New Defender's Study Bible Notes
17:4 ready to stone me. In effect the people were accusing God of covenant breaking and decided judicially to stone His representative. God therefore “stands before” them (Exodus 17:6) as the accused on the rock, and the rock is then smitten with the rod of judgment–the same rod with which Moses had visited judgment on Egypt (Exodus 17:5).
17:6 smite the rock. Critics are repeatedly confounded when they try to explain the many miracles of the Exodus on a naturalistic basis. This was a uniquely significant period in world history and God was once again revealing Himself as the world’s Creator, miraculously creating bread and water in the desert for a whole generation of Israelites. Moses was not a gifted “water witch,” locating an underground stream of water, but God’s prophet. God created a river of water that followed their itinerary throughout the forty years of wandering, “for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (I Corinthians 10:4).
17:6 rock in Horeb. This is the first mention of “rock” in Scripture, and it is significantly taken by Paul as a type of Christ (see adjacent note). Just as Moses smote the rock with his rod of judgment (Exodus 17:5), so Christ had to be “smitten of God” (Isaiah 53:4) before He could invite men to “come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37).