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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 14

Sermon Bible CommentarySermon Bible Commentary

Verse 21

Deuteronomy 14:21

I. The simplest meaning of this inspired charge is the true one: Thou shalt not blunt thy natural feelings or those of others by disregarding the inward dictates of a Divine humanity. Human nature shrinks from the idea of using that which ought to be the food of a new-born animal to prepare that animal to be man's food, of applying the mother's milk to a purpose so opposite to that for which God destined it. Harden not thy heart against this instinct of tenderness and pity on the plea that it matters not to the slain animal in what way it is dressed, or that the living parent, void of reason, has no consciousness of the inhumanity; for thine own sake refrain from that which is hard-hearted and unfeeling, from that which, though it inflicts not pain, springs out of selfishness and indicates a spirit unworthy of man and forgetful of God.

II. The text seems to teach us most of all the wickedness of using for selfish or wrong purposes the sacred feelings of another; of availing ourselves of the knowledge of another's affections to make him miserable or to make him sinful; of trifling, in this sense, with the most delicate workings of the human mechanism, and turning to evil account that insight into character with which God has endowed us all, in different degrees, for purposes most opposite, purposes wholly beneficent, pure, and good.

III. Hardness of heart has two aspects: towards man and towards God. Towards God it is brought about by acts of neglect, leading to habits of neglect. Towards man it is produced in us in a similar way: by repeated acts of disregard, leading to a habit of disregard, by blinding ourselves to others' feelings and saying and doing things that wound them, till at last we become unconscious of their very existence, and think nothing real which is not, in some manner, our own. Watch and pray against hardness of heart. "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."

C. J. Vaughan, Memorials of Harrow Sundays, p. 138.

Reference: Deuteronomy 15:1-11 . Parker, vol. iv., p. 238.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 14". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sbc/deuteronomy-14.html.
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