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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Deuteronomy 5

 

 

Verses 1-33

CRITICAL REMARKS.—The Deuteronomy, or second law, is now given and enforced. But Moses refers to the covenant relation between Jehovah and Israel, and recapitulates the Sinaitic code in its most important features.

Deu . Moses called marks the publicity and importance of the address.

Deu . Our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; but with the nation as an organic whole, those identified with the people who entered into the covenant at Sinai.

Deu Face to face, not in visible form, but familiarly, near as one person to another.

Deu . Even as regards the Decalogue this statement has its application. Moses "stood between the Lord and them" whilst it was delivered, and perhaps it was (Exo 19:19) addressed directly to Moses, though in accents audible to the assembly beneath. Thus was the law, including even the "Ten Words," "in the hands of a mediator" (Gal 3:19).—Sp. Com.

Deu . An introduction to the commandments which follow, and which are given with slight verbal alteration the same as in Exodus 20.

Deu . First table of the Law.

Deu . Before me, lit. beyond me (Gen 48:22; Psa 16:2), in addition to me (Gen 31:50; Deu 19:9); meaning by the side of me, or in my presence.

Deu . All symbolic representations prohibited. Heaven, stars or birds; earth, all kinds of animals; water, fish and water creatures.

Deu . Jealous, who gives not to another honour due to himself (Isa 42:8; Isa 48:11), nor tolerates the worship of any idol. Visiting, not charging the iniquity, but permitting its consequences to flow beyond persons or nations committing it.

Deu . The third and fourth generation are punished (visited); but mercy is shown to the thousandth.

Deu . In vain, lit., lift up the name of Jehovah thy God in vain. Lift up, take up a proverb (Num 23:7), a song (Psa 81:3), or a prayer (Isa 37:3), All employment of God's name for vain and unworthy purposes forbidden; not merely false swearing; but profane and idle swearing in daily life. Guiltless, left unpunished.

Deu . Sabbath, already in existence has to be sanctified (a festival-keeper, Exo 16:23) to be observed a day of rest, belonging to the Lord and consecrated to Him. Neither man nor beast to work. "The exhortation is pointed by reminding the people that they too were formerly servants themselves. The bondage in Egypt and the deliverance from it are not assigned as grounds for the institution of the Sabbath, which is of far older date (cf. Gen 2:3); but rather as suggesting motives for the religions observance of that institution. The exodus was an entrance into rent from the toils of the house of bondage, and is thought actually to have occurred on the Sabbath day. Hence arose special and national obligations with respect to the Sabbath, on which it is exactly within the scope of Moses' purpose in Deuteronomy to insist."—Sp. Com.

Deu . Well with thee. An insertion not in Exo 20:11, but found in Eph 6:3, and amplifying the promise of long life.

Deu . Second table of the law. The enactments are from outward deeds (kill, adultery, steal), to words, (false witness and lies) to inward desires (covet and desire).

Deu . Added, lit, "He did not add," i.e., He spoke no more with the great voice directly to the people, but addressed all other communications to them through Moses.

Deu . Here we have a fuller account than that in Exo 20:18-21. God's reply (Deu 5:18-31) to the people's request is not given in the summary of Exodus. The people were alarmed at the awful phenomena in which God revealed His glory and uttered His will; entreated Moses to stand between as mediator, that they might not die, and then promised to hear and obey. God approved the request, because it indicated a feeling of unfitness for intercourse with Him, but added—

Deu . "Would that they always had this feeling—this heart in them to fear me, that it might be well with them and their children."

Deu . The people are directed to their tents; Moses is appointed mediator, to whom God would give all law for the people.

Deu . Events are brought to a close by an exhortation to careful observance of the commandments, never to turn aside, right or left, from the way pointed out, that it may be well with them (cf. cp. Deu 4:40).

THE COVENANT IN HOREB.—Deu

Moses was about to recapitulate the law. It was fitting to remind them of the circumstances in which it was given, and the special relation between God and His people.

I. The method in which the covenant was given. Jewish and other writers have speculated on this subject, but we can only reconcile the various statements in Old and New Testaments (Exo ; Deu 5:4; cf. Act 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2) by remembering the spirituality of God, and His special agency in the revelation of His will. From this narrative we learn that—

1. The covenant was specially made with them. "The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers." It is specially with us, a covenant not of circumcision (Act ) but ten commandments. Light gradually shines, and children know more of God's will than their forefathers.

2. The covenant was given familiarly to them. "The Lord talked with you face to face," as one friend with another. Not in dreams and dark visions as of old (Job ), but directly, openly and clearly.

3. The covenant was given amid divine splendour. "Out of the midst of the fire." The natural phenomena and peculiar surroundings were intended to impress their minds and beget right feelings and willing obedience.

4. The covenant was given through a mediator. "I stood between the Lord and you"—at your request, and by God's approval; to allay your fears and preserve your lives. We have Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant (Heb ) to remove our guilt and intercede with God.

II. The obligations under which the covenant put the people. Special favours beget special obligations. This covenant is with us, reminds us of our privileged condition and reciprocal duty.

1. God's commands must be performed. "Do them." Not talk and speculate about them. We must personally accept the terms and bind ourselves to constant performance.

2. God's commands must be understood before they can be performed. "That ye may learn them." Obedience must be intelligent, "a reasonable service," not mechanical. Intellect is concerned as well as heart. "With all thy heart; with all thy mind."

3. God's commands must be heard before they can be understood. "Hear, O Israel." They must be observed and attentively considered. The ears must be employed for God. "I speak in your ears." Things heard must not slip or glide out of our treacherous hearts and memories as out of leaking vessels (Heb ). Thus there can be no obligation without law to found it upon, and no law in religion but from God. God, therefore, must be heard, feared, and glorified. Loyal obedience is necessary, not to purchase salvation, but to please God and benefit men. "That ye may live, and that it may be well with you."

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT: GOD'S SUPREMACY OVER OUR AFFECTIONS

Deu

The decalogue, or ten words, have been appropriately divided into two parts, called tables of the law. It is a natural division founded on the distinct character of the precepts themselves, and sanctioned by our Saviour in Mat . In one sense the law was a republication of the law of nature. But sin had corrupted the original impress on the human heart, hence it was necessary to make it the basis of the national constitution with Israel, and to preserve it as the rule of life for all mankind. Man is instructed, and God is exalted in this moral law.

I. God must be the sole object of our affection. "Thou shalt have none other Gods before me." Our duties arise from our relations. Our relation to God is the earliest, most essential, and most lasting; regard to Him therefore as our God is our first and highest duty. There are systems of morality which omit, or, slightly notice, the high claims of God upon our hearts, which exhalt domestic and social duties, and which sustain and adorn the relation of friendship and the claims of politics and philanthropy. These systems are from men, but the first commandment from God is "thou shalt have no other gods but me."

1. No other god instead of Jehovah. Nothing must usurp the place of God in our hearts and affections. Riches, learning, and power are gifts from—and must not be worshipped instead of—God. There is a tendency in man to imagine and make other gods. The Jews were prone to fall into the gross enormities of polytheism; classic nations of antiquity, amid all superstitions and devotions, were "without God." In this age—clear with indications of God's existence and unity, with tender and most constraining motives to cleave to Him—there is still a tendency in our hearts to depart from God and make idols of the creatures; still a necessity to urge the claims of Jehovah, and maintain virtue and piety in the world. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."

2. No other god along with Jehovah. There cannot be two gods. It is impossible to serve two masters. If we hate one we shall cleave to the other, or hold to the one and despise the other (Mat ). Yet many try to serve God and the world—make a compromise, and, like Israel, join a false god with the true. "They feared the Lord and served their own gods."

3. Jehovah, and Jehovah only, must be our God. He must be the object of our choice and affection. We are forbidden to deny God; to give the glory due to Him to another; and to forget our relation to Him as our God. We must know and acknowledge, worship and serve God as one God, as the only true God, and as our God.

II. The grounds on which God claims to be the sole object of our affection. The law begins with a declaration of God concerning Himself, which serves as a ground and motive for obedience. "I am Jehovah thy God." These words are often repeated, because the tendencies of our nature to forget or slight God's manifestations are deep and dangerous.

1. God's supreme authority. "I am Jehovah." Self-existent, infinite, and eternal, the source of life, authority and happiness. Our maker, and has right to dispose of us according to his pleasure.

2. God's covenant mercy. "Thy God." The name Jehovah might terrify, but "thy God" is the charter in Christ of all blessings, allures and draws us to him. "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord."

3. God's wonderful deliverance. "Which brought thee out of the land of Egypt," etc. This was an act of power, wisdom and goodness, specially fitted to incite them to obedience, and kindle their hearts into warmest love. God delivers that he may be served. When he has made and redeemed us surely no other god should hide him from view. "Therefore will we serve the Lord, for he is our God."

