Verses of Exodus 17


Exodus 17:11 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)


Exo 17:11. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

IT pleases God, in general, to effect his purposes by certain means; yet the very means he uses are, for the most part, such as tend only to illustrate his power, and to lead our minds up to him as the first great Cause of all. But on no occasion has the truth of this observation more manifestly appeared, than in the history now before us, wherein we are informed, that the success of the Israelites in an engagement with Amalek was made to depend, not on the bravery of the soldiers, or the skill of their commander, but on the holding up of the hands of Moses at a distance from the field of battle.
In discoursing on this remarkable event, we shall consider it as,


A typical history— The whole history of the Israelites, from their deliverance out of Egypt to their establishment in the land of Canaan, was altogether of a typical nature: but we shall limit our observations to the circumstances now under our consideration.

We may notice then a typical reference,


In the conflicts which the Israelites maintained—

[The Israelites were scarcely come out of Egypt, before they were attacked by the Amalekites, though no provocation had been given on their part. This represented the opposition which the world and Satan make to the true Israelites, as soon as ever they separate themselves from the ungodly, and set their faces towards the promised land. Though they do nothing to merit persecution, yea, though, in every point of view, they are become more excellent and praiseworthy, and desire nothing but to prosecute their journey peaceably through this dreary wilderness, yet are they hated, reviled, persecuted; nor can they obtain the inheritance prepared for them, without arming themselves for the combat, and “warring a good warfare.”]


In the commander under whom they fought—

[Joshua was appointed to set the army in array, and lead them out to battle. Now the very name of Joshua is precisely the same with that of Jesus [Note: Act 7:45; Heb 4:8.], who is “given to us of God to be our leader and commander [Note: Isa 55:4.].” He is “the Captain of our salvation,” under whom we are enlisted, and under whose banners we fight. Whether we bear more or less the brunt of the battle, it is He who appoints us our respective stations; and it is to Him that we must look for direction and support. And while, “as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, we endure hardness” at his command, we may depend on him for all necessary provision, and for an abundant share of the spoils of victory.]


In the means by which they obtained the victory—

[The rod of Moses was that with which he had wrought his wonders in Egypt; and it was a special emblem of the divine power. This he was to hold up in the sight of Israel on an adjacent hill: and, while he held it up, they prospered; but when, through infirmity, he let it down, their enemies prevailed against them. Now it is thus that we are to obtain the victory against our enemies: we must have our eyes fixed on the power of God exerted in our behalf: as long as we have clear views of this, we shall vanquish every adversary; but, if at any time this cease to be exalted in our eyes, we shall surely faint and fail.
The lifting up of the hands of Moses may further denote the efficacy of prayer. And it is certain that our success will fluctuate, according as our applications at the throne of grace are continued or relaxed.]
But this history may further be considered as affording us,


An instructive lesson—

It may well teach us,


That, whatever mercies we have received, we must still expect conflicts—

[The Israelites had been brought through the Red Sea, and fed both with manna from heaven, and water from the solid rock; and they might have fondly dreamed of nothing but security and peace: but they were rather called to scenes of difficulty and danger. Thus it is with us, when we commit ourselves to the guidance of the pillar and the cloud. We may think perhaps that, because we are reconciled to God, and made heirs of his kingdom, we are henceforth to enjoy uninterrupted tranquillity: but we shall soon find, that we have to “wrestle; and that too, not only with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers.” We may indeed be screened for a season by the good providence of God; as the Israelites were kept from going through the territory of the Philistines, lest they should be discouraged by the opposition that they would have met with from that warlike people [Note: Exo 13:17.]: but we are men of war by our very profession; and, sooner or later, our courage and fidelity will be put to the test. It is through much tribulation that we must enter into the kingdom; and we must “fight the good fight of faith, before we can receive the crown of righteousness from the hands of our righteous Judge.”]


That we must not despond, though our success for a time should appear doubtful—

[The Israelites in this very first encounter were at times repulsed; and victory was long held in suspense, before it was finally declared in their favour. Thus we must expect, that cur enemies, though frequently beaten, will return to the charge, and often threaten our very destruction. But, if wounded, we must apply to Christ for healing; if faint, we must beg him to renew our strength; if driven before our enemies, we must rally, and resume the contest, ever remembering under whom we fight, and how much depends upon a victorious issue. We must also, like Aaron and Hur, assist each other; holding up each other’s hands, and animating each other’s hearts; nor ever terminate our exertions, till God shall scatter all our enemies, and bruise under our feet the vanquished foe.]


That a believing use of the appointed means, how inadequate soever, or even useless, they may appear, will be crowned with success at last—

[Nothing can be conceived less connected with the event, than the means which were used by Moses; yet were they necessary: for if, when through infirmity the use of them was intermitted, the scale of victory was instantly turned in favour of the Amalekites, much more, if he had disregarded them altogether, would the most fatal effects have followed: but the persevering use of them procured at last the desired success. Thus the attending of public ordinances, and waiting upon God in secret, may seem but ill calculated to produce such great effects as are said to depend upon them: but, as the occasional and unallowed neglect of these duties is attended with many painful consequences, so a wilful contempt of them would infallibly terminate in our destruction. On the other hand, a diligent and continued attention to them will and must prevail: our prayer shall go up with acceptance before God, and the word we hear shall prove “the power of God to the salvation of our souls.” Only let us “lift up holy hands without doubting,” until the evening of life, and we shall be “more than conquerors through him that loved us.”]


Those who know nothing of spiritual conflicts—

[If they, who are at ease in Zion, and experience no spiritual conflicts, were real Christians, there would be no resemblance at all between them and the Israelites, by whom they were typically represented; and all that is spoken about the Christian warfare, the armour provided for us, and the General under whom we fight, would be altogether without a meaning. But in vain shall the true Israelites expect peace, as long as there are any Amalekites in the world. Our Lord “came not to send peace on earth, but a sword:” and though he may, in some instances, cause our enemies to be at peace with us, yet will they never be so much at peace, but that we shall have many to contend with: or, if men should cease from troubling us, we shall have enough, both from Satan and our own lusts, to call forth all our exertions, and to make us fervent in imploring help from God. Let those, then, who feel not these conflicts, inquire whether their peace be not the consequence of a captivity to their enemies, instead of a victory over them: nor let them ever expect to reign with Christ, unless they first enlist under his banners, and fight after his example.]


Those who are ready to faint by reason of their conflicts—

[Your insufficiency to withstand your enemies often discourages and disquiets you: but the Israelites prevailed, notwithstanding their inexperience in the art of war, because they had God on their side. Fear not then ye, “whose hands are weak, whose knees are feeble, and whose hearts are faint; for, behold, your God shall come and save you [Note: Isa 35:3-4.].” Behold, his power is now exalted in your sight: look at it; remember what it has effected in the days of old: and know, that it shall be exerted in your behalf, if you do but trust in it. Nor forget, what a Captain you are fighting under: the world, which molests you, has been overcome by him; and “the prince of this world has been judged” by him. Fight on then a little longer, assured that you shall ere long put your feet upon the necks of your enemies, and enjoy the fruits of victory for ever and ever.]

Verses of Exodus 17


Consult other comments:

Exodus 17:11 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Exodus 17:11 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Exodus 17:11 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Exodus 17:11 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Exodus 17:11 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 17:11 - Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Exodus 17:11 - Geneva Bible Notes

Exodus 17:11 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Exodus 17:11 - Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 17:11 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 17:11 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Exodus 17:11 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Exodus 17:11 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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