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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 19

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-37

Practical Piety: Religion in all Relationships


Leviticus 19:2.—Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say: Nowhere else in the whole of Leviticus does this direction to address “all the congregation” occur; a fact which indicates the importance of this section of the decalogue. And in the precepts of this chapter, traversing the entire range of personal, social, and religious life, we have the law summarized—“the whole duty of man” in epitome.

Reverence for parents (Leviticus 19:3); sabbath observance (Leviticus 19:3); repudiation of idolatry (Leviticus 19:4); the conditions of acceptable sacrifice (Leviticus 19:5; Leviticus 19:8); regard for the poor in harvest gleanings (Leviticus 19:9-10); honesty in act and speech (Leviticus 19:11); fidelity to oaths (Leviticus 19:12); commercial integrity (Leviticus 19:13); consideration for sufferers, the deaf and blind (Leviticus 19:14); impartiality in justice (Leviticus 19:15); avoidance of slander (Leviticus 19:16); care for one’s neighbour (Leviticus 19:16); gentleness yet faithfulness to other’s faults (Leviticus 19:17); malice to be shunned (Leviticus 19:18); hybrid products forbidden (Leviticus 19:19); the crime of seduction (Leviticus 19:20-22); regulations concerning fruit growths (Leviticus 19:22-25); blood to be put aside as food (Leviticus 19:26); and sorceries and superstitious practices avoided (Leviticus 19:26); prohibition of heathenish manners and rites of mourning (Leviticus 19:27-28); traffic in vice condemned (Leviticus 19:29); regard for the sabbath and sanctuary (Leviticus 19:30); necromancy denounced (Leviticus 19:31); respect for the aged commanded (Leviticus 19:32); courtesy to strangers (Leviticus 19:33-34); honesty, in trade (Leviticus 19:35-36): and all based on the grand requirement that the “statutes and judgments” of “the Lord” were to be the rule of their conduct in all relationships and all transactions.

The righteousness which God delights in pervades our whole life, purifies all habits, ennobles all actions, stamps character with rectitude and conduct with integrity. Religion is for daily life; not for sacred scenes and solemn hours, but for every place, every moment; sanctifying the full manhood, elevating all action, dignifying all aims There is not a plan or project, not a fault or foible, not a vice or misdemeanour, not a social or sacred duty, but the thought of God is upon it, and He has a word in condemnation or sanction respecting it. He “with whom we have to do” overlooks nothing in our behaviour, “neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are open and naked to the eyes of Him” (Hebrews 4:13).

How scrupulously should we, therefore, speak and act; not in reluctant submission but in cheerful obedience; His “laws within our heart”; His “statutes our song”; delighting to do His will, For He who requires such minute dutifulness shows concern that none should suffer at our hands, and therefore that we should suffer nought from others. Divine benevolence regulates these requirements, and all are detailed indications of His fatherly eagerness for His children’s comfort. Only in right doing is there happiness, whether in the family, in society, or in the church, hence God requires the right to be maintained in all relationships; and when His “will is done on earth” earth will be a reflection of heaven.



i. Piety is not to be all ecstatic. Tabor heights, Beulah rhapsodies, third-heaven visions—these are not the whole of religion, nor indeed the standard of a sacred life. There is the piety of daily work, of common things. Easier to be religious when we are on the wing soaring, than when we are on our feet struggling.

ii. Piety may not become eclectic. There are divine precepts and laws congenial to us, others the reverse. Yet we may not select. Directions concerning the “Sabbath and sanctuary” are easier and more pleasant to heed than those against tale-bearing, fraud in business, gleaning on the fields, etc. But “these ought ye to have done, and not to have left the others undone.”

iii. Piety should not be narrowly egotistic. God’s laws and directions call us out of ourselves, give no room for selfishness, self-assertion, individualism. Think of others first, care for the “poor” (Leviticus 19:9), your “neighbours” (Leviticus 19:13; Leviticus 19:17), bearing no malice (Leviticus 19:18), etc. Let self give place; “look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4).

iv. Piety must never become elastic. There is a peril of the godly man relaxing and relapsing from strict and severe rectitude; stretching his convictions, and accommodating himself to prevailing tastes or personal fancies. Here is rigid law; to that he must bring all conduct; by this standard all his behaviour must be ruled. Avoid an easily adjusting religion, straining and shaping itself to the conveniences of the hour, and the inducements of temptation, and the impulses of the carnal heart.


God asks that there be “first piety at home.” [See Addenda to chapter, Morality.]

1. Family dutifulness among children. “Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father” (Leviticus 19:3). This is the “first commandment with promise” (Ephesians 6:2). The word “fear” enjoins respect, felt and shown; generous succour and attention to their comfort; obedience to their rule and desires.

2. Purity in conjugal relationships. Between husband and wife there should be strictest fidelity. Any departure from morality is severely denounced as the violation of the sanctities of family bonds (Leviticus 19:20; Leviticus 19:22). “No man should go beyond or defraud his brother” in this matter (1 Thessalonians 4:4-6). And equally, with sternest reprobation, God marks the traffic in vice (Leviticus 19:29). There have been parents sufficiently “earthly, sensual, devilish,” to be capable of this foul crime against a child. Jehovah would have the home clean and loving and hallowed.

3. Homage for the aged (Leviticus 19:32). Venerating the “hoary head,” and caring for the “old man” gently in his drooping years, and paying him the courtesies and attentions due to one who has lived a lengthened life and is nearing eternity.


In the narrowest circle of our neighbours, near residents, there should be the cultivation of rectitude and goodwill. The yet larger range of neighbourliness is taught us in our Lord’s parable of the Good Samaritan—care for anyone in need.

1. Every device of deceitfulness is to be abhorred (Leviticus 19:11-12). No advantage to be taken, no trickery practised, no falsity condoned.

2. All oppression and injustice is to be shunned (Leviticus 19:13). Straightforwardness in dealings, considerateness in payment of his dues.

