A Charge to Israel; Israel's Retrospect
B. C. 1451.
6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God,
to walk in his ways, and to fear him. 7 For the LORD thy God
bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains
and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; 8 A land of
wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of
oil olive, and honey; 9 A land wherein thou shalt eat bread
without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones
are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
The charge here given them is the same as before, to keep and do all
God's commandments. Their obedience must be, 1. Careful: Observe to do.
2. Universal: To do all the commandments, v. 1. And, 3. From a good principle,
with a regard to God as the Lord, and their God, and particularly with
a holy fear of him (v. 6), from a reverence of his majesty, a submission
to his authority, and a dread of his wrath. To engage them to this obedience,
besides the great advantages of it, which he sets before them (that they
should live and multiply, and all should be well with them, v. 1), he directs
3. They must also remember the rebukes
they had been under, v. 5. During these years of their education they had
been kept under a strict discipline, and not without need. As a man chasteneth
his son, for his good, and because he loves him, so the Lord thy God chasteneth
thee. God is a loving tender Father to all his children, yet when there
is occasion they shall feel the smart of the rod. Israel did so: they were
chastened that they might not be condemned, chastened with the rod of men.
Not as a man wounds and slays his enemies whose destruction he aims at,
but as a man chastens his son whose happiness and welfare he designs: so
did their God chasten them; he chastened and taught them, Ps. xciv. 12.
This they must consider in their heart, that is, they must own it from
their own experience that God had corrected them with a fatherly love,
for which they must return to him a filial reverence and compliance. Because
God has chastened thee as a father, therefore (v. 6) thou shalt keep his
commandments. This use we should make of all our afflictions; by them let
us be engaged and quickened to our duty. Thus they are directed to look
back upon the wilderness.
II. He directs them to look forward to
Canaan, into which God was now bringing them. Look which way we will, both
our reviews and our prospects will furnish us with arguments for obedience.
1. The land which they were now going
to take possession of is here described to be a very good land, having
every thing in it that was desirable, v. 7-9. (1.) It was well-watered,
like Eden, the garden of the Lord. It was a land of brooks of water, of
fountains and depths, which contributed to the fruitfulness of the soil.
Perhaps there was a greater plenty of water there now than in Abraham's
time, the Canaanites having found and digged wells; so that Israel reaped
the fruit of their industry as well as of God's bounty. (2.) The ground
produced great plenty of all good things, not only for the necessary support,
but for the convenience and comfort of human life. In their fathers' land
they had bread enough; it was corn land, a land of wheat and barley, where,
with the common care and labour of the husbandman, they might eat bread
without scarceness. It was a fruitful land, that was never turned into
barrenness but for the iniquity of those that dwelt therein. They had not
only water enough to quench their thirst, but vines, the fruit whereof
was ordained to make glad the heart. And, if they were desirous of dainties,
they needed not to send to far countries for them, when their own was so
well stocked with fig-trees, and pomegranates, olives of the best kind,
and honey, or date-trees, as some think it should be read. (3.) Even the
bowels of its earth were very rich, though it should seem that silver and
gold they had none; of these the princes of Sheba should bring presents
(Ps. lxxii. 10, 15); yet they had plenty of those more serviceable metals,
iron and brass. Iron-stone and mines of brass were found in their hills.
See Job xxviii. 2.
2. These things are mentioned, (1.) To
show the great difference between that wilderness through which God had
led them and the good land into which he was bringing them. Note, Those
that bear the inconveniences of an afflicted state with patience and submission,
are humbled by them and prove well under them, are best prepared for better
circumstances. (2.) To show what obligations they lay under to keep God's
commandments, both in gratitude for his favours to them and from a regard
to their own interest, that the favours might be continued. The only way
to keep possession of this good land would be to keep in the way of their
duty. (3.) To show what a figure it was of good things to come. Whatever
others saw, it is probable that Moses in it saw a type of the better country:
The gospel church is the New-Testament Canaan, watered with the Spirit
in his gifts and graces, planted with the trees of righteousness, bearing
the fruits of righteousness. Heaven is the good land, in which there is
nothing wanting, and where there is a fulness of joy.
Cautions Relating to Worldly Prosperity.
B. C. 1451.
10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD
thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. 11 Beware
that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments,
and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:...
Moses, having mentioned the great plenty they would find in the land
of Canaan, finds it necessary to caution them against the abuse of that
plenty, which was a sin they would be the more prone to new that they came
into the vineyard of the Lord, immediately out of a barren desert.
I. He directs them to the duty of a prosperous
condition, v. 10. They are allowed to eat even to fulness, not to surfeiting
no excess; but let them always remember their benefactor, the founder of
their feast, and never fail to give thanks after meat: Then thou shalt
bless the Lord thy God. 1. They must take heed of eating or drinking so
much as to indispose themselves for this duty of blessing God, rather aiming
to serve God therein with so much the more cheerfulness and enlargement.
2. They must not have any fellowship with those that, when they had eaten
and were full, blessed false gods, as the Israelites themselves had done
in their worship of the golden calf, Exod. xxxii. 6. 3. Whatever they had
the comfort of God must have the glory of. As our Saviour has taught us
to bless before we eat (Matt. xiv. 19, 20), so we are here taught to bless
after meat. That is our Hosannah--God bless; this is our Hallelujah--Blessed
be God. In every thing we must give thanks. From this law the religious
Jews took up a laudable usage of blessing God, not only at their solemn
meals, but upon other occasions; if they drank a cup of wine they lifted
up their hands and said, Blessed be he that created the fruit of the vine
to make glad the heart. If they did but smell at a flower, they said, Blessed
be he that made this flower sweet. 4. When they gave thanks for the fruits
of the land they must give thanks for the fruits of the land itself, which
was given them by promise From all our comfortable enjoyments we must take
occasion to thank God for our comfortable settlements; and I know not but
we of this nation have as much reason as they had to give thanks for a
II. He arms them against the temptations
of a prosperous condition, and charges them to stand upon their guard against
them: "When thou art settled in goodly houses of thy own building," v.
12 (for though God gave them houses which they builded not, ch. vi. 10,
these would not serve them, they must have larger and finer),--"and when
thou hast grown rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold (v. 13), as Abraham
(Gen. xiii. 2),--when all thou hast is multiplied," 1. "Then take heed
of pride. Beware lest then thy heart be lifted up," v. 14. When the estate
rises, the mind is apt to rise with it, in self-conceit, self-complacency,
and self-confidence. Let us therefore strive to keep the spirit low in
a high condition; humility is both the ease and the ornament of prosperity.
Take heed of saying, so much as in thy heart, that proud word, My power,
even the might of my hand, hath gotten me this wealth, v. 17. Note, We
must never take the praise of our prosperity to ourselves, nor attribute
it to our ingenuity or industry; for bread is not always to the wise, nor
riches to men of understanding, Eccl. ix. 11. It is spiritual idolatry
thus to sacrifice to our own net, Hab. i. 16. 2. "Then take heed of forgetting
God." This follows upon the lifting up on the heart; for it is through
the pride of the countenance that the wicked seek not after God, Ps. x.
4. Those that admire themselves despise God. (1.) "Forget not thy duty
to God." v. 11. We forget God if we keep not his commandments; we forget
his authority over us, and our obligations to him and expectations from
him, if we are not obedient to his laws. When men grow rich they are tempted
to think religion a needless thing. They are happy without it, think it
a thing below them and too hard upon them. Their dignity forbids them to
stoop, and their liberty forbids them to serve. But we are basely ungrateful
if the better God is to us the worse we are to him.