When God created man and woman, he designed marriage as a foundational covenant for a godly people. God then declared all of creation to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). An accusation of unfaithfulness, therefore, was to be seriously considered. What if, for instance, a wife is pregnant and the husband is pretty sure it is not his doing? What if he has no proof?
Numbers 5:11-31 describes a bizarre test of alleged infidelity based on unsubstantiated suspicions of the husband. The accused wife will be made to drink a cup of water mixed with dust after declaring an oath before God that, if she is innocent, the water will not hurt her, but if she is guilty, she shall become violently ill and miscarry, never to bear children again.
This was not a courtroom trial, but a public ordeal sufficiently terrifying, designed to force guilt or innocence to show itself. No one knew the results in advance, therefore, if the woman was proved innocent, the husband owed the wife a public apology equal to the public accusation. The woman, if guilty, upon drinking the water would suffer pain and never bear children again. Thus, it was likely she wouldn’t drink, but confess instead.
The threat of the test was the power of the test. A guilty person would confess from fear of the consequences. The threat of the test was the fear of the Lord, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (Numbers 6:26).
My Holy God, You are good and just and holy and loving and full of grace. Your Son was pierced for my transgressions, He was crushed for my iniquities; the punishment that brought me peace was upon Him; by His wounds I am healed. May I take sin as seriously as He did.
Thank You, Father, for salvation, for forgiveness, for the atonement for my sins offered by the death of Jesus Christ. Thank You Jesus for taking what I deserve so that I will share in what You deserve. May my love You for You be seen in my desire for righteousness.