Deuteronomy 32






In accordance with the Divine injunction, Moses composed an ode, which he recited

in the hearing of the people, and committed to writing, to remain with them as a witness

for God against them. With this end in view, the ode is directed principally to a

contrasting of the unchanging faithfulness of the Almighty with the anticipated

perversity and unfaithfulness of His people. The poem may be divided into six parts:


  • An introduction (vs. 1-3), in which the importance of the doctrine to

be delivered is announced.


  • The blamelessness and excellency of Jehovah are placed in contrast with

the corruptness and perversity of Israel (vs. 4-5).


  • The folly and ingratitude of the rebellious people is dwelt upon (vs. 7-



  • The purpose of God to punish and reject the rebellious generation is

declared (vs. 19-23).


  • The fulfillment of this purpose in the judgments which should come

upon the rebels, whilst mercy and favor should be showed to those that

repented and were humbled under the hand of God (vs. 24-34).


  • And finally, the judgment which God would execute on the enemies of

Israel, and the mercy He would show to His servants (vs. 35-43).  In this ode

Moses displays the genius of the poet, as in the other parts of this book he

has showed the sagacity of the legislator and the skill of the orator. Vigor

of diction, elevation of sentiment, vivacity of representation, beauty and

sublimity of imagery, characterize this ode throughout. Nor is the piety less

noticeable than the poetry; zeal for God, earnest desire far His honor, and

devout reverence of His majesty pervade and inspire the whole. Remarkable

also is this ode in relation to the later prophetic utterances in Israel.  Moses

condensed in a song the prophetic contents of his last address in chapters

27-30, wherewith he lives on in the memory and mouth of the people. He

here sets before them their whole history to the end of the days. In this ode,

each age of Israel has a mirror of its present condition and future fate.


1  “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the

words of my mouth.”  Heaven and earth are summoned to hearken to his words,

both because of their importance, and because heaven and earth were interested,

so to speak, as witnesses of the manifestation of God’s righteousness and

faithfulness about to be celebrated (compare ch. 4:26; 30:19; 31:28-29; Isaiah 1:2;

Jeremiah 2:12; 22:29).


2 “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as

the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:”

The Hebrew verb here and in ch.33:28 is properly rendered by “drop;” it expresses

the gentle falling of a genial shower or the soft distillation of dew. The

clause is best taken imperatively, as it is by the Sepuagint, the Vulgate, and

Onkelos: Let my doctrine drop as the rain, let my speech distil, etc. The

point of comparison here is not the quickening, fructifying, vivifying

influence of the rain and dew, so much as the effective force of these

agents as sent from heaven to produce results. So might His doctrine come

with power into the minds of his hearers. Doctrine (לֶקַה from לָקַח to

take); that which takes one (Proverbs 7:21, “fair speech,” By which

one is captivated), or which one takes or receives, viz. instruction

(Proverbs 4:2; Isaiah 29:24). Small rain; gentle showers, such as

conduce to the growing of herbs. The Hebrew word (שְׂעִידִים) primarily

means hairs, and is here used of rain coming down in thin streams like hair.

Showers; heavy rain (רִבִיבִים from רָבַב, to be much or many, equal to

multitude of drops).


3 “Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness

unto our God.” The hearers of the song are summoned to join in the celebration

of the Divine majesty. The word rendered “greatness” occurs only in this book

(ch.3:24; 5:24; 9:26; 11:2), and in Psalm 150:2. It is the greatness of God as the

Almighty that is here celebrated.




                                    Beneficial Teaching (vs.1-3)


Moses was directed to instruct the people by composing for their use a

song (ch. 31:19, 21). A song is:


1. Memorable.

2. Easily handed down from mouth to mouth.

3. Of singular power to awaken sympathetic feeling (compare influence of

ballads, of Jacobite songs, of the ‘Marseillaise,’ of popular hymns). The

action of song is not violent, but gentle and persuasive. It steals about the

heart like rippling water or like sunlight, trickles into its pores, works as if

by spirit-influence on its seats of laughter and tears, explores its innermost

labyrinths of feeling. Here compared (v. 2) to the gently distilling dew

and rain.





o       gentle,

o       silent,

o       pervasive,

o       kindly; yet:


Ø      Invigorative. They revive, refresh, stimulate.

