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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Numbers 21



Verses 1-9

Numbers 21:1-4. And when king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners. And Israel vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah. And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

They were not allowed to go through the land of Edom, they had therefore to turn round, and go right away from the land where they one day hoped to dwell, and the road was a particularly trying one, over hot and burning sand, “and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.” Sometimes, God’s own people, when they find that they are not so far advanced in the divine life as they thought they were, when they find old sins reviving, and when troubles multiply upon them, get “discouraged because of the way.” If this is our experience, let us not fall into the sin into which these Israelites fell, but even in our discouragement let us turn to our God.

Numbers 21:5. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

One gets tired, in reading of the wanderings of Israel in the wilderness, of this parrot cry, “Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt?” For nearly forty years, this was their cry whenever they met with any sort of difficulty. How weary God must have been of their cry, and how weary of them too! And now it was raised because they had been fed with “angels’ food” which they called “light bread.” It was easy of digestion, healthful, and the very best kind of food for them in the wilderness; but they wanted something more substantial, something that had a coarser flavour about it, more of earth and less of heaven. There is no satisfying an unregenerate heart. If we had all the blessings of this life, we should still be vying for more.

Numbers 21:6-7 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

Like a true mediator, he was always ready — even when they had most insulted him, and grieved his meek and quiet spirit, — still to bow the knee, and intercede with the Lord on their behalf. The people implored him to ask that the serpents might be taken away from them; but, apparently, they still continued to trouble them. However, if God does not answer prayer in one way, he does in another. The fervent prayer of a righteous man may not prevail in the particular direction in which it is offered, but it “availeth much” in some direction or other. Just as when the mists ascend they may not fall upon the very spot from which they rose, but they fall somewhere, and true prayer is never lost, it cometh back in blessing, if not according to our mind, yet according to another mind that is kinder and wiser than our own.

Numbers 21:8-9. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

This exposition consisted of readings from Numbers 21:1-9; and John 3:1-15.


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Numbers 21:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

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