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CRITICAL NOTES.—The rules for the relief of the poor (Levites, strangers, widows, and orphans) by the triennial tithe are followed by others which forbid oppression.
Deuteronomy 15:1. Seven years. During the last of the seven, i.e., Sabbatical year (Exodus 21:2; Exodus 28:11; Leviticus 25:4; Jeremiah 34:14). Release, let go, let lie applied to land (Exodus 33:11), and must be taken in the same sense here. “The command of the older legislation is here amplified. Not only is the land to have its ‘release’ or ‘rest’ for the year, but the debt also.”
Deuteronomy 15:2. Manner, cf. Deuteronomy 19:4; 1 Kings 9:15. Creditor. Master, i.e., owner of a loan, the lender. Release it, not by absolute discharge of the debt, but the payment was not to be pressed that year, during which there was total suspension of land cultivation. Exact, lit., press or urge his neighbour to pay. Brother. An Israelite in opposition to a stranger or foreigner. Called, render “because proclamation has been made of the Lord’s release.” (Speak. Com.) The verb is impersonal (“they call”), as Genesis 11:9; Genesis 16:14. The Sabbatical year, like the year of Jubilee, was proclaimed for Jehovah, in honour of Him, sanctified to Him, and according to His command.
Deuteronomy 15:3. Foreigner. Not one who lived among the Israelites, for whom they must have pity; but a stranger of another nation not related to them at all, one who was not bound by this restriction and who could earn income in the seventh as in other years.
Deuteronomy 15:4. Save. The debt for the year must be released except when there would be no poor borrower. If he was rich, the restoration of the loan might be demanded even in this year. The margin “to the end that there be no poor,” etc.—that none be reduced to poverty and distress. Bless. The creditor would be no loser by not exacting his debt, for God would specially bless the land.
Deuteronomy 15:5. Only if they were obedient.
Deuteronomy 15:6. Lend. Remarkably fulfilled in Jewish history. Reign, rule, because superior in wealth (cf. Deuteronomy 28:1).
Deuteronomy 15:7-5.15.11. The foregoing laws might operate to the disadvantage of the poor in seeking relief. Mores exhorts them not to cherish a mean and selfish spirit, but give liberally and God will bless them.
Deuteronomy 15:7. Harden. Do not suppress natural feeling and compassion.
Deuteronomy 15:8. Sufficient. Whatever he needs.
Deuteronomy 15:9. Thought, lit. a word of Belial or worthlessness in thy heart, by saying the seventh year is at hand; I shall not be able to demand what I lend. Evil, i.e., thou cherishest ill feeling (cf. Deuteronomy 28:54; Deuteronomy 28:56). Lord against, brings down anger upon thee.
Deuteronomy 15:11. Never cease, for sin never ceases. Poverty permitted partly as punishment of sin, and partly to exercise benevolent and charitable feelings.
Deuteronomy 15:12-5.15.18. Hebrew servants’ freedom. Provisions for the poor are followed naturally by rules for the manumission of Hebrew slaves.
Deuteronomy 15:12. Sold. “The last extremity of an insolvent debtor when his house or land was not sufficient to cancel his debt, was to be sold as a slave with his family” (Leviticus 25:39; 2 Kings 4:1; Nehemiah 5:1-16.5.13; Job 24:9; Matthew 18:25). These commands are repeated from Exodus 21:2-2.21.6, with explanations characteristic of Deut.
Deuteronomy 15:13-5.15.14. Empty. This an addition. Liberal provision must be made to aid in regaining original status in society. Furnish, lit. lay on his neck, i.e., load him. For they were once redeemed from slavery.
Deuteronomy 15:15-5.15.16. If he say. The slave might choose to remain with his master instead of going into freedom; then he was not forced to go.
Deuteronomy 15:17. His ear must be bored with an awl, and fastened to the door—a symbol of permanent servitude (cf. Exodus 21:4-2.21.6). If a slave determines to have freedom, it must not be considered hard.
Deuteronomy 15:18. He has been worth a double-hired servant—“earned and produced so much, that if you had been obliged to keep a day-labourer in his place it would have cost you twice as much.” (Keil.) He had been without wages for a fixed time, whereas hired servants were engaged yearly (Leviticus 25:53), at most for three years (Isaiah 16:14).
