Moses had charged parents in teaching their children to whet the word
of God upon them
by frequent repetition of the same things over and over again; and here
he himself takes the same method of instructing the Israelites as his
children, frequently inculcating the same precepts and cautions, with
the same motives or arguments to enforce them, that what they heard so
often might abide with them. In this chapter Moses gives them,
I. General exhortations to obedience,
II. A review of the great things God had done for them in the
wilderness, as a good argument for obedience,
III. A prospect of the good land into which God would now bring them,
IV. A necessary caution against the temptations of a prosperous
V. A fair warning of the fatal consequences of apostasy from God,
|A Charge to Israel; Israel's Retrospect.
||B. C. 1451.|
1 All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye
observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and
possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.
2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God
led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee,
and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether
thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed
thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers
know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by
bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth
of the LORD doth man live.
4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot
swell, these forty years.
5 Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man
chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.
6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy
God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
7 For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land
of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of
valleys and hills;
8 A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and
pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
9 A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou
shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron,
and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
The charge here given them is the same as before, to keep and do all
God's commandments. Their obedience must be,
1. Careful: Observe to do.
2. Universal: To do all the commandments,
3. From a good principle, with a regard to God as the Lord, and their
God, and particularly with a holy fear of him
from a reverence of his majesty, a submission to his authority, and a
dread of his wrath. To engage them to this obedience, besides the
great advantages of it, which he sets before them (that they should
live and multiply, and all should be well with them,
he directs them,
I. To look back upon the wilderness through which God had now brought
them: Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led
thee these forty years in the wilderness,
Now that they had come of age, and were entering upon their
inheritance, they must be reminded of the discipline they had been
under during their minority and the method God had taken to train them
up for himself. The wilderness was the school in which they had been
for forty years boarded and taught, under tutors and governors; and
this was a time to bring it all to remembrance. The occurrences of
these last forty years were very memorable and well worthy to be
remembered, very useful and profitable to be remembered, as yielding a
complication of arguments for obedience; and they were recorded on
purpose that they might be remembered. As the feast of the passover was
a memorial of their deliverance out of Egypt, so was the feast of
tabernacles of their passage through the wilderness. Note, It is very
good for us to remember all the ways both of God's providence and
grace, by which he has led us hitherto through this wilderness, that we
may be prevailed with cheerfully to serve him and trust in him. Here
let us set up our Ebenezer.
1. They must remember the straits they were sometimes brought into,
(1.) For the mortifying of their pride; it was to humble them,
that they might not be exalted above measure with the abundance of
miracles that were wrought in their favor, and that they might not be
secure, and confident of being in Canaan immediately.
(2.) For the manifesting of their perverseness: to prove them,
that they and others might know (for God himself perfectly knew it
before) all that was in their heart, and might see that God chose them
not for any thing in them that might recommend them to his favour, for
their whole carriage was untoward and provoking. Many commandments God
gave them which there would have been no occasion for if they had not
been led through the wilderness, as those relating to the manna
and God thereby tried them, as our first parents were tried by the
trees of the garden, whether they would keep God's commandments or not.
Or God thereby proved them whether they would trust his promises, the
word which he commanded to a thousand generations, and, in dependence
on his promises, obey his precepts.
2. They must remember the supplies which were always granted them.
(1.) God himself took particular care of their food, raiment, and
health; and what would they have more?
