James Nisbet Commentary - Exodus 17:3 - 17:3

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James Nisbet Commentary - Exodus 17:3 - 17:3

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


The people murmured.’


The points to be made in this sermon are—I. The longing of the people for rest and refreshment of a physical kind.—They had few thoughts above the satisfaction of their bodily cravings. Weary of the desert, they looked forward keenly to reach Rephidim (‘Rests’). The Wady Feirân is ‘the paradise of the peninsula.’ Among its fruit-groves and by its wells and running stream they hoped to repay themselves for all their fatigues. Rephidim thus became a figure of carnal delight.

II. Note, in the next place, that the people were disappointed.—There was no rest at Rephidim. The stream was dry, the Amalekites guarded the wells, and would not allow them to approach the gardens. Such is the fate of all who think to satisfy themselves through their senses.

III. Note their disappointment, their impatient murmuring as though everybody and everything but themselves were to blame, then their cruel injustice to Moses to whom they owed so much.

IV. God’s method of supplying their want through the instrumentality of the stricken Rock, in which is to be found so remarkable a type of Him from Whose wounded side flows the Water of Life.

Rev. Canon Dawson.


(1) ‘From the smitten rock the water flowed to refresh the weary host. Only thus could the thirst of the world be met. The Rock of Ages was smitten, and from His riven side there flowed out blood and water. Not blood alone, but water also. Let us not fail to drink of Him, and the water which He will give will become in us a spring of water rising up always to eternity. Perhaps in a minor sense each of us will have to be smitten before we can yield water for thirsty souls.’

(2) ‘A person full of selfish fears is always unjust and merciless. The people threatened to stone Moses because they thought he was leading them into difficulties and danger. How sad Moses must have been! Not afraid, but very sorry. So, many centuries afterwards, they crucified Jesus Christ because they were afraid (Joh_11:48), and because Jesus did not give them the worldly satisfaction which they sought.’

(3) ‘What do you long for most? Now note that God has provided places of rest and refreshment for everybody in life. He does not grudge us our recreations and comforts. But remember our satisfaction is not to be found in these. If anyone thinks that it is so, he is bound to be disappointed.’