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT: GOD'S SUPREMACY OVER OUR WORSHIP

Deu

"The first commandment regards the object of worship—the living and true God, and requires that we worship Him and no other The second respects the means of worship, and requires that we worship the true God in such a way only, and by such ordinances as He hath appointed in His word. The first may be discovered by the light of nature, but the second can be discovered only by revelation." (Patterson). In one command God declares that He will be worshipped by His intelligent creatures, and in the other He prescribes the method of solemnizing His worship."

I. The spirituality of the Divine nature requires spirituality of Divine worship. God in contrast to all false deities, is a spirit—must be worshipped in spirit and in truth—cannot be, and must not be represented in visible shape. There is no resemblance to Him in anything He has made. Whatever men plead in favour of sense aiding faith, God says "thou shalt not."

1. We are not to make nor fancy any material image of God in heaven above or on earth beneath, or in the waters beneath the earth.

2. We are not to worship any picture or painting of God. "Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them." We long to set the object of our affection before our eyes—feel it difficult to fix our mind upon an unseen God; but we must trust to no image. The Holy Spirit can help our infirmities, and give spirituality of mind and fervour of devotion. Religious worship is an act of thought, principles, and affections—not attitude, genuflections, and outward rites. It must be in spirit and in truth—not in crucifix, bodily form, and graven image. "To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?"

II. Spirituality of Divine Worship is enforced by special sanctions. To enforce this second (and the first) commandment, certain penalties are threatened and certain mercies promised.

1. God's righteous displeasure forbids any other worship. "For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God." He is zealous for His honour (Isa ; Isa 48:11) cannot brook a rival, nor receive a partial or divided homage.

2. God's wonderful providence will punish any other worship. One great error of idolatrous systems—and congenial to every sinner—is to suppose that because God is invisible, He does not notice human conduct. But these words show that His government is universal, extending to individual agents and particular actions. The inspection or administration of God is presented in two aspects—

(1) A threatening aspect to those that hate Him. Sin and its punishment are transmitted. Idolatry and its evil consequences descend from father to son, and God punishes the sins of the parents in the children to the third and fourth generation. This truth appeals to the strongest instincts of our nature, guards the purity of religion, by enlisting the affection of a parent for his offspring and grafting on that affection salutary fear of Divine visitations.

(2) A merciful aspect to those that love Him. The world is not governed by blind fate. There is no irresistible necessity in the continuous results of evil. A merciful God restrains the sinner, checks the evil, and forgives all who are brought back to Him in penitence, prayer, and love, "The same principle of involving the children with the fathers is followed; but, mark the difference in the extent of its application! The visitation of anger was to reach the third or the fourth generation: the display of mercy was to continue throughout thousands of generations!" "Thou showest loving kindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them" (Jer ).

"A Deity believed, will nought avail;

Rewards and punishments make God adored;

And hopes and fears give conscience all her power."—Young.

DIVINE VISITATIONS.—Deu

It was needful for the sake of the Jews themselves, and for the honour of the true God, that His presence and providence with His people and with other nations should be sensibly realised and enforced by rewards and punishments—that these rewards and punishments should be so distributed as to evince His special interference. We are often more educated by the eye than by the ear. Since we are incapable of lofty abstractions, and insensible to remote consequences of deeds, God seeks by special manifestations to impress our minds and aid us in our duty. Hence the declaration of His government, and the principles on which it is conducted.

I. The government of God is active. He is "visiting." He is neither dead nor asleep as heathen gods. Nor has He left the world to the government of chance or abstract law. God may seem to be inactive and uninterested in our concerns, but He is ever watchful. Mr. Loyd Garrison, addressing a meeting on one occasion on behalf of negro emancipation, was almost despairing, and cast a gloom upon the audience. Up jumped an old negress, and in a voice of thunder shouted, "Mr. Garrison, is God dead? will he not visit His people?" This was like an electric shock, imparting new life and new hopes. From that day the cause assumed a brighter aspect.

II. The government of God is just. "Visiting the sins." Men may wink at sin, but God does not. Sentence against evil is not executed speedily; men may be too confident and resolved, their hearts may be fully set (the whole energy directed) upon evil (Ecc ), but God's patience is not forgetfulness. He is just, and punishment will come. "It comes with feet of wool, but it will strike with hands of lead," says Bp. Reynolds.

III. The government of God is merciful. Shewing mercy unto thousands. Merciful and benevolent in its general nature and in its results. Punishment is needful, always just and rightly administered in God's moral government. The threatening is merciful, intended to prevent sin. Anger is shown to a few, but mercy to thousands. "The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands," etc. (Exo ).

IV. The government of God is universal. It extends to all places—to all individuals. "Them that hate me" and "them that love me;" to all generations, not only to "the third and fourth" but to the end of the world. "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good."

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Deu . Hear, O Israel.

1. God speaks to the people.

2. The people are commanded to hear what God utters.

3. To learn what they hear.

4. To keep when they know the laws. "The difference between Divinity and other sciences, is, that it is not enough to learn, but we must keep and do it; as lessons of music must be practised, and a copy not read only, but acted.—Trapp.

Deu . I stood between. Moses Mediator.

1. Desired by the people who felt their guilt and distance from God.

2. Provided by God (Exo ).

3. Typical of Christ.

Deu . God set forth.

1. In essential greatness, "I am the Lord," i.e. Jehovah.

2. In covenant mercy. "Thy God."

3. In wonderful providence. Brought from Egypt, the house of bondage. "God's right to give laws to the Hebrew nation is not founded upon His being the one only God, but upon his having, by miraculous interpositions and works of power, laid the foundations of their state—not upon His character and claims as the Creator of heaven and earth, but upon His peculiar relation to them as their national founder and protector; and hence by the unparalleled services which he had rendered to the Israelites, He had acquired all the title to their willing and grateful obedience that a benefactor could have."—Jamieson, Dr.

The Lord thy God.

1. God's sovereignty over us. He is our Lord—we are His property and subjects. He has absolute right to prescribe, and absolute power to dispose.

2. God's propriety in us. "Thy God" in redemption and covenant mercy chiefly, for all have forfeited His favour and love.

Deu . This may well lead the van and be set in the front of all the commandments, because it is the foundation of all true religion. The sum of this commandment is that we should sanctify God in our hearts, and give Him precedence above all created beings. There are two branches—

1. That we must have one God.

2. That we must have but one; or thus—

1. That we must have God for our God.

2. That we must have no other.—Watson.

Deu Image worship.

1. Impossible. God cannot be represented. He is spiritual and invisible.

2. Irrational. For the workmen is better than the work. Absurd to bow to the work of men's hands.

3. Unscriptural. Against the command of God (Lev ; Deu 16:22).

Deu . Family religion.

1. Parents should consider well before they act; lest they

(1) expose themselves, and

(2) ruin their children by their wickedness.

2. Children are not excused through bad examples of parents—should imitate their parents in right only, and be thankful if they have been trained up to love and obey God. How careful should we be to set good examples, to maintain the worship of God in the family, and to live that we may rightly influence future generations.

THE THIRD COMMANDMENT: GOD'S SUPREMACY OVER OUR LIPS

Deu

God is absolute and cannot be seen in His Divine essence, yet He reveals His glory in His name. Since he cannot be known by similitudes, He manifests Himself in His works and word—in the government of the world and the life and death of His Son. God connects His name, therefore, with the solemnities and transactions of Divine truth. This name must not be abused, but its majesty must impress our minds and guard our lips.

I. It is our duty to revere the Divine Name. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Our tongues must not be claimed as our own (Psa ), but devoted to the glory of God.

1. In religious worship. In prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, the heart, and not the lips merely, must be engaged. Our vows must not be made in times of sickness and peril, and forgotten in health and deliverance. Our worship must not be hypocritical, superficial, and insincere; nor our service formal and cold. Our profession must not be in words, but in deeds. If we "swear to the Lord of Hosts," we must serve Him "with reverence and godly fear."

2. In ordinary conversation. We profane the Holy Name by its use in light, flippant conversation—in jesting and idle talk. In private intercourse, in the market place, and in courts of law, we must give no force to falsehood. All language garnished with oaths and irreverent use of the Divine name is a violation of this commandment—"Hallowed be thy name."

II. The irreverent use of the Divine name will be punished. "The Lord will not hold him guiltless." Many excuse themselves from habit and custom; others justify themselves in profaning God's name when they are crossed, disappointed, and carried along by passion. Such are not innocent, but guilty; and though they may escape public rebuke from friends, and punishment from human laws, yet the Lord Himself will execute the law. "He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death."

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT: GOD'S CLAIM UPON OUR TIME

Deu

"There is a close connection between the commandments of this first table. The first commandment is intended to regulate our views and feelings, in relation to the object of our supreme homage; the second has respect to the medium through which that homage is expressed; the third regards the spirit which is to accompany us in all the solemnities of truth and of religion; and the fourth, the appropriation of a portion of our time to His service—thus to indicate our subjection to His government, and our willingness to be entirely consecrated to His glory" (Stowel). In these words we have an acquaintance with the Sabbath presupposed. It must have been known, and perhaps observed in some respect. Hence the injunction—"remember." The Sabbath was then instituted, and its obligations made known before the giving of the Law at Sinai. Now the command is given to "keep" and "sanctify" it. Notice the observance of the Sabbath as a day of rest.

