James Nisbet Commentary - Exodus 17:10 - 17:10

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James Nisbet Commentary - Exodus 17:10 - 17:10

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘Joshua fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the bill.’


Here is a historic parable of the deepest significance. It shows us—

I. God’s dependence on His people as co-workers with Himself. In the mystery of His condescension, He has bound Himself to us as workers together with Him. There is the other side, that He makes His people willing in the day of His power; and we cannot harmonise the two. But this side is also true. God willed victory over Amalek, but it could not come without the co-operation of Joshua, the General, and Moses, the Intercessor. Had either of these failed, God’s best for Israel would not have been reached. Ah! He wants to do so many glorious things for us (Psa_81:13), but cannot, just because we fail to work with Him, specially in intercession. It is our co-working, and most of all our labouring in prayer, that gives Him that opportunity to bless for which He waits.

II. Of the two co-workers with God, the intercessor is chief.—Joshua waits on Moses, the plain on the hill-top, the contender with men on the mediator before God. The battle below is swiftly responsive to the praying above. The prayer-work of Moses decides the brain-work and hand-work of Joshua. Prayer is work—the mightiest of all work, and the most fruitful expenditure possible of human energy; for what takes place on the hill decides the struggle on the plain. In prayer, then, we are not only nearest to God, but likest to Him in His mightiness.


(1) ‘Remember that Amalek always attacks from the rear (Deu_25:17-18). We must not only keep the front door locked and bolted, but we should brick up the back door. Too many who would not think of acts of outward inconsistency, keep the back door open for evil thoughts and desires to steal in. Ah! it is necessary, not only that the Lord should go before us, but that He should be our rearward.’

(2) ‘None of us is able to do without the help of others, and all of us are bound not only to do our own bit of work as well as we can, but to strengthen and help others to do theirs. This incident of the holding up of the prophet’s hands has become very famous as the type of all encouragement and help given by one to another in the religious life. No man can stand alone and reveal God to other men so well as if he can do it feeling himself backed by the support of those around him.’