In this chapter we have the second edition of the ten commandments.
I. The general intent of them; they were in the nature of a covenant
between God and Israel,
II. The particular precepts are repeated
with the double delivery of them, both by word and writing,
III. The settling of the correspondence thenceforward between God and
Israel, by the mediation and ministry of Moses.
1. It was Israel's humble petition that it might be so,
2. It was God's gracious grant that it should be so,
And hence he infers the obligation they were under to obedience,
|The Decalogue Repeated.
||B. C. 1451.|
1 And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O
Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears
this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.
2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
3 The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with
us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.
4 The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the
midst of the fire,
5 (I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to show you
the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire,
and went not up into the mount;) saying,
1. Moses summons the assembly. He called all Israel; not only
the elders, but, it is likely, as many of the people as could come
The greatest of them were not above God's command, nor the meanest of
them below his cognizance; but they were all bound to do.
2. He demands attention: "Hear, O Israel; hear and heed, hear
and remember, hear, that you may learn, and keep, and do; else your
hearing is to no purpose." When we hear the word of God we must set
ourselves to learn it, that we may have it ready to us upon all
occasions, and what we have learned we must put in practice, for that
is the end of hearing and learning; not to fill our heads with notions,
or our mouths with talk, but to rectify and direct our affections and
3. He refers them to the covenant made with them in Horeb, as that
which they must govern themselves by. See the wonderful condescension
of divine grace in turning the command into a covenant, that we might
be the more strongly bound to obedience by our own consent and the more
encouraged in it by the divine promise, both which are supposed in the
covenant. The promises and threatenings annexed to some of the
precepts, as to the second, third, and fifth, make them amount to a
(1.) The parties to this covenant. God made it, not with our
fathers, not with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; to them God gave the
covenant of circumcision
but not that of the ten commandments. The light of divine revelation
shone gradually, and the children were made to know more of God's mind
than their fathers had done. "The covenant was made with us, or our
immediate parents that represented us, before Mount Sinai, and
transacted for us."
(2.) The publication of this covenant. God himself did, as it were,
read the articles to them
He talked with you face to face; word to word, so the Chaldee.
Not in dark visions, as of old he spoke to the fathers
but openly and clearly, and so that all the thousands of Israel might
hear and understand. He spoke to them, and then received the answer
they returned to him: thus was it transacted face to face.
(3.) The mediator of the covenant: Moses stood between God and
them, at the foot of the mount
and carried messages between them both for the settling of the
and for the changing of the ratifications,
Herein Moses was a type of Christ, who stands between God and man,
to show us the word of the Lord, a blessed days-man, that has laid
his hand upon us both, so that we may both hear from God and speak to
him without trembling.
6 I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land
of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me.
8 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any
likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is
in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the
9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them:
for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity
of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth
generation of them that hate me,
10 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and
keep my commandments.
11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain:
for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name
12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God
hath commanded thee.
13 Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God:
in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy
daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox,
nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is
within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may
rest as well as thou.
15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt,
and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a
mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy
God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath
commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may
go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth
17 Thou shalt not kill.
18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
19 Neither shalt thou steal.
20 Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.
21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither
shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his
manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any
thing that is thy neighbour's.
22 These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the
mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the
thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he
wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
Here is the repetition of the ten commandments, in which observe,
1. Though they had been spoken before, and written, yet they are again
rehearsed; for precept must be upon precept, and line upon line, and
all little enough to keep the word of God in our minds and to preserve
and renew the impressions of it. We have need to have the same things
often inculcated upon us. See
2. There is some variation here from that record
as there is between the Lord's prayer as it is in
and as it is
In both it is more necessary that we tie ourselves to the things than
to the words unalterably.
3. The most considerable variation is in the fourth commandment. In
the reason annexed is taken from the creation of the world; here it is
taken from their deliverance out of Egypt, because that was typical of
our redemption by Jesus Christ, in remembrance of which the Christian
sabbath was to be observed: Remember that thou wast a servant, and
God brought thee out,
(1.) "It is fit that thy servants should be favoured by the
sabbath-rest; for thou knowest the heart of a servant, and how welcome
one day's ease will be after six days' labour."
(2.) "It is fit that thy God should be honoured by the sabbath-work,
and the religious services of the day, in consideration of the great
things he has done for thee." In the resurrection of Christ we were
brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God, with a
mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore, by the
gospel-edition of the law, we are directed to observe the first day of
the week, in remembrance of that glorious work of power and grace.
4. It is added in the fifth commandment, That it may go well with
thee, which addition the apostle quotes, and puts first
that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long.
