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Deuteronomy 31:2 . I can no more go out and come in. Though Moses’s senses were in vigour, yet he felt the infirmities which admonish aged men to retire.
Deuteronomy 31:7 . Moses called to Joshua, to encourage and strengthen him. This we should also do to younger men, though Joshua was now growing old. The elders must honour the magistrate and the minister, that the people may follow their example.
Deuteronomy 31:10 . At the end of every seven years; when apprentices became free, and must for themselves hear the law and swear to it, as their fathers had done before them. Those septennial convocations were wise and salutary guardians of the Hebrew covenant. Christian ministers, at proper times, should do the same to all the young people.
Deuteronomy 31:16 . Thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after other gods. The English follows the LXX, as do most other versions. But the Pharisees, in their long-continued disputations with the Sadducees, respecting the resurrection of the dead, by varying the punctuation, gave the text a sense widely different. הנךְ שׁכב עם אבתיךְ וקם hinnecha shokab im abtecha ve-kam, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and rise again; and this people will go a whoring after the gods of strangers. If this promise were designed in any sense to comfort Moses at the close of life, it assuredly must designate a consolation higher than that of corruption in the grave. We cannot admit that Moses had less light than Joseph, who gave a command for the removal of his bones. For thus varying the punctuation from that of the Sadducees, the Pharisees had the whole weight of reason and revelation on their side.
Deuteronomy 31:19 . Write ye this song: the song in the next chapter. The history of great men and of illustrious deeds, was from the earliest periods of society celebrated in verse, or poetic composition. While the original copy of the law was deposited in the ark, Moses gave this poem to the elders, that copies might be multiplied among the people. The Greeks abounded with hymns in praise of the gods, once but men. The ancient laws were also often celebrated in verse.
Deuteronomy 31:26 . Take this book; namely, the Deuteronomy, except the last chapter, finished by authority. This, with the four former books, formed the Pentateuch of Moses, which was put in the side of the ark, that it might be easy of access.
Moses here comes forward with all the weight of great age and long experience to encourage and comfort the people. He could no longer go before them; but the Lord’s presence would be with them, to destroy the enemy, and to qualify Joshua for the high duties of a prince and leader, and for all the exigencies of great occasions. It is good when aged men and dying saints encourage young people, by recounting the grace of former times, and by adducing past victories as pledges of the future. This is the way to make them strong and of good courage.
In the charge to Joshua, accompanied with promises, we see how christian magistrates and ministers should be exhorted to acquit themselves in all the duties of their profession. So St. Paul, about to be offered up, charged Timothy; and the greatness of the occasion inspired him with the sublimest language which can possibly be uttered. 1 Timothy 6:13-16. 2 Timothy 4:1-6. In like manner our blessed Lord charged the apostles to keep his commandments, and abide in his love.
Besides the reading of the law every sabbath in the synagogue, Acts 13:15, he required the covenant, or rather the blessings and curses of the covenant, to be read and subscribed every seventh year, and he required this to be done in the most solemn manner by a full convocation of the people and their little ones, for the preservation of piety and religion. It is good, extremely good, for religious assemblies to avow their faith, and own the sovereignty of God in the most public manner.
Moses was the more solicitous to do this because he saw, that after his death they would utterly corrupt themselves. More could not be said, and more could not be done, to preserve them in the religion of their fathers. St. Paul, animated by the same spirit, was the more earnest in giving charges to the churches, for he knew that after his death, grievous wolves would enter in among them, not sparing the flock. The frequent renewal of covenant is the best barrier we can oppose to the encroachments of the world. Where this is neglected, the divine institutions fall into decay, and would be utterly lost, if God did not in every age and nation frequently raise up blessed instruments to revive his work. And when a people who once walked in the truth, afterwards become degenerate, not only the sacred writings, but the hymns, the sermons, and theology of their ancestors shall remain as monuments of the glory of former times; and permanent evidence against their apostasy from sound doctrine, and rectitude of conduct.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 31". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20