Ø      Powerful.  Rocks are shattered by drops of water in their pores and


Ø      Deep-reaching. They act on plants by watering their roots. Take a

lesson from them. It is not the best kind of teaching which is loud and

violent, which tries to force men’s convictions. Convictions must have

time to grow. Teaching must be loving. (“And the servant of the Lord

must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.”

II Timothy 2:24)  The earthquake, the whirlwind, the fire, have their

own place, but “the still small voice” is needed to succeed them

(I Kings 19:12).  The Lord is peculiarly in that. Angry scolding,

petulant rebuke, biting censure, clever satire, seldom do much good.

Love alone wins the day.




it here. Christ employed it. “He shall not strive nor cry,” etc. (Matthew

12:19). Paul commends truthing it in love” (Ephesians 4:15). “The

servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to

teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves”

(IITimothy 2:24-25). This kind of teaching harmonizes best:


Ø      With the subject of religion“the Name of the Lord” (v. 3). God

had revealed His Name to Moses (Exodus 34:6-7), and the attributes of

mercy preponderate.


Ø      With the end of religion — the ascription of greatness to God (v. 3).

Religious teaching fails if it does not inspire men with such convictions

of God’s greatness as will lead them to:


o       fear,

o       honor,

o       worship,

o       praise, and

o       serve HIM!


Ø      With the special theme of the gospelpeace, love, good will to men.

This song of Moses has to deal with stern truths, but even in its sternest

passages it breathes the pathos of tender and sorrowful affection. It

dwells largely on God’s kindnesses and the people’s ingratitude, and

                        ends with loving promises. The song has numerous echoes in Isaiah.


4 “He is the Rock, His work is perfect:” -  rather, The Rock! His work is perfect,

i.e. blameless, without fault. God is called “the Rock” (הַצוּר), as the unchangeable

Refuge and Stronghold of His people, by which they are sustained, and to which they

can resort for defense and protection at all times. The epithet is applied to God four

times besides in this song (vs. 15, 18, 30, 31); it occurs also frequently in the Psalms

(compare Psalm 19:14; 28:1; 31:2-3; 62:2, 7). The Hebrew word, tsur, gut,

or zur, appears in several proper names of the Mosaic period, as e.g. Pedahzur,

“Rock delivers” (Numbers 1:10), a name of the same import as Pedahel, “God

delivers” (Ibid. ch.34:28); Elizur, God is a Rock” (Ibid. ch. 1:5); Zuriel (Ibid.

ch.3:35) and Zurishaddai, “the Almighty is Rock” (Ibid. ch. 1:6; 2:12). Jehovah,

is here called Rock, without any qualification, the reason is that He is the only

True Rock, and all the strength and firmness of earth’s stones is but an ectype

of His unchangeable faithfulness and rectitude - “for all His ways are judgment:”

-  i.e. accordant with rectitude (Psalm 145:17) - “a God of truth” - rather, of

faithfulness (אְמֶוּנָת, from אָמַן, to stay, or be stayed, to be firm) - “and without

iniquity, just and right is He.”



God the Believer’s Rock (vs. 1-4)


In the last song which Moses utters ere he climbs the mount of Nebo to die, he declares,

“I will publish the Name of the Lord.”   Moses is qualified to draw attention to the

moral perfections of God because God had appeared to him (Exodus 34:5-7)  God’s

ways are judgment but they are according to justice!  His way is perfect and all moral

perfections are centered in Him!


  • His Name is “Jehovah.” The word involves self-existence, self-sufficiency,

immutability, pure being, personality. “I AM THAT I AM!” 


  • He is the Rock. On the rocks of Sinai was the Law proclaimed. In the rock-cleft

was Moses hidden. From the smitten rock the waters gushed forth. How natural

for Moses to apply this figure to the eternal God! In v. 31, Moses speaks of God

as “OUR ROCK.”  He was known to Israel as theirs, their own firm, changeless

ground of strength, through all the changing years!



COMFORT AND REFRESHMENT FOR MAN (v. 2) -  i.e. what the rain is to the

 herb, what the showers are to the grass, that is this teaching concerning God to

 the soul of man.


  • The Dew and Rain as Emblems of the Teaching Most Likely to Prove Effective


Ø      Gentle and invigorating.  It revives, refreshes, stimulates.