3. Slander and whispering are denounced (Leviticus 19:16). How disastrous this pernicious habit has proved! (see 1 Samuel 22:9; 1 Samuel 22:18; Ezekiel 22:9, etc.). Yes: and as harm may come to a neighbour from doing nothing equally as from our slandering him, God denounces our “standing,” i.e., standing still, when inactivity might let a neighbour’s blood be shed, either in accident from which we could rescue him, or from the stroke of justice when we could prove him innocent.

4. Generous concern for a neighbour is inculcated. “Hate” to be closed from thine “heart”; then venturing to “rebuke” him if he be going into “sin” (Leviticus 19:17); yet never allowing malice to urge thee to “avenge or bear grudge”; but to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). In this last precept is summed up all the moral aspects, the human side of religion.


A man of God is not less a member of society, of the state, or of the nation because he is religious. He has duties towards his fellow-citizens as such.

1. The prosperous are to care for the “poor.” When the harvest is being reaped (Leviticus 19:9) there is to be a generous dropping of ears for the poor: and so with the vine gathering (Leviticus 19:10).

2. The healthy are to be pitiful to the afflicted. Instead of despising and maltreating “the deaf” and “the blind” (Leviticus 19:14), all the instincts of philanthropy—which is piety humanized—prompt “the strong to bear the infirmities of the weak.”

3. Hospitality for the stranger (Leviticus 19:33-34). A willing asylum should be offered to any fugitive or sojourner: there might be no national exclusiveness or selfishness: the generous band should be outstretched to any one who would find a home amid the people of God.


1. Impartiality in the administration of justice (Leviticus 19:15) If the high courts of judgment should be demoralized by no cupidity, certainly our personal conduct should be swayed by no servility. The “poor” and the “mighty” should have equal justice at our hands: not one law for the rich and another for the poor.

2. Fairness in the transactions of trade (Leviticus 19:35-36). Honesty in commerce; in forming estimate of articles of purchase (“in judgment”), not saying “It is nought, it is nought,” etc. (Proverbs 20:14); as well as in serving and selling these articles.


Just as that religion is wrong which consists in serving God to the neglect of man; so is that as surely wrong which fulfils duties to man but neglects God’s claims. Week-day righteousness needs to be crowned by sacred solemnities on the sabbath and in the sanctuary.

1. Family life should be hallowed with Sabbath sanctities. “Keep my Sabbaths” (Leviticus 19:3); for that is the day of days in which to instruct the household in sacred duties. When God is revered in the home family reverence will not wane.

2. Delusive idolatries will be escaped by homage for Jehovah on His day. Keeping His Sabbaths will correct the perils of “turning unto idols” (connect Leviticus 19:3 thus with Leviticus 19:4).

3. Worship of the Lord should be with sacrificial offerings (Leviticus 19:5-8); for man is a sinner, and must come with propitiation to God’s altar.

4. God’s sanctuary should be held in reverence (Leviticus 19:30); “not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25); but coming with solemn thought and prayer.

5. All superstition to be sedulously shunned. Heathenish delusions (Leviticus 19:26-28), and “familiar spirits” (Leviticus 19:31). God should fill the spiritual life of man; and Him only should we serve.


“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,” etc. How repeatedly these words occur previous to enunciation of statutes to Israel, to indicate that Moses was only the amanuensis, or mouthpiece of Jehovah, and that the statutes demanded devout attention and implicit obedience The repetition of sundry laws recorded in this chapter furnishes a fair specimen of the whole economy, embraces principles and doctrines exhibited in the realms of Nature, Providence, and Grace. Looked at as a whole, they suggest the following trains of thought:—

I. THEIR STRIKING ANALOGY WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF NATURE. This accords with what might have been expected à priori, viz., that God would govern men by similar laws to those by which He governs the world, that between physical and spiritual laws there would be close correspondence. The laws here promulgated were:

(a) Unsystematic in their arrangement. Like the glorious diffuseness in nature, where the geologist and botanist can make their scientific arrangements from world-wide materials, scattered here and there in great profusion; so, in the Mosaic economy, running through Leviticus—and through the whole Bible—are sundry precepts unformulated, unscientifically arranged, leaving scope for the sanctified soul of man to arrange in a course of systematic theology.

(b) Disciplinary in their character. Nature’s laws teach man that he is a probationer; that if he obeys, safety and happiness will ensue; if he disobeys, danger and death will await him. The Mosaic laws taught that whatsoever a man sows that shall he reap, that retribution follows closely on the heels of the wrong-doer. Thus, the law was a schoolmaster, teaching self-restraint, and enforcing lessons upon human conduct that have been the basis of all good government in the world, the germs of all pure morality among men.

(c) Merciful in their tendency. The law put no embargo upon anything that would minister to the real welfare of the human race, only pernicious habits were condemned. The weak, the poor, the aged, parents and strangers, all were to be treated with kindness; sympathy and aid were to be extended to them. Even towards the brute creation care and kindness were to be exercised, nothing was to be wantonly or unmercifully treated. Nature’s laws exhibit kindness and mercy in their operations; even in their sternest moods they work for good, and in the end produce happiness.

(d) Mysterious in their operations. Many of nature’s laws perplex and puzzle the greatest minds, seem inconsistent with the perfect wisdom and goodness of the Infinite Author of the universe. And in the Levitical code many of the sacrificial rites and ceremonial observances seem strange and ambiguous. These facts teach us (i.) how comprehensive God’s laws are; (ii.) how limited our knowledge is; (iii.) how incumbent faith, humility, and resignation are upon all who would know the will of the Lord and do it.

