- An exhortation to obedience, verse 1-13.
- A warning against idolatry, verse 14-28.
- A promise upon repentance, verse 29-40.
- Cities of refuge appointed, verse 41-43.
- The place where Moses repeated the law, verse 44-49.
The statutes - The laws which concern the worship and service of God. The judgments - The laws concerning your duties to men. So these two comprehend both tables, and the whole law of God.
In the sight of the nations - For though the generality of Heathens in the latter ages, did through inveterate prejudices condemn the laws of the Hebrews, yet it is certain, the wisest Heathens did highly approve of them, so that they made use of divers of them, and translated them into their own laws and constitutions; and Moses, the giver of these laws, hath been mentioned with great honour for his wisdom and learning by many of them. And particularly the old Heathen oracle expressly said, that the Chaldeans or Hebrews, who worshipped the uncreated God, were the only wise men.
So nigh - By glorious miracles, by the pledges of his special presence, by the operations of his grace, and particularly by his readiness to hear our prayers, and to give us those succours which we call upon him for.
So righteous - Whereby he implies that the true greatness of a nation doth not consist in pomp or power, or largeness of empire, as commonly men think, but in the righteousness of its laws.
Thou stoodest - Some of them stood there in their own persons, though then they were but young, the rest in the loins of their parents.
The midst of heaven - Flaming up into the air, which is often called heaven.
No similitude - No resemblance or representation of God, whereby either his essence, or properties, or actions were represented, such as were usual among the Heathens.
Statutes and judgments - The ceremonial and judicial laws which are here distinguished from the moral, or the ten commandments.
In Horeb - God, who in other places and times did appear in a similitude in the fashion of a man, now in this most solemn appearance, when he comes to give eternal laws for the direction of the Israelites in the worship of God, and in their duty to men, purposely avoids all such representations, to shew that he abhors all worship of images, or of himself by images of what kind soever, because he is the invisible God, and cannot be represented by any visible image.
Lest ye corrupt yourselves - Your ways, by worshipping God in a corrupt manner.
Driven - Strongly inclined. Which the Lord hath divided unto all nations - Which are not Gods, but creatures, made not for the worship, but for the use of men; yea, of the meanest and most barbarous people under heaven, and therefore cannot without great absurdity be worshipped, especially by you who are so much advanced above other nations in wisdom and knowledge, and in this, that you are my peculiar people.
A consuming fire - A just and terrible God, who, notwithstanding his special relation to thee, will severely punish thee, if thou provoke him. A jealous God - Who being espoused to thee, will be highly incensed against thee, (if thou follow after other lovers, or commit whoredom with idols) and will bear no rival or partner.
Ye shall serve Gods - You shall be compelled by men, and given up by me to idolatry. So that very thing which was your choice, shall be your punishment: it being just and usual for God to punish one sin by giving men up to another.
If from thence thou seek the Lord - Whatever place we are in, we may from thence seek him. There is no part of the earth which has a gulf fixt between it and heaven.
In the latter days - In succeeding ages.
The one side of heaven - That is, of the earth under heaven. Ask all the inhabitants of the world.
And live - And was not overwhelmed and consumed by such a glorious appearance.
By temptations - Temptations is the general title, which is explained by the following particulars, signs, and wonders, &c. which are called temptations, because they were trials both to the Egyptians and Israelites, whether they would be induced to believe and obey God or no. By terrors - Raised in the minds of the Egyptians, or, by terrible things done among them.
In his sight - Keeping his eye fixed upon him, as the father doth on his beloved child.
This is the law - More punctually expressed in the following chapter, to which these words are a preface.