So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness…
I. THE VARIED EXPERIENCE OF HUMAN LIFE.
1. There are the sorrowful scenes of life. You know well the sources from whence these sorrows arise. There is the sorrow that comes to us from our disappointments. We are constantly deceived and disappointed, partly because we indulge in unreasonable expectations, and partly because things differ so much in their reality from what they are in their outward appearance. Then there is the sorrow that proceeds from physical suffering. Another source of sorrow is our bereavements. A whole generation fell in the wilderness, and as the Israelites travelled onward, they had again and again to pause in their journey and bury their dead. Another source of sorrow is sin. This indeed is the great source of all sorrow, the fountain from whence these bitter waters flow.
2. There are the joys of life. Another day's march, and the scene was changed; verdure refreshed the eye, there was Tater in abundance to quench the thirst, and the weary pilgrim could repose under the palm-tree's welcome shade. True type again of human life — "Weeping endures for a night, joy cometh in the morning." "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee." The most weary pilgrimage has its quiet resting places, and the saddest heart is not without its joys. God is kind even to the unthankful, for on them He bestows His providential bounties, but "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." He gives to them a "peace which passeth understanding," a "hope which maketh not ashamed," and "a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory." Life, then, has a varied experience.
II. BUT WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR IT? There can be little doubt that if it were left to our choice, we should choose a less chequered course — we should avoid the bitter waters of Marah, and seek the palm-trees of Elim. Why is it that joy and sorrow, hope and fear, health and sickness, blessings bestowed and blessing removed, follow each other in such rapid succession.
1. It is to correct our self-will. Many whose hearts were stubborn enough when they began life, have found life so different to what they expected, that they have at length confessed — It is vain to fight against God; henceforth I place myself under His government — His will, not mine, be done.
2. To develop our character. If the events of life were exclusively sorrowful, then the test of our character would be but partial; so would it be if these events were exclusively joyful; and therefore it is sorrow to-day and joy to-morrow. Thus our whole character is developed.
3. To open our hearts to those sacred influences which soften and purify them.
(H. J. Gamble.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.