II. THEIR BENEFICENT INFLUENCE UPON THE NATIONAL LIFE OF ISRAEL. The people were in great danger of becoming corrupt, from their recollections of their surroundings in Egypt, from their inherent tendency to depart from the living God; the system of sacrifices instituted among them, the ceremonial laws to which they were expected rigidly to submit, would keep them distinct from the surrounding nations, lift them to a high standard of national greatness. The prohibition of all false swearing, fraud, deception, tale-bearing, selfishness, revenge, and every kind of private and public immorality, would conduce to the safety and stability of the Hebrew Commonwealth. The Levitical laws, while they taught the people that they were one as a nation, also enjoined upon each individual responsibility. The whole nation was one great family, mutually related to each other, all amenable to Jehovah, their Father and King. The religion of the Bible exalts the life of any nation that follows its precepts. Those—where the Holy Scriptures are regarded as the foundation of national greatness—will be found in the van of the civilisation of the world.

III. THEIR SPECIAL ADAPTATION TO ELEVATE THE WHOLE NATURE OF MAN. The laws respecting uncleanness, restraining the animal passions and appetites, securing rest one day in seven, would conduce to man’s physical well being. Powers of the mind would be awakened and expanded by efforts required to apprehend and obey the elaborate ritual of the tabernacle. The moral powers would be cultivated by everything having reference to purity of heart, and the spotless supremacy of Jehovah. Thus Israel were shown that God took special interest in them, that they were not like the brutes which perish, but servants of the Lord, children of the great King, being educated for higher future employment. They had access to the house of the Lord; listened to the Word of the Lord; were led by chosen servants of the Lord. These facts would lead them to look onward and upward, present to them the way to pardon and peace, to fellowship with God and meetness for Heaven.

IV. THEIR ELEMENTARY FORESHADOWINGS OF THE TEACHINGS OF THE GOSPEL. (a) In the supremacy of their claims. Everything was to be subordinated to the demands of Jehovah; so, Christ said, “seek ye first the kingdom of God,” etc. (b) In the object of their observances. Holiness was the end of everything in the law; so, the gospel—in the precepts of Christ and His apostles—demands purity of heart, sets holiness as the mark of our high calling, to which is attached the prize of heaven. (c) In the substitutionary character of their sacrifices. The Hebrews were taught to consider their guilt transferred to the victim offered for them; through it, in some way, they were forgiven, accepted of the Lord; so, in the gospel, through the one great sin offering guilt is removed, the favour of God secured, heaven opened. The services of the tabernacle, the statutes of the Levitical law, were calculated to suggest the priceless value of the human soul, the existence for it of a life beyond, of which the present is introductory and preparatory. In the gospel all these foreshadowings are presented as substantial realities, just as indefinite twilight merges into revealing distinguishing day.—F.W.B.


Leviticus 19:2.—Theme: PERSONAL HOLINESS.

Ye shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.”

The glorious end for which the law was given, every ceremonial precept enforced, was that the people should become holy. The holy nature, name, will and purpose of Jehovah demanded that those who would be constantly drawing near to Him in the tabernacle services should come out from the heathen world, forsake their sinful customs, and become conformed to His commandments, which were—

I. WORTHY OF JEHOVAH. Not one can be characterised as mean or unmerciful; some of them may seem beyond, but not one against, reason. The unreaped corners of the field, the gleanings of the harvest, the grapes left upon the vine for the poor and the stranger in the land, would speak of the considerateness of Jehovah for the physical wants of the people; and the injunctions against fraud, against hating in the heart, against impurity in social life; the command, “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”; all these injunctions pointed to the heart as the seat of all holiness, and demanded that the motives by which the Hebrews would be actuated should be pure Such a code of laws, with such humane and holy ends, reflected glory upon the supreme Lawgiver, proving that He is holy, that His nature is on the side of righteousness.

II. BENEFICIAL TO ISRAEL. Everything was to be avoided that would work detoriation in the physical constitution, for vice and impurity produce feobleness and decay. Want of reverence for parents and the aged; lack of sympathy for the suffering and infirm, bring ruin into the domestic and social circle. Greed, dishonesty, unrighteousness, work disintegration and disaster in the commercial world. The holy laws of God were a barrier against all these terrible evils by demanding personal holiness in everyone who heard these injunctions.

The disposition of the heart and mind was to be brought into conformity with the will of Jehovah, “ye shall offer at your own will.” The people were not slaves, to do reluctantly the will of God, or perform services and offer sacrifices in a mechanical manner; they were the Lord’s free men, and from wills in harmony with Him were to obey His statutes. Thus inward, personal holiness would be secured, Jehovah’s glory displayed. The great end of the gospel is holiness of heart and life The Christian Church is a community of “saints.” The redeemed in heaven are those who are faultless, without spot in the presence of God’s unsullied glory.—F. W. B.

Leviticus 19:3.—Theme: FAMILY PIETY.

Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father, and keep my Sabbaths; I am the Lord your God.”


1. No dutiful submission to parents where “fear “has no place in children’s hearts. This “fear” not slavish but respectful, leading to an unresisting spirit, and obedient behaviour.

2. No proper basis of obedience where duty is not made forceful by the requirements of religion. “Keep my sabbaths,” making piety an integral part of home-life; thus fortifying the claims of parentage by the teachings of God’s Word and His house.


1. This requires piety in the parents. How else can they show their children the ways of the Lord? Parents are to their children God’s representatives and viceregents on earth.

2. This will cultivate piety in the children “Keep God’s Sabbath” in the home: bring upon young hearts and minds the graces of religion, the delight of “holy psalm and song,” the teachings of Jesus, the bliss of adoption through Christ; and “bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

III. IN SABBATH HABITS the family needs be devoutly educated,

1. Sabbath leisure gives opportunity for parental attention to the religious interests of the family.

2. The Sabbath solemnity is helpful to the effort of leading children’s thoughts to godly instruction.

3. Sanctuary services and ordinances should form themes of teaching and interest in the home on sabbath days

Children, thus trained in early recognition of God by parents who link themselves with God in holy life and word, and who “make the Sabbath a delight” in their homes, assuredly will not depart from the ways of religion, but tread early the path after Jesus. [See Addenda to chapter, Family Piety and Sabbath and Sanctuary]

Leviticus 19:3Theme: FILIAL OBLIGATIONS.

Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father.”

Under the patriarchal dispensation the father was to be revered not only as the head of the family, but as the priest in the home circle The tent and the altar were reared together, children were expected to honour their parents by becoming attention to social and sacred duties. In the decalogue the claims of parental authority were enforced; and, being here reiterated, the Hebrews would be taught those duties which, disregarded, bring discord and misery into the home. Natural instincts prompt filial fear, but undutifulness to parents will often spring up with other moral delinquencies to which our fallen nature is prone. Want of reverence for parenthood—

I. EXHIBITS BASENESS OF HEART. The affections must have become corrupt, the feelings hardened, when parents are dishonoured.

II. INCURS THE DIVINE DISPLEASURE. It is God’s will that children should reverence their parents; to disobey His will is to dishonour and displease Him.

III. ENTAILS DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES. A special promise was made to those who would obey in these particulars, and in several parts of Scripture threatenings of punishment are annexed to disobedience. Obedience should be reverent affectionate, cheerful and constant. “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”—F. W. B.

Leviticus 19:5.—Theme: WILLING: OFFERINGS OF PEACE.

See homilies on Chapters 3 and 7 Compare specially Outline, Chapter

1., Leviticus 19:3, p. 14, VOLITION IN WORSHIP.

Leviticus 19:9.—Theme: HARVEST GLEANINGS.

How notable are the provisions made in the Mosaic law for the poor

The Sabbatical year (Exodus 23:10-11; compare Deuteronomy 15:12; Deuteronomy 15:15)

The equalization of the atonement money for poor and rich, thus establishing the value of the poor as equal to the rich (Exodus 30:12).

The same minute directions for the poor man’s offerings, showing God’s equal interest in his sacrifice (Leviticus 2:0, etc.).

And here the command that the harvest and vintage gleanings should be left (Leviticus 19:9-10).


I. THAT THE HUMANE LAWS OF MODERN TIMES, respecting gleaning privileges, are all based upon this Mosaic command

Everywhere there is a popular feeling that the farmer should allow, and was not entitled to prevent the poor from gathering what the reaper left behind.
In England the custom of gleaning had very nearly passed into a legal right, for there is an extra judicial dictum of Lord Hall, in which he says that those who enter a field for this purpose are not guilty of trespass; and Blackstone (Leviticus 3:12) seems to adopt his opinion. But that has since been twice tried, and decided in the negative in the Court of Common Pleas; the Court finding it to be a practice incompatible with the exclusive enjoyment of property, and productive of vagrancy and many mischievous consequences.

“It is still, however, the custom all over England to allow the poor to glean, at least after the harvest is carried” (Chambers).

The law of Moses directed a liberal consideration for the poor at the seasons of harvest and ingathering. The corners of the field were not to be reaped; the owner was not to glean his own fields; and a sheaf accidentally left in a field was not to be fetched away, but to be the possession of the poor gleaners.

Although the permission to glean was a favour, it required no special influence to secure it; for Ruth secured this liberty without any recommendation (Ruth 2:2-3)

II. That a benevolent helpfulness in respect of the poor IS A SPECIAL OBLIGATION OF THOSE WHO ENJOY PLENTY.

1. With God in thought, the rich will spare of their abundance that the poor may be fed. And this is the meaning of this sealing sentence, “I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:10). You owe all to Him, especially in harvest; and, therefore, share with the needy His gifts to you.

2. Amid harvest rejoicings, gratitude should incite to generosity. What render to God? “As ye have received, give!” Seek occasion to gladden others—those in need. Gladness which has no kindly outlet and expression makes men selfish and hard. God is lavish; let your “hands be open “also (Psalms 145:16).

3. Kindness to the poor has especial assurances of divine approval. “He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord.” “The liberal soul shall be made full.” But He will requite those who neglect the poor (Psalms 9:18; Psalms 12:5).

III. That this generous consideration for the poor is A TOKEN OF GOD’S REGARD FOR THE LOWLY.

1. Their maintenance engaged the divine attention. For them “the corner” of the field was claimed from the reapers, and to them was assigned the right to clear the ground. It was their part in the national soil, the poor had this heritage in the land. And God enjoins on His Church now to “care for the poor.” They are Christ’s bequeathment to His disciples. “The poor always ye have with you.”

2. Their salvation is prominently sought in the gospel. “To the poor the gospel is preached.” And “God hath chosen the poor rich in faith.” He who showed concern for their physical supply and maintenance, as emphatically manifests His desire that they be “blessed with all spiritual blessings” in Christ. Therefore—

(a) The poor should cherish a grateful and trustful hope in their God.

(b) They should value the high mercies of redemption in Christ beyond all the kindnesses of His providence. For the favours of providence only affect them temporally. but “the riches of His grace” are of eternal consequence. Therefore, “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

(c) Let none, because of lowliness or poverty, despond of God’s favour. All His regulations prove that “he careth for you.” Look unto Him with assurance. “This poor man cried and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalms 34:6)

“His love ordained the seasons,

By Him are all things fed,

He for the sparrow careth,

He gives the poor their bread:

Every bounteous blessing

His faithful love bestows:

Then magnify His glorious Name

From Whom all goodness flows.”

Leviticus 19:10.—Theme: JEHOVAH’S RIGHTEOUS DEMANDS.

I am the Lord your God.”

Though the record of divine revelation contains no argument to prove the existence of God, it repeatedly asserts the fact; all the forces of nature, all positive and moral statutes, are traced to the sovereign will and absolute authority of Jehovah. The Hebrews were taught that their obedience was not to be governed by the customs of society, their own preferences or prejudices, but by the declared will of Him Who had sovereign claim to them and theirs. Thus they were emphatically taught—

I. The absolute supremacy of Jehovah. No imaginary deity was to be brought into competition. or comparison with Him. He, the Eternal, Infinite, Almighty, Creator, and Governor of all things. He had right to assert His claim to universal homage; to settle the question of the human mind about the divine existence. God has spoken, declared His existence, and character; to doubt that word, deny that existence, impeach that character, indicate derangement of the mental powers, and debasement of the heart.

