And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.…
The Biblical writers are charmingly candid. Do they speak of other men's faults? They take care also to record their own. Reputation is sacrificed on the altar of truth; the unselfish lawgiver informs us of his own transgression and its terrible penalty. What may we learn from his sin?
I. WE MUST NOT SEEK RIGHT ENDS BY WRONG MEANS. Here Moses erred. How often has his sin been repeated! Look at Caiaphas. He says in reference to the Saviour, "It is expedient that one man die, and not that the whole nation should perish." The latter part of the sentence is admirable, the former is atrocious .... Error should be opposed; we ought to stop its progress as quickly as possible — but by persuasion, not persecution.
II. WE MUST BEWARE OF DOING MORE THAN GOD COMMANDS. There are two opposite ways of sinning — by defect, and by excess. A child who, in adding up a sum, makes it "come to too much," blunders as completely as if he made it "come to too little." And such a form of wrong-doing is possible spiritually. We as much violate our duty as "followers of God," if we get ahead of our Guide, as though we lagged so far behind that we could no longer see Him or tread in His steps. Are we not all, for instance, harder in our judgments, more exacting, more stringent and rigorous in our demands, than He is whom we profess to follow; and is not this to go before God, and to go before Him not to prepare His way, but to scare men from His presence?
III. PRECEDENT IS A PERILOUS GUIDE. Moses had struck the rock before by God's command, and probably he argued that what was right then could not be wrong now. But let us remember, that "circumstances alter cases." A thing which is wise for one time may be folly for another.
(T. R. Stevenson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.