[1.] They had manna for food
God suffered them to hunger, and the fed them with manna,
that the extremity of their want might make the supply the more
acceptable, and God's goodness to them therein the more remarkable. God
often brings his people low, that he may have the honour of helping
them. And thus the manna of heavenly comforts is given to those that
hunger and thirst after righteousness,
To the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. It is said of
the manna that it was a sort of food which neither they nor their
fathers knew. And again,
If they knew there was such a thing that fell sometimes with the dew in
those countries, as some think they did, yet it was never known to fall
in such vast quantities, so constantly, and at all seasons of the year,
so long, and only about a certain place. These things were altogether
miraculous, and without precedent; the Lord created a new thing
for their supply. And hereby he taught them the man liveth not by
bread alone. Though God has appointed bread for the strengthening
of man's heart, and that is ordinarily made the staff of life, yet God
can, when he pleases, command support and nourishment without it, and
make something else, very unlikely, to answer the intention as well. We
might live upon air if it were sanctified for that use by the word
of God; for the means God ordinarily uses he is not tied to, but
can perform his kind purposes to his people without them. Our Saviour
quotes this scripture in answer to that temptation of Satan, Command
that these stones be made bread. "What need of that?" says Christ;
"my heavenly Father can keep me alive without bread,"
Let none of God's children distrust their Father, nor take any sinful
indirect course for the supply of their own necessities; some way or
other, God will provide for them in the way of duty and honest
diligence, and verily they shall be fed. It may be applied
spiritually; the word of God, as it is the revelation of God's
will and grace duly received and entertained by faith, is the food of
the soul, the life which is supported by that is the life of the man,
and not only that life which is supported by bread. The manna typified
Christ, the bread of life. He is the Word of God; by him
we live. The Lord evermore give us that bread which endures to eternal
life, and let us not be put off with the meat that perisheth!
[2.] The same clothes served them from Egypt to Canaan, at least the
generality of them. Though they had no change of raiment, yet it was
always new, and waxed not old upon them,
This was a standing miracle, and the greater if, as the Jews say, they
grew with them, so as to be always fit for them. But it is plain that
they brought out of Egypt bundles of clothes on their shoulders
which they might barter with each other as there was occasion; and
these, with what they wore, sufficed till they came into a country
where they could furnish themselves with new clothes.
(2.) By the method God took of providing food and raiment for them
[1.] He humbled them. It was a mortification to them to be tied for
forty years together to the same meat, without any varieties, and to
the same clothes, in the same fashion. Thus he taught them that the
good things he designed for them were figures of better things, and
that the happiness of man consists not in being clothed in purple or
fine linen, and in faring sumptuously every day, but in
being taken into covenant and communion with God, and in learning
his righteous judgements. God's law, which was given to Israel in
the wilderness, must be to them instead of food and raiment.
[2.] He proved them, whether they could trust him to provide for them
when means and second causes failed. Thus he taught them to live in a
dependence upon Providence, and not to perplex themselves with care
what they should eat and drink, and wherewithal they should
be clothed. Christ would have his disciples learn the same lesson
and took a like method to teach it to them, when he sent them out
without purse or scrip, and yet took care that they lacked
[3.] God took care of their health and ease. Though they travelled on
foot in a dry country, the way rough and untrodden, yet their feet
swelled not. God preserved them from taking hurt by the
inconveniences of their journey; and mercies of this kind we ought to
acknowledge. Note, Those that follow God's conduct are not only safe
but easy. Our feet swell not while we keep in the way of duty; it is
the way of transgression that is hard,
God had promised to keep the feet of his saints,
1 Samuel 2:9.
3. They must also remember the rebukes they had been under,
During these years of their education they had been kept under a strict
discipline, and not without need. As a man chasteneth his son,
for his good, and because he loves him, so the Lord thy God
chasteneth thee. God is a loving tender Father to all his children,
yet when there is occasion they shall feel the smart of the rod. Israel
did so: they were chastened that they might not be condemned, chastened
with the rod of men. Not as a man wounds and slays his enemies whose
destruction he aims at, but as a man chastens his son whose happiness
and welfare he designs: so did their God chasten them; he chastened and
This they must consider in their heart, that is, they must own
it from their own experience that God had corrected them with a
fatherly love, for which they must return to him a filial reverence and
compliance. Because God has chastened thee as a father,
thou shalt keep his commandments. This use we should make of all
our afflictions; by them let us be engaged and quickened to our duty.
Thus they are directed to look back upon the wilderness.