I. All classes are under obligation to keep the Sabbath.

1. Individuals must observe the day. "Thou shalt." It is binding upon every one as subjects of God's government. Religion—for the permanent interests of which the Sabbath was made—is a matter of personal conviction, experience, responsibility, and practice.

2. Heads of families must observe the day. "Nor thy son, nor thy daughter." Parents must habitually regard its sanctity and encourage the performance of its duties in the arrangements and discipline of the family. Thus only can the order and welfare of domestic religion be maintained.

3. Masters must observe the day. "Nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant." Rest was to extend to domestics who specially required it, in performing the heavy duties of the household. God also "careth for cattle." Dumb animals as well as human beings were embraced in that mercy which is "over all His works."

II. The method of keeping the Sabbath. Two ways are pointed out.

1. It must be kept as a day of rest. Work was laid aside for man and beast. All kinds of business in the field and in the market must cease. "Thou shalt not do any work." Physically and morally we require rest. If God saw fit to rest, how much greater need have we to cease from labour. Abolish the Sabbath and human life would be shortened by weary, wasting toil. In 1793 France invented decades, and made every tenth day a sabbath, but found out her mistake and returned to the appointed day. We must cease from worldly employments and servile work. "Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord."

2. It must be kept as a day of worship. As God blessed the day and hallowed it, filling it with peace and good to all; so we must "keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it." Work must be laid aside for worship. The time is set apart for public and private worship. We must neither forget nor carelessly perform the duties required; nor must we profane the day by idleness, unlawful works, or unnecessary recreation. God dignifies human labour, condemns avarice and excessive toil, and teaches us to look upon work not as aimless, incessant, unprofitable, but as pointing to a rest, a fruition which is typical of that eternal Sabbath which "remaineth for the people of God" Heb .

III. The Inducements to keep the Sabbath. Many reasons are given for its observance.

1. It is reasonable to keep it. God has given us six days for work, and only claims one for Himself. It might have been the reverse. Is it not, therefore, unreasonable—ungrateful to grudge a seventh part of our time to the worship and service of God!

2. It is right to keep it. God has special claims and propriety in this part of our time. God is in covenant relation, condescends to hold communion with us on that day. Hence it is a great privilege to observe, and an awful robbery to desecrate that day. "The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God."

3. God commands us to keep it. "God hath commanded thee." As the law of God, it is authoritative and ultimate—not mere counsel and advice, not a naked rule, a bare prescription of what is right. It demands obedience, and its demands are accompanied with just and awful sanctions.

4. God's goodness urges to keep it. Israel were reminded of their servitude in Egypt, of deliverance from it, and of introduction into rest. Therefore their hearts should be warmed to gratitude, and they should be prompted to observe that day which reminds them of the goodness of God (Deu ). Special displays of Divine mercy, relief from oppression and despair, should lead us on every return of the day of rest to remember our escape and praise our Redeemer.

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Deu .

1. What required in this commandment: a reverent use of God's attributes and titles, ordinances, and word.

2. What forbidden: all profaning or abuse of everything by which God makes Himself known to us.

3. What reason annexed to enforce observance. "The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain." "The caution that a breach of this commandment incurs guilt in the eyes of Jehovah is especially appropriate, in consequence of the ease with which the temptation to take God's name in vain besets men in their common intercourse with each other" (Speak. Com.). Learn—

1. The necessity of having becoming views of God.

2. The obligation always to fear Him, and to guard against offending Him by perjury, profanity and blasphemy.

Deu . How God esteemeth the strict observance of the Sabbath may appear by the exact delivery of it. For He hath fenced it about like Mount Sinai, with marks and bounds, that profaneness might not approach it.

(1) By His watchword, "Remember."

(2) By His bounty, "Six days," etc.

(3) By His sovereignty, "It is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God."

(4) By His latitude. "Thou, nor thy son," etc.

(5) By His own example, "And He rested the seventh day."

(6) By His benediction, "He blessed it," and ordained it to be a means of much blessing to those that observe it (Trapp). The sabbath adapted to the necessities of man.

1. By affording rest from toil; hence promoting health and enjoyment.

2. By giving opportunity for family intercourse and instruction.

3. By securing due observance of public worship. Hence in His individual, social, and religious condition the Sabbath promotes the welfare of man. Chief Justice Hale observed that according to his care in observing the Lord's day, he commonly prospered in his undertakings the week following—"Blessed is the man … that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it" (Isa ).

Deu . Remember Egypt. We are prone to remember the palaces and pleasures of Egypt; God admonishes us to remember its slavery. The memory of our former state should be—I. An antidote to discontent. Though the labours and trials of the wilderness were many, yet in Egypt we had more. If we labour, it is not to make bricks without straw—not for another, but for our own profit. II. A stimulant to zeal. Remembering Egypt, let us press on toward Canaan; give no advantage to our enemies. III. A reason for obedience. He who graciously delivered us has right to our service. If we made bricks for Pharaoh, "what shall we render unto the Lord?" If fear produced activity, how much more should love! IV. Wings for faith and hope. Remember that that God who could deliver from Egypt can bring to Canaan. He who has begun the work will complete it. V. A call to humility. I was but a servant, a slave: I owe all to my Deliverer. Without Him I were a slave again. "By grace I am what I am."—(From Bib. Museum.)

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT: HONOUR TO PARENTS, OR THE RELIGION OF HOME

Deu

The present division of the commandments may trench upon symmetrical arrangement, but practically that in which the fifth commandment begins, the second table is convenient and important. The four we have considered comprise our duties towards God, the six which remain, our duties towards man in natural order of relationship. If God is to be acknowledged, worshipped in spirit and held in reverence; if the sabbath is to be devoutly kept; it is needful to imbue the mind, and regulate the conduct with remembrance of these truths. This is the highest of parental duties. Children should be taught from earliest days not merely to love, fear and obey, but to honour their parents.

I. Honour is due to parents from children. "Honour thy father and thy mother." Customs of society distinguish the separate claims of father and mother, but here they are represented as sustaining towards their children one undivided, honourable claim.

1. Honour is due to Parents on account of relationship to their children. Next to relation to God is that of parents to children. There is a beautiful resemblance of one to the other. In the care and interest, the tenderness and authority of a father, we have a faint image of the superintendence, compassion, and government of God. Children should honour their parents because they are related to them. (a) As authors of their being, (b) As their support and comfort, (c) As their educators and protectors.

2. Honour is due to Parents on account of affection for their children. Parents often love their children as themselves, hence terms of endearment concerning them, "olive branches," "sunbeams," "jewels," and all that is delightful and beautiful. They impoverish themselves to enrich them. They are not like the raven, or ostrich which are cruel to their young. (Job ). What a debt of gratitude and honour do children owe to parents! Yet how few try to pay it. Philip the son of Charles V., Emperor of Germany, became master of a new world and of the richest and most extensive dominions in Europe by his father's voluntary resignation, but was so ungrateful that he kept his generous parent waiting a long time for the payment of a small pension. Milton was dependent on his family on account of infirmities; yet his two elder daughters seem to have been destitute of affection and pity. Hooker often prayed that he might never give sorrow to his mother, and used to say that he loved her so dearly, that he would try to be good as much for her sake, as for his own.

II. The inducements which children have to honour their parents. This is said to be "the first commandment with promise (Eph ). "The promise may be applied to the Jews, and to all who keep the commandment, and thus we trace the confirmation of the word, in the providence of God?

1. It is pleasing to God. (Col ). It is joyful to parents themselves, and acceptable to God. "This is right," a duty grounded on the simple, natural and unchanging principles of equity.

2. It has a tendency to lengthen human life. "That thy days may be prolonged." Long life was considered a blessing (Psa ; Psa 128:6), but many children find a grave in the cradle, or die in the flower of their age. "The observers of this commandment have a promise of long life and prosperity; whereas those who neglect the duties of it, have no promise of these things at all. To the former, long life comes in virtue of a promise which is infallible, so far as it shall serve God's glory and their good; but to the latter it does not come in virtue of any promise at all, for such have no interest in the promise; on the contrary they are under the curse of God; for it is written, ‘cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them'" (Paterson).

3. It guarantees the well being of life. "That it may go well with thee." Long life without the blessings and comforts of life is not desirable. Life is only a blessing, when we retain health and reason, and grow in grace and usefulness, as we grow in age. "Observe and bear all these words that it may go well with thee and thy children after thee for ever."

4. It pledges national existence. Life and its enjoyments, possession of Canaan, and national permanence depended upon filial respect. Jewish, Roman and other histories, bear witness to this truth. The words set forth a universal principle of national life and existence. "Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts … therefore saith the Lord of Hosts, Jonadab, the son of Rechab, shall not want a man to stand before me for ever." (Jer ).

THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT: OR THE RELIGION OF TEMPER.—Deu

The next three commandments determine our duties towards our neighbour, and secure life, marriage and property. In Lev they are summed up in one word, "Love thy neighbour as thyself." Not only is murder condemned, but all our passions from which murder originates. Hence we may term this command the religion of temper.

I. What this commandment forbids. Mere killing is not prohibited, for that was lawful sometimes, but every act of violence which inflicts personal injury and endangers human life. "The omission of the object, still remains to be noticed, as showing that the prohibition includes not only the killing of a fellow-man, but the destruction of one's own life or suicide." (Keil).

1. Violent deeds are forbidden. Suicide, or taking away our own life. Ancient systems, taught as a lofty sentiment of morality, that a man might withdraw from life when he found it expedient. Modern verdicts and modern customs of assigning insanity as the cause of this crime lead us to regard it with pity and not detestation. We must look at the act in its real nature, in the law which prohibits it, and the dreadful consequences by which it is enforced. "Do thyself no harm." Duelling is a vestige of feudal barbarism. It constitutes the person who thinks himself injured the judge, witness, and avenger of his own wrongs. The grounds of its defence, are irrational, and subversive of all law, justice, and humanity. The duellist makes a law for himself, exalts it above the institutions of his country, and the laws of God. "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty: And he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city." Murder is forbidden. Every man is our brother. We are bound to love him, and promote his welfare. To murder is to hate him, to inflict the greatest misery on him for ever. In the gospel a sacred dignity is attached to man. He is made in the "image of God," and associated with the nature of God. Hence, infinite majesty is insulted, infinite goodness abused, and divine authority trampled on. "For in the image of God, made he man." (Gen ).

2. Violent passions are forbidden. As explained and fulfilled by Jesus Christ, this commandment embraces a class of most powerful human affections and desires. It is enforced by all the facts and principles of the gospel. Anger is a species of murder, and when roused to excess, will produce outrages most shameful. "In their anger they slew a man." Causeless anger, scornful contempt, and passionate reviling are three breaches of this command. (Mat ). Hatred often leads to excess in language and actions. "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer." (Joh 3:15). A scornful spirit must not be indulged. To scorn is to despise, vilify and revile. Revenge must not be cherished. He who is proud of his own importance, careless of the rights of justice, and sacrifices the peace, character and life of the offender to the indulgence of passion breaks this law. "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people." (Lev 19:17-18).

"What will not ambition and revenge descend to."—Milton.

II. What this commandment enjoins. It teaches the very opposite feelings of envy, hatred, and revenge.

1. It enjoins feelings of humanity. We must not envy nor grieve at the prosperity of another—not quarrel, nor rail, nor plot against another. We must exercise mercy, not cruelty. We must be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving towards our fellow creatures, and put away "all bitterness and wrath."

2. It enjoins the use of all lawful efforts to preserve life. Whatever tends to destroy our natural life is expressly forbidden. We must avoid all intemperance, gluttony, and drunkenness. We must not be indifferent to our own wants, nor neglect the wants of others. Every effort must be made to feed, clothe, and preserve the body, to avoid immoderate labour and indulgence, and to keep the life of another. Destroy not your own souls by false confidence, pernicious sentiments, and neglect of "the great salvation." Destroy not the souls of others by neglect in preventing them from sin, in abandoning the religious interests of family, society, and neighbourhood, and by withholding your effort and influence to save men. Oh, avoid the guilt of spiritual murder!

Murder forbidden. Observe, this commandment is—I. Universal in application; to each person is said, "Thou shalt not kill." There is no exception to this rule. II. Emphatic in its wording; "shalt not." Note the brevity of the whole commandment by which additional force is given to it. Brevity is not only the source of wit, but of wisdom also. III. Concerning the greatest of crimes. The awful nature of murder is sufficiently shown by—

1. The abhorence in which it is held, both by God and man.

2. The terrible reproaches of conscience with which the murderer is tormented.—J. S. Clarke.

"O horror! horror! horror! Tongue, nor heart

Cannot conceive nor name thee."—Shakespeare.

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Deu . Reverence due to parents. Honour your parents, i.e.,

1. Obey them;

2. Respect them;

3. Treat their opinions with regard;

4. Treat their habits with respect. They may be different from ours; may be antiquated, and to us strange, odd, whimsical; but they are the habits of a parent, and are not to be ridiculed.

5. provide for them when sick, weary, old, and infirm.—Barnes.

Prolonged. A good child lengtheneth his father's days; therefore God promiseth to lengthen his. Ill children, as they bring their parents' "gray hairs with sorrow to the grave," so they are many times cut off in the midst of their days, as Abimelech was: God rendering upon him the evil that he did to his father (Jud ). Besides the punishment they have in their posterity, to whom they have been peremptores potiùs quàm parentes.—Trapp.

We have a command—"Honour thy father and thy mother." The political fathers or magistrates (Job ); seniors, venerable with age (Lev 19:32); spiritual fathers (1Co 4:15); domestic fathers, fathers of households (2Ki 5:13); natural fathers, fathers of the flesh (Heb 12:9). How children are to obey this command.

1. By a reverential esteem of their persons. (a) Inwardly, by fear mixed with love (Lev ). (b) Outwardly, in word and gesture.

2. By careful obedience. (a) In hearkening to their council (Pro ). (b) In complying with their commands (Jer 35:6; Col 3:20).

3. By relieving their wants (Gen ). The reasons why children should honour their parents.

1. It is the solemn command of God.

2. It is well pleasing to the Lord (Col ).

3. Parents deserve honour on account of their great love and affection for their children.—Watson.

Deu .

1. The value of human life. Philosophy, science, and superstition dignify not human nature. Only where the Gospel is known is life appreciated preserved, and consecrated to right ends.

2. The guilt of taking away human life. It may be taken away by violence, excess, or neglect. If a beast killed a man, it was stoned; what punishment, then, shall fall upon the murderer when God comes to "make inquisition for blood" (Psa ).

THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT: THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE.—Deu

"Nature," says Grindon, "is a system of nuptials." Human love is the highest form of love. When true lovers meet, God hath joined them together. Marriage is a symbol of the union between Christ and His Church; intended to be an honourable and abiding institution, and must not be violated by unfaithfulness and adultery. "Let not man put asunder."

I. The sanctity of marriage must be duly regarded. Adultery was prevalent in Eastern countries, where heat and idleness seem to nourish sinful lusts almost beyond control. It is the most awful perversion of God's institution, and the strongest language ever used in Scripture depicts its accursed nature. In the light of the New Testament we read this law in broader spirit than mere letter indicates, and that domestic bonds may be destroyed and the household invaded in different ways. "The desertion of a husband or of a wife; the neglect of conjugal duties, so minutely specified and so persuasively urged in various parts of the New Testament; divorce for any reason but the ascertained perpetration of the crime denounced in this prohibition; the degradation of the marriage contract, by subordinating it to schemes of avarice, ambition, or sensuality—each of these is a gross violation of the seventh commandment," says Stowel. "This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication; that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour."

II. To secure due regard for marriage sanctity, personal chastity must be cultivated. This sin and the whole class of passions and gratifications of which it is a part, are offences against purity—the purity of God, of ourselves, and of those affected by our example. Cultivate—

1. Chastity in thought. Thoughts are dangerous and only require opportunity to break forth into open wickedness. "Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her alread" in his heart" (Mat ).

2. Chastity in conversation. Words as well as acts may violate the spirit of this commandment (Mat ). Let no corrupt, worthless through putridity, communication proceed out of your mouth" (Eph 4:29).

3. Chastity in actions. Fornication, polygamy, and all unnatural pollutions—immodest behaviour and unchaste looks and dress must be abandoned. "Fornication and uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints" (Eph ).

THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: THE RIGHTS OF PROPERTY.—Deu

Man is endowed with a principle which impels him to the acquisition of wealth. The proper exercise of this principle leads to gradations of social rank, and lays the foundation for the institutions and laws by which property is preserved and transmitted. But since man is sinful and selfish, it is necessary to embody this law in the legislation of the community.

I. How this commandment may be violated. The highwayman who steals his neighbour's purse; the domestic who takes his master's cash, and the apprentice who steals his drugs; the tradesman who makes "the ephah small" (Amo ), and weighs with "the balances of deceit" (Hos 12:7), who seeks to overreach or defraud; the dishonest partner; the fraudulent bankrupt; the traducer of character; the borrower and receiver of stolen goods—all violate this law. Spiritually, a man robs God by taking away the Sabbath, withholding what is due from him to support and propagate the gospel, by neglecting his own soul, and foolishly wasting life, with its calls and opportunities. "Will a man rob God?"

