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Bible Commentaries

Parker's The People's Bible

Deuteronomy 25

Verse 3

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"... then thy brother should seem vile unto thee." Deu 25:3

This was the law of punishment as laid down by Moses. The stripes were to be not more than forty, because if there were more that is to say, if they were given at random the man who received them would become "vile" in the sight of the man who inflicted them. A measure of punishment is rendered necessary by the quality of the man who is punished. Man is not to be regarded as a beast of burden. Even when he has done wrong he is a man still, and a man capable of restoration and re-adoption into good citizenship. Thus mercy is wonderfully mingled with law even in the Old Testament. When God corrected his people he said he would "correct them in measure." Where the punishment ends hope is to begin. This is really the meaning of all controversial chastisements, losses, and difficulties of every kind. They do not come with overwhelming and destructive force; they come "in measure," and with a purpose of mercy; and as to how we receive such visitations, that will depend upon the spirit in which we view them; if we view them as chastisements only, or the expressions of an arbitrary will, we shall quail under them and be driven into despair; but if we look aside from the chastisement into the purpose it was meant to elucidate or enforce, then we shall kiss the hand which lifts the rod. When the sufferings of Bildad seemed to be intolerable, the exclamation was: "Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?" The Apostles, too, when apparently left without regard either from God or man, betook themselves to the same line of reasoning: "We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." Parents should take notice of this law of measured correction. So should all magistrates and judges. God himself regulates his discipline by it, and expects that every man on whom the rod falls will bethink himself and turn and repent. Man should never be so treated as to cause his manhood to be ignored. Contempt should never be either the reason or the result of any course of punishment. When penalty ceases to be connected with hope, it ceases to be righteous. Behold the goodness and the sovereignty of the Lord. Blessed are they who have accepted the chastisement and have turned it into a renewal of hope and an assurance of ultimate purification.

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 25". Parker's The People's Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jpb/deuteronomy-25.html. 1885-95.