Exodus 15 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence
Although Marah sounds prettier in the English tongue than does Mathoq, no self-respecting Jewish parent would name their daughter the former since it connotes “bitterness” whereas the latter signifies “sweetness.” But if you remember, in the book of Ruth, Naomi asked the women in Bethlehem to call her Mara since the Lord had dealt very bitterly with her in the deaths of her husband and her two sons.
In our text this morning, as soon as the Israelites leave Egypt and begin to make their way to the Promised Land, they encounter bitterness as one of their first tests in the desert. After marching three long days through the wilderness they were running out of water. When they finally came to a watering hole that seemed promising, those who were the first to drink quickly spit it out of their mouths because it was so bitter.
This then led to Israel grumbling against Moses. It would be the first of many griping sessions against their leader and against the Lord for bringing them out of Egypt and exposing them to the bitterness of the land. It’s amazing just how quickly they had forgotten how bitter their lives were in Egypt with their hard service as slaves to the Egyptians (Ex. 1:14).
Nevertheless, Moses cries to the Lord on their behalf and the Lord showed him a log, which he threw into the water causing the water to become sweet, and the people gladly drank. Then in v.25, the Lord makes it plain to Israel that this was a test to see whether they would listen to the Lord and obey his word. And he promises them in the future that if they would keep the way of the Lord, He would not bring any of the diseases upon them that he brought upon the Egyptians, assuring them that “He is the Lord, their healer.” Then after walking a few more miles along their journey, the Lord graciously leads them to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees where the Israelites could camp under the canopy of the trees and drink their fill of the waters of life.
Meditating upon this passage, first I am very thankful for filtered water; otherwise, I would not be able to drink out of the tap at our house at all because it is so bitter and because it is potentially lethal with a high concentration of arsenic. This passage serves to remind me that I should pray for my daily water as well as my daily bread, for apart from it my life would quickly be snuffed out.
Second, I am thankful that I am no longer a slave to sin and a servant of the devil. The Lord has brought me out of the house of bondage and out of the bitterness of my old foolish ways.
Third, I am reminded that I have not yet reached the Promised Land, but I’m still making my way through the wilderness of this world, still subject to many bitter things in this fallen world as I learn to make the joy of the Lord my strength.
Fourth, I am reminded that the Lord is with me, guiding me through this wilderness, leading me into times of testing but not beyond what I can bear.
Finally, I am reminded that at the end of each trial there is some sweetness in store for me, and that when my final trial is ended I will enter Immanuel’s Land where “the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streambeds shall flow with water” (Joel 3:18). Oh, how sweet are His words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103).