II. The absolute character of their obligations. They belonged to the Lord, He claimed them as His own peculiar people. All idols were to be forsaken (Leviticus 19:4), the worship of Israel was not to have its basis in ignorance, or origin in fear, but in the recognition of the obligations under which Jehovah’s relationship and dealings had placed them. He was a jealous God, and would not share worship with another. Having received such a revelation of the divine character and claims, Israel was under obligation to render intelligent, cheerful, devout, constant, implicit, willing obedience. The divine claims to obedience are unrelaxing, declarations of our obligations unrepealed. “Ye are not your own,” etc. “I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God,” etc. The divine supremacy of Christ places us under binding obligation to serve Him loyally; His self-sacrificing love constrains us to serve Him lovingly.—F. W. B.

Leviticus 19:12Theme: FALSE SWEARING.

All nations have severely punished perjury. The Egyptians with death or mutilation; the Greeks with heavy fines and ultimate loss of all civil rights; the Romans visited it with the penalty of death.

These ancient nations all held that the gods were especially incensed by this crime, and that a divine Nemesis pursued the perjurer. [See Addenda to chapter, Perjury].


1. Acknowledgment of His Omniscience. It calls Him to witness, and imprecates Him as the avenger of falsehood.

2. Acknowledgment of His Righteousness. He is to be the umpire and arbitrator. We call in as a witness to our fidelity only such a one as is himself faithful and true, and will act a right part. Such is God. Man’s use of His name is an appeal to the certainty that He will judge aright.


1. An insolent affront upon God’s character. It is infamy, daring insolence, the degradation of His most holy name for unholy ends. It invokes Him to act as a witness that a lie is true Yet He loathes falsity. It is defiant trifling, an affront to the God of truth. It “profanes his name.”

2. A certain visitation of judgment. He “will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7) Certainly, therefore, He will punish lying and profanity. Having been called in as a witness to a lie He will prove that He witnessed it. Thus to insult His love of truth and defy His power to vindicate it, and trail the purity of His character in the mire—before whom the very angels veil their faces as they adore Him—will ensure a just requital (Hebrews 10:30). And “there shall in no wise enter the heavenly city any who loveth and maketh a lie” (Revelation 21:27).



Therefore it should be paid for, not patronisingly, nor grudgingly, but as a due. The labourer has given you his time, strength, ability, and ingenuity; he has a right to an equivalent from you, and should not be treated ignominiously, but respectfully in asking a just return


During a day of toil the labourer has put his capital into your service, spent his life for that period for your advantage and gain. You are to that extent his debtor; to detain his wages is to make yourself more his debtor, and delay in payment should be compensated with increment. “Short reckonings make long friends.”


A poor man has no capital, wants prompt settlement; he lives day by day upon his hard earnings. His strength—expended by the day’s toil—must be replenished for the morrow’s work. To hold back the means for his nourishment is to rob him of the morrow’s capital, his replenished energy. And he may have dependents in his lowly home waiting to share in the earnings of the day. Hold not back his dues “all night until the morning,” lest your inconsiderateness inflict privation and embitter poverty. Comp. Deuteronomy 24:14; Deuteronomy 24:16; Jeremiah 32:13; Malachi 3:5; James 5:4. [See Addenda to chapter, Business and work.

Leviticus 19:14.—Theme: DEAF AND BLIND.

i. As witnesses to AFFLICTIONS POSSIBLE TO ALL. they call for our commiseration

ii. As sufferers of DIREFUL INFIRMITIES, they should enlist our gentle care and generous helpfulness. “Eyes to the blind.”
iii. As pensive illustrations of MAN’S FRAILTY they should incite our gratitude that God made us to differ.

1. How mean the act of ridiculing those who carry the grief of such bodily infirmities. “But fear thy God,” for He will requite.

2. How swift was the compassion of Jesus towards those sad children of infirmity.

3. How glad the outlook of the heavenly life for such as suffer here—if they have hope in Christ. For “there shall be no more sorrow, nor crying, neither any more pain.”

Leviticus 19:15.—Theme: IMPARTIAL JUSTICE.


In every nation and age wealth and influence have effectively distorted the administration of justice.
Poverty and weakness have borne cruel and basest wrongs by reason of their very helplessness.


Poverty may not be pleaded in arrest of justice. He, who being poor, acts wrongly, may not make poverty his screen; he must bear his guilt. A sentimental pity for the poor would thwart the ends of righteousness. Sin is sin whether committed in rags or in ermine. [Comp. Exodus 23:3.]

A servile courtesy to the “mighty” is equally subversive of righteousness. A pertidious king is as guilty a traitor to his country as a pertidious subject. Neither station nor purse should sway the balances of justice.

As in the sanctuary, so at the bar, there should be “no respect of persons.” [Comp. James 2:6; James 2:19, with Leviticus 19:2-4.]


God will judge those who now administer or pervert judgment. “Every man shall give account of himself to God.”

The “supreme Judge of all the earth” will do right. He “discerns judgment” now, and will dispense justice at the last day. [See Addenda to chapter, Justice.]

Leviticus 19:16.—Theme: TALE-BEARING AND SLANDER.

I. CHARACTER IS IN THE KEEPING, and therefore at the mercy of acquaintances.

1. Therefore supremely value each other’s good name.

2. Jealously defend a worthy reputation.

3. Scornfully silence the unproved rumours of evils [See Addenda to chapter, Slander.]


1. For listeners are ready to entertain and repeat slander.

“Man’s inhumanity to man!”

2. Aspersions feed on the inventiveness of malice.

Proof not asked; nothing therefore to check or refute the slander. And “lying lips” find delight in adding to the lie as they pass it on.

