Click here to learn more!
CRITICAL NOTES.—Deuteronomy 11:1-5.11.12 develops more fully the other features of Divine Requirements, Deuteronomy 10:12. Love must be seen in perpetual observance of commands. Keep, Leviticus 8:35; Numbers 18:23.
Deuteronomy 11:2. Know own, i.e., ponder and lay to heart the chastisement, the mighty acts of God to Egypt and to Israel; the purpose of which is to educate (discipline) by correction and instruction, cf. 7, with the word in Proverbs 1:2; Proverbs 5:12.
Deuteronomy 11:3-5.11.6 Instances given of discipline.
Deuteronomy 11:4, Waters. Cf. chap Deuteronomy 4:34; Exodus 14:26 sqq.
Deuteronomy 11:5. All acts in guidance and protection of Israel and punishment of enemies.
Deuteronomy 11:6. Destruction of Korah’s company specially given, cf. Numbers 16:31-4.16.33. “Moses only mentions Dathan and Abiram, followers of Korah, and not Korah himself, probably from regard to his sons, who were not swallowed up by the earth with their father, but had lived to perpetuate the family.” (Keil.) Datnan and Abiram also were more determined and audacious against Moses. All substance, lit. everything existing, Genesis 7:4, which was in their following (at their feet) cf. Exodus 11:8; Numbers 16:32.
Deuteronomy 11:7. The reason for admonition, cf. Deuteronomy 11:2. Know God’s purpose in the acts you have seen.
Deuteronomy 11:8-5.11.9. This knowledge was to impel them to keep the law, that they might be spiritually strong, enter the land and live long in it. cf. Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 6:3.
Deuteronomy 11:10-5.11.12, Another motive for fidelity is added, viz., the entire dependence of the Promised Land upon God for its fertility. Its richness was not like Egypt, the reward of human skill and labour but entirely the gift of God. Egypt and Canaan are distinguished in their most remarkable physical traits, the spiritual significance of which must not be overlooked, (cf. Speaker’s Commentary.)
Deuteronomy 11:10. Wateredst. in two ways, viz., by means of tread-wheels, working sets of pumps, and by means of artificial channels connected with reservoirs, and opened, turned, or closed by the feet. Both methods are still in use in Egypt and other similar districts of the country. (Speaker’s Commentary.)
Deuteronomy 11:11. Hills mountainous. Drinketh, i.e. received its watering, the main condition of all fertility, from the rain and therefore the providence of God. (Keil.)
Deuteronomy 11:12. Careth for, lit. seeketh or inquireth after., i.e. for which God cared. Proverbs 31:13; Job 3:4. LXX. Oversees. Psalms 142:4; Isaiah 62:12; Jeremiah 30:17. Eyes ever under the special keeping of God.
Deuteronomy 11:13. Thus dependent, it behoved them to fear and obey, that these blessings might continue.
Deuteronomy 11:14. First autumn rain, about time of sowing from October to December, latter spring rains in March or April, which prepares ground for harvest. This rain would be given with plentiful supply of food for man and beast.
Deuteronomy 11:15. If Israel would be faithful.
Deuteronomy 11:16-5.11.17. If not obedient, God’s anger would burn against them, heaven would shut up (“as a womb,” Genesis 16:2), earth would yield no produce, and they would speedily perish, Leviticus 26:19-3.26.20; Deuteronomy 28:23.
Deuteronomy 11:18-5.11.20. Almost a verbal repetition of Deuteronomy 6:6-5.6.9, to impress the mind.
Deuteronomy 11:21. Above, i.e, as long as heaven continues above earth, or to all eternity, cf. Psalms 89:30; Job 14:12. “The promise of Canaan to Israel then was a perpetual promise, but also a conditiona one.”
Deuteronomy 11:23. If faithful, God would drive out all nations. Greater, Deuteronomy 7:1; Deuteronomy 9:1.
Deuteronomy 11:24. Give them the land in its length and breadth, every place within the land. Full possession in the time of Solomon.
Deuteronomy 11:25. So fill Canaanites with fear, that none could stand before them.
Deuteronomy 11:26-5.11.28. Concluding summary. Shalt put, lit., give forth, utter, proclaim upon Mount Gerizim, the most southern of the two, and according to Jewish ideas, the region of light, life, and blessing (cf. Speaker’s Commentary.) Ebal on the north side, opposite Gerizim (cf. Stanley. Sinai and Palestine.”
Deuteronomy 11:31-5.11.32. Contain a reason for the instructions and an assurance that if they observe to do, they shall cross Jordan, enter and possess the land, Deuteronomy 4:5-5.4.6.
