Verses 10–17

Moses still continues backward to the service for which God had designed him, even to a fault; for now we can no longer impute it to his humility and modesty, but must own that here was too much of cowardice, slothfulness, and unbelief in it. Observe here,

I. How Moses endeavours to excuse himself from the work.

1. He pleads that he was no good spokesman: O my Lord! I am not eloquent, Exod. 4:10. He was a great philosopher, statesman, and divine, and yet no orator; a man of a clear head, great thought, and solid judgment, but had not a voluble tongue, or ready utterance, and therefore he thought himself unfit to speak before great men about great affairs, and in danger of being run down by the Egyptians. Observe, (1.) We must not judge of men by the readiness and fluency of their discourse. Moses was mighty in word (Acts 7:22), and yet not eloquent: what he said was strong and nervous, and to the purpose, and distilled as the dew (Deut. 32:2), though he did not deliver himself with that readiness, ease, and elegance, that some do, who have not the tenth part of his sense. St. Paul’s speech was contemptible, 2 Cor. 10:10. A great deal of wisdom and true worth is concealed by a slow tongue. (2.) God is pleased sometimes to make choice of those as his messengers who have fewest of the advantages of art or nature, that his grace in them may appear the more glorious. Christ’s disciples were no orators, till the Spirit made them such.

2. When this plea was overruled, and all his excuses were answered, he begged that God would send somebody else on this errand and leave him to keep sheep in Midian (Exod. 4:13): “Send by any hand but mine; thou canst certainly find one much more fit.” Note, An unwilling mind will take up with a sorry excuse rather than none, and is willing to devolve those services upon others that have any thing of difficulty or danger in them.

II. How God condescends to answer all his excuses. Though the anger of the Lord was kindled against him (Exod. 4:14), yet he continued to reason with him, till he had overcome him. Note, Even self-diffidence, when it grows into an extreme—when it either hinders us from duty or clogs us in duty, or when it discourages our dependence upon the grace of God—is very displeasing to him. God justly resents our backwardness to serve him, and has reason to take it ill; for he is such a benefactor as is before-hand with us, and such a rewarder as will not be behind-hand with us. Note further, God is justly displeased with those whom yet he does not reject: he vouchsafes to reason the case even with his froward children, and overcomes them, as he did Moses here, with grace and kindness.

1. To balance the weakness of Moses, he here reminds him of his own power, Exod. 4:11. (1.) His power in that concerning which Moses made the objection: Who has made man’s mouth? Have not I the Lord? Moses knew that God made man, but he must be reminded now that God made man’s mouth. An eye to God as Creator would help us over a great many of the difficulties which lie in the way of our duty, Ps. 124:8. God, as the author of nature, has given us the power and faculty of speaking; and from him, as the fountain of gifts and graces, comes the faculty of speaking well, the mouth and wisdom (Luke 21:15), the tongue of the learned (Isa. 50:4); he pours grace into the lips, Ps. 45:2. (2.) His power in general over the other faculties. Who but God makes the dumb and the deaf, the seeing and the blind? [1.] The perfections of our faculties are his work, he makes the seeing; he formed the eye (Ps. 94:9); he opens the understanding, the eye of the mind, Luke 24:45. [2.] Their imperfections are from him too; he make the dumb, and deaf, and blind. Isa. there any evil of this kind, and the Lord has not done it? No doubt he has, and always in wisdom and righteousness, and for his own glory, 9:3. Pharaoh and the Egyptians were made deaf and blind spiritually, as Isa. 6:9, 10. But God knew how to manage them, and get himself honour upon them.

2. To encourage him in this great undertaking, he repeats the promise of his presence, not only in general, I will be with thee (Exod. 3:12), but in particular, “I will be with thy mouth, so that the imperfection in thy speech shall be no prejudice to thy message.” It does not appear that God did immediately remove the infirmity, whatever it was; but he did that which was equivalent, he taught him what to say, and then let the matter recommend itself: if others spoke more gracefully, none spoke more powerfully. Note, Those whom God employs to speak for him ought to depend upon him for instructions, and it shall be given them what they shall speak, Matt. 10:19.

3. He joins Aaron in commission with him. He promises that Aaron shall meet him opportunely, and that he will be glad to see him, they having not seen one another (it is likely) for many years, Exod. 4:14. He directs him to make use of Aaron as his spokesman, Exod. 4:16. God might have laid Moses wholly aside, for his backwardness to be employed; but he considered his frame, and ordered him an assistant. Observe, (1.) Two are better than one, Eccl. 4:9. God will have his two witnesses (11:3), that out of their mouths every word may be established. (2.) Aaron was the brother of Moses, divine wisdom so ordering it, that their natural affection one to another might strengthen their union in the joint execution of their commission. Christ sent his disciples two and two, and some of the couples were brothers. (3.) Aaron was the elder brother, and yet he was willing to be employed under Moses in this affair, because God would have it so. (4.) Aaron could speak well, and yet was far inferior to Moses in wisdom. God dispenses his gifts variously to the children of men, that we may see our need one of another, and each may contribute something to the good of the body, 1 Cor. 12:21. The tongue of Aaron, with the head and heart of Moses, would make one completely fit for this embassy. (5.) God promises, I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth. Even Aaron, that could speak well, yet could not speak to purpose unless God was with his mouth; without the constant aids of divine grace the best gifts will fail.

4. He bids him take the rod with him in his hand (Exod. 4:17), to intimate that he must bring about his undertaking rather by acting than by speaking; the signs he should work with this rod might abundantly supply the want of eloquence; one miracle would do him better service than all the rhetoric in the world. Take this rod, the rod he carried as a shepherd, that he might not be ashamed of that mean condition out of which God called him. This rod must be his staff of authority, and must be to him in stead both of sword and sceptre.