Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Exodus 17

Verses 1-16

WATER FROM THE ROCK

(vs.1-7)

Bread has been provided for the people. Can God provide water also? Why did they not simply appeal to Him in fullest confidence that He would answer just as fully as He had done in the case of their need of food? But when thirsting for water they again complained against Moses (v.2). He firmly responded that in talking this way they were actually tempting the Lord. How sad it is to see this contentious spirit among the people of God!

But Moses again, in his interceding for them (v.4), reminds us of the Lord Jesus, the great Intercessor on behalf of His people. Though they are almost ready to stone Moses, yet he pleads for them, and the Lord answers without delay. He tells Moses to take with him some of the elders of the people, take his rod in his hand, and lead the people to a rock in Horeb (v.6). A rock is the most unlikely place to find water, and specially in Horeb, which means 'the dry place."

However, Moses obediently struck the rock with his rod, and water came out of the rock in such abundance that all the people could drink. The giving of the manna was a miraculous act of God, and the water from the rock was no less a miracle.

The manna speaks of Christ in His lowly Humanity, but the rock is typical of Christ as the Son of God (Deuteronomy 32:3-4). The smiting of the rock speaks of Christ suffering the judgment of the cross for us in order that the water, the living Spirit of God (John 7:38-39) might flow forth to believers, as is seen at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Thus the manna speaks of human ministry, the water from the rock, divine ministry. Wonderful is such provision for the wilderness journey!

The name of the place was called Massah (meaning "temptation") and Meribah ("chiding"), a painful reminder of Israel's having faithlessly insulted the God who had never ceased to care for them. Have there been places like this in our own lives that bring us regretful memories?

THE ATTACK OF AMALEK

(vs.8-16)

God did not allow the attack of the Amalekites until after Israel had been refreshed by the water from the rock. As we have seen, the water is symbolical of the Spirit of God given by the Son of God as a result of His being smitten at Calvary. But though the Spirit now dwells in every believer, we quickly learn that there is another nature within us that is against the Spirit. "The flesh lusts against the Spirit" (Galatians 5:17). Amalek speaks therefore of the lusts of the flesh. Its name means "licking up," for such lusts lick up all that is beneficial and necessary for our soul's welfare. This is not Satan's attack, but an attack from within us, fed by the desire to get what we want when we want it.

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Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Exodus 17". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/exodus-17.html. 1897-1910.