II. How to guard against the violation of this commandment. To obey the law and preserve the healthy exercise of a principle which becomes sinful by excessive indulgence we should

1. Be diligent in a lawful calling. In the avocations of life we have the happiness of individuals combined with the interests of society—a sphere in which our powers have no need to be lavished on trifles nor perverted by sinful pursuits. Employment for our own support and that of our family is needful. We are urged not to be idle, careless, and slothful—not to engage in gambling, nor to cherish a covetous, grasping disposition, but to be "diligent in business" and "abide in our calling." "Let him that stole steal no more; but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may give to him that needeth" (Eph ).

2. Be content with your lot in life. It is the arrangement of God and not the work of chance. With all our shifting and tricks, our avarice and plots, we cannot alter things. "Both riches and honour come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all: and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all." Our individual histories and efforts subserve to the plans of God as much as the fall of states and the motion of stars. Rich and poor are exhorted to trust in God and acquiesce in His providence. "Be content with such things as ye have" (Heb ).

3. Moderate your views, expectations, and desires. A sober estimate of our wants and means of gratification is required. Vigorous restraint must be put upon the tendency to over estimate our own claims, and the indulgence of romantic hopes which are often facinating and ruinous. Fret not nor vex yourselves for the wealth and property of another. "Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food covenient for me; lest I be full and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."

THE NINTH COMMANDMENT: THE GOVERNMENT OF THE TONGUE.—Deu

We have been considering the law of the family, the law of social right, the law of social purity, and the law of honesty; now we notice the law of truth. We are to regard our neighbour's reputation, and not injure his character. Our great poet says—

"Who steals my purse steals trash;

But he who filches from me my good name,

Robs me of that which not enriches him,

Yet leaves me poor indeed!"

I. What is forbidden in this commandment. False witness may be given in various ways; but in everything we must put away lying and speak truth with our neighbour (Eph ).

1. In courts of law false witness was especially condemned. The prosecutor is forbidden to make unjust demand, to lay false charges, and to suborn false witnesses; the defender to deny a just charge, and to make artful evasions; the witnesses must not deny or keep back any part of truth; the advocate, must not defend what is wrong, nor the judge pervert justice and condemn the innocent. We must freely, sincerely speak the truth, and nothing but the truth. "A faithful witness will not lie; but a false witness will utter lies" (Pro ). (cf. Deu 19:18-19; Jer 4:2; Zec 8:17).

2. In daily life false witness is forbidden. Backbiting, evil construing, and malicious accusation must not be indulged. Nor must we be guilty of idle gossip, tale-bearing, and raising, receiving, and spreading scandal or false report. "To credit common report is in itself a species of calumny," says one. "A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth an ear to a naughty tongue" (Pro ). Give no currency to scandal, nor join those mischievously employed, crying out "Report, and we will report" (Jer 20:10). "How many thousand souls are hurt every day by the words of others," says Baxter. "Thou shalt not raise (credit, take up, bear) a false (empty, untruthful) report; put not thine hand with the wicked (render him no help) to be an unrighteous witness" (Exo 23:1). (cf. Lev 19:16; Exo 23:7; Psa 101:5; Pro 19:9.)

"Whoever keeps an open ear

For tattlers, will be sure to hear

The trumpet of contention:

Aspersion is the babbler's trade;

To listen is to lend him aid,

And rush into dissension.—Cowper.

II. What is enjoined in this commandment. It enjoins truth and simplicity in our intercourse one with another, an agreement between the heart and the lips.

1. Truthfulness in speech. Lying is offensive to God and unfits for society. How can you converse or bargain with a man when you cannot trust his word? "Therefore put away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour; for we are members one of another." (Eph ).

2. Regard for our neighbour's good name. Invest him with the character of a friend, charitably cover his infirmities, betray not his secrets, readily acknowledge his gifts, and receive good report concerning him. Defend his reputation when unjustly attacked, envy not his success nor take pleasure in his disgrace. "Speak evil of no man." (Tit ).

3. Love to others as to ourselves. We should be pleased with the good of another, as well as with our own good. Never keep an account of the misdeeds of another, with a view to sum up and charge against him when occasion serves. Abound in that charity which "doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh, (imputeth) no evil." (1Co ). Our neighbour lives near us, comes under our notice, and lies more or less at our mercy. His claims are therefore enhanced by nearness, by intimate acquaintance with him, and by all local and relative obligations that bind us together. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."—

"Who that dares

His brother's name, his brother's cause malign,

The very law maligns, spurns its restraints,

And umpire sits, where he himself should bow."

THE TENTH COMMANDMENT: UNLAWFUL DESIRE.—Deu

"As the sixth, seventh, and eighth Commandments forbid us to injure our neighbour in deed, the ninth forbids us to injure him in word, and the tenth in thought. No human eye can see the coveting heart; it is witnessed only by him who possesses it, and by Him to whom all things are naked and open. But it is the root of all sins against our neighbour in word or in deed. (Jas ). The man who is acceptable before God, walking uprightly, not backbiting with his tongue, nor doing evil to his neighbour, is he who "speaketh the truth in his heart." (Psa 15:2-3).—Sp. Com.

I. The way in which this commandment is violated. By that discontentedness with our lot in life which leads us to fret, repine and rebel against God's providence. "Neither murmur ye as some of them murmured." (1Co ). By envying or grieving at our neighbour's good. "Grudge not one against another (Jas 5:9). By indulging unlawful desires for things which belong to our neighbour. Excessive longing after another's wealth and possessions is branded by this Commandment as sin. "Take heed, and beware of covetousness."

II. The spirit which leads to the violation of this commandment. "Thou shalt not covet." The words indicate the intense spirituality and holiness of the law. St. James (Deu ) looks upon sin as an outward act. St. Paul looks upon it in its source and earliest stages. The province of human law is the deed, that of divine law the heart, the thoughts from which spring the actions. The thought and desire may lead to execution of evil. Evil concupiscence is the root of all sin, especially of offences which men commit against their fellowmen (Mat 15:19; Mar 7:21). Eve and Achan "saw, coveted, and took." Covetousness instigated Judas to betray the Saviour, and induced Ananias and Sapphira to "tempt the Holy Ghost." "I had not known sin (clearly and fully as an indwelling and virulent principle), but by the law; for I had not known lust (irregular and ungoverned desire), except the (Mosaic) law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (Rom 7:7).

III. The method of correcting this spirit. Hippocrates advised a consultation of all the physicians in the world for the cure of covetousness. What they could not discover the Bible prescribes.

1. Form a right estimate of worldly good. We covet what never satisfies. "Solomon had put all the creatures in a retort," says quaint Watson, "and distilled out their essence, and behold ‘all was vanity'" (Ecc ).

2. Be satisfied with present possessions. Why ungrateful because we have not more and others less. The more we have the greater will be our account at the last day. Let us believe that condition best which God has given to us. Contentment, says Socrates, is "the wealth of nature." "I have enough," cried Jacob (Gen ). "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content (i.e., sufficient in one's self, self-contained, opposed to outward blessings). (Php 4:11-13.)

3. Pray for Divine grace to help. This alone can subdue lust. Cherish faith in God who feeds the birds and clothes the lilies. Faith is the remedy for care and covetousness. It overcomes the world, purifies the heart, and makes God our portion (Psa ). Ask the Holy Spirit to make you heavenly minded, and fix your thoughts on Christ and things above. "Covet earnestly the best gifts."

The closing commandment is of great importance in two distinct points of view, first, as exhibiting the spirit of all the previous commandments, and secondly, as laying the foundation for just and consistent views of all the doctrines of the Gospel. It exhibits the spirit of the divine law, as extending to the desires of the heart; the subtlest movings of the mind, as well as the visible actions of the life. In other commandments, a man may lose sight of the real character of the government under which he is placed, and may imagine that if he secures the confidence of his fellow creatures he is safe. This is the prevailing state of mind of men of every rank. It is thought if we infringe not on the rights of others—seize not their property—nor malignantly traduce their characters—nor wantonly endanger their lives, we are moral. But this commandment brings us under the eye of an omniscient ruler, under the authority of a spiritual government. It teaches us that our thoughts and wishes are minutely inspected. It pursues us to our secrecy—pierces the veil of external appearances, and lays open the foldings of self-delusion. It scrutinizes our very souls, and makes us feel the omnipresence of Deity. It brings the sanctions of His law to bear directly on our present consciousness; links the moments of our existence to the last judgment, and pours into the inmost chambers of the spirit the light of a future world. "I had not known sin, except the law had said, ‘thou shalt not covet.'" Secondly. The importance of this commandment will be felt when we consider it as laying the foundation for just and consistent views of the doctrines of the gospel. The sublime truths of the one are from the same God who "spake the words" of the other. It is only by invalidating the authority, or by subduing the lofty tone, of the commandments, that a man can either resist the evidence or pervert the meaning of the gospel. How can a man for instance, consistently deny the total depravity of the human race, without first destroying the uncompromising strictness of the divine law, thundering forth its curses on even an irregular desire? How can a man persuade himself that it is not his duty to believe on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation, without first persuading himself that it is not his duty to love God with all his heart and his neighbour as himself, in a word, that nothing is due from him to God, and consequently that he is not a subject of moral government of God? The great promise of the gospel to our first parents, was delivered in circumstances illustrative of this sentiment; for the views they had of the sentence passed upon them, made them feel the necessity and value of this promise. How often in the public discourses of Jesus, and in more private dialogues, with various classes surrounding him, do we see his anxiety to produce an impression of the sanctity and strictness of the commandments,—evidently for the purpose of silencing the objector and preparing him to "receive the Kingdom of God?" In the same spirit the apostles preached and wrote. A consciousness of guilt will lead you to rely on the perfect obedience of Christ. Here we have not simply, an exhibition of mercy, but of "mercy and truth" meeting together—not merely the triumph of grace, but of "grace reigning through righteousness, into eternal life." "God hath set him forth, not only as a propitiation through faith in his blood, for the remission of sins;" but also, "to declare his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus."—From Dr. Stowel.

