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CRITICAL NOTES.—The discourse is continued—the subject of that is the covenant of Israel with God—its privileges conferred and obligations imposed. Besides (Deuteronomy 29:1), not a new covenant, but repetition, renewal of the old at a suitable time.
Deuteronomy 29:2-9. Obligation to obey on account of what God had done for Israel. All Israel. Represented by Elders (cf. Deuteronomy 29:10). Temptations. Testings, provings (cf. Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 7:19). Not given. They felt no want and did not ask. This complaint not to excuse weakness, but to direct them in right course. I (Deuteronomy 29:5). Jehovah introduced as speaking. Clothes and shoes preserved classified with the gift of manna, therefore better understood, not as a natural supply from flocks and herds, but as a miraculous act. Know (Deuteronomy 29:6). Practical knowledge of God, design of this goodness, Deuteronomy 29:7; cf. Deuteronomy 2:32; Deuteronomy 3:1; Deuteronomy 29:8; cf. Deuteronomy 3:12-13; Deuteronomy 9:0. Prosper. Lit, act wisely (Deuteronomy 32:29; Joshua 1:7; 1 Kings 2:3. “The connexion of wisdom in conduct and prosperity in circumstances is noteworthy” (Sp. Com.).
Deuteronomy 29:10-15. Summons to enter the covenant afresh that they may really be God’s people. Your tribes, lit. your captains, your tribes, your elders, etc. The word “tribes” apparently denotes all not in office. All were represented if not present. Stranger represents all foreign servants bought with money (Exodus 12:44) or taken in war. Little ones represented by parents or guardians. Menial servants not excluded. None exempt from the terms of national covenant, which embraced not only those living, but posterity (Deuteronomy 29:14).
Deuteronomy 29:16-29. Once more denouncing rejection in case of apostasy, or breach of covenant. Deuteronomy 29:16-17 not parenthetic as in the A. V. Deuteronomy 29:18 stands in close connection not with Deuteronomy 29:15, but with what immediately precedes. The people are reminded (Deuteronomy 29:16-17) of what they had witnessed in Egypt and on the journey, of the vileness of idolatry, and that experience is urged (Deuteronomy 29:18) as a motive for shunning that heinous sin (Sp. Com.) Idols (Deuteronomy 29:17), lit. clods or stocks which can be rolled about (Leviticus 26:30). Deuteronomy 29:18. Root, a picture of destructive fruit of idolatry. Gall, hemlock (Hosea 10:4; Amos 6:12), Wormwood (Jeremiah 9:15; Lamentations 3:19), both terms indicate distress and trouble resulting from sin; Deuteronomy 29:19, bless, congratulate himself; imagination, lit. in firmness, hardness of my heart (from Hebrew word, to twist together, to be tough or firm). Add, a proverbial expression, rather difficult, denoting the addition of indulgence and sin to the desire, or that the drunken lead astray others who have only desire.”
Deuteronomy 29:20-21. Such cannot escape God’s anger, which, like Smoke, breaks forth in fire (Psalms 74:1); blots out (ch. Deuteronomy 9:14; Deuteronomy 25:19; Exodus 17:14).
Deuteronomy 29:22-23. Effects of sin would blast the once rich and flourishing region; future generations astonished would ask the meaning of this devastation (Deuteronomy 29:24), and would receive the reply the strokes of God had smitten the land and its inhabitants. Deuteronomy 29:29 expresses humble submission and solemn warning. Secret, hidden things belong to God, counsels and purposes concerning nations, reasons of his dealings with them, together with time and methods, &c.; revealed injunctions, threatenings, and promises are things with which we have to do which we should teach our children.
SPIRITUAL DULNESS.—Deuteronomy 29:1-9
God had done marvellous things for Israel, yet they were unchanged and disobedient; insensible to miracle and unable to discern the purpose of God in his dealings with them.
I. God performs striking events in man’s history. Israel’s history was eventful from beginning to end.
1. Wonderful deliverance. Egypt was plagued, they were set free; some were smitten, they were preserved. “I gave people for thy life.”
2. Continual guidance. They knew not, could never have discovered the way, but they were not lost. “I have led you” (Deuteronomy 29:5). God guides in the residence, journeys, and enterprises of life.
