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Tuesday, May 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 5

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2553. B.C. 1451.

The general intent of the ten commandments as a covenant between God and Israel, Deuteronomy 5:1-5 . The commandments, Deuteronomy 5:6-21 . God writes them, and grants the people’s request, that he would speak by Moses. 22-28. Exhortations to obedience. 29-33.

Verse 1

Deuteronomy 5:1. Moses called all Israel Moses having in his first discourse, by a general recapitulation of the mercies and providences which had attended them, prepared the minds of the Israelites for further impressions, summons them by their elders and representatives to a second meeting, in which, after repeating to the new generation the several laws which God had enjoined, he earnestly exhorts them to lay them to heart, and make them the rule of their spirit and conduct.

Verse 3

Deuteronomy 5:3. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers That is, with our remote progenitors, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but with us, their descendants: or if it be understood as spoken of their immediate parents, it means, according to the Hebrew idiom, Not with our fathers only, but with us also, as Genesis 32:28, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; that is, not only Jacob, but Israel, or Israel preferably to Jacob. Moses might truly say, God made this covenant with them then present before him; for a great part of them, even all who were under twenty years of age, when God gave the law on mount Sinai, were at Horeb; and, as God foreknew that their parents would die in the wilderness for their unbelief and murmuring, and would have comparatively little profit from that covenant, he especially intended it for those who should enter Canaan, and who, with their posterity, should be governed and benefited by it from generation to generation.

Verse 4

Deuteronomy 5:4. The Lord talked with you face to face Personally and immediately, and not by the mouth or ministry of Moses; plainly and certainly, as when two men speak face to face; freely and familiarly, so as not to overwhelm and confound you. It may also signify that they beheld a conspicuous symbol of the divine presence, and heard a divine voice speaking from thence clearly and distinctly.

Verse 5

Deuteronomy 5:5. Between the Lord and you As a mediator, according to your desire. The word of the Lord Moses does not mean the ten commandments, which God himself had uttered, but the other statutes and judgments following them.

Verse 6

Deuteronomy 5:6. I am the Lord thy God The ten commandments, delivered Exodus 20:0., are here repeated, with some small difference of words, but the sense is perfectly the same. There being little said concerning the spiritual meaning of the ten commandments in the notes there, it may not be improper to add a few inquiries here, which the reader may answer between God and his own soul.

Verse 7

Deuteronomy 5:7. Thou shalt have no other gods before me Hast thou worshipped God in spirit and in truth? Hast thou made him the end of all thy actions? Hast thou sought for any happiness in preference to the knowledge and love of God? Dost thou experimentally know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent? Dost thou love God? Dost thou love him with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, so as to love nothing else but in that manner and degree which tends to increase thy love of him? Hast thou found happiness in God? Is he the desire of thine eyes, the joy of thy heart? If not, thou hast other gods before him.

Verse 8

Deuteronomy 5:8. Thou shalt not make any graven image Hast thou not formed any gross image of God in thy mind? Hast thou always thought of him as a pure spirit, whom no man hath seen, nor can see? and hast thou worshipped him with thy body, as well as with thy spirit, seeing both of them are God’s?

Verse 11

Deuteronomy 5:11. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain Hast thou never used the name of God unless on solemn and weighty occasions? Hast thou then used it with the deepest awe? Hast thou duly honoured his word, his ordinances, his ministers? Hast thou considered all things as they stand in relation to him, and seen God in all? Hast thou looked upon heaven as God’s throne? Upon earth as God’s footstool? On every thing therein as belonging to the great King? On every creature as full of God?

Verse 12

Deuteronomy 5:12. Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it Dost thou do no work on this day, which can be done as well on another? Art thou peculiarly careful on this day to avoid all conversation which does not tend to the knowledge and love of God? Dost thou watch narrowly over all that are within thy gates, that they too may keep it holy? and dost thou try every possible means to bring all men, wherever thou art, to do the same?

Verse 16

Deuteronomy 5:16. Honour thy father and mother Hast thou not been irreverent or undutiful to either? Hast thou not slighted their advice? Hast thou cheerfully obeyed all their lawful commands? Hast thou loved and honoured their persons, supplied their wants, and concealed their infirmities? Hast thou fervently prayed for them? Hast thou loved and honoured thy prince, and avoided, as fire, all speaking evil of the ruler of thy people? Have ye that are servants done all things as unto Christ; not with eye-service, but in singleness of heart? Have ye who are masters behaved as parents to your servants, with all gentleness and affection? Have ye all obeyed them that watch over your souls, and esteemed them highly in love for their works’ sake?

