“The Israelites angered Yahweh at the waters of Meribah.
It went ill with Moses on their account.
They made his spirit bitter.
He spoke words that were rash.”
Then there was another incident from Numbers, chapter 20. Once again, the Israelites were angry with Moses and Aaron since they had no water. This was when Moses struck the rock at Meribah, where water came pouring out. This is similar to Exodus, chapter 12 that was mentioned in the previous psalm. However, there was a twist here in the story of Numbers. Moses and Aaron were punished for not believing that water could come from a rock. Their punishment was that they too would die before they reached the Promised Land. Moses was rash in his hesitation to strike the rock.
“O that today you would listen to his voice!
Do not harden your hearts,
As at Meribah,
As on the day at Massah
In the wilderness.
Your ancestors tested me.
They put me to the proof,
Even though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation.
‘They are a people whose hearts go astray.
They do not regard my ways.’
Therefore in my anger
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
This psalm concludes with an oracle from God, via the Temple prophet. Yahweh warns them against disobedience. The example of disobedience is from the time in the wilderness at Meribah and Massah in Exodus, chapter 17, when they complained about no water in the desert. The same story can be found in Numbers, chapter 20. Their ancestors had tested him even though they had seen his work in Egypt. Yahweh then said to them that their hearts had gone astray. Therefore they would not enter into the place of rest, the Promised Land.
“I hear a voice I had not known.
‘I relieved your shoulder of the burden.
Your hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called.
Then I rescued you.
I answered you in the secret place of thunder.
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.’”
The psalmist noted that he heard an unknown voice. This voice said that he relieved them of their burdens. He freed their hands from the basket in their distress. He had rescued them. He had answered them with thunder. He had tested them at the waters of Meribah. These are references to the activities found in Exodus, chapters 17-19. This section ends with the musical meditative interlude pause of Selah.