DIVINE DISCIPLINE IN HUMAN LIFE.—Deuteronomy 11:1-5.11.9
God frequently repeated His commands, to meet the child-like character and condition of Israel, and to check their proneness to forget and rebel. Love to God was to show itself in distinct perception and perpetual obedience to His statutes. To awaken this love they must trace God’s dealings with them, and realise that these dealings were “chastisement,” discipline to train them in His service.
I. Divine discipline displayed in various ways. “All the great acts” which God performed have a bright and a dark side—were filled with mercy or judgment according to the moral condition of the spectator.
1. In acts of love to God’s people. The miracles of deliverance, guidance, and defence were intended to wean from sin and awaken right feeling. Their afflictions were corrections, less than their rebellion deserved, which taught them to pray and depend upon God. The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor Christians perfected without adversity.
2. In acts of judgment to God’s enemies. The “mighty hand” destroyed Israel’s foes and chastised the oppressor. Proofs of God’s power and purpose were seen on every hand. The overthrow of pride and the defence of the weak; the bestowment of good and the infliction of evil were a process of education. God was seen the friend of His people, and the judge of His enemies; training by peculiar discipline, and warning by solemn visitations. Thus life is a school. The great events of life are appointed and directed by God to train us for service.
There is a Divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough hew them how we will.
II. Divine discipline to be recognised in the events of life. “Know ye this day.” Men are unable, unwilling to learn. Life to them is ordinary, accidental, or without value. We must take note, ponder this truth, and discern God’s purpose in our life. If we could see “the end of the Lord” in his dealings with us and others, we should murmur less, and be more thankful and resigned. We quench “the light of life” by our “theory of life.” It is not the want of greater miracles, but of perception of spiritual insight, that leads us to forget God and misinterpret His providence. Wherever the hand of God is, there is miracle and meaning if we desire to learn. All processes of life point to mental and moral development. It is our wisdom, our interest to believe and co-operate. “I would rather do the will of God than work miracles,” said Luther. “Consider (i.e., carefully regard) the work of God” (Ecclesiastes 7:13). “Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord” (Psalms 107:43).
III. The recognition of this Divine discipline in life to be shown in cheerful obedience.—Because “your eyes have seen” the mighty acts of God and the design for which they were done. “Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments” (Deuteronomy 11:8). The older generation had witnessed more than others, enjoyed greater advantages, and were therefore put under deeper obligation. Those who have seen signal events, who live in remarkable times, times of revival, judgments, and deliverances, are more indebted to God and doubly guilty in their disobedience. Duty must be measured by privilege. The lessons of our life must be taught to others, and embodied in our character and conduct. If unfaithful and indifferent how great will be our punishment. Exalted to heaven, we may be cast down to hell!
IV. The consequences of this obedience are manifold. If Israel would hear, rightly interpret, and obey the voice of God in the events of their history, the results would be manifold.
1. Spiritual strength. “That ye may be strong” (Deuteronomy 11:8). As we gain strength naturally by walking, so spiritually we become strong by obedience. God is the source of all power, and by dependence upon Him that power is ours. Unbelief is infirmity; joyful trust gives strength for work and welfare.
2. Possession of Canaan. “And possess the land.” Earthly possessions and distinctions are reserved for those who are trained for them. Strength derived from obedience inspires with courage to gain new dominions. Those strong in the Lord are resistless, and drive before them nations greater and mightier than they.
3. Length of life. “That ye may prolong your days.” Long life to individuals or nations, the perpetuation of the Church or a godly seed, depend upon God more than natural causes. Disobedience in its nature and in the judgments of God upon it, brings to untimely ends. Obedience contributes to the length and the enjoyment of life. “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days; but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.”
THE OVERTHROW OF CONSPIRATORS.—Deuteronomy 11:6
This is specially mentioned as one instance of those “acts” which had been done to warn and instruct. The words may be compared with Numbers 16:0, and the following outline will be suggested.
1. The sin of the conspirators. Korah sought not to abolish the distinction between Levites and the people; but to secure the chief dignity for himself. They rebelled against Moses (Numbers 16:2-4.16.3); refused the text proposed (6 and 7); refused to leave their tents (Deuteronomy 11:2), and reproached Moses as if responsible for their protracted sojourn in the wilderness. “Ambition o’erleaps itself.” The fate of Nadab and Abihu should have warned them. “God hath a special indignation at pride above all sins,” says Bp. Hall. “A man’s pride shall bring him low (cf. Proverbs 29:23; Proverbs 11:2; Proverbs 17:19.
2. The overthrow of the conspirators. Opposition to God’s authority is highly displeasing, when determined and open. The destruction was:
1. Sudden. “The earth opened.”
2. Supernatural. This not in a country undermined with subterranean fire, but in the sandy desert; where earthquakes seldom happen, and are little expected.