Verse 17

Deuteronomy 5:17. Thou shalt not kill Hast thou not tempted any one to what might shorten his life? Hast thou tempted none to intemperance? Hast thou suffered none to be intemperate under thy roof, or in thy company? Hast thou done all thou couldest, in every place, to prevent intemperance of all kinds? Art thou guilty of no degree of self-murder? Dost thou never eat or drink any thing because it is pleasant and agreeable to thy taste, although thou hast reason to believe it is prejudicial to thy health? Hast thou constantly done whatever thou hadst reason to believe was conducive to it? Hast thou not hated thy neighbour in thy heart? Hast thou reproved him that committed sin in thy sight? If not, thou hast, in God’s account, hated him, seeing thou didst suffer sin upon him. Hast thou loved all men as thy own soul, as Christ loved us? Hast thou done unto all men as, in like circumstances, thou wouldest they should do to thee? Hast thou done all in thy power to help thy neighbours, enemies as well as friends? Hast thou laboured to deliver every soul thou couldest from sin and misery? Hast thou showed that thou lovedst all men as thyself, by a constant, earnest endeavour to fill all places with holiness and happiness, with the knowledge and love of God?

Verse 18

Deuteronomy 5:18. Neither shalt thou commit adultery If thou hast not been guilty of any act of uncleanness, hath thy heart conceived no unclean thought? Hast thou not looked on a woman so as to lust after her? Hast thou not betrayed thy own soul to temptation, by eating and drinking to the full, by needless familiarities, by foolish talking, by levity of dress or behaviour? Hast thou used all the means which Scripture and reason suggest, to prevent every kind and degree of unchastity? Hast thou laboured, by watching, fasting, and prayer, to possess thy vessel in sanctification and honour?

Verse 19

Deuteronomy 5:19. Neither shalt thou steal Hast thou seriously considered that these houses, lands, money, or goods, which thou hast been used to call thy own, are not thy own, but belong to another, even God? Hast thou ever considered that God is the sole proprietor of heaven and earth; the true owner of every thing therein? Hast thou considered that he has only lent them to thee? That thou art but a steward of thy Lord’s goods? And that he has told thee expressly the uses and purposes for which he intrusts thee with them; namely, for the furnishing, first thyself and those dependant on thee, and then as many others as thou canst, with the things needful for life and godliness? Hast thou considered that thou hast no right at all to apply any part of them to any other purpose? and that if thou dost thou art as much a robber of God as any can be a robber of thee?

Verse 20

Deuteronomy 5:20. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour Hast thou not been guilty of evil-speaking; of needlessly repeating the real fault of thy neighbour? If we see a man do an evil thing, and tell it to another, unless from a full and clear conviction that it is necessary to mention it just then, for the glory of God, the safety or good of some other person, or for the benefit of him that hath done amiss; and unless we then do it only so far as is necessary to these ends, that is evil-speaking. O beware of this! It is scattering abroad arrows, fire-brands, and death.

Verse 21

Deuteronomy 5:21. Neither shalt thou covet any thing, that is thy neighbour’s The plain meaning of this is, Thou shalt not desire any thing that is not thy own, any thing which thou hast not. Indeed, why shouldest thou? God hath given thee whatever tends to thy one end, holiness. Thou canst not deny it, without making him a liar; and when any thing else will tend thereto, he will give thee that also. There is, therefore, no room to desire any thing which thou hast not. Thou hast already every thing that is really good for thee; wouldest thou have more money, more pleasure, more praise still? Why, this is not good for thee. God has told thee so, by withholding it from thee. O give thyself up to his wise and gracious disposal!

Verse 22

Deuteronomy 5:22. Out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness This was a dispensation of terror, designed to make the gospel of grace the more welcome, and to be a specimen of the terrors of the judgment day. He added no more He ceased for that time to speak immediately, and with that loud voice, unto the people; for the remaining precepts were delivered to Moses, and by him communicated unto them. This he did to show the pre-eminence of that law above the rest, and its everlasting obligation.

Verse 25

Deuteronomy 5:25. Why should we die? For though God hath, for this season, kept us alive, yet we shall never be able to endure any further discourse from him in such a terrible manner, but shall certainly sink under the burden of it.

Verse 26

Deuteronomy 5:26. Flesh Is here put for a man in his frail, corruptible, and mortal state.

Verse 29

Deuteronomy 5:29. O that there were such a heart in them! A heart to fear God, and keep his commandments for ever! The God of heaven is truly and earnestly desirous of the salvation of poor sinners. He has given abundant proof that he is so. He gives us time and space to repent; by his mercies he invites us to repentance, and waiteth to be gracious; he has sent his Son to redeem us, published a general offer of pardon, promised his Spirit to those that pray for it; and he has said, yea, and sworn, that he hath no pleasure in the death of a sinner.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 5". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/deuteronomy-5.html. 1857.
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