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Bitter Waters Made Sweet

Exodus 15:22-27; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 291-294


The Message

We worship God with joyful praise.

Memory Verse

“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart” (Psalm 138:1).

The Jones family was on a hike in unknown woods. They walked for a long time. Soon they knew that they were lost. Their water bottles were empty, and they were very hot and thirsty. “Let’s stop here,” said Mother, “and ask God to help us.”

After praying together, they began walking again. Before long they found the right trail. And soon they were back at their campsite.

At their campfire that night they worshipped God with joyful praise. Then Mother told the story about a time when the Israelites had water problems too.


The joyful celebration on the banks of the Red Sea was over. The pillar of cloud began to move again. The Israelites knew it was time to move on. So they followed the cloud into the desert. For three days they traveled without finding water. The water they had brought with them was gone. They had to find more if they were to stay alive.

The cloud led them toward Marah, where they expected to find a spring. Moses had herded sheep in that wilderness for 40 years. He knew the place well. He knew the water at Marah was bitter and not fit to drink. But God had led them to this place. Just as Moses expected, at the first sight of water the joyful cry went up. “Water! Water!” Men, women, and children rushed to the spring. But as soon as the first of them tasted it, their joy turned to disappointment.

It had been just three days since the Lord had worked the miracle at the Red Sea. Just three days since He had destroyed the Egyptian army. It had not been long since they had left Egypt and their lives of slavery. God Himself, in the pillar of cloud, had led them to Marah. But they forgot all that. “What are we going to drink?” they grumbled to Moses.

Moses did what the Israelites did not do. He turned to the Lord for help. The Lord showed Moses a piece of wood and told him to throw it into the water.

Moses did, and the water became sweet. And then, imagine how the people rushed forward to the water. They had gone from joy at finding water to disappointment after tasting it. Now they were back to joy after God worked the miracle. They were no longer in danger of dying of thirst. They had been saved!

And then God gave them a promise through Moses. “Listen carefully to the voice of the Lord and do what is right in His eyes. If you do what He asks you to do, He will keep you from the diseases of the Egyptians.” God would keep them from much of what troubled Egypt. Would they worship God with their lives? Would they honor Him with their obedience? If they did, God would give them happy lives.

God gives you the joy of salvation. Just as the Israelites were saved by the sweet water at Marah, you are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. That is a reason for joy.

“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). That promise is as true for us today as it was for the Israelites. Praise God with joyful praise!