3. Daily support (Deuteronomy 29:5-6). Food and raiment. Their little stock, increased by Egyptian gifts and the spoils of Amalekites, by a distinguished act of grace was preserved for forty years.
4. Victory over enemies (Deuteronomy 29:7). So now God delivers from fear, temptations, and persecutors.
5. Acquisition of inheritance (Deuteronomy 29:9). Land taken from their enemies to enrich them. “Land is a part of God’s estate in the globe; and when a parcel of ground is deeded to you, and you walk over it, it seems as if you had come into partnership with the original Proprietor of the earth.”—H. W. Beecher.
II. These striking events reveal God to men. “That ye might know that I am the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 29:6). They manifest God, and are designed to educate and train us to obedience.
1. In terrible judgments. “The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth.”
2. In signal mercies. God bestows favours to lead us to repentance and faith. Turn from speculations to facts. Our life is not shaped by fate, nor directed by chance. It is crowded with mercies and judgments—events which reveal the hand of God, illustrate the blessing of obedience and the danger of sin.
III. Men do not always understand these events. Israel had not “a heart to perceive and eyes to see,” notwithstanding their wonderful history and varied experience. How does this happen?
1. Because they are thoughtless. We must think, to feel—seek, to know. We can never comprehend without thought, nor discern God without meditation. “The works of the Lord are great, sought out by them that have pleasure therein.”
2. Because they are alienated in feeling. If we take no interest in a person, we do not wish to know and serve him. If our hearts are alienated from God, we are blind to his manifestations in nature. We lose power “to retain God in knowledge” (Romans 1:28), become void, spiritually stupid, whatever our boasted science and philosophy.
3. Because judicially blind. Neglect or abuse any faculty, it is taken away. Shut your eyes and you cannot see, close your hearts and you cannot feel. Vision without perception, hearing without instruction, is the result of sin and the appointment of God. “Go unto this people and say—Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand,” etc. (Isaiah 6:9; Acts 28:24; Acts 28:27).
IV. When men will not understand these striking events they are guilty.
No excuse whatever. There was no want of evidence and no lack of instruction. They could not say let God speak louder, fuller, or oftener. Every form of lesson, in every available method, was given.
1. The events are revealed to the senses. Israel saw the destruction of their enemies. The pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire—the glory of God were visible. But nothing will touch the heart if the eyes are closed. “Unto thee it was shewed that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God.”
2. The events are interpreted by God’s Word. Newspapers are needful, but an intimate acquaintance with scripture will help to solve the problems and discover the meaning of life. Providence and scripture are pages of the same volume, one expounds what the other performs. “Seek ye out of the Book of the Lord and read” (Isaiah 34:16).
3. The events may be understood by prayer. God teaches when we apply to Him—gives knowledge and wisdom to those who lack and seek (James 1:5-7). In this school did Joseph and David get their learning. If dull, God will teach us, and “who teacheth like him?” So patiently, so gratuitously and so efficiently. His lessons are grandest in their nature and most vital in their interests. Let us listen and learn; let us see and understand. If we close our eyes to the wonders of life and our hearts to the appeals of the gospel we may be given up to spiritual hardness and helplessness. “Make the heart of this people fat, etc.”
MEN’S BLINDNESS IN SPIRITUAL THINGS.—Deuteronomy 29:4
Consider this complaint—
I. As uttered by Moses against the people of his charge. They had “seen” with their bodily eyes all the wonders that had been wrought for them. They understood not.
1. The true character of that dispensation.
2. The obligations which it entailed upon them.
II. As applicable to ourselves at this day.
1. By the great mass of nominal Christians the nature of the gospel is very indistinctly seen.
2. The effects of it are very partially experienced. Address—
(1.) Those who are altogether blind.
(2.) Those who think they see.
(3.) Those whose eyes God has opened.—C. Simeon, M. A.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 29:1-2. Renewed covenant.
1. This needful for us.
(1.) When its conditions are violated.
(2.) When placed in fit circumstances. Israel in Horeb and about to enter the land.
(3.) When leaders are taken by death. Moses, about to die, anxious to expound and enforce the law, urges to obedience.
2. This displays God’s goodness to us. Deep concern, continual watchfulness and activity, repetition of instruction and grief at unbelief. “O that there was such a heart in them” (Ch. Deuteronomy 5:29).