Deuteronomy 15:19-5.15.23. Dedication of the firstborn of cattle. Firstling, the firstborn, was dedicated to God as a memorial of deliverance from Egypt, virtually sanctified the whole (Romans 11:16), and was a pledge to all the people of their national union with Him (Exodus 23:30; Leviticus 22:27). No work. The injunction is added that animals thus set apart were not to be used for earthly purposes, by shearing sheep or yoking bullocks to the plough. They were to be offered year by year and eaten before the Lord. If any were blemished, blind or lame they must not be offered (Deuteronomy 15:21); but might, like ordinary animals, be used for food, and could be eaten in all cities of the land.
THE YEAR OF RELEASE.—Deuteronomy 15:1-5.15.7
In this legislation we have wonderful provision for the convenience of Israel, and striking contrast between the wisdom, equity, and mercy of the Hebrew lawgiver and the highest pagan laws. Every seventh year was a year of release, in which the ground rested from culture and the servants freed from debt.
I. The persons to be released. The Sabbatic year was a year of great relief, therefore indicating great distress. The subjects requiring help are described in various terms.
1. Foreigners not to be discharged. They were outside this arrangement. A stranger from another nation, distinguished from one who lived among them and had claim to benevolence, had no right to remission and privileges. This gives protection to an Israelite and displays no hatred or injustice to a foreigner. “He could earn his usual income in the seventh as in other years, and therefore is not exonerated from liability to discharge a debt any more in the one than the others.” “Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it.”
2. Neighbours must be released. “He shall not exact it of his neighbour or of his brother.” Fellow-Israelites were members of one society and regarded as a “common brotherhood,” a type of “the household of faith,” enjoying equal rights and privileges; sharing that divine love which embraces all and offers pardon to all.
3. These neighbours are described as debtors. “Every creditor that lendeth to his neighbor”—the poor borrowed not for trade nor extravagance, but for subsistence. He could not pay without reducing himself to poverty, or seeking relief in other countries which would be wrong. Kindness must be shown by the lender and gratitude by the borrower. The rich are indebted to the poor as well as the poor dependent upon the rich. God has bound all classes into one family.
II. The reasons for releasing them. Several considerations urge obedience to this law.
1. The honour of God is concerned. “Because it is the Lord’s release.” God claims regard to His authority, and acknowledgment of His providence. We depend upon Him and hold all property from Him. Release of debts was an act for God, the poorest sacrifice, the meanest labour offered to Him are sacred. Purity of motive dignifies toil and renders benevolent acts acceptable to God.
2. Extreme poverty was prevented. “To the end there shall be no more poor among you” (margin, Deuteronomy 15:4). Exaction of debts would have reduced many to great straits at a time when there was no labour nor produce. Poverty would be a reproach to the nation and the destruction of its people. The Great Shepherd of Israel considers the poorest of His flock, and like a king protects those who dwell under His shadow. “In the multitude of people is the king’s honour; but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince” (Proverbs 14:28).
3. The favour of God was secured. “For the Lord shall bless thee” (Deuteronomy 15:4). They would lose nothing by obedience. God would grant a special blessing on the land. Selfishness evades obligation under cover of prudence. But what we give is a loan to the Lord, who pays again with interest. He gives security in His word which can never fail. Though He is indebted to none, but has a right to all, yet He condescends to be surety for the poor and debtor to His true Helper. “He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again” (Proverbs 19:17).
THE RESTRAINTS OF OPPRESSION.—Deuteronomy 15:7-5.15.11
The previous injunctions might prevent the poor from getting loans. Creditors might take advantage and become exacting towards the borrower. Moses admonishes them not to be hard-hearted and oppressive, but to cherish a spirit of charity and act with liberality. We have safeguards against oppression, checks upon selfishness and rapacity.
I. By Providential Interposition. “The Lord’s release,” which no authority could prevent. In this seventh year there was rest for the soil; pause in the race for wealth, and protection for the poor. In national and domestic affairs God often interferes. Tyrants upon the throne, and tormentors in the cottage, are restrained, delayed and frustrated in their design. In the ambition of Lot and the aggressions of Nebuchadnezzar, in the bondage of Egypt, and the revolutions of France, we had sad warnings against covetousness and haste to be rich. Grasping by unjust means will end in shame and fill with the curse of an avenging God.
The cries of orphans and the oppressor’s eye
Doth reach the stars.—Dryden.
