MOSES: The Analytical Melancholy
Today we explore the flip side of his character profile.
Even though Moses was an excellent analytic, it is also believed that he had some melancholy tendencies. These two traits are often connected.
Even today I might add.
At times, Moses became so entrenched in a problematic situation or so focused on his way of doing things, that he neglected to see the big picture, or neglected to discern the outcome of his actions.
Moses was a bit of lone gun.
He had some real tough times, struggling to trust in God’s plan and purpose. Let’s look at a few quick examples:
Exodus 2: Moses surveys the scene of slavery. He sees a Hebrew slave being beaten, which was a very common occurrence. Nevertheless, instead of coming up with an effective solution, he takes matters into his own hands and kills the Egyptian. This decision costs him his place in Egypt, and forces him to flee.
Exodus 3: At the burning bush, Moses melancholy independence really shows up. After 40 years of peaceful living in Midian, God calls him to reject comfort to become a leader. Moses turns into a defence lawyer with reason after reason on why he shouldn’t be the one to lead Israel out of slavery.
Let’s unpack this scenario at the burning bush.
In verse 11 of chapter 3, Moses tries to say he’s not qualified. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh…” (3:11) How about the only Israelite who lived the first 40 years of his life in Egypt, not as a slave? Who else fits that description? Come on Moses!
Then Moses tries some other tactics: In verse 13, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’” (3:13) Come on Moses!
Then in the first verse of chapter 4 he says, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me…?” (4:1) Come on Moses!
Next we have verse 10 of chapter 4, Moses gets desperate. “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent…I am slow of speech and tongue.” (4:10) Come on Moses!
After 40 years educated in Pharaoh’s courts; surely you picked up a bit of Egyptian dialect. That might come in handy right about now.
Finally in verse 13, Moses’ brain can’t come up with any more good excuses. He straight up begs: “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” (4:13) Come on Moses!
Isn’t that frustrating to read?
It was frustrating for God too. Look at verse 14: “Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses…” (4:14) God could have smoked him right then and there, right out of that burning bush. God could have moved on and chose someone else.
But nope, God shows mercy after all those excuses and includes Moses’ cousin Aaron in the plan, to help Moses fulfill his calling. God is good!
Moses finally answers God’s call and leads the Israelites out of slavery.
In chapters 5 through 17 of Exodus, we see this journey unfold and Moses continues to grow in knowledge and experience. (By the way, these chapters are really exciting if you’re looking for a good read.)
By Exodus 18, Moses is judge over Israel.
But Moses analytical independence and melancholy nature still shows up. In Verse 13 of chapter 18 we read, “…Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.” (18:13)
This was Moses life, solving people’s problems day-in and day-out, dawn until dusk. But Moses’ intelligence was saturated with the small problems, that he couldn’t see the bigger problem.
He was able to discern for the people, but lacked discernment for himself.
Thankfully, Jethro shows up!
Moses’ father-in-law Jethro, a priest and shepherd, witnesses this process and gives Moses some vital counsel. In verse 21, Jethro helps Moses see the bigger picture:
“…select capable men from all the people…and appoint them as officials…Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter…” (18:21-22)
Moses was one of the smartest and well-educated leaders of that day, but he couldn’t discern the need for delegation.
This is a lesson for leaders.
Even the best leader need to be surrounded by good counsel.
Thankfully, God provided help through his father-in-law and lo and behold, this was birth of Eldership. Soon enough, this process would be solidified and carried on through our churches, right up until today.
CAN I HAVE YOUR FEEDBACK?
Moses had some melancholy tendencies; getting too caught up in small problems or focused on himself. How has this been a struggle in your life? Who or what has God used to overcome these struggles?