Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 32

Sermon Bible CommentarySermon Bible Commentary

Verses 11-12

Deuteronomy 32:11-12

Without attaching any mystic meaning to this figure of the eagle, we may readily discover the great principles of God's action that it was intended to illustrate.

I. The Divine discipline of life is designed to awaken man to the development of his own powers. The instinct of the eagle in breaking up her nest is to arouse the native energies of her young. The power of flight is in them, but unknown, because it has never been called into play; it is a slumbering faculty, and must be awakened into action. Man's soul is formed into God's image by the right action of his spiritual powers, and these powers are only awakened by the activity of God. (1) The great purpose of all spiritual discipline is to render men Divine. By the very constitution of the soul, the Godlike image must be formed by awakening the energies that lie slumbering within. The soul contains in itself the germinal forces of the life it may possess in the future ages. (2) The image of the text suggests two methods of Divine action: the stimulating and the exemplary. The eagle breaks up her nest, and is not the voice of life's experiences God's summons to man to rise and live to Him? God sends a shock of change through our circumstances, and rouses us from repose.

II. Discipline attains its end only when regarded as under the control of a father. It is obvious that the instinct of the eagle is that of parental affection. (1) Believe in the Father, and you submissively accept the mysterious in life. (2) Believe in the Father, and you shall strive to realise the purpose of this discipline. We have no impulse to any spiritual aspiration, to any true self-sacrifice, to the exertion of any spiritual energy, which is not awakened by the touch of the Eternal Spirit. Let us then awake out of sleep. God is breaking up our material resting-places in order that we may aspire towards the imperishable and the immortal.

E. L. Hull, Sermons, 3rd series, p. 131.

I. This passage suggests the thought of Divine incitements. The world is all alive with nest-building. Men seek comfort, satisfaction, and rest in outward things. In a scene where all is flowing they try to make fixity. God shatters what man builds, drives away what man gathers, takes what man in vain tries to hold.

II. Divine example. "As an eagle fluttereth over her young," as showing them the way to fly, so God sets before us the example of the good, the strivings of the great, the lives of the saints, and chiefly the perfect pattern, the perfect life of His incarnate Son. With the disturbances and dislodgments of life will be found very often invitations, and possibilities, and enlargements.

III. Divine protection. "The eagle spreadeth abroad her wings." The spreading of the wings is the promise of protection to the young birds, both while in the nest and while attempting to fly. So here we have the Divine protection amply promised and assured to us by the word of God.

IV. Divine compulsion. "As an eagle... taketh them," if they will, in helpfulness; if they will not, in compulsion; in one way or another they must be got out of the nest. God takes oftentimes one and another in quiet, common life, and by a kind of sacred violence forces them into new scenes and almost into better states.

A. Raleigh, Front Dawn to the Perfect Day, p. 219.

References: Deuteronomy 32:11 , Deuteronomy 32:12 . W. Haslam, The Threefold Gift of God, Part I., p. 41; T. Cuyler, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 529; W. M. Taylor, The Limitations of Life, p.. 78. Deuteronomy 32:13 . H. Melvill, The Lothbury Lectures, p. 19. Deuteronomy 32:20 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx., No. 1784.

Verse 29

Deuteronomy 32:29

I. That there is very generally a strange want of reflection and concern respecting our condition as mortal is most apparent in many plain, familiar proofs. Perhaps nothing in the world, that appears so out of consistency, is so obvious. Notice: (1) The very small effect of the memory of the departed in the way of admonition of our own mortality. (2) How little and seldom we are struck with the reflection how many things we are exposed to that might cause death. (3) How soon a recovery from danger sets aside the serious thought of death. (4) How many schemes are formed for a long future time with as much interest and as much anticipating confidence as if there were no such thing in the world as death.

II. When it is asked, How comes this to be? the general explanation is that which accounts for everything that is wrong, namely, the radical depravity of our nature. There are doubtless special causes, such as: (1) The perfect distinctness of life and death. (2) Even the certainty and universality of death may be numbered among the causes tending to withdraw men's thoughts from it. (3) The general presumption of having long to live is a cause of a more obvious kind. (4) Another great cause is that men occupy their whole soul and life with things that preclude the thought of its end. (5) There is in a large proportion of men a formal, systematic endeavour to keep off the thought of death.

III. Let us remember that to end our life is the mightiest event that awaits us in this world. And it is that which we are living but to come to. To have been thoughtless of it, then, will ultimately be an immense calamity; it will be to be in a state unprepared for it. And consider that there is a sovereign antidote to the fear of death. There is One that has Himself yielded to death, in order to vanquish it for us and take its terrors away.

J. Foster, Lectures, 2nd series, p. 241.

References: Deuteronomy 32:29 . Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 120; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi., No. 304; J. C. Hare, Sermons in Herstmonceux Church, p. 415.Deuteronomy 32:31 . D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3342; R. Glover, By the Waters of Babylon, p. 153.Deuteronomy 32:32 . H. Macmillan, The Olive Leaf, p. 280. Deuteronomy 32:35 . A. Tholuck, Hours of Christian Devotion, p. 128; Expositor, 3rd series, vol. v., p. 455.Deuteronomy 32:36 . Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes, p. 45.Deuteronomy 32:37 , Deuteronomy 32:38 . Expositor, 2nd series, vol. iii., p. 225.

Verse 39

Deuteronomy 32:39

The text declares with a magnificent fulness the personality and the power of God.

I. God as healing is made visible to us in Jesus. The miracles of Jesus were mainly connected with the bodies of men. There were two great reasons for this. (1) One reason is to show the close connection of sickness with sin. One indication of this we have in a great fact of our Saviour's life. He was incarnate that He might have sympathy with us. Yet He was never sick. He had no particular sickness because He had no sin. (2) Christ's miracles of healing were not the luxury of a Divine good-nature. They were not random alms that cost Him nothing. A perceptible exhaustion of vital energy accompanied the exertion of His power. Here then is a second cause for our Lord's miracles of healing: to teach us self-denial and thought for the sick. He took to Himself God's motto, "I heal," for one of the highest of theological and for one of the tenderest of practical reasons.

II. We now consider God as wounding. As to the wounds of suffering humanity sickness two considerations practically diminish the perplexity which they bring to us when we consider them as existing under a rule of love, (1) One of these considerations is the intention of sickness as a part of the spiritual discipline of the Christian life. (2) Another moral object of sickness is to draw out the fulness of Christian sympathy, scientific and personal.

III. As we enlarge our view, the Divine pity predominates. There are, indeed, voices of anguish on every breeze; there are shadows in the foreground of the picture of the history of humanity. But these voices of anguish are only surface discords, underlying which is a wondrous harmony. All those shadows do but set off the picture that closes with the long golden distances of sunlit hills whose atmosphere is perfect wisdom, whose magic colouring drops from the tender pencil of perfect love.

Bishop Alexander, The Great Question, p. 30.

References: Deuteronomy 32:39 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv., No. 1465.Deuteronomy 32:44-52 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 443.Deuteronomy 32:47 . J. C. Jones, Penny Pulpit, No. 664; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii., No. 457; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 124.Deuteronomy 32:48-52 . H. Wonnacott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 158; H. Batchelor, The Incarnation of God, p. 193.Deuteronomy 32:0 Parker, vol. iv., pp. 350, 365, 375.Deuteronomy 33:1-5 . F. Whitfield, The Blessings of the Tribes, p. 23.Deuteronomy 33:1-12 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 281.Deuteronomy 33:0 M. Dods, Israel's Iron Age, p. 173.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 32". "Sermon Bible Commentary".