II. By the enforcement of liberality. “Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him” (Deuteronomy 15:8). The claims of poorer brethren were to be generously and gladly met. The evasion of this duty was a sinful violation of the spirit of the law (Deuteronomy 15:9). It was designed to restrain the selfishness of the creditor and prevent him from pressing too hard upon the weak. “The rich ruleth over the poor” too often in harshness (Proverbs 22:7). Man becomes an alien to his brother, the victim of his meanness, not the object of his sympathy. The warnings of God’s word and providence are loud and repeated. “Whose stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he shall also cry himself but shall not be heard” (Proverbs 21:13).
III. By the cultivation of kindly feelings. “Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart” (Deuteronomy 15:9). We must not only bestow the gift, but cherish right feeling. It is possible to “give all our goods to feed the poor,” without one atom of true charity of heart (1 Corinthians 13:3). “Bowels of mercies and kindness” must be the mark and source of our liberality (express yearnings which touch our inward parts—Genesis 43:30; Jeremiah 31:20; Luke 1:78) (Colossians 3:12). We should think, feel, and act as God does, who is “pitiful and of tender mercy.”
Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods!
Draw near them, then, in being merciful:
Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge.—Shakespeare.
CONSIDERATION OF THE POOR.—Deuteronomy 15:9-5.15.11
Society is separated into distinct classes, yet bound together into one harmonious whole. If rich and poor would each do their duty in their stations, they would become reciprocally a blessing and support to the other. Special consideration must be given to the poor. For—
I. The oppression of the poor is offensive to God. “And he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be a sin unto thee.” God identifies Himself with their condition and cause, and sets infinite value upon every man. All are equal before Him. “There is no respect of persons before God.” Rigorous measures and harshness were distinctly forbidden, and grievously offensive to God (Leviticus 25:39-3.25.43).
II. The cry of the poor is heard by God. “He cry unto the Lord.” The sufferings of the distressed have a thousand tongues and appeal direct to God. The law condemned robbery for a single night (Leviticus 19:13), uttered woe against him “that useth his neighbour’s service without wages” (Jeremiah 22:13); and fearful judgement fell upon those who “oppressed the hireling in his wages” (Malachi 3:5). “The hire of labourers kept back by fraud crieth, and the cries enter the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth” (James 5:4).
III. Liberality to the poor will be rewarded by God. “For this thing the Lord will bless thee in all thy works” (Deuteronomy 15:10). Whatsover is done to poor disciples is done to their Master—“Ye have done it unto me” and will in no wise loose its reward. “Liberality,” says one,” is the most beneficial traffic that can be—it is bringing our wares to the best market—it is letting out our money into the best hands, we thereby lend our money to God, who repays with vast usury; an hundred to one is the rate He allows at present, and above a hundred millions to one He will render hereafter (Luke 18-24). “Blessed is he that considereth the poor.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 15:2. The Lord’s release.
1. Devised by His Wisdom
2. Revealing his goodness and grace.
3. Typifying “the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19).
Deuteronomy 15:6. Lending and borrowing.
1. Some borrow and are never able to lend.
2. Others borrow and forget to pay back.
3. He that borrows is servant to him that lends (Proverbs 22:7). He must be dependent and often, too, servile. Try not to borrow at all. “He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing.” Owe no man anything but love. “Guard against that poverty which is the result of carelessness or extravagance. Pray earnestly, labour diligently. Should you come to poverty by the misfortunes of the times, submit to your lot humbly, bear it patiently, cast yourself in childlike dependence upon your God.”—(Geier on Proverbs 22:7).
Deuteronomy 15:7-5.15.8. Hand and heart. The heart hardened shuts the hand and the poor suffer. The heart smpathethic opens the hands and the poor are relieved. The hand the expression of the heart. “My hand of iron,” said Napoleon, “was not at the extremity of my arm, it was immediately connected with my head.” “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack (a deceitful) hand” (Proverbs 10:4).
Deuteronomy 15:7-5.15.10. The claims of the poor upon the rich. 1. Claims of help in their poverty.
2. Claims of sympathy in distress. Triple Almoners—the feeling heart, the helping hand, the pure eye. “He can never keep his covenant with his God that makes not a covenant with his eyes.”—Bp. Hall.
Deuteronomy 15:11. Poor shall never cease out of the land.
1. The inequalities of life. Physically we have a thousand varieties, and all possible contrasts. Mentally there are feeble-minded and strong-minded giants and dwarfs. Socially one lives in luxury and clothed with fine linen, another is covered with sores and clad in rags.
