Our fathers understood not your wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of your mercies; but provoked him at the sea…
It is not sufficient to say that the root of disobedience is "wilfulness." Fairly reading human nature, we can find other roots from which it springs. In the history of the people Israel we can see that they did not always sin from sheer wilfulness. Sometimes they had really lost their faith hold of Jehovah, and sometimes the burdens and trials of the way brought them into conditions of despondency; and unbelief and despondency became roots of disobedience. It is usual to treat the conduct of the Israelites without giving due consideration to their difficult, perilous, perplexing, and wearisome circumstances. Rightly viewed, it would have been the supreme human marvel if they had not failed in obedience and trust. Think what a mighty host it was, yet how imperfectly organized. Think of the strain of their manifest peril at the Red Sea, and the exceeding toil and weariness of their climb up the wadies to Sinai. Think of the difficulty, in that arid region, of providing food and water for so many creatures. Think kindly of them, and though the sense of their sin is not lightened, considerateness for the sinners is nourished. The disobedience that roots in unbelief, or in despondency, puts men into the pitifulness and mercy of their God.
I. DISOBEDIENCE ROOTED IN UNBELIEF. Here a distinction is necessary. Here is an unbelief which is wilful, which a man chooses, and for which he seeks reasons, and this is wholly sinful, and needs humbling punishment. And there is an unbelief which is the natural human response to difficult and trying circumstances, which seem to force doubts upon us. All are liable to this kind of unbelief in sharing the trials of human life. But there is a Divine gentleness in the dealing with the disobedience which has its root in this unbelief.
II. DISOBEDIENCE ROOTED IN DESPONDENCY. This reminds us how differently things affect different dispositions. Some are naturally despondent. They always see the dark sides, are ever ready to give up in despair. And this spirit often leads to failing obedience. Men have not spirit enough to do what they ought. But God "knoweth our frame." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red sea.