Deuteronomy 29:3. Divine methods of human training. Elements of education in human life. Temptations, trials to teach dependence and strengthen faith. Signs which discover law and reveal God’s presence. Miracles, indicative of supernatural power to control events and impress the heart. But insight is required to receive and practice the lesson. Be “men who understand the times.”
Deuteronomy 29:4. A great danger. Lest the great things of this life blind men to spiritual interests and spiritual peril. Thus become a bait by which they are caught and destroyed (Romans 11:8). “Unwillingness to see is punished by incapacity of seeing. The natural punishment to spiritual perversity is spiritual blindness.” This explains the indifference of many who constantly hear and constantly reject the gospel—is a mark of God’s anger and a foretaste of more terrible punishment. What God has inflicted God alone can remove. None can open the eyes of the blind but He who has closed them.
Deuteronomy 29:5. Clothes. Not the worse for wearing, but grew as their bodies did, some think. They needed not to trouble themselves with those anxious thoughts of heathens, what they should eat, drink, or put on. Never was prince served and supplied in such state as these Israelites were.—Trapp.
Deuteronomy 29:6. From this verse we learn that during their desert journeys of forty years the Israelites abstained from all kinds of yayin and shaker, unfermented and fermented, innocent and inebriating. Hence those “do greatly err, not knowing the scriptures,” who either deride abstinence as a novelty, or condemn it as an impracticable or dangerous habit of life.—Temp. Com.
SUMMONS TO RENEWED CONSECRATION.—Deuteronomy 29:10-15
Israel urged to enter into covenant again. This implies two contracting parties. Hence God is present, and they stand before Him in representative capacity.
I. This consecration is urgent. “This day.” A day of solemn events and remembrances; of self-examination and pressing duties; of high hope and inspiring enterprise. Life has its bright and dark days. Its friendships, trials, and obligations. There should be no delay. This very hour is “big with life’s futurities.” Procrastination may ruin.
II. This consecration is representative. All were summoned to attend. Leaders, “captains of tribes,” elders and officers, must set an example, and think it no dishonour to renew their covenant with God. Women and children must not be forgotten, but numbered with those present. Little ones are fit to be joined in covenant to the Lord. Strangers as well as sons of Israel; servants as well as free men; those absent and those present, posterity for generations to come—all concerned. This an indication of favour to Gentiles, a type of the covenant of grace. “The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
III. This consecration will exalt and establish the nation. “That he may establish thee to-day” Deuteronomy 29:13.
1. By restoring to God. “A people unto Himself” to fear, love and obey Him. “Be unto thee a God,” according to his promise and purpose. This personal relationship is most needful, specially delightful to God, and constantly set forth in Deuteronomy 2:0. By creating a sense of obligation to God. In covenant we pledge ourselves to remember God and cherish a sense of duty. We forget obligation, require deeper feeling and renewed devotion. Personal faith in God and national dependence upon Him are stronger than iron ships and granite walls. Without these we have no superiority, no permanency, no power to establish and preserve a church or a people. “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”
HOMILECTIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 29:10. Stand. As subjects to swear allegiance—an assembly to worship—an army to fight. A solemn and noble position!
“They also serve who stand and wait.”
God examining man. “This day”—a day of thankfulness, regrets, interesting recollections, uncertainty, anticipation. The position indicated implies:—I. That we depend upon God’s bounty. II. That we are continually open to His inspection. III. That our future destiny is in His hands. Application—Let us this day stand before the Lord.
1. Humble penitents.
2. Sincere believers.
3. Faithful servants.—Bib. Museum.
Deuteronomy 29:12. Enter into covenant. More than repeating it, coming near to it or mere profession of it. Entire, real entrance, sharing its benefits and going into its obligations. “The expression is very remarkable. It is one of those proofs of the exceeding greatness of the love and condescension of God, which are so often found in the Bible. He might command simply and tell the creature The obligation of that command is on you, whether you like it or not. But he asks man freely to accept what eternally is his duty, to enter into covenant with him; that is, openly to accept his service, that he may bless us.”—(Cumming.)
DANGERS TO BE SHUNNED.—Deuteronomy 29:16-21
Moses now warns against breaking the covenant into which they have entered; he describes the fearful results of apostasy.