2. The appointment of Providence. We have the poor, notwithstanding our legislation, “poor laws,” and “almshouses.” “Ye have the poor always with you.”
3. The bond to unite men together. Inequalities serve to bind men one to another. The man of labour needs the man of capital, and the man of capital the man of labour. The man who sets class against class and teaches them to regard each other with suspicion and ill-will is an enemy to society. “The Lord,” says Bp. Sanderson, “in His wise providence, hath so disposed the kings of the world that there should ever be some rich to relieve the necessities of the poor, and some poor to exercise the charity of the rich.” “There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor” (2 Samuel 12:1)
Duty of the Church towards the poor. Consider—I. That poverty is a real evil, which without any impeachment of the goodness or wisdom of Providence, the constitution of the world actually admits. II. That providential appointment of this evil, is subservience to the general good, brings a particular obligation upon men in civilised society, to concur for the immediate extinction of the evil wherever it appears.—Bp. Horsley.
THE LIBERATION OF SLAVES.—Deuteronomy 15:12-5.15.17
Slavery existed among the Hebrews in a totally distinct spirit and method from modern slavery. Human traffic and human cruelty were punished and forbidden (cf. Exodus 21:26; Leviticus 25:39-3.25.43), servitude was limited in time and relieved by a spirit of generosity. Beyond six years’ service a Jewish bondman need not go. The Sabbatic year brought liberty, if he thought fit to claim it. Provision was not only made for the forgiveness of debts, but for the freedom of debtors. There was personal release, hence learn—
I. The infinite value God sets upon man. Kidnapping was a most atrocious crime in the time of Moses. In Egypt, bloody wars were carried on for that purpose, and in heathen countries slaves offered for sale were obtained in this way. Kidnapping is a crime against the person only a little short of murder, since it deprives of liberty, which makes life dear. Many would prefer death to slavery. It is a calamity most terrible, inflicting misery for life. “The sum of all villainies,” says Wesley. God has made man in His own image, and exalted him above the brutes. The poorest and most enslaved are stamped with divine value. He that diminishes this value and looks upon his fellow men as “goods and chattels,” he that mutilates or injures them will be amenable to “the Judge of all.”
II. The wonderful provision God has made for man’s freedom. Freedom is the birthright of man; it should neither be bartered nor taken away by violence. If lost at any time through temporary causes, it must not be forgotten nor destroyed. In these demands for the rights of slaves we see the wisdom of the Divine Lawgiver, the rectitude of His laws, and the natural rights of His creatures. We are reminded also of provision in Jesus Christ, not from temporal but spiritual bondage—a provision
(2) free, and
(3) divine. “He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor, deliverance to the captives,” etc. (Luke 4:18-42.4.19).
III. The true spirit with which this freedom must be granted. The value of a gift often depends upon the spirit in which it is bestowed.
1. The spirit of love. “Thy brother.” We must forgive, love, and help as brethren. “All things are easy to love,” says Augustine. When Achilles was asked what works he found most easy, he answered, “Those which 1 undertake for my friends.”
2. The spirit of forgiveness. However great the loan or debt, it must be forgiven. “The highest exercise of charity is charity towards the uncharitable. (Buckminster.)
3. The spirit of liberality. Liberality ungrudging. “Thine heart shall not be grieved” (Deuteronomy 15:10); disinterested, “open thine hand wide;” extensive, “lend him sufficient for his need” (Deuteronomy 15:8). “The liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.”
4. The spirit of gratitude. “Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 15:15.) God delivered them from bondage and enriched them with spoils. What base ingratitude to be insensible for mercies received! What sin not to acknowledge or repay them! As God treats us so we must treat one another. Forgive without reluctance and request; help liberally and cheerfully and God’s blessing will rest upon us and upon our posterity.
PERPETUAL SERVICE CHOSEN.—Deuteronomy 15:16-5.15.18
The Hebrew slave was kindly treated, might actually love his master and value the security which he enjoyed in his service more than freedom. He might be unwilling to break up the family, and wish to remain for ever in his servitude. “If he say, I will not go away from thee,” etc. Then a formal act was necessary to seal the covenant.
I. The spirit in which the servitude was chosen.
1. It was a voluntary choice. “I will not go.” The master did not compel the slave to stay. God does not rule us by force and physical law, like stars and seas. There is no true service where there is compulsion. Jesus appeals to the will. “Will ye be my disciples?”