3. Complete. “Swallowed them up and their households, tents, and all possessions.”
4. Admonitory. “In the midst of all Israel.” It vindicated the rights of Moses, and is a warning for all ages. “My son, fear thou the Lord and the king, and meddle not with them that are given to change; for their calamity shall rise suddenly, and who knoweth the ruin of them both?” (Proverbs 24:21-20.24.22.)
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 11:2. Not seen. He speaks to them as to eye-witnesses, and those that have such evidence and self-experience are usually more affected than those that have things by hear-say only. “Mine eye affects my heart.” (Lamentations 3:51.)—Trapp.
Deuteronomy 11:3. His miracles. Acts of power, acts of publicity, yet unable to convert the soul.
Deuteronomy 11:5. Did to you. A personal diary, to help our weak memory and stir up our cold hearts. “Forget not all His benefits.”
Deuteronomy 11:6. Dathan and Abiram. Place hunters in their object, method and punishment. Their history illustrative of the perils of bad company. “Unity with wicked companions is one of the strongest chains of hell, and binds us to a participation both of sin and punishment.”—(Sibbs.) “Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces.” (Isaiah 8:9; cf. Proverbs 11:21; Joshua 9:1-6.9.2.)
Deuteronomy 11:3 to Deuteronomy 9:1. God has a people among men.
2. He separates this people from men in various ways.
3. He unites them in bonds of fellowship.
4. He trains them to love Him.
5. He guides them to rest.
Deuteronomy 11:4-5.11.6. Nature subservient to God’s purposes.
1. In the destruction of His enemies.
2. In the deliverance of His people. “It was a marvel that the waters opened; it was no wonder that they shut again; for the retiring and flowing was natural. It was no less marvel that the earth opened, but more marvel that it shut again, because it had no natural disposition to meet when it was divided. Now might Israel see they had to do with a God that could revenge with ease.”—(Bp. Hall.) All the elements of nature under God’s control, hence the folly of offending one who can easily and awfully punish.
EGYPT AND CANAAN.—Deuteronomy 11:10-5.11.12
Moses adduces another motive for obedience to God’s law founded upon the peculiar nature of the land. It was “a land flowing with milk and honey;” yet its richness was not, as was that of Egypt, the reward of human skill, but simply and entirely the gift of God, and resulted from the rain of heaven. Hence on account of dependence upon God they should not forget Him. The two countries are—
1. A proof of natural variety. In Egypt there was little or no rain, the people depended upon the yearly overflow of the Nile. Its waters were stored up by artificial means and its fields irrigated by human toil. Canaan was a laud of hills and natural reservoirs. It was watered by rains from heaven and depended not on the toil and skill of man to fertilise it. In physical beauty and natural products, in situation and configuration, territories differ and display the wisdom and benevolence of God.
2. An indication of moral purpose. Some countries are more suited than others to train a people. God has located nations and fixed the habitation of individuals that they might seek and serve Him (Acts 17:26-44.17.27). Canaan seems in every sense best suited to foster dependence upon God and train Israel for their high destiny. Hence in natural scenery, in the structure of the hill and the extent of the valley; in the course of the river and the climate of the sky, we have proof of Divine goodness and elements for religious training.
3. An illustration of special providence. God was in Egypt in every place. But Canaan was a land on which Jehovah fixed his special attention and regard. He watched it with unceasing care, and sustained it by constant favour. He gave early rain for seed time, and latter rain for harvest. Its inhabitants had no need to slave like Egyptians. Fidelity to God would always secure their prosperity and happiness. Thus do we find moral purpose, wonderful providence in natural surroundings, and the forces of nature employed in spiritual training.
“Read Nature; Nature is a friend to truth;
Nature is Christian, preaches to mankind;
And bids dead matter aid us in our creed.”—Young.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN MORAL CHARACTER AND MATERIAL PROSPERITY.—Deuteronomy 11:10-5.11.17
If Israel would serve God and be faithful, He would give them plentiful supplies for man and beast. But, on the other hand, if they turned away from Him, He would withhold the rain, deprive them of harvest, and they would utterly perish. Material blessings depended upon moral conduct.
I. There is a moral purpose in the bestowment of material prosperity.—God in bestowing physical good designs the moral training of men. Rain from heaven and fruitful seasons testify to His goodness, and should excite to gratitude (Acts 14:17). The greater the blessing the higher is the end in view. Canaan was given to Israel for a special purpose. The blessings of this land and of all lands are too uniform to spring from chance; too rich and manifold for human labour to produce, and too wisely adapted to human wants to be given without moral purpose.
