The Israelites were a people who were enslaved with great burdens and oppressed on a daily basis. They had no hope until God through Moses delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh. Yet this greatest blessing they had received now seemed distant. They were now faced with thirst again. The first time they faced this situation, they had water that had been bitter and was made sweet (Ex 15:22-27). But now they did not even have bitter water at hand to quench their thirst.
Have you ever experienced a hot summerâ€™s day when you've walked around town for the day or had a game of football under the sun, and you feel really thirsty afterward? That was how everyone felt at that time. No wonder they wanted to stone Moses (Ex 17:4). When you feel that your body needs something, you want to gratify that desire as soon as possible. If you are hungry and you do not get food into your stomach, you start to become irritable. And that was how the Israelites felt.
The problem was they went so far as to tempt the Lord by asking, "Is the Lord among us or not?" (Ex 17:7). They completely upset the will of the Lord. They said to Moses, "Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" (Ex 17:3). Thus they complained to God indirectly. They knew it was God who brought them out of the land of Egypt and not Moses. In their hearts, they were dissatisfied with God. Their physical suffering changed their view on who God was. When things went their way, they followed quietly and obediently. When things did not go their way for a moment, they turned their hearts against God.
The price God's people had to pay for following Him out of Egypt was the comforts of life. They did not get things when they wanted it. They had to learn to trust in God. The Israelites could not deduce what kind of God had delivered them from the Egyptians. He who delivered them with such a mighty hand could and would give them their daily necessities. This God was the God of their forefather, Abraham. He was Jehovah-Jireh, "The Lord will provide" (Gen 22:14). Otherwise, how could God bring them out of oppression into the Promised Land (Ex 3:8)?