If there be instances of some that have been very dutiful to their
parents, and yet have not lived long upon earth, we may reconcile it to
the promise by this explication of it, Whether they live long or no, it
shall go well with them, either in this world or in a better. See
5. The last five commandments are connected or coupled together, which
they are not in Exodus: Neither shalt thou commit adultery, neither
shalt thou steal, &c., which intimate that God's commands are all
of a piece: the same authority that obliges us to one obliges us to
another; and we must not be partial in the law, but have respect to all
God's commandments, for he that offends in one point is guilty of
6. That these commandments were given with a great deal of awful
(1.) They were spoken with a great voice out of the fire, and thick
darkness. That was a dispensation of terror, designed to make the
gospel of grace the more welcome, and to be a specimen of the terrors
of the judgment-day,
(2.) He added no more. What other laws he gave them were sent by
Moses, but no more were spoken in the same manner that the ten
commandments were. He added no more, therefore we must not add:
the law of the Lord is perfect.
(3.) He wrote them in two tables of stone, that they might be
preserved from corruption, and might be transmitted pure and entire to
posterity, for whose use they were intended, as well as for the present
generation. These being the heads of the covenant, the chest in which
the written tables were deposited was called the ark of the
23 And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the
midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,)
that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes,
and your elders;
24 And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath showed us his
glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the
midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with
man, and he liveth.
25 Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will
consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more,
then we shall die.
26 For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice
of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we
have, and lived?
27 Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say:
and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto
thee; and we will hear it, and do it.
28 And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake
unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the
words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have
well said all that they have spoken.
29 O that there were such a heart in them, that they would
fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be
well with them, and with their children for ever!
30 Go say to them, Get you into your tents again.
31 But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak
unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the
judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them
in the land which I give them to possess it.
32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath
commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to
33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath
commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with
you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye
I. Moses reminds them of the agreement of both the parties that were
now treating, in the mediation of Moses.
1. Here is the consternation that the people were put into by that
extreme terror with which the law was given. They owned that they could
not bear it any more: "This great fire will consume us; this
dreadful voice will be fatal to us; we shall certainly die if we hear
it any more,"
They wondered that they were not already struck
dead with it, and took it for an extraordinary instance of the divine
power and goodness, not only that they were thus spoken to, but that
they were enabled to bear it. For who ever heard the voice of the
living God, as we have, and lived? God's appearances have always
been terrible to man, ever since the fall: but Christ, having taken
away sin, invites us to come boldly to the throne of grace.
2. Their earnest request that God would henceforth speak to them by
Moses, with a promise that they would hear what he said as from God
himself, and do it,
It seems by this,
(1.) That they expected to receive further commands from God and were
willing to hear more from him.
(2.) That they thought Moses able to bear those discoveries of the
divine glory which they by reason of guilt were sensible of their
inability to stand up under. They believed him to be a favourite of
Heaven, and also one that would be faithful to them; yet at other times
they murmured at him, and but a little before this were ready to stone
See how men's convictions correct their passions.
(3.) That now they were in a good mind, under the strong convictions of
the word they heard. Many have their consciences startled by the law
that have them not purified; fair promises are extorted from them, but
no good principles fixed and rooted in them.
3. God's approbation of their request.
(1.) He commends what they said,
They spoke it to Moses, but God took notice of it; for there is not a
word in our tongue but he knows it. He acknowledges, They have well
said. Their owning the necessity of a mediator to deal between them
and God was well said. Their desire to receive further directions from
God by Moses, and their promise to observe what directions should be
given them, were well said. And what is well said shall have its praise
with God, and should have with us. What is good, as far as it goes, let
it be commended.
(2.) He wishes they were but sincere in it: O that there were such a
heart in them!
[1.] Such a heart as they should have, a heart to fear God, and keep
his commandments for ever. Note, The God of heaven is truly and
earnestly desirous of the welfare and salvation of poor sinners. He has
given abundant proof that he is so: he gives us time and space to
repent, by his mercies invites us to repentance, and waits to be
gracious; he has sent his Son to redeem us, published a general offer
of pardon and life, promised his Spirit to those that pray for him, and
has said and sworn that he has no pleasure in the ruin of sinners.
[2.] Such a heart as they now had, or one would think they had. Note,
It would be well with many if there were always such a heart in them as
there seems to be sometimes, when they are under conviction of sin, or
the rebukes of Providence, or when they come to look death in the face:
How gracious will they be when these pangs come upon them! O
that there were always such a heart in them!
(3.) He appoints Moses to be his messenger to them, to receive the law
from his mouth and to communicate it to them,
Here the matter was settled by consent of both parties that God should
hence-forward speak to us by men like ourselves, by Moses and the
prophets, by the apostles and the evangelists, and, if we believe not
these, neither should we be persuaded though God should speak to us as
he did to Israel at Mount Sinai, or send expresses from heaven or
II. Hence he infers a charge to them to observe and do all that God had
Seeing God had shown himself so tender of them, and so willing to
consider their frame and gratify them in what they desired, and withal
so ready to make the best of them,--seeing they themselves had desired
to have Moses for their teacher, who was now teaching them,--and seeing
they had promised so solemnly, and under the influence of so many good
causes and considerations, that they would hear and do, he charges them
to walk in all the ways that God had commanded them, assuring
them that it would be highly for their advantage to do so. The only way
to be happy is to be holy. Say to the righteous, It shall be well