II. The continuation of material prosperity depends upon moral conduct.—The sources of prosperity are under the control of the Creator, He can seal the earth and shut up the heavens. The influence of imperial power and the excellency of legislation can neither create a sunbeam nor command a shower. Happiness, all kinds of prosperity, would accrue to the Israelites by a faithful observance of the commands of God, but terrible were the punishments which awaited them if they transgressed (cf. Leviticus 26:3-3.26.17; Amos 4:7).
III. Material prosperity will affect moral character for good or evil. If it teaches dependence upon God, creates gratitude, and leads to consecration to Him, it will be a blessing; but if it weans our hearts from Him, leads to proud self-reliance, it will be a curse to us. “Take heed” (Deuteronomy 11:16). “According to their pasture so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted: therefore have they forgotten me” (Hosea 13:16).
THE BIBLE THE FAMILY BOOK.—Deuteronomy 11:18-5.11.21
These words of warning must be deeply impressed upon their own minds, taught to their children, and perpetuated from one generation to another. They are partly a verbal repetition of Deuteronomy 6:6-5.6.9. The sense is, “Keep the covenant faithfully, and so shall your own and your children’s days be multiplied as long as the heaven covers the earth.”—Speaker’s Commentary.
I. The words to be treasured up in the heart. “Lay up these words in your heart.” If we forget the words, we shall neglect the things. There must be personal reception, esteem, and influence. We must weigh them over, ponder them in our hearts. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart.”
II. The words to be taught to posterity. “Ye shall teach them your children.” What we love and treasure up for ourselves must be communicated to others. Children have the first claim. Parental responsibility can never be shifted on to the Sunday school or schoolmaster. The words of God must be elements of family instruction. “The home school” must be gathered together, trained, and made an institution to preserve and spread true religion. A large portion of the Bible is intelligible to children, and full of interest for them. Read the Family Bible and engage in family prayer. “Train up (lit., imitate, dedicate, as house (Numbers 7:10-4.7.11;) or temple (1 Kings 8:63), a child in the way (his way) he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6.)
III. The words to result in open profession by the household. They are to be written on doorposts and gates to be constantly before the eyes of others. The whole family or household are interested, indoctrinated and collectively identified with public profession. The preservation of religion and the welfare of the community demand “a church in the house.” “Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.”
THE FOUR PLACES IN WHICH A GOOD MAN KEEPS GOD’S TRUTH.—Deuteronomy 11:18
I. The first place is the heart. The heart furnishes metal for the mind.
1. Lay them up like treasure in a chest; for the words of God are the family plate of believers—the heirlooms of the household of faith.
2. Like books in a library ready for reference.
3. Like clothes in a wardrobe ready for all weathers; for summer’s sunshine and winter’s storms. The truth of God should be the garment of the soul.
4. Like conserves of precious fruit, gathered in the time of plenty, to be eaten in time of scarcity.
5. Like knowledge hidden but not lost.
6. As guides. It is useful to have a map to consult if we desire to know a country; so these words are for meditation and use.
7. In the heart not like misers’ hoards, but like bankers’ gold, wealth itself, and the means of creating more.
II. The second place in which we are to lay up these words is in heart and soul. Religion should have a place in our affections and in our thoughts.
1. For the soul is the seat of thought or understanding. Some do not think and attempt not to understand.
2. The soul is the seat and place of the mind life.
3. The soul is the seat of conviction, and conviction is mental activity and independence.
III. Now the relations of the text change, and this third head brings us to the second department. The word revealed in the heart and soul refers to moral and mental power of man. In this third particular religion is brought into notice; “therefore shall ye bind these words for a sign upon your hand.” As much as to say, realise them in your life. If you have any religion, use it. Christians should carry their light like the old blind man, who always carried a bright lantern when he went out on dark nights. When laughed at and called a foolish old fellow, “Oh,” said he, “I carry it to prevent people stumbling over me.” Bind these words,
1. Like a glove on the hand for defence. It would be fearful for the hedger and ditcher to grapple prickly thorns with his ungloved hand.
2. A sign on the hand like a gauntlet. These words are signs of the side on which we stand, and the conflict we intend to wage.
3. For a sign, like a tool in the hand; something to work, to build with.
4. For a sign like a sword in the hand. “The sword of the Spirit is the word of God.” Remarkable have been the encounters in which this sword has been wielded with power. None more remarkable than the temptation of our Lord in the wilderness.
IV. There is yet a fourth place, where the good man keeps God’s truth. That they may be as frontlets between the eyes. The Jews forgot the spirit, and gave a literal interpretation to the words. They must be before us. We must profess, avow the words.
1. The words are to be a source of pride, for what is worn on the head, is a thing we are proud of. Be proud not of yourself, of your attainments, but of that which has conferred upon you the possession of these words.
2. As frontlets, giving dignity, ornament, rank, and elevation—an ornament of grace about the head, chains of gold about the neck, wreathed into a coronet, diadem and crown.
