The Melody of the Waters
Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well, sing ye unto it: The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves. And from the wilderness they went to Mattanah: and from Mattanah to Nahaliel; and from Nahaliel to Bamoth; and from Bamoth in the valley, that is in the country of Moab, to the top of Pisgah, which looketh toward Jeshimon.—Numbers 21:17-20
Condensed from a discourse by J. A. Meggison.
Here, as is so often the case in the word of God, the real message is hidden in the names given to the characters and places. In Numbers 21:15 Moses gathered the people at the well of Beer, a well the Israelites dug in the wilderness, and evidently at a time when the people thirsted for water. It was here at Beer that they sang the song in Numbers 21, the “Song of the Well,” or “The Melody of the Waters:” “Spring up, O well, sing ye unto it.” It is as though they had the promise from the Lord that if they would go and dig they would find water.
Ferrar Fenton’s translation interprets the meaning of the place names and shows the course that the water, not the people, took. Water symbolizes truth and here depicts the course the message of God takes when it flows forth.
Where the Water Went
The names of the places where the water flowed in Numbers 21 are significant.
MATTANAH means “a presence and a sacrificial offering.” When the Gospel goest forth to those whose minds are right, it indicates to them a thankful attitude. In return they bring a thank offering, as expressed in Romans 12:1. The effect of the truth is to bring them to the point of consecration.
NAHALIEL means “the valley or the river of God.” After you come to the point of consecration, and put your life and future in the hands of God; the Lord enlightens your mind and opens up to you parts of his plans and purposes and you drink of the river of God mentioned in Psalm 46:14, “the streams [the small beginnings of this river] make glad the city of God.” Eventually these streams grow to be a mighty river that will refresh the world of mankind.
BAMOTH, meaning “an elevation, a high place” indicates a period of time. As you drink of the river of God, as you understand his purposes and plans, it lifts you up into the heights of enjoyment and you live above the world of mankind, seeing “the land that is very far off.” (Isa. 33:17
PISGAH “that looketh toward Jeshimon,” is the termination of the river. Jeshimon is the desert. When you are at the top of Pisgah and look toward the promised land the waste places and the desert are behind you and the rejoicing of the world of mankind in the promised land is in front of you. As Moses, you realize that this is not for you, it’s for the world. However, if you are faithful, you will be privileged to dispense the blessings to them. As the literal waters went forth to refresh the waste places and cause them to blossom, so the antitypical river of truth gives us a view of God’s purposes and plans now and even into the ages beyond.
The Valley of Baca
The message of the melody of the waters is something that runs throughout the Bible. An example of this is found in Psalm 84:4-7, “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house [God’s people], they will be still [continually] praising thee. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them [`of them’ is supplied and refers to God’s ways], who passing through the valley of Baca, maketh it a well.”
They make it a well, they don’t find a well. The word Baca has reference to the abundant fruit of the mulberry trees that continually drop, a symbol of weeping. When God’s people pass through sorrowful experiences, as indicated by this valley of Baca, they make it a well. Something in them enables them to turn their experiences into blessings and steppingstones whereby life is made worthwhile. They get a blessing even out of their troubles.
He says they make it a wellspring, and that “the rain also fills the pools.”[it overflows and brings a blessing unto others. “They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.” By the grace of God they make their calling and election sure. In addition to the joy, we realize that these experiences are necessary for us to round out our characters in preparation for our place in the kingdom. There is victory and blessing in willingly entering into the experiences that the Lord lays out for us.
Another example is found in John 7, which tells of an occasion where Jesus was at the Feast of Tabernacles. He stood observing the water ceremony that was held on the last day. At the conclusion of this ceremony the priest came out into the court and poured the water upon the brazen altar as a water offering. The thought was of a thanksgiving prayer to God for what he had done and prayers that he would continue their blessings in the future year.
Just when all eyes were upon the water that was being poured out, Jesus raised his voice and said, “if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” This points out that if any man will drink of Jesus, then out of him would be a wellspring of living waters, springing up into everlasting life. These are the wellsprings referred to in Psalm 84. By their very training, the 144,000 followers of the Lamb also become wellsprings of living, flowing, waters. When these wellsprings are all gathered together in the first resurrection, they will form the origin and beginning of the great river of life which flows out to bless the world of mankind.
