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Provision is made in this chapter for various circumstances, of such things as might arise in the government of Israel. Here are appointments for the discovery of murder: for the marriage of captives taken in war: for preserving the birthright of inheritance to the eldest son of a wife not beloved: for the punishment by stoning of a rebellious son: and for the taking down the bodies of malefactors before sun-set. Such are the contents of this chapter.
I pause at these verses to remark the particularity of feature in the beast, which was doomed as a victim on this occasion; that it must be one which hath not been wrought with. Is not this typical of him who was doomed to have his blood shed as expiatory, to do away human offences, both those that are known and those that are secret? Did not the SON of GOD, with whom nothing had been wrought of labour or of sin, come down to the valley of this our world, and was he not taken by the elders and rulers of the people, and crucified and slain?
Was not this washing over the head of the beast; in allusion to the same thing as the high priest on the day of atonement? And in the address to GOD, in which the distinguishing feature of character, as the Redeemer of his people, is expressly kept in view; was it not, as all the expressions of the law, intimating that without shedding of blood there was no remission? And if so, doth not the Reader behold in all this JESUS doing away all our murderous sins, by which we have destroyed ourselves, (though from our blindness like the one slain in the land, and it be not known by whom), we long remain unconscious of it. See Leviticus 16:29 and with the apostle's commentary upon it, Hebrews 9:7-12 .
I pass over the natural history of the things here mentioned, to attend to the spiritual doctrine which seems to be veiled under it. And here, methinks, I see the LORD JESUS gathering from the Gentile world a bride for himself, to form one with the Jewish. Surely we are his right by lawful captivity, for we were enemies to GOD by wicked works, and if he hath brought us home to his house, we desire grace to renounce all our former idolatry, by the marks of paring the nails and shaving the head, and putting off the old man of our captivity which is corrupt, and putting on the new man, which after GOD, is created in righteousness and true holiness. Dearest JESUS! do thou betroth me to thyself in faithfulness, in loving-kindness, in judgment, and in mercy! And let me remain in thine house forever, for thou hatest putting away: so shall the king desire the beauty of his spouse, for he is thy LORD, (I would say) and may my soul worship him! Psalms 45:11 .
There is somewhat beside the moral sense of this passage, of a spiritual signification connected with it to be understood. As in the case of the great Father of the Israelites, the LORD himself was pleased to determine even before the children were born, that the elder should serve the younger, lest Israel should be led by caprice to do that which the LORD in wisdom was only competent to determine, the LORD passeth it into a law to prevent all abuses on this ground. But the Reader will not forget to observe the extent of the precept in this instance, it reached only to temporal possessions. LORD, let that be my portion which Paul speaks of: Ephesians 1:3 .
It is very worthy observation; how exceedingly jealous the LORD hath manifested himself for the honor of his law. The ties of nature were all to give way when the honour of GOD stood in competition. See Zechariah 13:3 .
Whether the former observations in this chapter, which I ventured to make concerning the ever blessed JESUS, be well founded or not, yet here I presume to speak with more confidence; for the HOLY GHOST hath graciously taught the church by the ministry of his servant the apostle, that CHRIST was made a curse for us, and in him this law had its grand completion. Precious JESUS! didst thou indeed hang on the accursed tree, at once a spectacle to heaven and earth, as if undeserving the notice or regard of either, when in thy spotless soul thou hadst done no sin, and no guile was found in thy mouth, and this on purpose that we might be made the righteousness of GOD in thee! Oh matchless love! Oh unequalled condescension! LORD! enable me to carry about with me in my body the dying of the LORD JESUS, and may thy life, O JESUS, be manifested in my mortal flesh. Galatians 3:13 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21 .
READER! may it be your happiness and mine, while perusing this chapter, to remark the superiority of the gospel to the law. Evidently we here see by the provision made for certain cases to which no outward restraints could reach, how infinitely transcending that spiritual worship is, to which believers in JESUS are called, who are not without law to GOD, but under the law to CHRIST. The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in a better hope did, by which we draw nigh to GOD.
But chiefly, Reader, in the perusal of this Chapter, may you and I derive grace from the great glorifier of JESUS, to behold him shadowed forth in those services of the law. Blessed spirit of truth! do thou guide our souls into all truth. Say, Holy LORD! is it not JESUS whose blood shed in the valley of this world, opens a source for the discovery of all our soul murdering transgressions, by which we destroy ourselves?
And is he not our peace in making peace, for us with our GOD, with our consciences, with our neighbours, with the world, with all things? Is he not the holy Warrior which hath conquered sin and death, and brought home our souls as captives to his salvation? Is it not he, who, for the love he hath to our persons, hath betrothed us to himself forever and ever? And was he not content to be made a curse for us when he hung on the tree and sustained the whole pressure of our sins, that in his righteousness we might be blessed! Hail, holy, blessed, dearest JESUS! be thou my strength and song, for thou art become my salvation; my soul doth magnify the LORD, and my spirit hath rejoiced in GOD my Saviour!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26