And the LORD spoke to Moses, Go to Pharaoh, and say to him, Thus said the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.…
In intimating the first plague, Moses made no forms! demand upon Pharaoh to liberate Israel, though of course the demand was really contained in the intimation. But now as the second plague approaches, the formal demand once again is heard. Pharaoh is left for no long time without a distinct appeal which he must face either with consent or refusal. And so now Moses addresses him in the same words as on his first visit: "Let my people go." It is a challenge to the man who holds by violence and brute force that which is not his own. It is not a mere combat between potentate and potentate. "That they may serve me,"- awful is the wickedness of hindering God's people from serving him.
I. NOTICE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS SECOND PLAGUE. Hitherto there has been something evidently sublime in God's treatment of Pharaoh. God's treatment is of course always sublime; but up to this point even Pharaoh must have felt that he was being treated as a king ought to be treated. The messengers of Jehovah were only mean men in appearance, but the first plague itself was certainly an impressive one. We may imagine that Pharaoh would even say to himself with a sort of proud satisfaction, "How great my power must be when all the waters of my land are turned to blood in order to coerce me." He would feel flattered by what we may call the dignity of the attack upon him. But now observe how God changes his mode of working, and proceeds to use little things to humiliate Pharaoh. As he uses those who are reckoned the feeble and contemptible among men, so he uses the feeble and contemptible among the lower creation. He sends out frogs all over the land of Egypt. If only it had been an incursion of lions from the desert, roaring through the streets of the city and tearing down the people, or if it had been a host of mighty beasts trampling down his fields, then Pharaoh would have felt there was dignity in such a mode of attack; - but frogs! frogs followed by gnats, and gnats by flies! A plague to be made out of frogs seems almost too absurd to think of; and yet we see from the event that these despised little creatures forced Pharaoh to an appeal which not all the evident sublimity of the first plague could extort. More curses could come out of the river than the conversion of it into blood. This plague of the frogs we may judge to have been felt as inconvenient and irritating rather than dangerous. How ridiculous it must have been to have these agile little animals, millions of them, finding their way everywhere. No place safe from them, not even the well-guarded chambers of Pharaoh himself. Here was a plague that did not wait for the people to make acquaintance with it, as when they went to the streams and pools and found them blood. It forced itself upon them by day and by night, as they sat at their meals and as they lay in their beds. The thing that is constantly inconvenient and troublesome, may bring a man to his knees sooner even than a peril which more closely concerns his life.
II. THUS WE COME TO OBSERVE PHARAOH'S FIRST SIGN OF YIELDING. Notice that as to what will actually have power to produce a certain result, God is a far better judge than we can be. We should have said, "put the frogs first and the blood afterwards; Pharaoh will yield to the blood what he will not yield to the frogs." But when it comes to a trial, it is quite the contrary. The frogs are so tormenting that they must be got rid of, even at a cost of a humiliating promise. Not even the success of the magicians in bringing up frogs, makes the torment more endurable; and so, perhaps somewhat to the astonishment of Moses, who might hardly expect such a sudden change, Pharaoh makes a promise in the most general terms to let the people forth for sacrifice. But mark, the moment Moses begins to press him and fix for a day, he procrastinates. The moment there is any relaxation of pressure upon him, he takes advantage of it. Already he begins to show that he will yield as little as he can. Give him a chance of fixing his time, and he naturally says "to-morrow." Unpleasant things are always put off until to-morrow, either on a supposition that the unpleasantness may be diminished, or on a chance that it may be escaped altogether. And then when to-morrow comes, "to-morrow" is again the cry. Notice that Moses complies with Pharaoh's wish for this slight delay. One day is nothing so far as Israel is concerned. They can easily wait, if only the granting of this one day will make Pharaoh's yielding more agreeable to himself. God never humiliates for the sake of humiliating. He chooses the humiliation of his enemies - as when he sends a plague of frogs, - because it is the most effectual means to his own ends. But the moment there is a profession of repentance, the humiliation stops, and opportunity is given to make the profession a reality. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.