The River of Water of Life
In Revelation 22:1, 2 we see how this river will be used in the kingdom: “He shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal [pure, not mixed with human tradition, and easily understood] proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb [in the temple and coming out from it]. In the middle of the street [course of the river] of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life [the grove of life], which bare twelve manner of fruits and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
In Ezekiel 47:1-9 more detail is given considering this river of life: “Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house [the temple] eastward: [in the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple and Ezekiel’s Temple, the opening of the door of the house was toward the east, looking towards the sunrise, from whence the kings of the east should come.] And the waters came out from under the right side of the house [looking east], and the south side of the altar [the altar points to the ransom price and the blessings that will come from it.] Then brought he me out by way of the gate northward, and led me about by the way of the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and behold, there ran out waters on the right side [the south side].”
These waters were then measured and gradually grew, representing the process of progressive development of character.
“Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. Then said he unto me, `These waters issue out toward the east country [toward the Dead Sea, the desert around Jordan and east of it], and go into the sea [the Dead Sea]: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed [purified. At present the waters are too salty and nothing can live there. Eventually they shall be healed, made sweet and fresh.] And it shall come to pass that everything that liveth [that normally liveth], which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and everything shall live whither the river cometh.”
Jesus told the fishermen who became his disciples, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Men are likened unto fish—the world of mankind awakened from the dead to receive the blessings of the merit of Christ. Ezekiel 47:9 continues:
The Fountains of the Goat and Bullock
“And it shall come to pass that the fishers [The Christ, who will teach the truth to mankind], shall stand upon it from Engedi [fountain of the goat] even unto Eneglaim [fountain of the calf or bullock]; they shall be a place to spread forth nets [organize ways and methods of bringing people back to the Lord]; their fish shall be according to their kinds [all nations] as the fish of the great sea [the Mediterranean Sea], exceeding many.”
We are reminded of the sin offerings, the bullock and the goat. Between these two sin offerings the application of Christ’s merit will bring salvation to the world of mankind. Even then there will be some who will not want to make any progress. We read in Ezekiel 47:11, “”The miry places [where the water is stagnant; not fit to drink; pools and miasmas breeding mosquitoes, etc.]
thereof and the marshes [classes of mankind who refuse to learn righteousness and come into harmony with the law of God].”
This class us also referred to in Isaiah 26:10, 11 where he tells us that in the land of uprightness, the Millennial age, there will be some who will not listen or learn. This is willful rejection and opposition to the Lord. “Lord, when thy hand is lifted up [when God’s power is made manifest], they will not see [not want to obey], they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people [the Lord will make it so plain that no one can say, `I don’t understand.’] Yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.”
There will be some who will want to use everything for selfish purposes even if it means suffering to other people. “They shall be given to salt.” The first salt condition represented the Adamic death. Being returned to salt would mean a second death.
Ezekiel 47:12 continues, “And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade [everlasting, evergreen], neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: [it will not decay, but it will be for the use of the people] . . . their waters issue out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat [food], and the leaf for medicine [or, as Revelation puts it, `the healing of the nations.’]”
These trees or groves are connected with the river of life are connected with the river of life as mentioned in Isaiah 61:3—”the trees of the Lord, trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he might be glorified.‹
The Wells of Abraham
Another instance of the beauty and harmony of the “melody of the waters” is the story of Abraham’s wells. In Genesis 26:15-33 we are told that Abraham dug certain wells and that he had some controversy over them with Abimelech, king of the Philistines. After Abraham’s death the Philistines filled in the wells. Isaac dug again these wells and “called their names by the names which his father had called them.”
At Jesus’ first advent he brought to light the truths that had been given in olden times by the word of God and which the Philistines, worldly minded, had filled in with human traditions. (Luke 11:46)
The first well that Isaac dug was ESEK, contention. Even though the Philistines had not dug the well they claimed it. Antitypically this was also the case. After the Apostles fell asleep, the worldly minded took control of the church and the “kingdom suffered violence and the violent took it by force.”
He next dug the well SITNEH, hatred. Again the Philistines strove for that well. It represented the wellspring of truth that arose during the Reformation and the persecution that came upon it from the Papacy.
Again he dug another well and called it REHOBOTH, enlargement. The Philistines did not contend for that well. It represented the harvest message. They don’t want that and they don’t strive for it.
After that the Philistines began to realize that God was with Isaac. King Abimelech gathered the mighty of his kingdom and made a covenant with Isaac. Then Isaac dug the wellSHEBAH, covenant, from whence the city of Beersheba is named. That is the well of the New Covenant that will be made in the kingdom and will be for a great abundance of water and blessing—the well of the oath, the well of the kingdom—Beersheba.
Thus we find in the Scriptures the harmony of God’s message as pictured in water flowing from the wellsprings, or in pools, or in rivers or streams and we realize the many ways the Lord has pictured parts of his kingdom so that we might have a complete view of his plans and purposes—the beauty and harmony in the melody of the waters.