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Bible Commentaries

Philpot's Commentary on select texts of the Bible

Deuteronomy 33

Verse 27

De 33:27

"Underneath are the everlasting arms." De 33:27

How Moses brought before the people the eternity of God! He will have nothing to do with time. What is time? A fragment, merely like the foam of the sea compared with the mighty ocean. The ocean is eternity; time is merely the foam upon the wave. "Underneath are the everlasting arms." And depend upon it, if the everlasting arms are underneath the saints of God, for it is of and to those who the words are spoken, they are there for some purpose. God puts affliction upon affliction to bring the soul down, that it may fall into and upon the everlasting arms, and find how firm and strong they are. And have you not often found it so? Do not lie against your right. How many trials in providence you have been brought through. How conspicuously the Lord has appeared in this and that instance, so that your unbelief and infidelity were, for the time at least, thoroughly silenced, and faith saw the hand of God so clearly that you felt as if you could never doubt again. Have you not had many sweet supports on your bed of languishing, many precious seasons when you could bless God for laying upon you his afflicting hand? And have you not found that strength was always given to you according to your day, that with every trial power was given you to bear it, and that out of your deepest afflictions came your greatest blessings? Why are you not in hell? Do you not deserve to be there? Why still upon praying ground, with a good hope through grace, and your soul waiting for the Lord to appear, more than those that watch for the morning? If these arms have once supported you, will they not support you again? Would they be everlasting if they could part asunder and let you fall through? Rest upon them and you will find how strong they are.

"The eternal God is your refuge." De 33:27

Who is this eternal God? He is the great and glorious Jehovah, eternal in his Trinity of Persons and in the Unity of his Essence. And what a depth of blessedness there is in this God being an eternal God; and that in and of this eternity, each Person of the Godhead has an equal share. Look at the LOVE of the eternal God. How eternal was that—not a thing of time, not fixed upon us when first brought into being, not issuing out of his bosom first when we were quickened into divine life; but a love from all eternity, as being the love of an eternal God. "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you."

And how eternal are the THOUGHTS of God; those thoughts which were of good, not of evil. They were eternal thoughts of peace to the Church; eternal thoughts of mercy to his beloved family; eternal thoughts of manifesting his grace in the Person and work of his dear Son; eternal flowings forth of goodness and love to those whom he had chosen in Christ, that they might be one with him, members of that glorious body of which his dear Son should be the Head. And eternal PURPOSES also that nothing could defeat, that all the waves of time could not break through; eternal WISDOM also to devise, and eternal POWER to accomplish.

Oh, this eternal God! We look back into eternity; we see what a God he was from all eternity; and then we look forward to what he will be to all eternity. And we see him unchanging and unchangeable, resting in his love without variableness or the shadow of a turn, whether in eternity past, or in eternity to come. We think of the spirits of just men made perfect; we follow in faith and hope the souls of our dear departed friends; we view them drinking the pleasures which are at his right hand forever; and so they will be there to all eternity, ever basking in the smiles of an eternal God, ever living in his favor, ever conformed to the glorious image of his eternal Son, and ever drinking fresh draughts of love and bliss in his eternal presence.

Oh, this eternal Father in the depths of his fatherly love in the gift of his dear Son! Oh, the love, condescension, and tenderness of this eternal Son in the depths of his mercy and grace in suffering, bleeding, and dying for poor, guilty sinners! Oh, the wisdom, the power, the grace, and the blessedness of this eternal Spirit, in taking of the things of Christ, unfolding the Person of Jesus, bringing him near, revealing him to the soul, sprinkling the conscience with his blood, and making him known and precious! What a depth of gratitude is everlastingly due from the redeemed Church of God, to all the three sacred Persons of the glorious and undivided Trinity, and that both in his Trinity of Persons and his Unity of Essence the eternal God should be their refuge!

"Underneath are the everlasting arms." De 33:27

The "everlasting arms" of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the divine Jehovah, are "underneath" every one of his people, and, being underneath them, they can neither fall through them nor out of them; but they are borne, and supported, and carried along by them until they are brought to the eternal enjoyment of a Three-One God. Now, if these "everlasting arms" were not underneath a man, so deceitful is his heart, so desperately wicked is his corrupt nature, such dreadful stratagems does Satan lay for his feet, and such numerous perils encompass every step, that he must infallibly perish.

But what we need to feel is, that these arms are underneath us. What good will the doctrine do us? The doctrine of the "everlasting arms" being underneath us will not satisfy our souls, if we feel that we are sinking fathoms. If we keep sinking, sinking, sinking, and are afraid, at times, that we shall sink at last into hell, the bare doctrine that the "everlasting arms" are underneath God’s people will not satisfy us; but we need to feel them under us, so that we can rest upon them, and enjoy a blessed support in them and coming out of them.

How secure the babe lies in its mother’s arms as long as it can feel the arms touching and supporting its body; but let the mother withdraw the arm, the babe is in fear; it cries out in alarm; but so long as it feels the pressure of the mother’s arms, it sleeps on calm and secure. So with living souls; if they cannot find the "everlasting arms" underneath them, they cannot rest in the mere doctrine of God’s upholding the Church; but when they can feel a support given; when in trouble, in affliction, in sorrow, in temptation, there is a sensible leaning upon the everlasting arms, and a sensible support communicated by them, then they can rest calmly and contentedly upon them.

"The eternal God is your refuge." De 33:27

There is, to my mind, much sweetness in the contrast between the eternal God being the refuge of his people, and the lying refuges that most hide their heads in. God’s people need an eternal refuge. They have a never-dying soul; and unless they have a never-dying refuge, it is not sufficient for a never-dying soul. Works! these are for time; the never-dying soul needs something to stand when works and wonders cease. Doctrines, opinions, sentiments, ordinances, the good opinion of men, the applause and flattery of the creature—these are of the earth, earthy; they fail when a man gives up the spirit.

But a child of God needs a refuge, not merely that his soul may anchor in it in time, but that when time is ended, when the angel proclaims, "There shall be time no longer," and his liberated soul escapes its prison-house, and is wafted into the presence of the eternal God, it may find in Him at that solemn moment a refuge. No, all through eternity, in the rolling circle of its never-ending ages, the soul will still need a refuge. For could it even in eternity exist for a moment out of Christ—in a word, were the refuge of the elect anything but eternal, the moment the limited time of their shelter closed, the frowns of God would hurl them into perdition; so that nothing but an eternal God can ever be a refuge for a never-dying soul.

It does not say, "His grace is your refuge." No; because grace will end in glory. Nor does it say, "His mercy is your refuge," for his mercy will end in blessing and praise. Nor does it say, "His attributes or his perfections are a refuge." It drops the gifts, and leads the soul up to the Giver, as though God’s own gifts and mercies were not sufficient, but that the immortal soul must have the immortal God, and the never-dying spirit is only safe in the bosom of an eternal Jehovah.

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Bibliographical Information
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 33". Philpot's Commentary on select texts of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jcp/deuteronomy-33.html.