I. Idolatry with its abominations. Their experience should have taught them how worthless, how helpless idols were in Egypt and on the march to Canaan.
1. Abominations which were prevalent. Egypt was addicted to such evils, and many were tainted through dwelling there.
2. Abominations which were fascinating. “Ye have seen abominations” in other nations; still hanker after them, and are almost drawn away. “Idols of wood and stone, silver and gold,” are more attractive than the invisible God. If the lessons of experience were treasured up and utilised, we should avoid many dangers. “Experience is an excellent schoolmaster.”—Carlyle.
II. Apostasy with its evils. “Lest there should be among you man or woman,” &c. (Deuteronomy 29:18).
1. Apostasy beginning with individuals. The lump is what its particles are, the nation as its individuals. Personal influence and character affect the community. “The worth of a state, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it” (J. S. Mill). “One sinner destroyeth much good.”
2. Apostasy bitter in results. “A root that beareth gall and wormwood”—a root deeply planted, firmly strengthened, and mischievously productive; quick in growth and stupifying in nature. Sin, like poison, destroys the life of a nation. The bread of idolatry, sweet in the mouth, becomes bitter in the experience: what is pleasant in the taste convulses the system with pain. Its riches will sicken, turn to moral poison, “and he shall vomit them up again” (Job 20:14-16).
III. Presumption with its risks. “And it come to pass that he bless himself” (Deuteronomy 29:19). This supposes that one may think himself secure, even amidst danger; promise impunity though persisting in impiety; daring presumption, an affront to God and a certain ruin!
1. The method of presumption. (a) False promises. “I shall have peace,” when there is no peace. (b) Intense blindness. He blesses himself, when the words of the curse are thundering in his ear. (c) Abominable wickedness. Walking in the imagination of his own heart, when God urges obedience to his commands. Indulging in lust, “adding drunkenness to thirst” and sin to sin.
2. The consequences of presumption. “The Lord will not spare him” (Deuteronomy 29:20). He will be detected, arraigned, and convicted; escape is impossible. He will be—(a) Exposed to divine retribution, “the anger of the Lord,” &c.; (b) Shut out from covenant blessings (Deuteronomy 29:21); (c) Unforgiven in offence; (d) Forgotten in existence. No perpetuation of name, no posterity to succeed him. “According to all the curses written in the book” (Deuteronomy 29:21). The covenant has curses as well as blessings: God is just as well as gracious. If we presume upon good when indulging in sin, we shall be awfully deceived. “He that presumes steps into the throne of God” (Dr. South). “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.”
THE IMPIOUS BOASTER.—Deuteronomy 29:19
I. Boasting in abominable wickedness. Glorying in shame.
1. Walking in a course of self-indulgence.
2. Enticing others by his example. Asserting their security, and leading others to think as they do. “They say still unto them that despise Me the Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.” Jeremiah 23:17.
II. Boasting with resolute purpose. “I walk in the firmness (hardness) of my heart”—sin hardens by its deceitfulness and continuance. The “conscience is seared” (branded as with a hot iron) by burning lusts, 1 Timothy 4:2. The heart is obdurate and unmoved by warnings and curses. “Hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
III. Boasting ending in utter ruin. Men rejoice in iniquity. “All such rejoicing is evil,” most fatal. There is no evasion, no escape. “The Lord will not spare him.” “All the curses shall lie upon him.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 29:16-17. Ye know, &c. The discipline of experience. Precepts and instruction useful but practical wisdom only learnt in the school of experience. Israel were taught valuable lessons in Egypt and the wilderness. Have we learned courage and confidence in conflicts and victories? What have we gained indiscipline of heart and mind? “Give me understanding and I shall keep thy law.”
Deuteronomy 29:18. The heart turned.
1. Apostasy in its origin “the heart.” “An evil heart of unbelief.”
2. Apostasy in its results—(a). Turning away from God. (b). Joining idols. God admits of no rival. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”
Wormwood. Sin a bitter root, bearing deadly fruit as in Achan, Joshua 7:25, and in those who turned to idols and seduced others. The apostle allluding to this text says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God (fall short), lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” Hebrews 12:15.