Ø      silent, but powerful.  Rocks are shattered by drops of water in their

pores and crevices.  (“For the Word of God is quick and powerful,

and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the

dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and

marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the

heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12)

Ø      pervasive,

Ø      kindly; yet: deep-reaching. They act on plants by watering their roots.

Take a lesson from them. It is not the best kind of teaching which is loud

and violent, which tries to force men’s convictions. Convictions must have

time to grow. Teaching must be loving. The earthquake, the whirlwind,

the fire, have their own place, but “the still small voice” is needed to

succeed them.  The Lord is peculiarly in that. Angry scolding, petulant

rebuke, biting censure, clever satire, seldom do much good. Love alone

wins the day. 


Religious teaching fails if it does not inspire men with such convictions of God’s greatness

as will lead them to fear, honor, worship, praise, and serve Him.  The special themes of

the gospel are peace, love, and good will to men.  This song of Moses has to deal with

stern truths, but even in its sternest passages it breathes the pathos of tender and sorrowful

affection. It dwells largely on God’s kindnesses and the people’s ingratitude, and ends with

loving promises.


Our heart wants God!  (“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee:  my

soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where

no water is.” (Psalm 63:1; 84:2).  Spiritually, this God is as rain and as dew:

 refreshing,  enlivening, restoring.  This doctrine of God is meant to make the heart

productive of holiness.  God’s revelation of Himself is meant to draw men to Himself; in

doing this God saves them!  Moses would summon all to hear it. It is:


o       For all classes.

o       For all lands.

o       For all the ages.


The day will never come when this doctrine of God will be obsolete!



God the Rock (v.4)


(Compare vs. 15, 18, 31, 37.) This name for God occurs chiefly in this song of

Moses, and in the compositions of David and of later psalmists. It was a name full of

significance to those familiar with the desert. Rock, rock, rock!   Israel had seen little

else during the thirty-eight years of wandering. The older men could remember the

seclusion and granitic sublimity of the rock sanctuary of Sinai. The congregation had

mourned for Aaron under the shadow of Mount Hor, “rising high aloft into the blue

sky, like a huge, grand, but shattered rock-city, with vast cliffs, perpendicular

walls of stone, pinnacles, and naked peaks of every shape.” They had

witnessed the security of Edom in the hills in which now stand the wondrous rock-hewn

 ruin of Petra. They had traversed the defiles of the terrible and precipitous Arabah.

When David was hunted in the wilderness, he, too, was often led to think of God,

his Rock (>Psalm 18:2; 61:2; 62:2, 7). It is wilderness experience which still makes

the name so precious.



is not an arbitrary one. Nature abounds in shadows of the spiritual. It is

what the mind puts into the objects of its survey which makes them what

they are. The Alps and Andes are but millions of atoms till thought

combines them, and stamps on them the conception of the everlasting hills.

Niagara is a gush of water-drops till the soul puts into it that sweep of

resistless power which the beholder feels. The ocean, wave behind wave, is

only great when the spirit has breathed into it the idea of immensity. If we

analyze our feelings, we shall find that thought meets us wherever we turn.

The real grandeur of the world is in the soul which looks on it, which sees

some conception of its own reflected from the mirror around it; for mind is

not only living, but life-giving, and has received from its Maker a portion

of His own creative power. Rock is thus more than rock — its awfulness,

grandeur, immovability, everlastingness, strength, are born of spiritual

conceptions. These attributes do not in reality belong to it. Rock is

not everlasting, moveless, abiding, etc. Old rocks are being worn away,

new rocks are being formed; the whole system had a beginning and will

have an end (Psalm 90:2). It is not that these attributes belong to rock,

and are thence by metaphor attributed to God; but these attributes of God,

being dimly present in the mind, are by metaphor attributed to rock.

GOD is the TRUE ROCK,  the other is the image. God is rock, in virtue of:


Ø      The eternity of His existence (Psalm 90:2).

Ø      The omnipotence of His might (Daniel 4:35).

Ø      The wisdom of His counsel (Isaiah 40:13).

Ø      The immutability of His purpose (Psalm 33:11; Isaiah 46:10).

Ø      The faithfulness of His Word (Psalm 119:89-90).

Ø      The rectitude of His government (Psalm 145:17). Whence:

Ø      The perfection of His work.




