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The Chapter before us is a continuation of certain laws, appointed to be observed in certain cases. Here are directions concerning divorces; of the permission, for the newly married to refrain from war; concerning pledges; men-stealers; leprosy; hire of wages; of justice, and of charity.
Our blessed LORD'S comment upon this law throws a full light upon the subject of divorces in general. The permission of such acts, carries with it the evidence of the hardness of the human heart. Matthew 19:8 . But what a precious thought is it to the true believer in JESUS, that his union with him admits of no divorce. No, not even our backsliding, for he saith himself, I have betrothed thee to me forever. And though thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, yet return again unto me, saith the LORD, Jeremiah 3:1 ; Hosea 2:19 .
This precept very properly follows the one respecting divorces. Absence from the object we love begets coolness; and it would be well to be considered by the married, whether much of the infidelity we hear of in common life, doth not begin in this. But whether this be so or not; well I know that the absence of my affections, from the LORD my husband, and the earthly concerns, which so much carry away my soul from frequent communion with JESUS, are the sad causes why my unworthy and unfaithful heart, is living so far from him. Oh! for more constant enjoyment of thy presence, dearest Redeemer!
This precept had much of mercy in it, because the nether, or upper mill-stone, was daily needed to grind the borrower's food. But, do I not see here a fence thrown up, to secure to a believer, his inheritance both in the upper and the nether springs of all our mercies in JESUS? Reader, depend upon it, if JESUS be your portion, or as this verse expresseth it, your life, you cannot pledge him, neither can any take him from you. Sweet thought! in all our wants, in all our poverty, borrowings, and distresses, though the creditor be come to take our two sources of comfort from us, in the upper and the nether springs of JESUS'S love; the vessels of grace shall be filled, and we shall have enough and to spare. See that sweet scripture, and read the spiritual illustration of it in proof, 2 Kings 4:1-12.4.7 .
Beside the cruelty to the body, in selling a child or youth from his friends, there was yet greater cruelty to the soul, in causing an Israelite to be sent out of his land, whereby he was in danger of going after other gods. This was what David so much condemned in Saul's conduct towards him: See 1 Samuel 26:19 .
Leprosy was disease of so singular a nature, and to be treated so differently from all others, that we cannot hesitate to conclude, what both Jewish and Christian writers indeed have all agreed in; that it had a reference to somewhat of a spiritual allusion. The priest, and not the physician, was to be consulted upon it. All the laws concerning it, were of a religious kind. Seen therefore with an allusion to the sin of the soul, how apt a representation were all the appointments concerning it, which pointed to the atonement by blood, as the only cure. 1 John 1:7 . The case of Miriam is very striking in point. See Numbers 12:10 .
These directions concerning poor debtors, show the mercy of the LORD. Without going into all the minute circumstances of the case, respecting our insolvency towards GOD, I would ask the Reader; whether he doth not discern some very interesting points, which show us our mercies in JESUS. Yes! Reader, however poor, however insolvent, however obliged to give our pledge by day, all the people of JESUS sleep in the sure covering of the LORD's righteousness. It may serve to teach us also, how much these creditors resemble the great and Almighty Creditor, who are blessed in their kind and compassionate remembrance of their poorer brethren. 1 John 3:14 .
The justice, to say nothing of the mercy, of this precept, is too obvious. The LORD grant, that no cry of my poor brother, or of a stranger, may ever go up to my GOD against me. Reader! think only what a discordant thing it would be, if while you are sending up a prayer for mercy, another should be sending up a prayer for justice upon your head. Read that scripture: James 5:4 .
The LORD hath reserved to himself This privilege, of punishing the sin of the fathers upon the children, but he hath no where given this authority to others. Exodus 20:5 .
The consciousness of our past ruined state, when in the awakened condition of a poor sinner, a stranger to GOD and to CHRIST, is the best of all possible arguments, to induce compassion to the souls of the unawakened. Oh! that the Reader, if the LORD hath in mercy called him out of darkness and the shadow of death, may feel somewhat of the Psalmist's spirit: Psalms 66:16 .
All these are additional arguments, to manifest the tender mercies of the LORD. We have a beautiful example, of obedience to these precepts in the instance of Boaz. And, as in that instance, we have a lively type of the ever-blessed JESUS, I hope the Reader will not fail to consult it in this place and meditate upon it. Ruth 2:15-8.2.16 . And are we not strangers, when we glean in the scriptures of JESUS? LORD, do thou command thy servants to let fall handfuls purposely for us, and give us to glean even among the sheaves.
I BESEECH my GOD and Saviour, that he will enlighten the eyes of my understanding, that in reading those precepts of his holy law, I may be led to view somewhat either leading to JESUS, or pointing to him, in every one. If, dearest LORD, thou hast betrothed me to thyself, thou wilt not give me a writing of divorcement, though I am altogether unworthy of thy love, for thou hatest putting away, and thou hast said I shall be thine forever. LORD, give me grace to imitate thy tenderness, and in all my concerns with my poorer brother, forget not that thou hast condescended to call me thy brother; and even to strangers, may I never forget, that when in the bondage of sin and corruption, thou didst seek me out and free me, I was a stranger in the land of Egypt. Oh! for grace to manifest my love to thee, in the remembrance of all thine afflicted, tried, and distressed family. The LORD JESUS help me by his sweet constraining love, to do by others as he hath done by me; and to put on, as the elect of GOD, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering: that it may be manifest to my own heart, and to all with whom I have to do, that the same mind is in me, which was also in CHRIST JESUS.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 24". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent