Please Read Numbers 21:4-9.
Chapter 20 brought the end of the wilderness wanderings. In chapter 21 we see the first victory in their warfare and the 8th and last murmuring. This is the first victory for Israel since the conflict with Amalek back in the first part of the wanderings after leaving Egypt.
God clearly gave them the victory; however, they now have to go by way of Mt. Hor near the Red Sea. Since they cannot go through Edom, they have to go in a circle and come in from the East. The way is hard and in their plight, they begin to complain.
In verses 4-5 at Mt. Hor Moses had seen his brother Aaron die and now, all alone, he has to deal with the complaining of the people; yet he was not alone because God was with him.
The people were getting weary of tent life, and of the inconveniences of perpetually moving, but they forgot their many mercies, and the great deliverance, which the Lord had wrought for them.
Charles Spurgeon said, “Fretting, groaning, and complaining are very easy, but they are ungrateful, unholy and useless habits. How wretched a thing is discontent? Complaining and discontent is always the same old and cruel slander; but each time there is more sin in it.”
In verse 6 they acted like serpents in hissing at Moses, and now serpents are sent to punish them. God has many ways of chastising sinners. He, who made Moses’ rod a serpent, can also use a serpent as His rod to smite Israel. He will sting those who sting His servants.
In verses 7-8 we cannot help but admire Moses. He prays at once for the people who had been so harsh toward him in their complaining. What a lesson in returning good for evil!
Satan will always try to get Christians to stop living for the Lord, but when all else fails, he uses his greatest tool – the tool of discouragement.