Moses having, in the foregoing chapter, reminded them of their own sin,
as a reason why they should not depend upon their own righteousness, in
this chapter he sets before them God's great mercy to them,
notwithstanding their provocations, as a reason why they should be more
obedient for the future.
I. He mentions divers tokens of God's favour and reconciliation to
them, never to be forgotten.
(1.) The renewing of the tables of the covenant,
(2.) Giving orders for their progress towards Canaan,
(3.) Choosing the tribe of Levi for his own,
(4.) And continuing the priesthood after the death of Aaron,
(5.) Owning and accepting the intercession of Moses for them,
II. Hence he infers what obligations they lay under to fear,
and love, and serve God, which he presses upon them with many motives,
|God's Great Kindness to Israel.
||B. C. 1451.|
1 At that time the LORD said unto me, Hew thee two tables of
stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount,
and make thee an ark of wood.
2 And I will write on the tables the words that were in the
first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the
3 And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of
stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the
two tables in mine hand.
4 And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing,
the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount
out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the
LORD gave them unto me.
5 And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the
tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the
LORD commanded me.
6 And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth of
the children of Jaakan to Mosera: there Aaron died, and there he
was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered in the priest's office
in his stead.
7 From thence they journeyed unto Gudgodah; and from Gudgodah
to Jotbath, a land of rivers of waters.
8 At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear
the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to
minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.
9 Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his
brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD
thy God promised him.
10 And I stayed in the mount, according to the first time,
forty days and forty nights; and the LORD hearkened unto me at
that time also, and the LORD would not destroy thee.
11 And the LORD said unto me, Arise, take thy journey before
the people, that they may go in and possess the land, which I
sware unto their fathers to give unto them.
There were four things in and by which God showed himself reconciled to
Israel and made them truly great and happy, and in which God's goodness
took occasion from their badness to make him the more illustrious:--
I. He gave them his law, gave it to them in writing, as a standing
pledge of his favour. Though the tables that were first written were
broken, because Israel had broken the commandments, and God might
justly break the covenant, yet when his anger was turned away the
tables were renewed,
Note, God's putting his law in our reconciliation to God and the best
earnest of our happiness in him. Moses is told to hew the tables; for
the law prepares the heart by conviction and humiliation for the grace
of God, but it is only that grace that then writes the law in it. Moses
made an ark of shittim-wood
a plain chest, the same, I suppose, in which the tables were afterwards
preserved: but Bezaleel is said to make it
because he afterwards finished it up and overlaid it with gold. Or
Moses is said to make it because, when he went up the second time into
the mount, he ordered it to be made by Bezaleel against he came down.
And it is observable that for this reason the ark was the first thing
that God gave orders about,
And this left an earnest to the congregation that the tables should not
miscarry this second time, as they had done the first. God will send
his law and gospel to those whose hearts are prepared as arks to
receive them. Christ is the ark in which now our salvation is kept
safely, that it may not be lost as it was in the first Adam, when he
had it in his own hand. Observe,
1. What it was that God wrote on the two tables, the ten commandments
or ten words, intimating in how little a compass they were
contained: they were not ten volumes, but ten words: it was the same
with the first writing, and both the same that he spoke in the mount.
The second edition needed no correction nor amendment, nor did what he
wrote differ form what he spoke. The written word is as truly the word
of God as that which he spoke to his servants the prophets.
2. What care was taken of it. These two tables, thus engraven, were
faithfully laid up in the ark. And there they be, said Moses,
pointing it is probable towards the sanctuary,
That good thing which was committed to him he transmitted to them, and
left it pure and entire in their hands; now let them look to it at
their peril. Thus we may say to the rising generation, "God has
entrusted us with Bibles, sabbaths, sacraments, &c., as tokens of his
presence and favour, and there they be; we lodge them with you,"
2 Timothy 1:13,14.
II. He led them forward towards Canaan, though they in their hearts
turned back towards Egypt, and he might justly have chosen their
He brought them to a land of rivers of waters, out of a dry and
barren wilderness. Sometimes God supplied their wants by the ordinary
course of nature: when that failed, then by miracles; and yet after
this, when they were brought into a little distress, we find them
distrusting God and murmuring,
III. He appointed a standing ministry among them, to deal for them in
holy things. At that time when Moses went up a second time to the
mount, or soon after, he had orders to separate the tribe of Levi to
God, and to his immediate service, they having distinguished themselves
by their zeal against the worshippers of the golden calf,
The Kohathites carried the ark; they and the other Levites stood
before the Lord, to minister to him in all the offices of the
tabernacle; and the priests, who were of that tribe, were to bless the
people. This was a standing ordinance, which had now continued almost
forty years, even unto this day; and provision was made for the
perpetuating of it by the settled maintenance of that tribe, which was
such as gave them great encouragement in their work, and no diversion
from it. The Lord is his inheritance. Note, A settled ministry
is a great blessing to a people, and a special token of God's favour.