3. Reputation is easily damaged. That which only a lifetime can build an hour may defame.

III. CHARACTER IS SO PRECIOUS that its traducers should be loathed.

1. Dread a tale bearer as a destroying pestilence

2. He who wrongs another’s reputation may next wrong yours. By heeding his slanders you encourage his vile trade, and slander must find new victims!

3. Put to shame all tale-bearers with ruthless severity.


i. There is enough of woe abroad without increasing it.

ii. As we need our many evils to be pitied by man and pardoned by God, let us with “charity hide sins,” not expose them.

iii. There is grace in Christ, and energy in the Holy Spirit, by which to perfect a good life and win a good name, which even enemies of religion shall be unable to defame or destroy.

iv. The light of the final judgment will refute all slander, and bring every secret thing to the open gaze of the world.

Leviticus 19:18Theme: NEIGHBOURLY LOVE.

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Disinterested love is difficult to cherish, and is all too rare.
The contraries of love are everywhere rife: jealousy, rivalry, cruelty, selfishness, greed, hate.
An unloving spirit is an ungodly one; for a malicious man is as unlike God as an immoral man is; the slanderer is as cruel as the murderer.


It is a ray of His glory, a breath of His Spirit. A mother’s love is a divinely-implanted instinct. So the love of friendship is heaven-born. And neighbourly love is an inspiration from God The fine feelings of benevolence, of Philanthrophy, of charity—all aspects of the divine spirit of love are of Him. And Christian love, the love of God, love for Christ, the brotherly love of saints, all come from our drinking in the spirit of Jesus.


Our love Godward is the rising of the flame towards its Source, and is as a “sweet savour of Christ” to Him.

Our love for man is the outbreathing of the mind of Christ in us, the diffusion of the very spirit of Jesus.

Love for God and for man, let it prevail, and it brings heaven’s blessedness within the human breast, and will make our bleared and distracted earth again like heaven


1. In seeking to turn him aside from sin (Leviticus 19:17). [See Addenda to chapter, Neighbourliness.]

2. In bearing patiently any wrong received from him (Leviticus 19:18)

3. In praying and working for his conversion to God.

4. In leading him to the Saviour you have yourself found; as did the woman of Samaria her neighbours.

A. Cultivate kindness and generosity by communion with Jesus; and that will so fill your soul with pity for the erring, and yearning for their deliverance as will make it easy to love your neighbour.

B. Consider how many evils you have wrought, which men have had to condone and God to forgive, and then you will take meekly the wrongs others have done you.

C. Live with eternity in view, and act towards others more as you will wish you had done in the Day of Account, and through the everlasting ages

D. And as opportunity goes by swiftly, do at once what love prompts, and “do it with thy might.” There are wounds waiting to be healed, hearts to be comforted, estrangements to be conciliated, errors to be forgiven.

Love thy neighbour,” with like depth and thoroughness as thou lovest “thyself.”


Ye shall keep my statutes.”

The Israelites knew that the land towards which they were moving was given them for their inheritance, they were to possess it, and enjoy its abundant resources. But they had to remember that it was Jehovah who had delivered them from Egypt, who would conduct them through the wilderness, and to whom they would be responsible when they would get to the end of their wanderings, and enter upon the land flowing with milk and honey. In Canaan they would be the Lord’s husbandmen, and stewards, to farm the land according to His will. “Ye shall keep my statutes.” They would be reminded of their stewardship in—

I. THE SACRIFICES THEY OFFERED TO THE LORD (see preceding Homilies on offerings). As the Hebrews brought the best of their substance and offered it to the Lord, they would recognise the claims of the Highest and Holiest to themselves and all they possessed.

II. IN THE PORTIONS THEY RESERVED FOR THE POOR. They were the almoners of the Lord, and at His command must see that the needy did not perish from want. Coveteousness and selfishness were alike condemned; they could not do as they pleased with the grapes and corn.

III. IN THE NON-PARTICIPATION OF UNCIRCUMCISED FRUIT. The young trees were to be left for four years, the fifth year they might partake thereof. Thus a curb was put upon their appetites, and the first-fruits were to be wholly devoted to the Lord. Thus the earth would be to Israel God’s banqueting house, and the people were to partake only of those things which the divine host considered good for them and the land.

IV. IN THE PRESERVATION OF PRODUCE AND STOCK FROM ADULTERATION. There was to be no breeding between diverse kinds of cattle, no mingling of seed in sowing a field, no mixing of materials in fabrics for garments. These injunctions would not only be in harmony with Jehovah’s requirement of purity in heart and life, but would keep before the minds of the people the fact that corn and cattle, food and clothing were all under His surveillance. He was the proprietor of all; to Him account must be rendered for all.

V. IN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THEIR COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS. Here we see (Leviticus 19:35-36) how thorough and searching the morality of the Mosaic law was. The Hebrews were to avoid every kind of wrong-doing. Religion was to affect their business transactions, cover the whole of their secular life. In everything they did they were to remember that the eye of the Lord was on them, they were His servants, under obligation to do all to His glory, according to the principles of righteousness.

Under the new dispensation we are stewards in the kingdom of Christ. We are responsible for the use we make of the talents entrusted to us. The gospel does not exempt us from responsibility to live righteously all our days; all the precepts of the moral law are summed up in the golden law, as enunciated by Christ, “Thou shalt love,” etc. Christianity demands a holy, righteous life as well as a sound scriptural belief.—F. W. B.

Theme: THE DUTY OF REPROVING OUR NEIGHBOUR. “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart: thou shalt in anywise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.”

The ritual or ceremonial law was such “a yoke as neither our fathers nor we (says Peter) were able to bear.” Yet many excellent moral precepts are interspersed among those laws. Several in this chapter (Leviticus 19:10-11; Leviticus 19:13-16). In this injunction consider—


1. To tell anyone of his fault, “Thou shalt not suffer sin upon him.” sin, therefore, is the thing we are called to reprove, or rather him that commits sin. Do all we can to convince him of his fault, and lead him in the right way.

