The Princes Digged the Well (Num 21)

In our meditation on the water scenes of Israel’s journey, we have a most interesting one in Numbers 21. No complaining is found here. Has Israel at last stopped complaining? Have they come to accept the divine leader?

In this portion, water seems to be much before us: Torrents of Zered (v 12), Brooks of Arnon (v 14), followed with the streams of Ar before coming to Beer (a well). The Lord Himself is the first to speak. He who knows the need, and is to be the supplier, directs to the abundant supply.

We have a gathered people, suggesting an expectancy or their part. The law giver and the princes were present. First, let us view the law giver. How important it is to be directed alone by the Word of the Lord. It is always a happy state when there is an attentive ear to hear His voice. The Father’s will was what guided our Lord when here, and the spirit of, “Not my will but Thine be done,” should be our attitude today.

A gathered people, waiting to see the delivering hand of God, reminds us of the need of a right condition of heart toward Jehovah, in not only waiting but expecting to know His abundant supply. His way, time and will is ever before His own.

Who are the princes? We find a chosen company early in the wilderness scenes. Under the suggestion of Jethro (Exodus 18), able men were chosen to aid Moses in judging Israel. However, we do not read anything more about these helpers. From Numbers 11, we find Moses in an hour of trial asking for help in bearing the burden of Israel, and 70 elders are chosen to carry the load with him. No greater measure of the spirit was given other than what had been given to Moses. From Deuteronomy 1:18, we are reminded of three requirements for such men. First, they were to be men of wisdom (taught of the Word); second, they were to be men of understanding (men of experience); thirdly, they were to be men known (men respected and proven).

The OT is not our source of doctrine, nevertheless divine principles never change, and so their need is ours. We need to pray “the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers,” but also that He raise up men willing to devote themselves to the care of saints. Men who watch (sleepless nights) for your souls (Heb 13:17). Such shepherds must give account that they may do it with joy and not with grief. Saints become cold, lose their joy and stray. Thus the need for shepherd care in restoration.

Princes have staves and are expected to use them, not on the people, but for them. Water is there, but requires uncovering. A little digging will produce abundant supply and opening the book will refresh the young and encourage the old. Of Philemon, we read, “The bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee.”

Then we have a singing people. No song is recorded from the shore of the Read Sea until now. After refreshing, how appropriate is the song of praise! It rejoiced the heart of our God. The Lord grant more occupation with Himself, resulting in more praise to His name!