And, since the particular priests could not continue by reason of
death, God showed his care of the people in securing a succession,
which Moses takes notice of here,
When Aaron died, the priesthood did not die with him, but
Eleazar his son ministered in his stead, and took care of the
ark, in which the tables of stone, those precious stones, were
deposited, that they should suffer no damage; there they be, and he has
the custody of them. Under the law, a succession in the ministry was
kept up, by an entail of the office on a certain tribe and family. But
now, under the gospel, when the effusion of the Spirit is more
plentiful and powerful, the succession is kept up by the Spirit's
operation on men's hearts, qualifying men for, and inclining men to,
that work, some in every age, that the name of Israel may not be
IV. He accepted Moses as an advocate or intercessor for them, and
therefore constituted him their prince and leader
The Lord hearkened to me and said, Arise, go before the people.
It was a mercy to them that they had such a friend, so faithful both to
him that appointed him and to those for whom he was appointed. It was
fit that he who had saved them from ruin, by his intercession with
heaven, should have the conduct and command of them. And herein he was
a type of Christ, who, as he ever lives making intercession for us, so
he has all power both in heaven and in earth.
|Exhortation to Obedience.
||B. C. 1451.|
12 And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee,
but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to
love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and
with all thy soul,
13 To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes,
which I command thee this day for thy good?
14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD's
thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
15 Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and
he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as
it is this day.
16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no
17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a
great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons,
nor taketh reward:
18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow,
and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the
land of Egypt.
20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and
to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
21 He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for
thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.
22 Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten
persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of
heaven for multitude.
Here is a most pathetic exhortation to obedience, inferred from the
premises, and urged with very powerful arguments and a great deal of
persuasive rhetoric. Moses brings it in like an orator, with an appeal
to his auditors And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require
Ask what he requires; as David
What shall I render? When we have received mercy from God it
becomes us to enquire what returns we shall make to him. Consider what
he requires, and you will find it is nothing but what is highly just
and reasonable in itself and of unspeakable benefit and advantage to
you. Let us see here what he does require, and what abundant reason
there is why we should do what he requires.
I. We are here most plainly directed in our duty to God, to our
neighbour, and to ourselves.
1. We are here taught our duty to God, both in the dispositions and
affections of our souls and in the actions of our lives, our principles
and our practices.
(1.) We must fear the Lord our God,
We must adore his majesty, acknowledge his authority, stand in awe of
his power, and dread his wrath. This is gospel duty,
(2.) We must love him, be well pleased that he is, desire that he may
be ours, and delight in the contemplation of him and in communion with
him. Fear him as a great God, and our Lord, love him as a good God, and
our Father and benefactor.
(3.) We must walk in his ways, that is, the ways which he has appointed
us to walk in. The whole course of our conversation must be conformable
to his holy will.
(4.) We must serve him
serve him with all our heart and soul
devote ourselves to his honour, put ourselves under his government, and
lay out ourselves to advance all the interests of his kingdom among
men. And we must be hearty and zealous in his service, engage and
employ our inward man in his work, and what we do for him we must do
cheerfully and with a good will.
(5.) We must keep his commandments and his statutes,
Having given up ourselves to his service, we must make his revealed
will our rule in every thing, perform all he prescribes, forbear all
the forbids, firmly believing that all the statutes he commands us are
for our good. Besides the reward of obedience, which will be our
unspeakable gain, there are true honour and pleasure in obedience. It
is really for our present good to be meek and humble, chaste and sober,
just and charitable, patient and contented; these make us easy, and
safe, and pleasant, and truly great.
(6.) We must give honour to God, in swearing by his name
so give him the honour of his omniscience, his sovereignty, his
justice, as well as of his necessary existence. Swear by his
name, and not by the name of any creature, or false god, whenever
an oath for confirmation is called for.
(7.) To him we must cleave,
Having chosen him for our God, we must faithfully and constantly abide
with him and never forsake him. Cleave to him as one we love and
delight in, trust and confide in, and from whom we have great
2. We are here taught our duty to our neighbour
Love the stranger; and, if the stranger, much more our brethren,
as ourselves. If the Israelites that were such a peculiar people, so
particularly distinguished from all people, must be kind to strangers,
much more must we, that are not enclosed in such a pale; we must have a
tender concern for all that share with us in the human nature, and
as we have opportunity; (that is, according to their necessities
and our abilities) we must do good to all men. Two arguments are
here urged to enforce this duty:--
(1.) God's common providence, which extends itself to all nations of
men, they being all made of one blood. God loveth the
that is, he gives to all life, and breath, and all things, even to
those that are Gentiles, and strangers to the commonwealth of
Israel and to Israel's God. He knows those perfectly whom we know
nothing of. He gives food and raiment even to those to whom he
has not shown his word and statutes. God's common gifts to mankind
oblige us to honour all men. Or the expression denotes the particular
care which Providence takes of strangers in distress, which we ought to
praise him for
The Lord preserveth the strangers), and to imitate him, to serve
him, and concur with him therein, being forward to make ourselves
instruments in his hand of kindness to strangers.