Ø      Eternal (Revelation 1:11),

Ø      Unchangeable (Hebrews 13:8),

Ø      All powerful (Matthew 28:18),

Ø      Faithful (John 13:1; 14:18-20),

Ø      Righteous (Revelation 19:11), and

Ø      All Wise (Isaiah 9:6).





Ø      A Shelter (Psalm 61:3).

Ø      A Defense (Psalm 18:2; 62:6).

Ø      A Dwelling-place (Psalm 90:1).

Ø      A Shadow from the heat (Isaiah 32:2).

Ø      A Move-less standing-ground (Psalm 40:2).

Ø      A Foundation (Matthew 7:24-27). The rock smitten in the

wilderness furnishes the additional idea of:

Ø      A Source of Spiritual Refreshment.


o       Christ, the Rock on which His Church is built

(Matthew 16:18),

o       The smitten Savior (I Corinthians 10:4),

o       The spiritual Refuge and Salvation of His people

(Romans 8:1, 34-39).


And let us not forget Toplady’s hymn, “Rock of Ages.”  A hymn used by

God’s people for many ages!


  5 “They have corrupted themselves, their spot is

not the spot of His children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.”

Of this difficult passage the following seems the best construction and rendering: —

A perverse and crooked generation not his children, [but] their spot — has

become corrupt towards Him. The subject of the verb at the beginning of the

verse is the “perverse and crooked generation,” at the end of it, and between

the verb and its subject there is interjected parenthetically the clause, “not his

children, but their spot.” Spot is here used in a moral sense, as in Job 11:15;

31:7; Proverbs 9:7. These corrupt persons claimed to be children of God, but

they were not; they were rather a stain and a reproach to them (compare II Peter

2:13; Isaiah 1:4).  The Geneva Version,  has “They have corrupted themselves

towards Him by their vice, not being His children, but a froward and crooked



6  “Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not

He thy father that hath bought thee? hath He not made thee, and

established thee?”  Instead of gratefully acknowledging the Divine beneficence,

and dutifully obeying the Divine will, Israel had perversely and foolishly

requited the Lord for all His benefits, by apostasy from Him. Do ye thus

requite? The verb here signifies primarily to do to any one either good or

evil, whether in return for what he has done or not (Compare Genesis 50:15;

I Samuel 24:18; Proverbs 3:30); then, as a secondary meaning, to reward, repay,

requite, as here and Psalm 18:21. To bring more forcibly to their view the

ingratitude and folly of their conduct, Moses dwells upon

what God was and had been to the nation: their Father, in that He had, in

His love, chosen, them to be His people (Isaiah 63:16; 64:7; Malachi 2:10); their

Purchaser, who had acquired possession of them by delivering them out of Egypt

(compare Psalm 74:2); their Maker, who had constituted them a nation; and their

Establisher, by whom they had been conducted through the wilderness and settled

in Canaan.  7 Remember the days of old,” -  times of Israel’s deliverance from

bondage, and the times during which successive generations had lived and

experienced the goodness of the Lord. The form of the word rendered “days” is

poetical, and is found only here and in Psalm 90:15, which is also ascribed to Moses –

“consider the years of many generations:” - literally, years of generation and

 generation; “ - “ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they

will tell thee.”




                                    God’s Vicegerent as Poet (vs. 1-6)


The true poet is God’s messenger. He that sings not of truth and goodness

is not a genuine poet; he is but a rhymester. As the swan is said to sing

sweetly only in the act of dying, so, on the eve of his departure, Moses

sings his noblest strains.


·         OBSERVE THE POET’S AUDITORY. He summons heaven and earth

to hear. We read in ancient story that when Orpheus made music with his

lyre, the wild beasts listened, and the trees and rocks of Olympus followed

him about. This may serve as a just reproof to some men, who, having

ears, act as if they had them not.


Ø      Heaven and earth may denote both angels and men. For even “the

principalities of heaven learn from the Church the manifold wisdom

of God.”  (Ephesians 3:10)


Ø      Heaven and earth may denote all classes of the people, high and low.

Frequently in Scripture great men are represented as the stars of heaven.

The man of ambition is said to lift his head to the stars. The righteous

are to shine as the brightness of the firmament.  (Daniel 12:3)


Ø      Heaven and earth may denote the intelligent and the material creation.

