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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 9

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-29

Deuteronomy 9:1 . This day; at this time, or in the course of a month. Day is often used in scripture for the whole of a man’s life, for a season, and for a short time.

Deuteronomy 9:19 . I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure. To this text St. Paul refers, Hebrews 12:21. The fire on mount Sinai terrified the people at the promulgation of the law; but we do not read that Moses was terrified till God testified his anger by some most vivid appearance of the fire because of the calf. So alarmed was Moses at the sight, that he ceased to pray for Israel, and hasted to destroy the idol.

Deuteronomy 9:20 . I prayed for Aaron. Many a one would die for his sin, if he had not a brother or friend to stand in the gap, and pray for him. And if the Lord so often, as in Deuteronomy 9:27, yielded to the name of Abraham, and Isaac, because of his covenant; how much more will he yield to the name of his beloved Son?


This chapter opens by assuring the Israelites, that the Lord would pass over Jordan in the ark of his strength, as an armed man and captain general of the host. He promises anew that he would vanquish the nations, destroy the giants, and give his people possession of the fenced cities. How happy are they who have God for their defence. What has Zion to fear from the proud, the great, the wicked of the earth. If the Lord look at them through his fiery cloud, they are confounded, they perish and die, like the daring host of Egypt. If God be for us, it is not who can stand before the children of Anak, but who can stand before Omnipotence?

Israel, elated with these hopes, are cautioned not to glory in the privileges of grace, as though they were the rewards of their own righteousness. These privileges came because of God’s good pleasure to make carnal Israel a type of spiritual Israel; because of the promise and oath made to Abraham, and because of the wickedness of the seven devoted nations. Learn then, oh my soul, to know that all thy righteousness is as filthy rags; and that all thy favours and salvation are conferred, because God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son. How apt is man to forget his sins, and to remember his supposed virtues. That the Israelites might never dream of national merit, they are faithfully reminded of their five leading revolts. Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God in the wilderness. The revolt at Horeb when the calf was adored, and when the whole nation was on the verge of destruction, is placed in full view. The burning at Taberah, the pestilence at Massah, the graves at Kibroth, and the sentence at Kadesh to die in the desert, are adduced as national punishments for national sins. Ministers of the gospel have here a fine model of argument for humbling an audience by the recollection of their sins, and of beating down the rising sentiments of pharisaical pride. Why fear to trace the sinner’s conscience for forty years! If the portrait is fairly presented, if the features are studied and recognized, surely he cannot be offended because the likeness is striking. And if he be offended, he must be more offended still with his own heart, which will continue to repeat the sermon, with all the emphasis of irresistible evidence.

In boldly charging home the old guilt of national sin, Moses carefully avoids every vestige of personal aspersion. Nothing but impartiality must exist at the bar of God, and nothing but love must act in the pulpit. Preachers must be prudent in the sanctuary, and never make the terrors of God subservient to private antipathies. A fault of this nature is a stain on the glory of the ministry.

In Moses, who was twice forty days and nights on the mount with God, and neither ate nor drank, we have a striking example of the purity and glory of the celestial society; and of what the Lord will do for the bodies and souls of all his saints. The happiness there is, not that of corruptible meats and drinks, but angelical and pure. The soul is filled with open visions of God, the countenance is irradiated with lustre, and the whole man qualified for divine converse, and the purest services of heaven.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 9". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/deuteronomy-9.html. 1835.
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