(2.) The afflicted condition which the Israelites themselves had been
in, when they were strangers in Egypt. Those that have themselves been
in distress, and have found mercy with God, should sympathize most
feelingly with those that are in the like distress and be ready to show
kindness to them. The people of the Jews, notwithstanding these
repeated commands given them to be kind to strangers, conceived a
rooted antipathy to the Gentiles, whom they looked upon with the utmost
disdain, which made them envy the grace of God and the gospel of
Christ, and this brought a final ruin upon themselves.
3. We are here taught our duty to ourselves
Circumcise the foreskin of your hearts. that is, "Cast away from
you all corrupt affections and inclinations, which hinder you from
fearing and loving God. Mortify the flesh with the lusts of it.
Away with all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, which obstruct
the free course of the word of God to your hearts. Rest not in the
circumcision of the body, which was only the sign, but be circumcised
in heart, which is the thing signified." See
The command of Christ goes further than this, and obliges us not only
to cut off the foreskin of the heart, which may easily be spared, but
to cut off the right hand and to pluck out the right eye that is an
offence to us; the more spiritual the dispensation is the more
spiritual we are obliged to be, and to go the closer in mortifying sin.
And be no more stiff-necked, as they had been hitherto,
"Be not any longer obstinate against divine commands and corrections,
but ready to comply with the will of God in both." The circumcision of
the heart makes it ready to yield to God, and draw in his yoke.
II. We are here most pathetically persuaded to our duty. Let but reason
rule us, and religion will.
1. Consider the greatness and glory of God, and therefore fear him, and
from that principle serve and obey him. What is it that is thought to
make a man great, but great honour, power, and possessions? Think then
how great the Lord our God is, and greatly to be feared.
(1.) He has great honour, a name above every name. He is God of
gods, and Lord of lords,
Angels are called gods, so are magistrates, and the Gentiles had
gods many, and lords many, the creatures of their own fancy; but
God is infinitely above all these nominal deities. What an absurdity
would it be for them to worship other gods when the God to whom they
had sworn allegiance was the God of gods!
(2.) He has great power. He is a mighty God and terrible
who regardeth not persons. He has the power of a conqueror, and
so he is terrible to those that resist him and rebel against him. He
has the power of a judge, and so he is just to all those that appeal to
him or appear before him. And it is as much the greatness and honour
of a judge to be impartial in his justice, without respect to persons
or bribes, as it is to a general to be terrible to the enemy. Our God
(3.) He has great possessions. Heaven and earth are his
and all the hosts and stars of both. Therefore he is able to bear us
out in his service, and to make up the losses we sustain in discharging
our duty to him. And yet therefore he has no need of us, nor any thing
we have or can do; we are undone without him, but he is happy without
us, which makes the condescensions of his grace, in accepting us and
our services, truly admirable. Heaven and earth are his possession, and
yet the Lord's portion is his people.
2. Consider the goodness and grace of God, and therefore love him, and
from that principle serve and obey him. His goodness is his glory as
much as his greatness.
(1.) He is good to all. Whomsoever he finds miserable, to them he will
be found merciful: He executes the judgment of the fatherless and
It is his honour to help the helpless, and to succour those that most
need relief and that men are apt to do injury to, or at least to put a
light upon. See
(2.) But truly God is good to Israel in a special obligations to
him: "He is they praise, and he is thy God,
Therefore love him and serve him, because of the relation
wherein he stands to thee. He is thy God, a God in covenant with thee,
and as such he is thy praise," that is
[1.] "He puts honour upon thee; he is the God in whom, all the day
long, thou mayest boast that thou knowest him, and art known of him. If
he is thy God, he is thy glory."
[2.] "He expects honour from thee. He is thy praise," that is
"he is the God whom thou art bound to praise; if he has not praise from
thee, whence may he expect it?" He inhabits the praises of
Israel. Consider, First, The gracious choice he made of
"He had a delight in thy fathers, and therefore chose their seed." Not
that there was any thing in them to merit his favour, or to recommend
them to it, but so it seemed good in his eyes. He would be kind to
them, though he had no need of them. Secondly, The great things
he had done for Israel,
He reminds them not only of what they had heard with their ears, and
which their fathers had told them of, but of what they had seen with
their eyes, and which they must tell their children of, particularly
that within a few generations seventy souls (for they were no more when
Jacob went down into Egypt) increased to a great nation, as the
stars of heaven for multitude. And the more they were in number the
more praise and service God expected from them; yet it proved, as in
the old world, that when they began to multiply they corrupted