II. He directs them to look forward to Canaan, into which God was now
bringing them. Look which way we will, both our reviews and our
prospects will furnish us with arguments for obedience. Observe,
1. The land which they were now going to take possession of is here
described to be a very good land, having every thing in it that was
(1.) It was well-watered, like Eden, the garden of the Lord. It
was a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, which
contributed to the fruitfulness of the soil. Perhaps there was a
greater plenty of water there now than in Abraham's time, the
Canaanites having found and digged wells; so that Israel reaped the
fruit of their industry as well as of God's bounty.
(2.) The ground produced great plenty of all good things, not only for
the necessary support, but for the convenience and comfort of human
life. In their fathers' land they had bread enough; it was corn land, a
land of wheat and barley, where, with the common care and labour of the
husbandman, they might eat bread without scarceness. It was a fruitful
land, that was never turned into barrenness but for the iniquity of
those that dwelt therein. They had not only water enough to quench
their thirst, but vines, the fruit whereof was ordained to make glad
the heart. And, if they were desirous of dainties, they needed not to
send to far countries for them, when their own was so well stocked with
fig-trees, and pomegranates, olives of the best kind, and honey, or
date-trees, as some think it should be read.
(3.) Even the bowels of its earth were very rich, though it should seem
that silver and gold they had none; of these the princes of
Sheba should bring presents
yet they had plenty of those more serviceable metals, iron and brass.
Iron-stone and mines of brass were found in their hills. See
2. These things are mentioned,
(1.) To show the great difference between that wilderness through which
God had led them and the good land into which he was bringing them.
Note, Those that bear the inconveniences of an afflicted state with
patience and submission, are humbled by them and prove well under them,
are best prepared for better circumstances.
(2.) To show what obligations they lay under to keep God's
commandments, both in gratitude for his favours to them and from a
regard to their own interest, that the favours might be continued. The
only way to keep possession of this good land would be to keep in the
way of their duty.
(3.) To show what a figure it was of good things to come. Whatever
others saw, it is probable that Moses in it saw a type of the better
country: The gospel church is the New-Testament Canaan, watered with
the Spirit in his gifts and graces, planted with the trees of
righteousness, bearing the fruits of righteousness. Heaven is the good
land, in which there is nothing wanting, and where there is a fulness
|Cautions Relating to Worldly Prosperity.
||B. C. 1451.|
10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the
LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.
11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping
his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I
command thee this day:
12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built
goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver
and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy
God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the
house of bondage;
15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness,
wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where
there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the
rock of flint;
16 Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers
knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove
thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of
mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he
that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his
covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God,
and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I
testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.
20 As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face,
so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the
voice of the LORD your God.
Moses, having mentioned the great plenty they would find in the land of
Canaan, finds it necessary to caution them against the abuse of that
plenty, which was a sin they would be the more prone to new that they
came into the vineyard of the Lord, immediately out of a barren
I. He directs them to the duty of a prosperous condition,
They are allowed to eat even to fulness, not to surfeiting no excess;
but let them always remember their benefactor, the founder of their
feast, and never fail to give thanks after meat: Then thou shalt
bless the Lord thy God.
1. They must take heed of eating or drinking so much as to indispose
themselves for this duty of blessing God, rather aiming to serve God
therein with so much the more cheerfulness and enlargement.
2. They must not have any fellowship with those that, when they had
eaten and were full, blessed false gods, as the Israelites themselves
had done in their worship of the golden calf,
3. Whatever they had the comfort of God must have the glory of. As our
Saviour has taught us to bless before we eat
so we are here taught to bless after meat. That is our Hosannah--God
bless; this is our Hallelujah--Blessed be God. In every thing we
must give thanks. From this law the religious Jews took up a
laudable usage of blessing God, not only at their solemn meals, but
upon other occasions; if they drank a cup of wine they lifted up their
hands and said, Blessed be he that created the fruit of the vine to
make glad the heart. If they did but smell at a flower, they said,
Blessed be he that made this flower sweet.
