And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines…
I. GOD'S TENDER CARE FOR HIS PEOPLE.
1. Trials and temptations are proportioned to their ability to-bear them. "He led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines." The conflict with these was not too much for his strength, but it was too much for Israel's faith. They would have made shipwreck at the very outset. He will not suffer us to be tempted beyond that we are able to bear.
2. It "was near;" but the shortest way to our possession may not be the surest. God's love is more fully displayed in leading us seemingly away from what we desire than it would be in at once leading us to it.
3. His purpose in delay. God leads us by the way of the wilderness where, by the knowledge of ourselves and of him we may be prepared for the earthly and the heavenly portion he designs to give us.
II. THEY BORE WITH THEM A PROOF OF GOD'S FAITHFULNESS (ver. 19).
1. The time might have been when the hope expressed by those unburied bones seemed vanity and folly, but not now. These relics touched a million hearts, and reminded them how gloriously God had redeemed his word.
2. We carry with us mementoes which fill us with strong assurance for the future. The very light we now possess tells how God fulfils his promises. Human hearts believed God of old when he said that the Sun of Righteousness would arise, and human lips declared the hope. The past fulfilments of prophecy lay broad foundations for our trust that every word will in like manner be redeemed.
III. THEY HAD GOD HIMSELF FOR GUIDE.
1. We have the indwelling of the Spirit and of Christ. We cannot mistake the way if we follow him who goes before us.
2. The light of his presence is brighter in the night of trial. When all else is veiled from sight, the light of that gracious presence beams out in fullest splendour.
3. There must be the following by day to have the consolation of the glory by night. Are we following in the footsteps of Jesus? Is he Saviour as well as sacrifice to us? - U.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:
WEB: It happened, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God didn't lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt;"