“Thus I will lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel, who are grumbling against you,” (17:5).
There is fear in the congregation, and rightfully so…
Then the sons of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, “Behold, we perish, we are dying, we are all dying! 13 Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of the Lord, must die. Are we to perish completely?” (17:12-13).
While the congregation ignorantly, yet vigorously, grumbled in rebellion, the LORD stepped in. Through the miraculous budding of Aaron’s rod, the LORD unequivocally validated His chosen servant.
The people were on the wrong side of this fight and now by His supernatural intervention, the LORD would rid Himself of the continuous moaning and murmuring. His amnesic people were halted in their incessant raising of complaints before Him Who Lessens the Grumblings.
Consider Him Who Lessens the Grumblings
The phrase translated as “Thus I will lessen from upon Myself” in the New American Standard Bible, is translated “and I will rid myself of” in the NIV and “Thus I will make to cease” in the ESV, is translated from one Hebrew word; from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:
“7918. שָׁכַךְ šāḵaḵ: A verb meaning to go down, to get lower… In its causative use, it means to lower something: personal attacks or accusations.”
The LORD diminished the accusations raised against His chosen servant as He elevated Himself as Him Who Lessens the Grumblings.
- He Lessons Grumblings; He is Sovereign.
- “It will come about that the rod of the man whom I choose will sprout,” (17:5).
- “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’
Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?” (Isaiah 45:9).
- He Lessons Grumblings; He is Exalted above all peoples.
- “Thus I will lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel…” (17:5).
- The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble;
He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake!
2 The Lord is great in Zion,
And He is exalted above all the peoples.
3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name;
Holy is He, (Psalm 99:1-3).
- He Lessons Grumblings; He is Gracious.
- But the Lord said to Moses, “Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony to be kept as a sign…” (17:10).
- Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him, (Isaiah 30:18).
- He Lessons Grumblings; He is Merciful.
- “…to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against Me, so that they will not die,” (17:10).
- “Yet My eye spared them rather than destroying them, and I did not cause their annihilation in the wilderness,” (Ezekiel 20:17).
How do we respond to Him Who Lessens the Grumblings?
How can we grumble against Him who is Sovereign, Exalted, Gracious and Merciful? And yet I shudder to think of the many times I do. Thinking about the Hebrew word used, I have an image of the LORD, disgusted as He casts the grumbling from off His shoulders.
He carries our burdens, but He will not carry our grumbling. It was both startling and heartbreaking to realize how often I expect Him to listen to my complaints. I am undone and desperately cry out for His grace and forgiveness.
Do you also find yourself grumbling because of situations, people or injustices? Oh that we would learn from Numbers 17 and beg His Holy Spirit to Lessen our Grumblings.
May we be humbled as we fix our eyes on Him Who is Sovereign, Exalted, Gracious and Merciful; and may His Glorious Majesty transform our lives and lips. May His Holy Spirit Lessen the Grumblings, that we might become a wellspring of ceaseless praise. As our grumblings lessen, His goodness and faithfulness will be magnified.
“Blessed are You, O Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 12 Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. 13 Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name, (1 Chronicles 29:10-13).