So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7)
The Hebrew word massah means “temptation” or “testing.” The word Meribah means “strife” or “contention.” Thus, striving with and testing God is the spiritual impression that the children of Israel left on this place. We should keep in mind that this was happening, more or less, at the foot of Mount Sinai. In other words, even as they were journeying to the mountain of God to receive the Torah, they were contending with God.
The question, “Is the LORD among us or not?” portrays an attitude of flippant unbelief in the face of all that had been demonstrated as proof that He was indeed among them. And so, perhaps it is not happenstance that, immediately after the provision of water and putting God to the test the Bible says, “then came Amalek” who fought with them at Rephidim.. Perhaps this could be interpreted as God putting them to the test and asking, “Are you with me or not?”
So often, it is us who wants to know if God is on our side or not? Is He listening to us or not? Does He truly care for us or not? Of course, the answer is that He does and we know that, even when we are going through difficulty. It is just as important to acknowledge that God wishes to know whether we are on His side or not. Frankly, He has proven His faithfulness to us time and again. In contrast, how often have we demonstrated our unfaithfulness to Him? We all know the answer to that and, yet, even in our unfaithfulness we see His enduring faithfulness to us. So then, let us reaffirm that we are on His side and wish to follow and serve Him with all of our being. We must train ourselves not to give into despair when life becomes difficult but must hold on to the fact that He is for us and not against us.
Blessings and Shalom,