Thirst is one of our basic needs. We cannot last more than an average of 4 days without water, a week in perfect conditions is possible but unlikely. When faced with more extreme conditions such as direct sunlight or cold temperatures that time quickly shortens. In Ex. 17 we see the people of God, the nation of Israel, longing for water.
"...Give us water, that we may drink..." (Ex. 17:2), "...Why is it you have brought us up our of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?"(Ex. 17:3) they contended with Moses.
The demands of the people got to the point where Moses cried out to the Lord saying "What shall I do with this people, They ware almost ready to stone me!" (Ex. 17:4). We see them in a place of desperation and need. Was it wrong of them to thirst? What was Moses' response, and God's plan?
The need of the people of Israel wasn't wrong. It was simply a basic need they needed to address. The problem was in their hearts. They tempted God and complained against Moses. They were not in a place of full reliance on God's provision and promises. It is mind boggling that after God took them out of the land of Egypt by causing plagues, Passover, dividing a sea, and supplying them with bread from heaven, for the people of Israel to forget all of that and still doubt God. How long did it take them to forget? Did they not see the hand of God in every step of their journey out of Egypt? God saw their cry when they were in captivity, he also saw them hungry and moved each time on their behalf. It seems easy to point fingers at them but God's convicted me of the same issue. In time of need, small or big, I sometimes seem to forgethow great our God is. I lose sight of the fact that I am His child and He will take care of me. He will take care of us.
Furthermore Moses' response reminds me that a true leader cries out to God, seeks God, prays to God, and worships Him. Moses didn't try to jump in on his own and solve the issue. Of course he might have been scared for his life because the people wanted to stone him but there is no indication in the text that at any point did he try to take matters in his own hands. He knew what God has promised to His people and remembered all of the things that God had already done. He also realized that there is nothing He could have done to solve the problem. Am I remembering the things God has done in my life? Am I allowing and recognizing God's intervention in my own life?
To all that we see our God in complete control over the whole situation. He knew the needs of His people. He also knew the condition of their hearts and regardless of that He showed mercy, long suffering, kindness, patience, and love. God also showed Moses a rock from which the water came out to provide for the nation of Israel. Later in the scripture we see God giving us a "rock" again, Jesus Christ, from whom flow waters of everlasting life.