The song of Moses. (1,2) The character of God, The character
of Israel. (3-6) The great things God had done for Israel.
(7-14) The wickedness of Israel. (19-25) The judgments which
would come upon them for their sins. (15-18) Deserved vengeance
withheld. (26-38) God's deliverance for his people. (39-43) The
exhortation with which the song was delivered. (44-47) Moses to
go up mount Nebo to die. (48-52)
Moses begins with a solemn appeal to heaven and earth,
concerning the truth and importance of what he was about to say.
His doctrine is the gospel, the speech of God, the doctrine of
Christ; the doctrine of grace and mercy through him, and of life
and salvation by him.
"He is a Rock." This is the first time God is called so in
Scripture. The expression denotes that the Divine power,
faithfulness, and love, as revealed in Christ and the gospel,
form a foundation which cannot be changed or moved, on which we
may build our hopes of happiness. And under his protection we
may find refuge from all our enemies, and in all our troubles;
as the rocks in those countries sheltered from the burning rays
of the sun, and from tempests, or were fortresses from the
enemy. "His work is perfect:" that of redemption and salvation,
in which there is a display of all the Divine perfection,
complete in all its parts. All God's dealings with his creatures
are regulated by wisdom which cannot err, and perfect justice.
He is indeed just and right; he takes care that none shall lose
by him. A high charge is exhibited against Israel. Even God's
children have their spots, while in this imperfect state; for if
we say we have no sin, no spot, we deceive ourselves. But the
sin of Israel was not habitual, notorious, unrepented sin; which
is a certain mark of the children of Satan. They were fools to
forsake their mercies for lying vanities. All wilful sinners,
especially sinners in Israel, are unwise and ungrateful.
Moses gives particular instances of God's kindness and
concern for them. The eagle's care for her young is a beautiful
emblem of Christ's love, who came between Divine justice and our
guilty souls, and bare our sins in his own body on the tree. And
by the preached gospel, and the influences of the Holy Spirit,
He stirs up and prevails upon sinners to leave Satan's bondage.
their spiritual enemies, sin, Satan, and the world, in and
through Christ. Also of their safety and triumph in him; of
their happy frames of soul, when they are above the world, and
the things of it. This will be the blessed case of spiritual
Israel in every sense in the latter day.
Here are two instances of the wickedness of Israel, each
was apostacy from God. These people were called Jeshurun, "an
upright people," so some; "a seeing people," so others: but they
soon lost the reputation both of their knowledge and of their
righteousness. They indulged their appetites, as if they had
nothing to do but to make provision for the flesh to fulfil the
lusts of it. Those who make a god of themselves, and a god of
their bellies, in pride and wantonness, and cannot bear to be
told of it, thereby forsake God, and show they esteem him
lightly. There is but one way of a sinner's acceptance and
sanctification, however different modes of irreligion, or false
religion, may show that favourable regard for other ways, which
is often miscalled candid. How mad are idolaters, who forsake
the Rock of salvation, to run themselves upon the rock of
The revolt of Israel was described in the foregoing
verses, and here follow the resolves of Divine justice as to
them. We deceive ourselves, if we think that God will be mocked
by a faithless people. Sin makes us hateful in the sight of the
holy God. See what mischief sin does, and reckon those to be
fools that mock at it.
The idolatry and rebellions of Israel deserved, and the
justice of God seemed to demand, that they should be rooted out.
But He spared Israel, and continues them still to be living
witnesses of the truth of the Bible, and to silence unbelievers.
They are preserved for wise and holy purposes and the prophecies
give us some idea what those purposes are. The Lord will never
disgrace the throne of his glory. It is great wisdom, and will
help much to the return of sinners to God, seriously to consider
their latter end, or the future state. It is here meant
particularly of what God foretold by Moses, about this people in
the latter days; but it may be applied generally. Oh that men
would consider the happiness they will lose, and the misery they
will certainly plunge into, if they go on in their trespasses!
What will be in the end thereof?
. For the Lord will
in due time bring down the enemies of the church, in displeasure
against their wickedness. When sinners deem themselves most
secure, they suddenly fall into destruction. And God's time to
appear for the deliverance of his people, is when things are at
the worst with them. But those who trust to any rock but God,
will find it fail them when they most need it. The rejection of
the Messiah by the Jewish nation, is the continuance of their
ancient idolatry, apostacy, and rebellion. They shall be brought
to humble themselves before the Lord, to repent of their sins,
and to trust in their long-rejected Mediator for salvation. Then
he will deliver them, and make their prosperity great.
This conclusion of the song speaks, 1. Glory to God. No
escape can be made from his power. 2. It speaks terror to his
enemies. Terror indeed to those who hate him. The wrath of God
is here revealed from heaven against them. 3. It speaks comfort
to his own people. The song concludes with words of joy.
Whatever judgments are brought upon sinners, it shall go well
with the people of God.
Here is the solemn delivery of this song to Israel, with
a charge to mind all the good words Moses had said unto them. It
is not a trifle, but a matter of life and death: mind it, and
you are made for ever; neglect it, and you are for ever undone.
Oh that men were fully persuaded that religion is their life,
even the life of their souls!
Now Moses had done his work, why should he desire to live
a day longer? God reminds him of the sin of which he had been
guilty, for which he was kept from entering Canaan. It is good
for the best of men to die repenting the infirmities of which
they are conscious. But those may die with comfort and ease,
whenever God calls for them, notwithstanding the sins they
remember against themselves, who have a believing prospect, and
a well-grounded hope of eternal life beyond death.