Deuteronomy 29:19. Danger of carnal security. I. The astonishing delusion of sinners. On every side we behold—
1. Their fearlessness;
2. Their self-complacency.
3. Their confidence. II. Their awful doom.
1. Infallibly certain.
2. Inexpressibly severe. Learn
(1.) To compassionate the ungodly world.
(2.) To be on our guard against being influenced by its advice.
(3.) To be thankful if God has made us to differ from it.—C. Simeon, M. A.
WARNINGS TO POSTERITY.—Deuteronomy 29:22-28
When punishment comes upon them for wickedness, all thoughtful people around them will be convinced of the righteous judgments of God in the fulfilment of His word.
I. Posterity influenced by present conduct. The nation is organic—one whole community. In the covenant, those present represented those absent. So future generations share in our privileges, reap the consequences of our decisions and sins.
1. The land may be affected. Canaan was afflicted with “plagues and sicknesses,” consumed with fire, and overthrown like Sodom. The garden of the Lord was turned into desolation and waste. The sterility of Palestine is the stranger’s wonder (Volney’s “Ruins”), and a historic witness and warning to nations. “He turneth … a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein” (Psalms 107:33-34).
2. The people may be affected. “Rooted out and cast into other lands” (Deuteronomy 29:28). Our children will be better or worse, upset or confirmed in virtue, by our moral conduct. Physical features are characteristic of races: so moral features are stamped upon descendants. Calculate upon remote results. “Generations to come” may be astonished, afflicted, and cursed by our actions. “The evil that men do,” as well as the good, “lives after them.” “Thou recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them.”
II. Posterity so concerned will enquire into the reasons. The condition of the nation the reverse of what it had been—read in the light of history and prophecy the change astonishing. Hence the question, “Wherefore?” (Deuteronomy 29:24). God has reasons for retribution. These reasons may be known from His word, when known they should check our wickedness. Learn:
1. The natural connection between suffering and sin. They forsook God and served idols (Deuteronomy 29:25), sins are reproduced in posterity, bound by an indissoluble chain of causation to the future. To-day’s actions are the result of yesterday’s, and the cause of future conditions.
2. The visible proof of this connection in providential history. Divine retribution manifest the sins of nations and the judgment of God upon them. The sterility of Palestine explains the broken covenant. Its barren hills and mute appeal—its awful silence and impressive scenes, utter the curse of God and turn spectators into enquiring penitents. “The curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him” (Daniel 9:11; Daniel 9:13-14; cf. 1 Kings 9:8-9; Jeremiah 22:8-9).
NATIONAL DEFECTION AND GRIEVOUS RETRIBUTION.—Deuteronomy 29:22-28
I. National defection. “They have forsaken the covenant,” etc. (Deuteronomy 29:25)
1. Springing from individual sin (Deuteronomy 29:18). Nations live, act, and decay through individuals. Do not overlook the parts in the whole, the one in the millions. “Individuality is the root of everything, good or evil.”
2. Manifest in universal apostacy. “They went and served other gods” (Deuteronomy 29:26). The grand object of Israel was forgotten, and its privileges were bartered away. “Gods whom they knew not,” and to whom they were under no obligation, were served instead of the true God—the God of their fathers to whom they owed everything they possessed. “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But my people have changed their glory (Jehovah the glory of Israel, Psalms 106:20; Romans 1:23) for that which doth not profit (idols, Deuteronomy 29:8) Jeremiah 2:11.
II. Grevious retribution. Nations rise to power and influence, fall into sin and suffer decay. Rome, after the prevalence of luxury, pride and cruelty. Spain, after persecution of truth and exclusion of the Bible. Egypt, once a powerful empire, ultimately “the basest of kingdoms” for its idolatry.
1. Retribution extensive. In the whole land.
2. Retribution terrible. Anger of God kindled, the people uprooted, cast out and suffered great indignation.
3. Retribution complete. Land neither sown nor fruitful, stricken and accursed. The people idolatrous, homeless and rejected. The Jews forsook Jehovah, defied His providential arrangements and brought eternal blight upon a land “flowing with milk and honey.”
Of contumacy will provoke the Highest
To make death in us live.”—Milton.