3. As frontlets a source of protection. Wear them as helmets are worn. “For a helmet the hope of Salvation.” These are principles of a religious life, the principles which the great Hebrew lawgiver beheld as lying at the foundation of all prosperous states and all truly noble personal character.—The Preacher’s Lantern, Vol. II.
THE DAYS OF HEAVEN UPON EARTH.—Deuteronomy 11:21
I. When may our days be said to be “as the days of heaven upon the earth?” When—
1. We enjoy much of a sense of the Divine presence, and live in the contemplation of the glorious perfections of God.
2. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.
3. We enjoy a spirit of gratitude and praise.
4. We possess brotherly love and enjoy the happiness of fellowship with the saints.
5. We obtain great victories over sin and have intense love of purity.
6. We cheerfully obey God’s commands.
7. We frequently meditate on the heavenly state.
II. What course should we take in order that our days may be as such? We must—
1. Be partakers of vital faith in Christ, and be renewed in the spirit of our minds.
2. Make the glory of God our highest aim.
3. Wean our hearts from earthly things.
4. Watch against grieving the Holy Spirit.
5. Be perpetually employed for God, and resign our wills to His.—Dr. Ryland.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 11:10-5.11.12. The distinguished honour of Canaan.
1. Its great natural beauties.
2. Its special guardianship by Jehovah. “Careth for”—In its preparation for the people, its wonderful products and various seasons.
Deuteronomy 11:13-5.11.15. Rain.
1. In its origin. “I will give you the rain.” Not therefore from fixed laws, nor from idols. Jupiter could not create dark clouds and distil them in blessings. “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain?”
2. In its effects. “Corn, wine, and oil.” Crops ripen for the sickle. The vine with its clusters, and grass for cattle in due season. All benefactions of God.
3. In its continuance. “It tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.” It depends upon the power and goodness of God; withheld or bestowed in times and quantities according to the conduct of the people (Joel 2:23; Zechariah 10:1; Deuteronomy 28:12). “How easy were it for God to starve us all by denying us a harvest or two.”—Trapp.
Deuteronomy 11:16. A caution against deception. We notice here—I. An evil anticipation—that of having the heart deceived. The probability of such deception may be inferred from the deceitfulness:
(1.) Of human knowledge.
(2.) The heart.
(4.) The world.
(5.) The devil. II. a caution urged against it: “Take heed to yourselves,” by
(1.) Being sensible of your extreme danger.
(2.) Seeking for the illuminating influences of the Holy Spirit.
(3.) The constant practice of self-examination.
(4.) Watching over yourselves.—Biblical Museum.
Deuteronomy 11:17. I. Dreadful evils.
1. The Lord’s wrath kindled.
2. Heaven shut up. “The keys of heaven, of the heart, of the womb, and of the grave, God keeps and carries under His own girdle” (Trapp). II. How brought on. By disobedience, self-deception, and idolatry, Deuteronomy 11:16; cf. Joshua 23:16; Jeremiah 17:9; Job 31:27.
Deuteronomy 11:18-5.11.21. The Bible the rule of human life. I. Its power over private life.
1. In the heart, governing feeling and affection.
2. In the soul, controling thought and meditations. II. Its power over public life. Before the eyes to direct; in the hand prompting to action and service; confessed in the family; and avowed before the world, in conversation by the way, and inscription on the gates, etc. “A single book has saved me,” said M. L. Bautin, but that book is not of human origin.”—“It is this belief (in the Bible), the fruits of deep meditation, which has served me as the guide of my moral and literary life. I have found it a capital safely invested and richly productive of interest, although I have sometimes made but a bad use of it” (Goethe).
He alone who hath
The Bible need not stray;
Yet he who hath and will not give
That light of life to all who live,
Himself shall lose the way.
The benefits of obedience.
1. in bracing up, engaging, and cultivating all the powers of heart and mind.
2. In testifying for God in the family and before the world.
3. In securing personal advantage, national existence and permanent possessions. These lessons should we remember “Write them upon the door.” “Write the vision and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it” (Habakkuk 2:2).
LOYAL OBEDIENCE THE WAY TO NATIONAL PROSPERITY.—Deuteronomy 11:22-5.11.25
To secure God’s help in gaining and keeping the land it was needful to obey him. Obedience would introduce them into their inheritance, enlarge their boundaries, and make them valiant over every foe.
I. The national advantages secured. Many great promises are given.
1. Conquest of enemies. “Then will the Lord drive out all these nations.” The strongest foes, mightier and greater than ourselves will be subdued if we trust in God. With him we can drive away rebels within or foes without our borders. Gideon over the Medianites, Hezekiah over Sennacherib, and England over the Armada were victorious through God.
