Psalm 81:7 You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder: I proved you at the waters of Meribah. Selah.
This verse intrigued me, and rightly so, for there is a Selah afterwards, which indicates the need for a pause. So let’s pause here and think about this verse.
You called in trouble, and I delivered you…. God is speaking, and the meaning is pretty plain. Specifically, He is referring to the deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. They had cried out to God because of the oppression of Pharaoh, and the Lord sent Moses to deliver them out of slavery. Moses led the way, but he was not really their deliverer. It was God all along who made their escape possible. To learn more, read Exodus 1:8-14; 2:23-25; and chapters 3-15.
I answered you in the secret place of thunder… Thunder can reverberate ominously throughout the mountain gorges, and no doubt this is a reference to the sounds the people heard while Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments. They were told to stay well away from the base of the mountain while Moses met with God. During the long days of his absence, thunder could be heard and lightning seen, no doubt to instill a sense of reverence in the hearts of those who waited below—and also enough fear to keep them from being curious. (Ex. 24:12-18; 34:1-5).
I proved you at the waters of Meribah… This is actually a gentle rebuke. God did indeed prove, or test, them at Meribah, and they failed the test. They had come to a place called Rephidim in their journey, where God instructed them to make camp. But there was a problem: there was no water. God knew this, and He wanted to see how the people would react. If they had trusted Him, if they had believed the miracles they had already seen, they would have prayed and asked God for water. But sadly, that’s not what happened. Instead, they turned on Moses and threatened to stone him to death if he did not provide water for them, and Moses went to the Lord with the problem (Ex. 17:1-7). The people were stubborn (like all of us) and demonstrated unbelief again and again. Many times God had to punish them, but this time there was no consequence for their unbelief, only cool, satiating water. This time God chose to demonstrate only His love and mercy to them.
Furthermore, what happened there at Meribah was a picture of greater things to come….
Jesus Christ is the Rock.
Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.
Moses was told to strike the rock. Jesus was stricken for us.
Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.
Jesus offers us living water that springs up into everlasting life.
John 4:10-14 Jesus answered and said unto her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, ‘Give Me to drink,’ you would have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman says unto him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then have You that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said unto her, “Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Please do not be like the stubborn people who not only rejected the living water, but tried to make their own way and died in their sins because their way could not hold water.
Jeremiah 2:13 For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
The reason there was no judgment at the waters of Meribah is because salvation is available to all who will receive it. All you have to do is come to the water and drink. God does not condemn those who come to Him for salvation. He only condemns those who reject Him. But right now is the day of salvation. If you have not tasted this water, what are you waiting for?
Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring.
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Photo taken in North Carolina, 2014