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Deu . The sum of this commandment is the preservation of bodily purity.

1. Something tacitly implied; which is that the ordinance of marriage should be observed. (1Co ; Heb 13:4).

2. Something expressly forbidden; which is infecting ourselves with bodily pollutions.—Watson.

Deu . Dishonesty forbidden. Observe the simple comprehensiveness of this commandment.

1. Nothing is said about the value of the thing stolen. The law is broken whether the thing taken, be a kingdom or a pin.

2. Nothing is said about the nature of the thing stolen; it may be property, time, reputation, etc.

3. Nothing is said about the method of stealing; whether it be secretly appropriated, or violently wrested from its owner.—Biblical Museum.

Deu . In this commandment, three kinds of interests are combined—the interests of truth—of character—and of neighbourhood.—Stowel.

Learn—

1. The value of a good name.

2. The sacredness of truth.

3. The necessity of guarding our tongue.

4. The danger of false witness. (Deu ; Pro 19:5).

"Give thoughts no tongue."—Shakespeare.

Deu . The injunction is repeated to call attention and impress the mind. The form here differs from that in (Exo 20:17). The order of the words house and wife is reversed, two different words desire and covet are used here, and the word field is added. The first two variations are explained by the general character of the passage, and it seems natural to mention the "field," when Moses was speaking with the partition of Canaan in view. Learn—

1. The nature of covetousness. It denotes a state of mind from which the Supreme good has been lost, labouring to replace Hin by some subordinate form of enjoyment.

2. The origin of covetousness from within. Desires, lusts etc.

3. The forms of covetousness. Worldliness, rapacity, avarice, prodigality, etc.

4. The guilt and evils of covetousness.

5. The doom of the covetous. "The covetousness whom the Lord abhoreth."

THE MAJESTY OF GOD'S LAW.—Deu

The delivery of the commandments was accompanied with every display of grandeur, and amid circumstances of terror. Everything was ordered to impress the mind with the glory of God, the rigour of law, and the dread of penalty. This imposing manner and appalling phenomena indicate the majesty of God's law. This majesty is seen in different ways.

I. In the divinity of its origin. "These words the Lord spake." The voice of God was distinctly heard articulating, and that voice was louder than the loudest peals of thunder. Many ask, "from whence do we get the moral law?" The answer is given here. It came from God—the grandest and highest origin to which anything can aspire! It is elevated above the code of Egypt, Persia and Greece—a standard of life infinitely beyond the invention of man, and to which the holiest have never reached. A distinguished lawyer rather sceptically inclined on this subject undertook to read the Old Testament to satisfy himself concerning the validity of its claims. When he read the Decalogue, lost in admiration he exclaimed, "where did Moses get that law?" Further study removed every sceptical doubt, and produced conviction of its divine origin (cf. Pulpit Com. p. 106). "We know that God spake unto Moses."

II. In the terrible phenomena which accompanied its delivery. Such phenomena were varied, most terrific and designed to produce the conviction of the authority and holiness of law.

1. There was natural agency. The deepest impressions are made upon the mind through the senses, God who knew what was in man signalized his descent on Sinai, with thunder and lightning, smoke and fire, "the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words." What must be the aim and dignity of a law thus given? What should be the regard and obedience we pay to the great Lawgiver Himself? "That thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, the Lord thy God."

2. There was supernatural agency. The word was spoken "by angels." (Heb ). The law was received "by the disposition (ministration) of angels" (Act 7:53); "ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator." (Gal 3:19). The presence of angels is often referred to in the giving of the law, to indicate its solemnity and claims. "He shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints, (myriads of holy ones, i.e. angels); from his right hand went a fiery law for them." Deu 33:2 (cf. Psa 88:17; Heb 3:3).

III. In the design for which it was given. There was mercy mixed with majesty and the appalling phenomena produced the desired effect.

1. To test their obedience. Israel had been surrounded by idolatry, and the ideas of God's majesty and reverence for law had been lost, by deifying objects of sense. The manifestations of Sinai were directly adapted to inspire the soul with reverence for the infinite majesty and eternal power of that Being with whom they had to do—to put their obedience to a fresh proof and give them a more signal opportunity of showing devotedness to His will. "For God is come to prove you."

2. To keep them from sin. They learned the guilt of offending a God so terrible in strictness and holiness. They felt that they were weak, frail, and sinful creatures, and were struck with consternation at such awful displays. Mores himself was overpowered with fear (Heb ). This was a dispensation of terror, designed to prepare for the gospel. "Therefore knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men."

3. To show the need of a mediator. Conscious of guilt, they were greatly alarmed. "This great fire will consume us." They wondered that they remained alive after witnessing such appearances. "For who is there of all flesh that hath heard the voice of the living God, speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?" They expected to hear more, but could not forbear it, and requested Moses to hear and speak for them, "Go thou near," etc. (Deu ). Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant.

IV. In the method in which it is handed down to us. We may judge of the value and importance of communications by the forms in which they are written.

1. This law is complete, "and he added no more" (Deu ). The great voice spoke no more directly to the people. The scene was not repeated, and the law was complete in itself and distinct from other revelations given through Moses. "The law of the Lord is perfect."

2. This law is permanent. "He wrote them in two tables of stone," to preserve them from corruption, and transmit them pure and entire to posterity. Let us thank God for a written revelation, which is a natural and human method of conveyance, more complete, uniform, and permanen than any other form. Vox audita perit, littera scripta manet, "a word heard perishes, but a written letter remains." Tradition passes away like the morning clouds; the Bible will continue as long as sun and moon endure. "The word of the Lord endureth for ever."

THE USE OF NATURE IN DIVINE INSTRUCTION.—Deu

Nature and the Bible have the same author, and both are written for the instruction of man. "Thus there are two books from whence I collect my divinity," says Sir Thomas Brown, "besides that written one by God, another of His servant, Nature—that universal and public manuscript that lies expanded unto the eyes of all; those that never saw Him in the one have discovered Him in the other." God, in the revelation of His will, has often created the scenes and used the elements of nature. This is specially seen in the giving of the Law on Sinai. Hence learn the use of natural phenomena in Divine instruction.

I. Man is constituted to learn from nature. His senses are adapted to the external world. "Ye have heard His voice—we have seen this day." For every organ of sense there seems to be an object in nature. But man's moral nature is affected through the medium of sense. Many talk of "the sensuous minds of the Jewish people," but we are children in this respect. We are frightened at the lightning and the thunder—terror-stricken at floods, fires, and earthquakes. We are roused to a sense of our danger and our guilt by the manifestation of God in His works; and, like Massillon's audiences in the French Court, dread His terrible judgments. "Let not God speak with us lest we die."

II. Nature is constituted to teach man. Nature is God's mind expressed in matter: "a product of His power and wisdom—a mirror in which His attributes are reflected—a volume in which, by legible characters or expressive signs, He maketh Himself known" (Dr. Jas. Buchanan). "Natural theology" is only the true insight and real exposition of God's revelation in Nature; for "in His temple doth everyone speak of (marg., every whit of it uttereth) His glory" (Psa ). But Nature, as well as the Bible, allows special Divine interpositions. Matter is not eternal, nor is abstract law endowed with attributes of deity. We have often direct interpositions which seem—but only seem, perhaps—above natural law. God speaks to us by the elements, forces, and scenes of Nature. He often extorts confession, vows, and prayers by its awful displays, and speaks in tones which lead us to cry for mercy and a mediator. "Let not God speak with us," but "do thou speak with us, and we will hear it and do it."

MOSES CHOSEN MEDIATOR.—Deu ; Deu 5:30-31

As all the people stood before the mount, terrified by the vivid flames and the trembling earth, they feared death. The voice of God overpowered them more than anything else, and the heads of the people and elders requested Moses to intercede.

I. The reason of this mediation. In this awful display Israel realised their moral condition as unfit for communion with Jehovah. Guilty man has always felt his distance from God, and at every indication of the supernatural cried out with fear. Convinced of sin we feel the necessity of a mediator.

II. The nature of this mediation. When the people "stood afar off," conscious of guilt and afraid of God's wrath, "Moses drew near unto the thick darkness," or was made to draw near (Exo ), for he durst not venture himself. The Rabbis think that God sent an angel to take him by the hand and lead him up.