2. Enlargement of territory. When nations were driven out of Canaan, Israel would grow numerous, and spread beyond it. Every place on which the soles of their feet should tread would be their own. Territories are not gained and kept by war, alliance of commerce, and human might. They are the gift of God, for the welfare of which the possessors are responsible.
3. Security of possession. It is one thing to get and another to keep. Nations have gained and lost their dominions. Reliance upon God is better than valiant soldiers and mighty ships.
4. Moral supremacy. God would lay the dread of Israel upon others. Nations would be afraid, be unable to touch them if they loved him. Their conquest would be easy, and their possession secure and permanent. Moral power is better than military power. Righteousness exalts a nation, gives more influence than imperial armies and extensive wealth. Let nations covet this, let Christian churches be clad with this; then no enemy will dare to attack, and no traitor within can weaken. “Salvation will God appoint for wall and bulwarks.”
II The method of securing the advantages. Nations form alliances—co-operate in aggressive war to gain their ends. How different the principles of the Mosaic legislation. In itself, Israel was a match for no warlike nation; in loyalty to God it was superior to all. “Only diligently keep all these commandments,” and then would they rise in material prosperity and moral grandeur.
1. Diligent obedience. “Diligently keep.” Excellence, individual or national, is beyond the reach of indolence. It is diligent, energetic obedience to right that makes rich in self-culture, social influence and national progress.
2. Hearty obedience. The affections must be enlisted; no mechanical, slavish service. “I love the service of my God; like the bird, I fly at liberty on the wings of obedience to His holy will” (Dr. Chalmers). “Love the Lord your God.”
3. Constant obedience. “I leave unto Him.” We must be united—cemented to Him in soul, mind, and strength; never be dissolved by selfishness or distrust. This therefore is the way to prosperity in nations and churches. Cleave to right, rely upon God, and He will give valiant hearts, speed true progress and elevate above danger. But “the nation and kingdom that will not serve Thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.”
FAITHFUL OBEDIENCE THE WAY OF PROGRESS AND SAFETY
I. This is a declaration of God’s will. It is not taught by politicans or learned in schools of philosophy. Divine counsels excel human laws. In the Bible we are taught that the fear of God is the surest foundation of social happinesss and public security.
II. This is a fact in Christian experience. We know by experience that we can only go forward in knowledge and holiness—only conquer temptations and sins by faithful reliance upon God and constant obedience to His commands. The history of Israel and of all nations confirms the truth. When God has been forsaken and His authority defied, the bonds of society have been broken, thrones have been shaken, and empires rift asunder.
III. This is a law of Christian effort. Without strength there can be no effort, and without obedience there can be no strength. “I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.” In benevolent aims and evangelistic works, we only succeed and reap the fruits of our labour by walking “in all His ways.” Be strong all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work; for I am with you saith the Lord of Hosts.”
THE IMPORTANT CHOICE.—Deuteronomy 11:26-5.11.30
Moses now shows that a blessing or a curse depends upon their conduct. If they obey a blessing will rest upon them: if they disobey a curse. From the frowning peaks of Ebal or the sunny sides of Gerizim their condition will be decided. Before they enter the laud the choice must be made. Which shall it be?
I. The choice to be made. Carefully examine the words and discover.
1. It is plainly revealed. We cannot obey a rule we do not understand. There may be mysteries in the Bible, but there is no mystery about the commandments. Duties are plain and easily understood. “I set before you.”
2. It is practicable. A law whose demands are impossible is a contradiction. God’s commands are all practicable. But we must judge them not by infirmities of the flesh, but the attainments of saints, the energy of grace and the power of God.
3. It is voluntary. Force makes hypocrites, never any genuine Christians. Obedience must be free. There must be no constraint in this choice.
4. It is urgent. “This day.” It must be done. The more difficult will it be the longer the delay. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.”
II. The reasons for decision. There is no reason, no excuse whatever for indecision.
1. God demands decision. All His claims are reasonable. He is supreme and should be obeyed; good perfectly good in Himself and the author of all good in others. “If the Lord be God follow Him!”
2. Indecision is most mischievous. If obedience be profitable, if God’s service conduces to happiness, then indecision is unprofitable and mischievous. (a) Mischievous in its nature. It withholds from God the gratitude and service which are due to him. It admits and encourages rivals with God, and therefore implies rebellion and treason. (b) Mischievous in its tendency. Wicked men may be blind to their own faults, but they understand what God’s servants should be; speak reproachfully of them and become hardened in their sins through mere pretensions in religion. (c) Mischievous in its effects. It pays some compliment to religion and begets hope which is delusive. Those who are not obedient, entirely decided for God on earth, will be disowned in a future state.