DIVINE SECRETS.—Deuteronomy 29:29 This passage suggests
I. That there are in the universe certain domains accessible to none but God. This passage holds true. First—In reference to material creation. There are secrets which Nature has not whispered in the ear of her most ardent lovers. Second—In reference to the decrees of Providence. Cross-providences, etc. “Clouds and darkness are round about him.” Social inequalities, etc. Third—In reference to the mysteries of redemption. “Great is the mystery, etc.” “The angels desire to look into these things.”
II. That impenetrable secrecy is compatable with paternal benevolence. All nature proves this. Family mercies prove this. Never make God’s secrets a plea for neglecting His bounties.
III. That divine secrecy is no argument for human disobedience. “Those things which are revealed belong unto us.” Here we have three ideas. First—An acknowledgment of a Divine revelation. Second—The confession of our relationship to God. He has given us laws, etc. Third—An implication of our power to obey the Divine requirements. The “revealed” things “belong unto us, for obedience” etc.
IV. That inquisitiveness into secret things is a fruitful cause of scepticism Man will pry into the forbidden. One kind of inquisitiveness (Eve’s) has in flicted fatal misery on millions! Let us leave God to deal with His own decrees, to manage the boundless realm of causes, and to work out His inconceivable purposes. It is right that there should he subjects above our comprehension, could we comprehend all, we should be gods and not men.
Brethren! Seek not to penetrate the secret recesses of God’s tabernacle. “Who can by searching, find out God?” He has permitted us to enter the antechamber. Let us learn to reverence, to labour, and to wait. In due time the King will admit us further. We shall be taken to higher altitudes, and
“There we shall see His face.
And never, never sin.”
Dr. J. Parker,
SECRET THINGS.—Deuteronomy 29:29
This seems to be an answer to a question which the people might naturally put after some threatenings. After all miracles, mercies, and corrections, shall we be so wicked as to provoke God to destroy us? Will our posterity become so profligate as to bring upon themselves such unexampled calamities? Moses replies, “The secret, therefore.” Such events are hidden in future. You know enough to avoid punishment and secure favour. Render present obedience and busy not yourselves about things beyond your knowledge.
I. That there are things revealed which we know and ought to practice. “The things which are revealed belong to us.”
1. Truths to be received. Truths concerning God, man, Jesus Christ—doctrines to create wonder and admiration, to excite joy and stimulate study.
2. Duties to be performed. Duties to God, ourselves and our neighbours—duties which make life easy and happy, which solve doubt and please God when performed. If this will not satisfy, curiosity would disquiet, if we had the powers and capacities of angels.
II. That there are things which cannot be discovered and should not engage our attention. “Secret things.” Mysteries of nature, events of providence, and circumstances of social and individual life which puzzle the wisest. We are finite in capacity and only know in part. The unknown is a universe of endless wonders, the revelations of which are in the wise keeping of God. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.” The first lesson Pythagoras taught was silence. We must restrain curiosity and check pride. Act our part and not speculate. For “he giveth not account of any of his matters.” “How unsearchable are his judgments (decisions), and his ways (modes of executing), past finding out (undiscoverable) Romans 11:33.
III. That our welfare is secured only by practising things which are revealed. “That ye may do.” Revelation is given, not to indulge curiosity, but to provide a remedy for our blindness and misery. Light enough to make faith rational, duty plain, and unbelief without excuse. “Were the curtain lifted further from holy mysteries, man would be lost in hopeless bewilderment” (Hare). “Things revealed” should be the precious portion “for us and for our children.” To believe and obey here will be our preparation and safety for that world in which we shall know as also we are known.”
Thy God hath said ‘tis good for thee
To walk by faith and not by sight.
Take it on trust a little while,
Soon shalt thou read the mystery right,
In the bright sunshine of His smile.—Keble.
THE ADVANTAGES OF SCRIPTURAL KNOWLEDGE
Consider—I. That there is a limit with respect to our knowledge of God and of Divine things. There is much mystery with regard—
3. Divine Dispensations. II. That within the boundary of that limit there is much with which we can and ought to be acquainted; “the things which are revealed, etc.”—Consider—
1. Where the revelation of these things is to be formed;
2. Of which it consists;
3. For whose advantage it was given. III. That the experimental knowledge of that which is attainable will be accompanied with practical results.—E. Tottenham, M. A.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 29:22 to Deuteronomy 28:1. The cursed land.