1. He spoke to God for the people.

2. He spoke to the people for God. "Speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee." Moses typified Christ by whom we draw nigh to God without fear and reluctance. By him "we have boldness, courageous outspokeness (Act ), and access with confidence." Eph 3:12.

III. The Divine approval of this mediation. Perhaps they did not know the full import of what they did, but the nomination was well pleasing to God." "They have well said all that they have spoken." Moses is duly appointed, and God speaks to them through his mouth, and they promise to hear and obey. Thus was the covenant made between God and Israel. Moses was honoured as the giver of the law, but Jesus is more highly exalted. "For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house."

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORDS AND DEEDS.—Deu

He expressly mentions having heard what they had said to Moses. God always hears what we say, not as an unconcerned auditor, but as witness and judge. Solemn thought! The words here were words of religious avowal. "We will hear and do it." God has heard our religious resolutions and engagements. First our private ones—that we would watch against such a temper; pray for grace to resist such a temptation; to redeem the time and honour the Lord with our substance. Secondly, our more public and solemn ones; when we joined ourselves to His people; went to His table; and over the memorials of His dying love said, "Henceforth by thee only will I make mention of Thy name." I have heard, says He, the voice of the words, etc.; and adds with approbation, containing in it complaint, "They have well said all they have spoken. But talking and doing are two things. Even amongst ourselves, one goes a little way without the other. Actions speak louder than words. What is lip service in religion! Judas gave our Lord the lip—kissed and betrayed Him. Ezekiel's hearers extolled his preaching; brought others to admire him; but their hearts went after their covetousness. Here they spoke well in expressing their readiness to hear and do. But God, who knew them better than they knew themselves, exclaimed, "O that there was such a heart in them."

Speech is one of the most uncertain criterions to judge of character, as to reality or degree of religion. From education, reading, and hearing, persons may learn to talk well—may surpass others far better than themselves: as an empty vessel sounds louder than a full one, and a shallow brook is more noisy than a deep river. Some speak little, concerning themselves especially, for fear of deception, or lest they should appear to be what they are not. Baxter says, in his life of Judge Hale, I feared he was wanting in experimental religion, as he seldom spoke of his own spiritual views and feelings. But upon better acquaintance I found out my mistake. He had heard from many so much hypocrisy and fanaticism that he was urged towards the extreme of silence. It would be better for some to talk less of high confidence and wonderful ecstacies before those weak in faith and comfort, and in danger of being depressed by comparison. To how many individuals will these words apply! The champion of truth, has defended its purity and importance—contended earnestly and as far as argument and evidence goes, wisely for the faith. He has well said all that he has spoken. But where is the spirit of truth? the meekness of wisdom? the mind of Christ? Another in the sanctuary has acknowledged in language equally beautiful and true, we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, etc. He has well said all that he has spoken. But where is the broken heart, the contrite spirit? How often after these confessions is the sermon founded upon them disliked and the preacher condemned! A third has gone to his brethren in distress and justified the ways of God to man, but does he justify God's dealings with himself in trouble? He has well said all that he has spoken; but reminds us of Job's language, "Behold thou hast instructed many and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest: it toucheth thee and thou art troubled." Men mistake themselves though often sincere as they are earnest. They do not distinguish between impulse and disposition, outward excitement and inward principle. Hazael, at the prediction of his cruelties, ignorant of the change that power would produce in him, really execrated the character he became. Peter presuming, but not false, said though all should be offended, yet will not I. The disciples supposed themselves established in faith, beyond the danger of temptation to forsake Him, when they said "Now we believe." But Jesus answered them, "O that there was such a heart in you!"—From Jay.

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Deu . A Triple Prodigy.

1. They heard the voice of God speaking with them in distinct language.

2. They saw the fire, the symbol of His presence, the appearance of which demonstrated it to be supernatural.

3. Though God appeared so terrible, yet no person was destroyed, for He came not "to destroy, but to save."—Wilson.

Why should they fear to die? Since they had seen that day that God doth talk with man, and He liveth? It is answered that they looked upon their present safety as a wonder, but feared what would follow upon such an interview, if continued. It is still the work of the law to serve man, and to drive them to seek for a mediator. If God speaks to us from heaven His stillest rhetoric would be too loud for us.—Trapp.

Terror of law.

1. Its design.

2. Its results.

3. Its inefficiency to save. "The law was delivered in this terrible manner, partly to procure reverence for the doctrine of it, and partly to set forth the nature and office of it; which is to terrify and thunder-strike offenders. This fire wherein the law was given is still in it, and will never be out of it." (Deu ).—Trapp.

Deu to Deu 27:1. The condition of the people, in the state of their mind, and in the locality of their camp, "afar off" in both senses.

2. The necessity of intercourse between God and the people.

3. The medium of intercourse. "A mediator, Moses was not of redemption as Christ that "mediator of the new covenant," and "surety of a better testament (Heb ; Heb 9:15), but of receiving the law, and delivering it to the people, for which end he went up."—Trapp.

TRUE RELIGION DESCRIBED.—Deu

These words express God's wish for His people, and describe the obedience which He requires from them. The law had produced a penitent feeling, and Israel had made good resolutions under the influence of that feeling. But true religion does not consist in good feelings and good resolves. God wishes for a true heart and constant obedience. "A heart in them to fear Me always." True religion is described—

I. In its nature. The fear of God.

1. Not emotion. Many are capable of impression and feel deeply sensible of their wants. But frames and feelings change; emotions die away and leave the heart cold and indifferent. Men may be sensitive in their nature, penetrated with the beauty, power and interests of religion, but at the call of duty—the demand for resolute obedience, "they are offended."

2. Not resolution. Israel resolved, and God commended their resolutions, but where was their constancy, their sincerity and heart? Men promise what they forget to perform, and their hearts do not chime in with their lips.

3. But the fear of God. Not the spirit of a slave, but of a son. The love which drives out fear and brings us near to God. We must know God not as our Creator and governor, but as our Father. The sense of His presence, authority and love must penetrate the mind, elevate the soul, and temper sacred awe, with filial confidence.

II. In its centre. "A heart in them." The tone, colouring, and direction of the outer life depend upon the condition of the heart—the inner feelings. Our hearts must be renewed and made susceptible of sympathy and love. "A new heart," "a heart of flesh," "a clean heart" must be given and fixed on God. "Such a heart." Words and profession, mere knowledge and religious excitement are superficial. The seat of life and conduct is within a man. "For as he thinketh in his heart so is he."

III. In its manifestation. Keeping the commandments. If religion exists it will be seen in its fruits. As light shines forth in beauty, so love in the heart will manifest itself, not in impulse but obedience. "If ye love Me keep My commandments." This keeping must be—

1. Universal. "All my commandments." We are not to select some, like the Pharisees, rigidly to observe as compensation for the breach of others. All must be kept. This only is acceptable to God.

2. Constant. "Keep all my commandments always." In words, actions, and heart. Pledges are made under terror, but God requires expression of steadfast principle, and seeks "patient continuance in well-doing."

IV. In its rewards. There is no merit in our obedience. It is defective and unworthy. In fact we never can perfectly obey even one commandment in ten. But where true conduct springs from a right heart, there will be happiness or well-being. Thus the way of holiness is the way to happiness and God's favour.

1. Personal happiness. "That it might be well with them."

2. Happiness upon posterity. "And with their children."

3. Happiness perpetual. "For ever!" "A perpetuity of bliss alone is bliss." All this from a right heart! Have we got such a heart in us? We are taught how it may be gained. "I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me" (Jer ).

DIVINE SOLICITUDE

How lovely does God appear in the concern He here expresses! It is the language of complaint. As much as to say, "But I do not find it so." Is He then disappointed? Not as to fact—for He knows all things—but as to right. Surely, He may expect from us attention to His voice and improvement of advantages with which we are favoured. When He meets with nothing of this, He has reason to complain. This is the meaning when He says, "What more could have been done for My vineyard, and I have not done it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? These three years I came seeking fruit, and finding none." It is the expression of desire. When Scripture ascribes human attributes and feelings to God, they must be understood according to the perfection of His nature. They do not precisely mean the same in Him as in us. Yet there is always a truth, which is the basis of such metaphorical representations. Slavish adherence to systematic divinity has injured some of the finest passages of Revelation; and which were intended to be felt rather than criticised. Do not object, therefore, that "God is in the heavens, He hath done whatsoever he pleaseth;" and ask "who hath resisted His will?" for this is His own language, "O that there was such a heart in them!" "How often would I have gathered thee as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Yes, these are expressions of a God that cannot lie. This affords me encouragement. Unworthy as I am, He does not abandon me. He is willing to save, and waiting to be gracious to me. What is the inability of man to harmonize such declarations with some other parts of their creed, to the oath of the living God. "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth." It is the dictate of parental solicitude. The voice, not of a severe legislator or judge, but of a Father. A Father who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all—who does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men—who says of the refractory child, "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?" who says of the relenting child, "Is Ephraim My dear Son?" How often does He assume this relation to deprive His greatness of terror, and render it our encouragement and confidence. He pities "as a father pitieth his children," and takes the heart of a mother for the image of tenderness. "As one whom his mother comforteth." "Can a woman forget her child?" She may. Ah! ye mothers, your affection is ice; your heart is iron compared with His!"—"Yet will I not forget thee." Surely "he that loveth not, knoweth not God—for God is love." Can this encourage us to sin? Can we grieve His spirit? Can we bear Him saying in vain, "O do not that abominable thing which I hate?" "Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness," etc.—From Jay.

