Daily Devotional Saturday 29th August 2020

by William Moody

Numbers 20:1–13

The Death of Miriam

20:1 And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. And Miriam died there and was buried there.

The Waters of Meribah

Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD! Why have you brought the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.” Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them, and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” And Moses took the staff from before the LORD, as he commanded him.

Moses Strikes the Rock

10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” 13 These are the waters of Meribah,1 where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them he showed himself holy.


[1] 20:13 Meribah means quarreling


It is totally understandable at the people being concerned with there being  no water, but the problem is about how they respond to the crisis (v20). They don’t respond in faith seeking God’s help but they show faithless grumbling (v3-5). What is your response to a crisis? Panic, complaining or prayer?

Moses and Aaron respond to the crisis with prayer (v6). Here we have a wonderful picture of prayer. They came to pray and God’s glory drew near. God then promises them deliverance (v7-8). Moses gathers the people and amazingly water is brought from out of a rock for the people (v9-11). We see God’s great power to deliver.

But sadly the story has not a happy ending (v12). What is it that Moses did wrong here? The Lord had told Moses to speak to the rock for water to come out, but Moses struck the rock with the staff and said “must we bring you water out of this rock?” Moses was bringing the glory to himself and not to the Lord, that was the problem. The result of this was that Moses forfeited the privilege of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land.


This incident brings home to us how seriously God takes His glory and He will not share it with another. God alone deserves all the glory honour and praise.

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