4. When they gave thanks for the fruits of the land they must give
thanks for the fruits of the land itself, which was given them by
promise From all our comfortable enjoyments we must take occasion to
thank God for our comfortable settlements; and I know not but we of
this nation have as much reason as they had to give thanks for a good
II. He arms them against the temptations of a prosperous condition, and
charges them to stand upon their guard against them: "When thou art
settled in goodly houses of thy own building,"
(for though God gave them houses which they builded not,
these would not serve them, they must have larger and finer),--"and
when thou hast grown rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold
all thou hast is multiplied,"
1. "Then take heed of pride. Beware lest then thy heart be lifted
When the estate rises, the mind is apt to rise with it, in
self-conceit, self-complacency, and self-confidence. Let us therefore
strive to keep the spirit low in a high condition; humility is both the
ease and the ornament of prosperity. Take heed of saying, so much as in
thy heart, that proud word, My power, even the might of my hand,
hath gotten me this wealth,
Note, We must never take the praise of our prosperity to ourselves, nor
attribute it to our ingenuity or industry; for bread is not always
to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding,
It is spiritual idolatry thus to sacrifice to our own net,
2. "Then take heed of forgetting God." This follows upon the lifting
up on the heart; for it is through the pride of the
countenance that the wicked seek not after God,
Those that admire themselves despise God.
(1.) "Forget not thy duty to God."
We forget God if we keep not his commandments; we forget his authority
over us, and our obligations to him and expectations from him, if we
are not obedient to his laws. When men grow rich they are tempted to
think religion a needless thing. They are happy without it, think it a
thing below them and too hard upon them. Their dignity forbids them to
stoop, and their liberty forbids them to serve. But we are basely
ungrateful if the better God is to us the worse we are to him.
(2.) "Forget not God's former dealings with thee. Thy deliverance out
The provision he made for thee in the wilderness, that great and
terrible wilderness." They must never forget the impressions which the
horror of that wilderness made upon them; see
where it is called the very shadow of death. There God preserved
them from being destroyed by the fiery serpents and scorpions, though
sometimes he made use of them for their correction: there he kept them
from perishing for want of water, following them with water out of a
rock of flint
out of which (says bishop Patrick) one would rather have expected fire
than water. There he fed them with manna, of which before
taking care to keep them alive, that he might do them good at their
Note, God reserves the best till the last for his Israel. However he
may seem to deal hardly with them by the way, he will not fail to do
them good at their latter end.
(3.) "Forget not God's hand in thy present prosperity,
Remember it is he that giveth thee wealth; for he giveth thee power
to get wealth." See here how God's giving and our getting are
reconciled, and apply it to spiritual wealth. It is our duty to get
wisdom, and above all our gettings to get understanding; and yet it is
God's grace that gives wisdom, and when we have got it we must not say,
It was the might of our hand that got it, but must own it was God that
gave us power to get it, and therefore to him we must give the praise
and consecrate the use of it. The blessing of the Lord on the
hand of the diligent makes rich both for this world and for the
other. He giveth thee power to get wealth, not so much to
gratify thee, and make thee easy, as that he may establish his
covenant. All God's gifts are in pursuance of his promises.
III. He repeats the fair warning he had often given them of the fatal
consequences of their apostasy from God,
1. How he describes the sin; it is forgetting God, and then worshipping
other gods. What wickedness will not those fall into that keep thoughts
of God out of their minds? And, when once the affections are displaced
from God, they will soon be misplaced upon lying vanities.
2. How he denounces wrath and ruin against them for it: "If you do so,
you shall surely perish, and the power and might of your hands,
which you are so proud of, cannot help you. Nay, you shall perish as
the nations that are driven out before you. God will make no more
account of you, notwithstanding his covenant with you and your relation
to him, than he does of them, if you will not be obedient and faithful
to him." Those that follow others in sin will certainly follow them to
destruction. If we do as sinners do, we must expect to fare as sinners