2. Love requires that we also warn him of error which would naturally lead to sin. If we do “not hate him in our heart,” but love our neighbour, we shall generously warn him of mistakes likely to end in evil.

3. Avoid reproving for anything that is disputable. A thing appears evil to me, therefore if I do it I am a sinner before God. But another is not to be judged by my conscience. So I must only reprove for what is clearly and undeniably evil, e.g., profanity, insobriety. Few who are guilty of these will defend them, when appeal is made to their conscience in the sight of God.


1. There are some sinners we are forbidden to rebuke. “Cast not pearl before swine,” i.e., brutish men, Known to be immersed in sins, having no fear of God before their eyes. Do not expose the precious pearls, i.e, the sublime doctrines of the gospel, to their contempt, and yourself to injurious treatment. Yet if we saw such persons speak or do what they themselves know to be evil we ought to reprove them.

2. Our “neighbour” is every child of man, all that have souls to be saved. If we refrain because some are sinners above other men they may perish in their iniquity, but God will require their blood at our hands.

3. Else, in the lower world there might be upraiding of us for our neglect of duty, through which souls, left unwarned, failed to “flee from the wrath to come.”

4. Yet, the reproving is not to be done in the same degree to everyone. First it is particularly due to our parents, if needing it; then to brothers and sisters; then to relatives; then to our servants; to our fellow citizens; members of the same religious society; watch over each other that we may not suffer sin upon our brother. To neglect this is to “hate our brother in our heart”; and “he that hateth his brother is a murderer.” It imperils our own salvation to neglect this duty.


1. There is considerable difficulty in doing it aright. Although some are specially qualified to do it by grace, and skilful by practice. But. though difficult, we must do it; and God will aid us.

2. How most effectual? When done in “the spirit of love,” of tender goodwill for our neighbour, as for one who is the son of our common Father, as for one for whom Christ died, that he might be a partaker of salvation.

3. Yet speak in the spirit of humility “Not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think.” Not feeling or showing the least contempt of those whom you reprove; disclaiming all self superiority; owning the good there is in him

4. In the spirit of meekness. “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” Anger begets anger, not holiness.

5. Put no trust in yourself; in you wisdom or abilities; speak in the spirit of prayer.

6. And as for the outward manner, as well as the spirit, in which it should be done; let there be a frank outspokenness, a plain and artless declaration of disinterested love. It will pierce like lightning.

7. With great seriousness, showing that you are really in earnest. A ludicrous reproof makes little impression, or is taken ill.

8. Yet there are exceptions when a little well placed raillery will pierce deeper than solid argument. “Ridiculum acri fortius.” “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

9. Adapt the manner to the occasion. By few or many words as the situation determines; or by no words at all, but a look, a gesture, a sigh. Such silent reproof may be attended by the power of God.

10. Watch for a fair occasion. “A word spoken in season, how good it is.” Catch the “Mollia tempora fandi,” the time when his mind is soft and mild.

11. But should a man be left alone when intoxicated? I dare not say so; for instances are forthcoming of its having had good effects. Despise not the poor drunkard. Many of them are self-condemned, but they despair. He that tells a man there is no help for him is a liar from the beginning. “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.”

12. You that are diligent in this labour of love be not discouraged. You have need of patience. That “you reap, if you faint not.”

When a religious movement is abroad it will be accompanied with a spirit of reproving. All who are awakened by God’s Spirit will be reprovers of outward sin.—John Wesley, M.A., Sermons lxv.

Leviticus 19:26; Leviticus 19:31.—Theme: WICKED SUPERSTITIONS.


He will create oracles, consult devils, anything rather than seek unto God.


Scripture does not declare these “familiar spirits “to be unreal; it acknowledges them, and records man’s dealings with them: Samuel and Witch of Endor. [Compare Acts 16:16.]


“Regard not them.” God disowns them. A fearful case they are in who make this their trade. Heaven denounces them, and will exclude them. Spiritualists are in no favour or league with Deity.


Man is to deal alone with Deity, with God in Christ, with the Holy Spirit. They who “seek after wizards,” and “use enchantments,” are offending God, and are “defiled by them.”

Prayer brings us direct to Him who is the “Father of lights”; and He giveth liberally to “any who lack wisdom and will ask of God” (James 1:17; James 1:5).

Jesus Christ is the one Mediator, and “ever liveth to make intercession for us.” There should be no intercourse with the spirit world but through Jesus, and through Him with the Father alone. [See Addenda to chapter, Superstitions.]

Leviticus 19:3; Leviticus 19:30.—Theme: SACREDNESS OF THE SABBATHS.

Ye shall keep my Sabbaths.”

All days belong to God, and should therefore be kept sacred, but He has seen fit to anoint one day in seven with the oil of gladness above its fellows. The Sabbath is a divine institution dating from Eden, is associated with the completion of the great work of creation. It was heaven’s antidote to the curse of labour. Let us consider:


Certainly not because God needed it: though on it He rested from His labours and sanctified it. It was made for man, that in it he might enjoy; (a) physical repose; (b) mental recreation; (c) spiritual profit; (d) uninterrupted opportunities for divine worship. Godlesness has ignored its claims, selfishness has begrudged its weekly advent and call from secular engagements. The observance of one day in seven for the repose and refreshment of body, mind and heart brings blessings to man and glory to God.


The change of day, the less rigid demand for its ceremonial observance, have not lessened its importance and necessity, It is still to be observed as a day of rest from secular toil, and specially devoted to the work and worship of Jehovah. The Christian Sabbath is associated with the completion of the great work of redemption. Christ set His appropriation and approval upon it by making special posthumous appearances to His disciples on the first day of the week. The conduct of the apostles gives authoritative sanction to the observance of the first day instead of the seventh; and the Holy Spirit has set His seal of approval upon the change, not only by the descent at Pentecost, but by exerting His saving power, as Christians have met for worship and extending the Redeemer’s Kingdom on the Lord’s Day.—F. W. B.