2. The disinherited people.
3. The stranger’s wonder.
4. The solemn warning. “Thus the law of Moses leaves sinners under the curse, and rooted out of the Lord’s land; but the grace of Christ towards penitent believing sinners plants them again upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up, being kept by the power of God (Amos 9:15).—Ainsworth.
Deuteronomy 29:26. God the portion of His people. “Whom he had, &c,” Heb., signifies portion, lot, and may be rendered, “There was no portion to them: that is, the gods they served could neither supply their wants nor save their souls; they were no portion” (A. Clarke). A contrast to Jehovah.
Deuteronomy 29:28. Cast them with a violence, with a vengeance;—in the Hebrew word cast hath an extraordinary great letter:—sling them out as out of a sling (1 Samuel 25:29).—Trapp.
Deuteronomy 29:29, Learn
1. God’s ways are not comprehended by His short sighted creatures.
2. God is not bound to explain His ways to any of His creatures.
3. God gives means to instruct His creatures in things needful. Therefore cease to strive and cavil; learn to submit, trust solely. Secret things. God hath three sorts of secrets; first, the secret of His counsel and decrees; secondly, the secrets of His providence and outward administrations; thirdly, the secrets of his spirit and grace. From the two former God hath locked out the holiest of men as the apostles challenge, Romans 11:34, and David intimates. Psalms 3:2 (Caryl). The writer of Reminiscences of Robert Hall says I requested him to print a sermon from Deuteronomy 29:29. “Why, Sir, I did not reserve any notes of it; I almost forgot it. Do you remember how I treated it, Sir?” “Yes, Sir, I think I recollect. First, you noticed the decrees of the Divine Being; secondly, the mysteries of Christian truth; thirdly, the concerns of human life.” “Aye, I remember it now, Sir; I believe you are right.”
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 29
Deuteronomy 29:4. Ears to hear. As it is difficult to strike the right tone and key to make a deaf person hear, it was difficult to find such forms of thought and expression as would make their way into the ear of their mind.
Deuteronomy 29:5. Clothes. Clothes are for necessity; warm clothes, for health; cleanly, for decency; lasting, for thrift; and rich, for magnificence.—Dr. Fuller.
Deuteronomy 29:6. Know. He shall never want mercy who does not wanton mercy.—W. Seeker. To bless God for mercies is the way to increase them.—Idem.
Poor soul I God’s goodness hath been great to thee;
Let never day nor night unhallow’d pass,
But still remember what the Lord hath done.
—2 King Henry VI.
Deuteronomy 29:10-15. Covenant. Consecration makes not a place sacred, but only solemnly declares it so.—Dr. South. Consecration is going out into the world where God Almighty is, and using every power for His glory. It is taking all advantages as trust finds—as confidential debts owed to God. It is simply dedicating one’s life, in its whole flow, to God’s service.—H. W. Beecher.
Deuteronomy 29:18. Wormwood. And certainly the more a man drinketh of the world the more it intoxicateth.—Bacon. Our God. No religious things can satisfy a living religious soul. Life craves life for its satisfaction; the living soul cries out for the living God.—Dr. Allon.
Deuteronomy 29:19.—Drunkenness to thirst. Thirst teaches all animals to drink, but drunkenness belongs only to man.—Fielding.
Pleasure is good, and man for pleasure made;
But pleasure full of glory as of joy,
Pleasure which neither blushes nor expires.
—Dr. E. Young,
Deuteronomy 29:21. Curses. The noblest reward of nature is nature itself and the extremest punishment of vice is vice itself.—Ld. Bacon.
Know then this truth, enough for man to know
Virtue alone is happiness below.
Deuteronomy 29:23-27. The land. See Thomson Ld. and Bk. Volney’s “Ruins of Empires,” Bk. 2.
Deuteronomy 29:29. Secret things. A cocklefish might as well attempt to bring the ocean into its little shell as a man attempt to understand the ways of God.—Bp. Beveridge. In His purposes and His dispensations He is equally and perfectly independent, infinitely exalted above the supervision or direction of His creatures—Hodge.
And he who waits to have his task marked out Shall die, and leave his errand unfulfilled.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 29". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19