3. Indecision is most foolish. It is not acceptable to God, but exposes to his censure and wrath, to the upbraidings of conscience and the danger of hell. Consider these things and decide. “See I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil. (Deuteronomy 30:1-5.30.15.)
THE SOLEMN ALTERNATIVE.—Deuteronomy 11:26-5.11.30
I. The things to be chosen. Life or death, God or sin, heaven or hell. Not education, trade or profession; but a much more solemn and momentous choice. The gospel offers life and death. One must be chosen. There is no alternative whatever.
II. The medium through which they are given. Two mountains were selected from which the announcement was to go forth in solemn ceremony, and “as it were transfer them to the land to be apportioned to its inhabitants according to their attitude towards the Lord their God.”—(Keil.) cf. Deuteronomy 27:14. Learn from this.
1. That nature may remind of God in its blessing or curse, fruitfulness or barrenness.
2. That nature may be affected by the moral character and moral conduct of a population.
3. That nature may warn men, co-operate with God, and be helpful to His cause.
III. The consequences involved in the choice.
1. God served or refused and thus insulted or honoured.
2. The people blessed or cursed. How miserable is life spent under the dominion of guilt, the curse of God and the fear of torment I How happy and glorious is life devoted to God and His service! “Happy while on earth you live, mightier joys ordained to know.”
THE LAND OF PROMISE.—Deuteronomy 11:31-5.11.32
Its physical features have been described. Palestine was always coveted by surrounding nations for its excellence and beauty, its products and position. It thus becomes a type of the inheritance reserved for the righteous.
I. The nature of its enjoyments. The land was gloriously privileged by its exemption from evil, and its enjoyment of good.
1. Perfect security. Victory over enemies was complete, and God’s people are ever under His protection. “It stands securely high, indissolubly sure.”
2. Undisturbed rest. “Dwell therein.” Conflict and toil over; unbroken, and eternal peace enjoyed. “My chief conception of heaven is perfect rest” said Robt. Hall. The “Saints everlasting rest.”
3. Everlasting joy. In the presence, friendship, and service of God. There we “shall ever be with the Lord.”
“O ye blest scenes of permanent delight!
Full without measure! lasting beyond bound!
A perpetuity of bliss, is bliss.”—(Young.)
II. The method of its possession. This is distinctly revealed. 1 By faith in the Leader. Israel had to “observe to do all the statutes.” Our daily life must be a walk with God and keeping His commandments.
2. By crossing Jordan. “Ye shall pass over Jordan to go in to possess the land.” It is “the home beyond,” and the river cannot be avoided. “There was no bridge to go over, and the river was very deep,” says Bunyan. But God can divide the waters and give a safe passage.
3. By receiving it as a gratuity. “Which the Lord your God giveth you.” We cannot buy this inheritance. It is the land of promise, and will be given to all who believe and seek it in Christ. He is “the way” to heaven, “the truth” to direct in the way, and “the life” to help us in walking in it when found. (John 14:6.)
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 11:22; Deuteronomy 23:1. The service commanded, Man made to serve and can only be happy in loyal obedience to God. This service should be diligent, loving, active and constant.
2. The rewards bestowed. Subjugation of nations and secure possessions of the land. Walk in all His ways. As God requires in conformity to His word. Without delay. (Job 22:21; Psalms 119:59-19.119.60.) Courageously, without fear. (Psalms 116:18-19.116.19; Isaiah 51:7-23.51.8.) Peseveringly, without declension. (Job 23:11-18.23.12; Numbers 14:24.) Closely, with holy fervour and joyful hope.
Deuteronomy 11:26 to Deuteronomy 28:1. What is the blessing set before us? The blessing of him whose sins are forgiven, who lives in God’s favour and dies in peace. The blessing is lost through sin and the way to regain it; but revealed in Christ, made known in scripture and taught, illustrated and explained in every page almost.
2. What is the curse? Just this, “The soul that sins shall die.” “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things written, etc.” The consequences of sin here and the punishments of sin hereafter.
3. What is the way to escape the curse? It is set forth plainly in the Bible—in Christ the way, the truth and the life. By the death of Christ we are delivered from sin, redeemed from the curse, and by His obedience entitled to a blessing.
4. Which will you choose? Some people think they can make a compromise; that they need not be intensely Christian, as they are not, and will not be intensely worldly. If they do so, it is not really an alteration of their state, but a deception of themselves. There is no alternative between a blessing high as the throne of Deity, and a curse deep and terrible as the nethermost hell. You must take the sunshine or the shadow—the evil or the good—the “Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom;” or the withering sentence, “Depart ye cursed, into everlasting fire.”—Dr. Cumming.
Deuteronomy 11:32. The course of life urged.