Leviticus 19:32,—Theme: HOMAGE FOR AGE.

That is, when and—

i. Because the aged REPRESENT MATURE WISDOM.

ii. Because the aged record LONG YEARS SPENT IN OUR SERVICE.

iii. Because the aged demonstrate GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL CARE.


v. Because the aged suggest NEARNESS TO ETERNITY.

vi. Because the aged exhibit the RICHEST FRUITS OF GRACE.

vii. Because the aged mark the LINE OF GOD’S COVENANT BLESSINGS for descendants.


(a) Youth should venerate the aged (Job 30:1; Job 30:12; Isaiah 3:4-5).

(b) Age should influence and hallow the young (2 Timothy 1:5).

[See Addenda to chapter, Old Age.]

Leviticus 19:33.—Theme: COURTESY TO STRANGERS.


“For ye were strangers in the land” (Leviticus 19:34).

1. Dependent on other care than our own; human and divine

2. Transient, soon to leave, resting but a little while on earth.

Observe: it is good to see in the case of others an analogy with our own; it will foster sympathy, and helpfulness.


“Thou shalt love him as thyself.”

1. Acting to the stranger as if the service were being rendered to us. This will teach us what to do, and how to show kindness.

2. Recognising that we may perchance be in the stranger’s position. As thus needing kindness, let us now exhibit it.

3. Opening our hearts in ungrudging benevolence. “Love” gives lavishly. Courtesy should not be meagre and superficial.


“Ye were strangers in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”

1. Memory of God’s rescue should constrain us to care for others.

2. God’s relationship to us requires that we illustrate His lovingkindness.

3. His commands to courtesy cannot be evaded with impunity.

“I was a stranger and ye took me not in: Depart! “

Leviticus 19:35-36Theme: BUSINESS HONESTY.

Each bringing to the other some product of skill or toil. We cannot supply a fraction of our own wants, we must buy; and we have also, in turn, something to sell. Business is the outcome of this reciprocal dependence. Each can, each must help the other; or social and civic life would be impossible

It breaks confidence, alienates intercourse; closes friendly relationships, substitutes roguery for righteousness, and wrecks all goodwill.

Pleasant to reflect—

1. How much trade honour there is among men.

2. How surely trickery brings discovery, and therefore penalty, on rogues.

3. How honesty is ever winning respect and reward.

“I am the Lord “
He sees all secresies; weighs all balances; hales all dishonesties; will requite all deceits.



Morality is the object of government. We want a state of things in which crime will not pay, a state of things which allows every man the largest liberty compatible with the liberty of every other man.”—EMERSON, Fortune of the Republic.

“O let us still the secret joy partake
To follow virtue even for virtue’s sake.”



Where Abraham pitched his tent, there he built an altar.

“We are really what we are relatively.”


“Children are what their mothers are.”



“O day of rest! How beautiful, how fair.
How welcome to the weary and the old!
Dav of the Lord! and truce to earthy care!”

—LONGFELLOW, Christus.

Sin keeps no Sabbaths.

Of a well spent Sabbath Philip Henry used to say: “If this be not the way to heaven, I know not what is.”


“This mournful truth is everywhere confessed,

Slow rises worth by poverty depressed.”


“Poverty is the only load which is the heavier the more loved ones there are to assist in supporting it.”—RICHTER.


“They serve God well,
Who serve His creatures.”


“He is truly great, that is great in charity.”


“To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is Godlike.”—HORACE MANN.


“Sworn on every slight pretence,
Till perjuries are common as bad pence,
While thousands, careless of the damning sin,
Kiss the Book outside, who ne’er looked within.”—COWPER.


“Business dispatched is business well done, but business hurried is business ill done.”—BULWER LYTTON.
“All true work is sacred; in all the work, were it but true hand labour, there is something of divineness.”—CARLYLE.

“In every rank, or great or small,
’Tis industry supports us all.”—GAY.

“For men must work, and women must weep,
And the sooner it’s over, the sooner to sleep.”



“Heaven is above all yet; there sits a Judge
That no king can corrupt”

Henry VIII. iii., 1.

“He who the sword of Heaven would bear,
Should be as holy as severe;
Pattern in himself, to know
Grace to stand, and virtue go;
More nor loss to others paying
Than by self-offences weighing.”

Measure for Measure.

“Four things belong to a judge: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly, and to decide impartially.”


“The virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom.”—ARISTOTLE.


“One evil tongue, “say the Jews, “hurts three persons, the speaker, the hearer, and the person spoken of.”
“A lost good name is ne’er retrieved.”


“I hate the man who builds his name
On ruins of another’s fame.”—GAY.

“ ’Twas slander filled her mouth with lying words:
Slander, the foulest whelp of sin.”


“Low breathed talkers, minion lispers
Cutting honest throats by whispers.”


“Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as
Snow, thon shalt not escape slander.”


“Convey a libel in a frown,
And wink a reputation down.”



“We cannot show ourselves more friendly to any man than by an early reproof of his error, or, as it is here expressed, by not suffering sin upon him. “Tis a mercy to meet with reproof (though late) from others; but to be soon reproved is much mercy. Every good, the sooner it comes to us, the better it is.”—CARYL.


“Superstition is related to this life, religion to the next; superstition is allied to fatality, religion to virtue: it is by the vivacity of earthly devices that we become superstitious: it is, on the contrary, by the sacrifice of these devices that we become religious.”—MADAME DE STAEL.


“Life’s shadows are meeting Eternity’s day.”—JAS. G CLARKE.

“Age is not all decay: it is the ripening, the swelling, of the fresh life within, that withers and bursts the husk.”—GEO. MACDONALD.

“Thus fares it still in our decay,

And yet the wiser mind

Mourns less for what age takes away,

Than what it leaves behind.”


Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Leviticus 19". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/leviticus-19.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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