons to pray for themselves. The murmuring spirit of the people might well have provoked God to decline all further communication with them: but Moses prayed; and his cry entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts.]
But both the trial and deliverance were sent with a view to some ulterior good: let us consider,

III.

God’s design in each—

Amongst other objects which God designed to accomplish, the two following seem to be peculiarly prominent. He sought to bring them to a sense of,

1.

Their duty—

[What particular statutes and ordinances God promulged to them at this time, we are not informed. But there is one thing which he certainly made known to them; namely, the conditional nature of the covenant which he was about to make with them, and the suspension of his favours upon their obedience [Note: 6.]. They had hitherto dwelt only on their privileges, without at all considering their duties: they thought of what God was to be to them; but not of what they were to be to God. Now God, having softened their minds by a heavy trial, and conciliated their regards by a miraculous interposition, opens to them the connexion between duty and privilege; and thereby prepares them for becoming “a holy and peculiar people, zealous of good works.”]

2.

Their sinfulness—

[This mixture of judgment and mercy was well calculated to bring them to a knowledge of themselves. The trial alone would only irritate and inflame their minds: but the deliverance applied a balm to their wounded spirits. By the union of them they would be humbled, and led to acknowledge the heinousness of their ingratitude, their unbelief, their querulousness, and rebellion. This is expressly declared to have been a very principal end of all the dispensations of God towards them in the wilderness [Note: Deu 8:2.]: and it is a main object of his diversified dealings with his people at this day.]

Let us learn from this subject,
1.

To mark the effect of trials and deliverances on our own minds—

[If trials always, instead of humbling, disquiet us; and if deliverances produce only a temporary impression, and not a lasting change on our hearts; can we be right before God? They ought to “work patience, experience, and hope;” and by means of them our faith ought to be so purified, as to tend “to the praise and honour and glory of our God at the appearing of Jesus Christ [Note: 1Pe 1:7.].” By examining into this point we may “prove our own selves,” and ascertain with considerable precision our true character.]

2.

To distrust our religious feelings—

[We may be moved under a sermon or any particular occurrence; we may sometimes be dissolved in tears, and at other times be elevated with joy; and yet have no root in ourselves, nor any inheritance with the saints in light. Who that had heard the devout songs of Israel at the Red Sea, would have thought that in three days they could so totally forget their mercies, and indulge such a rebellious spirit? But look within; and see whether, after an occasional exercise of religious affections, you have not, within a still shorter space of time, been hurried into the indulgence of the most unhallowed tempers, and the gratification of a spirit that is earthly, sensual, and devilish? Ah! think of “the stony-ground hearers, who received the word with joy, and yet in time of temptation fell away.” Lay not then too great a stress on some transient emotions; but judge yourselves by the more certain test of a willing and unreserved obedience.]

3.

To place an entire and uniform dependence on God—

[God may see fit to try us, and to delay the relief that we implore. But let us not entertain hard thoughts of him. From the time of Abraham it has passed into a proverb, that “in the mount the Lord shall be seen.” Our Isaac may be bound, and the knife actually lifted up to inflict the fatal blow, and all who might interpose to rescue the victim may be at a great distance; but, in the moment of need, God’s voice from heaven shall arrest the murderous hand, and deliver us from the impending stroke. “The vision is yet for an appointed time; therefore, though it tarry, wait for it: for at the appointed season it shall come, and not tarry [Note: Hab 2:3.].” Whether our afflictions be of a temporal or spiritual nature, we may rest assured of this blessed truth, that “they who wait on him shall never be confounded.”]


Verses of Exodus 15

24

Consult other comments:

Exodus 15:24 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Exodus 15:24 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Exodus 15:24 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Exodus 15:24 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Exodus 15:24 - Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 15:24 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 15:24 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 15:24 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Exodus 15:24 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)