2. It was a choice of love. “He loveth thee and thine house.” Affection may grow up between slaves and masters. The Roman slaves would endure severest tortures rather than betray or accuse their owners. If the law of love ruled more in domestic affairs, between masters and servants, employers and employed, it would sweeten toil and secure peace and prosperity. “God counts that free service which love dictates and not necessity.”—(Augustine.) “Lovest thou me.”
What love can do, that dares love attempt.—Shakespeare.
II. The badge by which it was distinguished. Voluntary sacrifice of freedom was ratified by a significant ceremony and distinguished by a certain mark. The servant’s ear was put to the door-post and bored through with an awl, by the sanctions of the judges (cf. Exodus 21:5-2.21.6). If the process was not painful, there was a manifest dishonour willingly endured. We have to bear the cross to endure shame and reproach, if not bodily sufferings, for our Divine Master. Slaves were branded by their owners. Paul gloried in the marks (stigmas, brands) of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:17). Let us give ourselves to Him, delight in His service, and never be afraid nor ashamed to confess Him before men.
THE SABBATIC YEAR.—Deuteronomy 15:1-5.15.18
This year, like the Jubilee, was a memorable time. Regarding it in its evangelical aspects, notice—
I. The method of introducing it. A solemn, loud and universal proclamation was made. A type of the earnest and importunate call of the gospel—the “glad tidings of great joy.” The priests, not civil magistrates, were to make the proclamation. They acted by the authority of God. Ministers must preach the gospel in God’s name to every creature.
II. The blessings which it brought. These symbolise the blessings of redemption in Christ Jesus.
1. Release from debt. “In whom we have forgiveness of sins.”
2. Removal from bondage. Introduction to a new condition, a fresh start in life. “Liberty wherewith Christ makes us free.”
3. Checks to evil. By extirpating evil from the “heart” and “eye,” by cultivating kindly feeling and uniting into one common brotherhood.
4. Establishment of peace and repose. Peace among men; repose amidst agitation and revolution in society, amidst pressure of population, unequal distribution of wealth and the selfishness of mankind. Christianity allies itself with everything that is free, generous and just. Let it shed its own glorious light on home and workshop, in social customs and civil laws. Then truth and righteousness will advance, and angels again may sing “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will amongst men.”
DEDICATION OF THE FIRSTBORN.—Deuteronomy 15:19-5.15.23
“First fruits” seem to be the offerings of natural piety among all nations. God demanded from Israel the setting apart (Exodus 13:11) and the consecration of the firstborn of man and beast.
I. As a divine claim upon all. The first and choicest of all we have—property, time, intellect, wealth and affections must be given to His service. No bullock did servile work. Nothing must be given to the world. God has a perfect right to all redeemed life. This life should be without blemish and offence. “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God’s.”
II. As a representative of entire consecration. The first represents the whole. Only a whole or perfect creature could represent the offering of a man’s heart and life to God (Matthew 1:8). Nothing must be kept back—“All for Jesus.” “Present your bodies (i.e. yourselves, your persons) a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable” (Romans 12:1).
III. As an indication of the spirit of the worshipper. References to passages will show the frequency of these injunctions, and the danger there was of disregarding them.
1. A spirit of holiness. There must be no legal defect, no blemish in the offerings. God demands rectitude of heart and life.
2. A spirit of readiness. There must be no forgetfulness, no unwillingness, but readiness to offer. “Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits” (Exodus 22:29).
3. A spirit of fellowship. The offering of the firstborn brought them into God’s presence, taught dependence upon Him, and was a means of intercourse with God.
IV. As a type of the perfect offering of Jesus. Christ was the firstborn of all creatures—a sacrifice, a substitute for us, without spot or blemish. To Him all firstlings and firstborn pointed. He offered Himself to God in life and death, and with Him was God well pleased. “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 15:12-5.15.15. Freedom. I. Condition from which released. Debt, bondage and degradation. A picture of helpless sinners, sold under sin, and indebted to law. II. Method of release by divine appointment and proclamation. “The Lord’s release.” The release of bond-servants. In this ordinance we may see—I. An encouraging emblem. It represents—
1. The redemption which God vouchsafes to His people.
2. The mercy which He exercises towards His redeemed. II. An instructive lesson. We are to regard God’s mercies as—
1. A pattern for our imitation.
2. A notice for our exertion.—Rev. C. Simeon, M.A.
Deuteronomy 15:14-5.15.15. Poverty.
