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Daily Devotional: Sunday 13th September

by William Moody

Numbers 21:10–35

The Song of the Well

10 And the people of Israel set out and camped in Oboth. 11 And they set out from Oboth and camped at Iye-abarim, in the wilderness that is opposite Moab, toward the sunrise. 12 From there they set out and camped in the Valley of Zered. 13 From there they set out and camped on the other side of the Arnon, which is in the wilderness that extends from the border of the Amorites, for the Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. 14 Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the LORD,

  “Waheb in Suphah, and the valleys of the Arnon,
15   and the slope of the valleys
  that extends to the seat of Ar,
  and leans to the border of Moab.”

16 And from there they continued to Beer;1 that is the well of which the LORD said to Moses, “Gather the people together, so that I may give them water.” 17 Then Israel sang this song:

  “Spring up, O well!—Sing to it!—
18   the well that the princes made,
  that the nobles of the people dug,
  with the scepter and with their staffs.”

And from the wilderness they went on to Mattanah, 19 and from Mattanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20 and from Bamoth to the valley lying in the region of Moab by the top of Pisgah that looks down on the desert.2

King Sihon Defeated

21 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, 22 “Let me pass through your land. We will not turn aside into field or vineyard. We will not drink the water of a well. We will go by the King’s Highway until we have passed through your territory.” 23 But Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory. He gathered all his people together and went out against Israel to the wilderness and came to Jahaz and fought against Israel. 24 And Israel defeated him with the edge of the sword and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as to the Ammonites, for the border of the Ammonites was strong. 25 And Israel took all these cities, and Israel settled in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all its villages. 26 For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon. 27 Therefore the ballad singers say,

  “Come to Heshbon, let it be built;
    let the city of Sihon be established.
28   For fire came out from Heshbon,
    flame from the city of Sihon.
  It devoured Ar of Moab,
    and swallowed3 the heights of the Arnon.
29   Woe to you, O Moab!
    You are undone, O people of Chemosh!
  He has made his sons fugitives,
    and his daughters captives,
    to an Amorite king, Sihon.
30   So we overthrew them;
    Heshbon, as far as Dibon, perished;
    and we laid waste as far as Nophah;
    fire spread as far as Medeba.”4

King Og Defeated

31 Thus Israel lived in the land of the Amorites. 32 And Moses sent to spy out Jazer, and they captured its villages and dispossessed the Amorites who were there. 33 Then they turned and went up by the way to Bashan. And Og the king of Bashan came out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. 34 But the LORD said to Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have given him into your hand, and all his people, and his land. And you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon.” 35 So they defeated him and his sons and all his people, until he had no survivor left. And they possessed his land.

Footnotes

[1] 21:16 Beer means well
[2] 21:20 Or Jeshimon
[3] 21:28 Septuagint; Hebrew the lords of
[4] 21:30 Compare Samaritan and Septuagint; Hebrew and we laid waste as far as Nophah, which is as far as Medeba

(ESV)

The Israelites moved along the southern edge of the Promised Land, then along the southern side of the Dead Sea and up the east side of the Dead sea (v10-15). We once more see Moses bringing undue attention on himself in giving water to the people (v16). This follows on from the incident in the Desert of Zin which would result in Moses not being allowed to enter the Promised Land (see chapter 20 v10-12). Pride and a desire for personal glory, can be a snare for even the mighty people of God. The result of this incident at Beer was the people singing a song of praise about the nobles and not about the Lord (v17-18). Are we always looking recognition for what we do or are we happy for all the glory to go to God?

The Israelites are now opposed by Sihon the king of the Amorites (v21-23).

Evil often brings terrible opposition against God’s people but such opposition is foolish and brings self-destruction (v24-26). The destruction of these people is remembered in a poem surely partly as a warning to those who would oppose God’s people.

Og king of Bashan is the next to attack God’s people but his fate is no better than Sihon’s (v35). We notice here that despite numerous victories, Moses was not self-confident but needed the assurance of God’s help and victory (v34). In everything, we need to be aware of our own weakness and reliant on God for the victory. Pray for God’s help in the day ahead.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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