CAREFUL WALKING.—Deu

After Moses was chosen mediator he directed the people to return to their tents, urged them to observe carefully all the commandments which they had received, and not to turn aside to the right hand or to the left, that it might be well with them. "This signifieth an exact care to walk in God's Law, as in the highway from which men may not turn aside, as in Deu ."—Ainsworth.

I. Human life is under God's direction. To Israel the message was—"Get you into your tents again;" but to Moses, "Stand thou here by me." Thus some are appointed to one place, and others to another. God's law is given for guidance, laid down (for law means that which is laid down or fixed) to show us the way. "O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!"

II. This direction is given by chosen agency. Men often choose their own guides and miss their way. Intellect, education, and human laws are not sufficient. The Scriptures and the Christian ministry are the appointed means for instruction.

1. The ministry of man. Moses was chosen teacher and mediator between God and His people. Men must know God in the holy life and teaching of their fellow men, "Speak thou to us."

2. The revelation of God. Moses had not to speak his own, but the words which God had spoken to him. If we speak not according to the law we have no light—no truth in us. "I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them."

III. This direction, given by chosen agency, is easily understood. "Do, therefore, as the Lord your God hath commanded you." So plainly is the path opened up that "the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein."

1. There must be no halting. "Observe to do." The eye and heart must be fixed. Hesitate and linger not. Never fear, but humbly walk before God.

2. There must be no turning aside. "Ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left." "Let thine eyes look right on" (Pro ), not behind, nor all around, but "straight before thee." Straightforward progress will ensure reward. Pray for perseverance and guidance. "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it."

3. There must be no partiality. "Ye shall walk in all the ways." The obedience must be full, unreserved, and unwearied. "Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments (Psa ).

IV. When the direction thus given is obeyed, the rewards will be great. "That ye may live, and that it may be well with you." "Verily there is a reward for the righteous," not of debt, but of sovereign grace. A present reward in temporal benefits and spiritual enjoyments. A future reward of eternal bliss (Isa ; Jer 7:23). In "keeping His commandments there is great reward."

HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS

Deu . God's wish for Israel.

1. A true heart.

2. Sincere obedience.

3. Perpetual happiness. Such a heart. That heart that will enable us to fear the Legislator, and in thought, word, and deed keep all His commandments. But such a heart, so inclined, is an evidence of previous acceptance; and such conduct resulting from such a heart is the evidence of that character which belongs to a christian, and indicates one whose state has been changed in Christ, and whose character has been elevated by sanctification of the Holy Spirit.—Cumming.

Perfect obedience.

1. Its source—the heart.

2. Its extent. All commandments and always.

3. Its ruling principle—the fear of God.

4. Its blessed results—well with individuals "and their children for ever."

Deu to Deu 33:1. The honour conferred upon Moses. "Near" God.

2. The duty of Moses—"stand" in attentive, willing attitude, as mediator and teacher. "I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to show you the word of the Lord; for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount."

God's manifestations in their effect upon men. Repelling some and attracting others. This effect depends upon our state of mind and moral condition. Teach them—

1. The position of a true teacher. "Here by me."

2. The matter of a true teacher. "All the commandments and the statutes and the judgments."

3. The design of a true teacher to produce obedience.

Deu . Walk in the ways.

1. Specific direction.

2. Activity and progress in that direction. We must not simply know, but practice the commandments. We are ignorant, and require Divine instruction; weak, and need strength and support. Our hearts must be right, and we must be steadfast in His covenant (Psa .) Like travellers in the way, we must look carefully to the end and be careful lest we miss the way.

ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 5

Deu . Law. "These words" comprise the whole duty of man; and as interpreted by Christ, they are so comprehensive that there is no conceivable condition in which the human race can exist where these precepts are not applicable as a rule. The language of each is so brief, and so precise, as to be capable of furnishing a perfect guide for the moral government of man. It is so immeasurably superior in its character to that of all other nations that there is no way of accounting for its existence, except by ascribing it to Divine revelation. Infidels themselves are constrained to admit its high origin. For how came the Jews to possess so pure and admirable a law? How were they distinguished for such a sublime code of morality, while all other people, some of them far superior in civilisation and the arts to the Hebrews, fell far short of them in this respect? It was God who "spake all these words." (Dr. Jamieson.) The moral law is a copy of God's will, our spiritual directory; it shows us what sins to avoid, what duties to pursue. It has truth and goodness in it (Neh 9:13). Truth, for God spake it; and goodness, for there is nothing the commandment enjoins but it is for our good.—Watson.

Deu . First. This may well lead the van, and be set in front of all the commandments, because it is the foundation of all true religion. None will have cause to repent of cleaving to God and His service. Cardinal Wolsey said, "Oh, if I had served my God as I have my king, He would never have left me thus."—Watson.

Deu . Second. People pray to the images of the gods, implore them on bended knees, sit or stand long days before them, throw them money, and sacrifice beasts to them with deep respect.—Seneca.

Deu . Third. Remember the commination and threatening in the text. Here is a meiosis—less is said and more intended. "He will not hold him guiltless;" that is, He will be severely avenged on such a one. Here the Lord speaks after the manner of a judge, who holds the court of assize. The judge is God himself; the accusers, Satan and a man's conscience; the charge is, "taking God's name in vain;" the accused is found guilty and condemned: "The Lord will not hold him guiltless."—Watson.

Deu . Fourth. O, what a blessing is Sunday, interposed between the waves of worldly business, like the Divine path of the Israelites through Jordan. (Wilberforce.) The streams of religion run deeper or shallower, as the banks of the Sabbath are kept up or neglected. (Calcott.) Coleridge once said to a friend on Sunday morning, "I feel as if God had, by giving the Sabbath, given fifty-two springs in every year."—Bowes.

Deu . Fifth. Richard Knill so regarded this commandment, that he would not even go out as a missionary without his mother's consent. He said, "I know that God never smiles on a boy that breaks his mother's heart."—Pul. Com.

Deu . Sixth. There is a close connection between anger and murder. "Killing is not mere blood shedding. Anger without cause is murder. Oppression of the weak is murder. Depriving a man of the means of getting a livelihood, to gratify revenge, is murder."—Dr. Parker.

Deu . Adultery debases a person, and makes him resemble the beasts—Nay, it is worse than brutish; for some creatures void of reason, by the instinct of nature, observe some decorum and chastity. The turtle dove is a chaste creature, and keeps to its mate; and the stork wherever he flies, comes into no nest but his own. Naturalists write that if a stork, leaving its own mate, joins with another, all the rest of the storks fall upon it and pull its feathers from it. Adultery is worse than brutish, it degrades a person of his honour.—Watson.

Deu . Eighth. A man may rob God as well as his neighbour. He who wastes his employer's time is a thief. He who withholds just praise is a thief—social and literary thieving. He who detracts from the just honour of his fellow man is a thief. He who vows and does not pay is a thief.—Dr. Parker.

Deu . Ninth. A man that hath no virtue in himself ever envieth virtue in others; for men's minds will either feed upon their own good or upon others' evil; and who wanteth the one will prey upon the other. (Bacon.) There would not be so many open mouths if there were not so many open ears.—Bp. Hall.

To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it.—

Tennyson.

Soft buzzing slander; silky moths

That eat an honest name.—Thomson.

Deu . Tenth. The covetous man is like a greedy ostrich, which devours any metal; but it is with an intent to feed upon it, and in effect it makes a shift to digest and excern it. The avaricious man is like the foolish chough, which loves to steal money only to hide it.—Archbp. Trench.

The cloyed will,

That satiate yet unsatisfied desire,

That tub both filled and running.—

Shakespeare.

Deu . Great voice. Richard Morris, a Baptist minister in England, when a young man attended as a spectator a funeral, which he had followed into St. Mary's Church, Stamford. His mind being solemnised and softened by the scene, the blast of six trumpets sounded together to set the evening watch, and reverberated through the dome, striking the whole audience with awe. The thought was vividly suggested to his mind that he must certainly hear the tremendous sound of the trump of God. With this impression upon his mind, Mr. Morris retired to his room and prayed to that God whom he knew would be his judge. His prayer was heard, and he began a life of religion and usefulness. This trifling occurrence arrested attention, gave rise to workings of conscience which ended in conversion.—Whitecross.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 5:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/deuteronomy-5.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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