1. A test of civility and kindness.
2. A touchstone of friendship and sympathy.
3. A reminder of life’s changes. “He travels safe and not unpleasantly, who is guarded by poverty and guided by love.”—Sir P. Sidney.
Deuteronomy 15:16-5.15.17. Voluntary servitude.
1. The Master loved. “He loveth thee,” good, lenient and kind. When we enter the service of any master we enquire after his character, the nature of his employment, the support which he affords, and the rewards which he offers. Jesus is our Master, our only Master, good and powerful.
2. The service entered. Reasonable, cheerful, and life-long. God’s service is perfect freedom, holy and satisfactory. Enter this service now. Continue in it “unto the end.”
Deuteronomy 15:19-5.15.23. Dedications of firstlings.
1. In remembrance of deliverance from the house of bondage. That which is spared by special providence should be solemnly dedicated to God. Hence—
2. This claim of the firstborn rests upon divine goodness and grace. Not upon the natural proprietorship of God as Creator of all things; but upon the grace of the call. Israel was a consecrated because a redeemed people. Because Jehovah had delivered their firstborn, they were to be sanctified to Him.” “It is mine.”
Deuteronomy 15:21. Blemished life.
1. God only accepts the perfect.
2. God has given the perfect, through which He will bless man. Man is guilty before God. Cannot offer the fruit of his body, the firstlings of his flocks, for the sin of his soul. But in Jesus “our righteousness,” we are accepted and blessed.
Deuteronomy 15:23. Blood.
1. Blood spilt, life lost, death deserved through guilt.
2. The animal offered, atonement made for guilt. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul (Leviticus 17:10-3.17.11).
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 15
Deuteronomy 15:1. Release. It remains with you then to decide whether that freedom, at whose voice the kingdoms of Europe awoke from the sleep of ages, to run a career of virtuous emulation in everything great and good; the freedom which dispelled the mists of superstition, and invited the nations to behold their God; whose magic touch kindled the rays of genius, the enthusiasm of poetry, and the flame of eloquence; the freedom which poured into our lap opulence and arts, and embellished life with innumerable institutions and improvements, till it became a theatre of wonders; it is for you to decide whether this freedom shall yet survive, or be covered with a funeral pall, and wrapt in eternal gloom.—R. Hall.
Deuteronomy 15:2-5.15.4. Creditor. There is greatness in being generous, and there is only simple justice in satisfying creditors. Generosity is the part of the soul raised above the vulgar.—Goldsmith.
Deuteronomy 15:4. Bless thee. If then we will needs lay up, where should we rather repose it, than in the Christian’s treasury? The poor man’s hand is the treasury of Christ. All my superfluity shall be hoarded up, where I know it will be safely kept.—Bp. Hall.
Deuteronomy 15:7-5.15.11. Not a thought in thy wicked heart. Extreme vigour is sure to arm everything against it, and at length to relax into supreme neglect. (Burke). A desire to resist oppression is implanted in the nature of man.—Tacitus.
Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure;
Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.
Deuteronomy 15:8. Open thine hand. Howard’s rule—so nobly expounded by his own self-denying devotedness—is a fine comment on this. “That our own superfluities give way to other men’s convenience; that our conveniences give way to other men’s necessaries; and that our necessaries give way to other men’s extremities.” (Quoted by Bridge). Thy poor brother. Why should I for a little difference in this one particular, of worldly wealth, despise my poor brother? When so many and great things unite us, shall wealth only disunite us? One sun shines on both, one blood bought us both; one heaven will receive us both; only he hath not so much of earth as I, and possibly much more of Christ. And why should I disdain him on earth, whom haply the Lord will advance above me in heaven.—Bp. Reynolds.
Deuteronomy 15:10. Give him. There cannot be a more glorious object in creation than a human being, replete with benevolence, meditating in what manner he might render himself most acceptable to his Creator, by doing most good to His creatures. (Fielding.) Nothing is more conformable to God’s nature, or renders us more like Him than beneficence.—Barrow.
Deuteronomy 15:16-5.15.18. Not go away. Servitude seizes on few, but many seize on her.—Seneca.
James 2:0, on his death-bed, thus addressed his son, “There is no slavery like sin, and no liberty like God’s service.” “A good servant,” says Luther, “is a real God-send; but truly, it is a rare bird in the land.” “If I had served my God as faithfully as my king, He would not have thus forsaken me.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 15". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent