“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.”
King James Version (KJV)
17:5 Go on before the people - Though they spake of stoning him. He must take his rod with him, not to summon some plague to chastise them, but to fetch water for their supply. O the wonderful patience and forbearance of God towards provoking sinners! He maintains those that are at war with him, and reaches out the hand of his bounty to those that lift up the heel against him. If God had only shewed Moses a fountain of water in the wilderness, as he did to Hagar, not far from hence, #Gen 21:19|, that had been a great favour; but that he might shew his power as well as his pity, and make it a miracle of mercy, he gave them water out of a rock. He directed Moses whither to go, appointed him to take of the elders of Israel with him, to be witnesses of what was done, ordered him to smite the rock, which he did, and immediately water came out of it in great abundance, which ran throughout the camp in streams and rivers, #Psa 78:15|,16, and followed them wherever they went in that wilderness: God shewed his care of his people in giving them water when they wanted it; his own power in fetching it out of a rock, and put an honour upon Moses in appointing the water to flow out upon his smiting of the rock. This fair water that came out of the rock is called honey and oil, #Deu 32:13|, because the people's thirst made it doubly pleasant; coming when they were in extreme want. It is probable that the people digged canals for the conveyance of it, and pools for the reception of it. Let this direct us to live in a dependance, Upon God's providence even in the greatest straits and difficulties; And upon Christ's grace; that rock was Christ, #1Cor 10:4|. The graces and comforts of the Spirit are compared to rivers of living waters, #John 7:38|,39 4:14. These flow from Christ. And nothing will supply the needs and satisfy the desires of a soul but water out of this rock. A new name was upon this occasion given to the place, preserving the remembrance of their murmuring, Massah - Temptation, because they tempted God, Meribah - Strife, because they chide with Moses.