1. Attentive in its object, “observe.”
2. Divine in its origin, “I set before you.”
3. Comprehensive in its demands, “all the statutes and judgments.”
4. Energetic in its nature “to do.”
5. Prompt in its actions, “to-day.”
6. Beneficial in its results, “In matters of great concern, and which must be done; there is no surer argument of a weak mind than irresolution, to be undetermined when the case is so plain and the necessity so urgent. To be always intending to live a new life, but never to find time to set about it, this is as if a man should put off eating and drinking and sleeping from one day to another, until he is starved and destroyed.”—(Tillotson.)
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 11
Deuteronomy 11:2. Chastisement. Happy is that condition, which forces us to trust only in God, and to be in the hand of His providence. Afflictions dispose us to pray; and we are sure to want nothing if we find God in prayer.—Bp. Wilson.
Deuteronomy 11:3-5.11.5. His acts. To those the eyes of whose understanding are enlightened, and the avenues of their hearts opened, to discern and adore the perfections of God, how manifold are the instances which occur of the providence of God in interfering to direct the course of human events towards a salutary end; to make afflictions of men the bye-path to enjoyment; out of evils temporal and transitory to produce substantial and permanent good.—Bp. Mant.
Deuteronomy 11:6-5.11.7. Dathan. The earth could no longer bear up under the weight of these rebels and ingrates. God’s patience was exhausted when they began to assail his servants, for his children are very dear to him, and he that toucheth them toucheth the apple of his eye.—Spurgeon. This element was not used to such morsels. It devours the carcases of men; but bodies informed with living souls never before. To have seen them struck dead upon the earth had been fearful; but to see the earth at once their executioner and grave, was more horrible.—Bp. Hall.
Deuteronomy 11:10-5.11.15. Rain. Mr. Lothian, an English farmer, who was struck during his journey from Joppa to Jerusalem by not seeing a blade of grass, where even in the poorest localities of Britain some wild vegetation is found, directed his attention particularly to the subject, and pursued the enquiry during a month’s residence in Jerusalem, where he learned that a miserably quantity of milk is daily sold to the inhabitants at a dear rate, and that chiefly asses’ milk. “Most clearly,” says he, “did I perceive that the barrenness of large portions of the country was owing to the cessation of the early and latter rain, and that the absence of grass and flowers make it no longer the land (Deuteronomy 11:9) flowing with milk and honey.”—Crit. and Exper. Com.
Deuteronomy 11:10-5.11.17. Keep my commandments and I will send grass. The prosperity of a country depends, not on the abundance of its revenues, nor on the strength of its fortifications, nor on the beauty of its public buildings; but it consists in the number of its cultivated citizens, in its men of education, enlightenment and character; here are to be found its true interest, its chief strength, its real power.—Luther.
Deuteronomy 11:16. Be not deceived. Deceit is only a game played by small minds.—Corneille. No real greatness can long co-exist with deceit.—S. T. Coleridge.
Deuteronomy 11:18-5.11.21. Teach. The sacred books of the ancient Persians say—If you would be holy, instruct your children, because all the good acts they perform will be imputed to you.—Montesquien. We have a thorough belief that the great secret of training lies in always regarding the child as immortal. The moment we forget this we scheme and arrange as though the child had to live only upon earth and then our plans not being commensurate with the vastness of their object will necessarily be inadequate to secure its good. Educate on the principle that you educate for eternity, otherwise it is impossible to produce a beneficial result.—Canon Melvill.
Deuteronomy 11:21. Many days.
To be is better far than not to be.
This life is the childhood of eternity.
Deuteronomy 11:22. Keep. Obedience, promptly, fully given, is the most beautiful thing that walks on earth.—Dr. Raleigh. It is the only satisfactory evidence of the sincerity of our profession.—Bridges.
The path of duty is the way to glory.
Deuteronomy 11:25. Stand. A man in the right, with God on his side, is in the majority, though he be alone, for God is multitudinous above all populations of the earth.—Beecher.
Deuteronomy 11:26-5.11.28. Blessing. As bliss is happiness in the highest degree, it can only be given by a God, and enjoyed by a saint.—E. Davies. Curses. They are not merely imprecations, impotent and fruitless desires; they carry their effects with them, and are attended with all the miseries denounced by God.—Cruden. Our actions must clothe us with an immortality loathsome or glorious.—Colton.
Deuteronomy 11:31. Shall possess. Possibilities are as infinite as God’s power.—Dr. South.
Deuteronomy 11:32. Do this day. There is no work on earth easier than the true service of God.—Luther. God counts that free service which love dictates, and not necessity.—St. Augustine. The carrying on the affairs of the day that lies before us.—Goethe.
Defer not till to-morrow to be wise,
To-morrow’s sun to thee may never rise.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent