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…
You and I often mark a path out for ourselves; and to us it seems so easy, so likely, so promising of success. Then all at once something happens that disappoints us, and directs us another road that we find further round, and apparently much harder; and we call it a "mysterious providence." Of course, all is mysterious that is the result of wider knowledge than our own. Do you remember old Quarles' lines: —
"I say this way; God says that.
His way is best, for He knows what
Of lions may beset my road.
I'll follow Thee! Lead on, my God!"
He knew what was best and safest, and, in the long run, surest; and by the good hand of God they were kept out of mischief and away from danger. The old proverb is still very true: "The longest way about is often the nearest way home." "He that goes straight across, may have to carry a cross. He that goes round about, may have the chance to go without." His thoughts are not our thoughts, and it is a grand thing to be under His guidance; for "the way of man," as the good Book says, "is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." We know not what is good for us, and, like children, if we were to run alone, we should soon run into mischief. You and I have often been imposed on, both by what we hope and what we fear. Many a time we have tried to run away from what afterwards turned out to be a blessing, and many a time we have been disappointed to save us from being destroyed. I remember on one occasion, when I was young, I got it into my head that I was able to drive. Having narrowly escaped an upset, and frightened myself almost out of my wits, I resigned the reins into more skilful hands than mine, and travelled safely. Let us be as wise as the psalmist, and say, "The Lord shall choose mine inheritance for me!" Let us learn a lesson of patience, too. We may be very anxious to pluck the fruit; but we had better wait till it's mellow, for fear the pain kills all the pleasure. God's time is a good time, and God's way is a safe way, both to-day and to-morrow, too!
(J. J. Wray.)
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;"