On account of man’s sin, “the whole creation groaneth(Romans 8:22);

and the effect of man’s obedience will be felt beneficially on the material

globe. It will increase its fertility, its beauty, its fragrance, its music.

“Truth” shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look

down from heaven.” (Psalm 85:11)  “Then shall all the trees of

the wood rejoice.”  (ibid. ch. 96:12; I Chronicles 16:33)


·         THE POET’S BENEFICENT INFLUENCE. “My doctrine shall drop

as the rain,” etc. (v. 2). This imagery teaches us:


Ø      The silent, unobtrusive power of truth. It finds it way, quietly and

unobserved, to the roots of human judgment and feeling.

Ø      It is refreshing. What a draught of clear water is to a thirsty man,

      truth is to a healthy, active soul.

Ø      It is fertilizing. It nourishes all good affections, and strengthens every


Ø      It is most suitable. No fitness can be more manifest than dew for tender

grass. Poetic truth is suited to every grade of human understanding.


·         THE POET’S LOFTY THEME. His theme is God; but God is only

known as He reveals Himself in His Name.


Ø      He descants upon His majesty, His supreme power, and the splendors

      of His state.

Ø      He touches upon His eternal stability. What the unchanging rock is

      amid the shifting sands, God is — unalterably the same.

Ø      He dwells upon:

o       the perfections of His character (“just and right is He”);

o       the perfection of His works, which are incapable of any


o       the perfection of His government (“all his ways are

      judgment); and,

o       the perfection of His speech. He is “a God of truth.”

      He alters nothing, retracts nothing.


·         THE POET’S MORAL PURPOSE. To restore harmony between man

and God.


Ø      He proclaims man’s fallen state: “they have corrupted themselves.”

Human nature is not as it was when it came from the hands of God.

Man holds this tremendous power of ruining his own nature.

Ø      The mark of sonship has disappeared. “Their spot is not the spot

      of His children.” Childlike docility and submissiveness form the

      family lineament.

Ø      This depravity has spread like the virus of disease. The whole race

      is infected. “They are a perverse and crooked generation.”

Ø      Such conduct is suicidal folly. It is most antagonistic to self-interest.

      No madman could have acted worse.

Ø      Such conduct is the basest ingratitude. “Do ye thus requite the Lord?”

Consider His claims:

o       Did He not create thee?

o       Has He not been a Father to thee?

o       Has He not redeemed thee?

Tender expostulation with the conscience is the poet’s mission.

For this vocation he has been specially inspired by God. A heavenly

spirit breathes through his every word. No higher honor can man

                        attain on earth.



God’s Righteousness and Man’s Iniquity (vs. 4-7)


The sin of man is only fully seen in contrast with God’s righteousness and love. The

light is needed to bring out the depth of the shadow. It reveals the “spot.”


  • GOD’S FAVOR TO ISRAEL. God’s dealings with Israel had been

marked by:


Ø      Rectitude (v. 4). He had done everything that was just and right to

them. His ways had been equal. He had given them just statutes. His

covenant-keeping faithfulness had been signally manifested. There was

not the shadow of a pretence for accusing God of injustice or of

infidelity to His engagements.


Ø      Love. Love and grace had been more conspicuous in His treatment of

them than even justice. It was shown in their election, in the deliverance

from Egypt, in the guidance of the desert, in pardon of offences, in the

many and undeserved favors which had been heaped upon them (compare

vs. 9-14). Rectitude and love have reached their FULLEST

MANIFESTATION IN THE GOSPEL!   The cross displays both.

It harmonizes their apparently conflicting claims, and exhibits them in new

glories. GOD’S CHARACTER  revealed IN CHRIST,  is the

 condemnation of an unbelieving world.



requital was an incredibly base one. They corrupted themselves. They

wantonly departed from the ways of right. They behaved ungratefully.

Instead of imitating God in the example of rectitude He had set them, and

walking before Him “as dear children,” they flung to the winds the

remembrance of His mercies, and brought disgrace upon His Name. He was

their Father (v. 6), but instead of reflecting the features of His image, they

dishonored and discredited it (compare Isaiah 1:2-4, which appears to be

based on this passage). Their sin was:


Ø      Self-caused. There was nothing which they had seen in their God to

cause it, to account for it, or to excuse it.

Ø      Irrational. Their powers, given by God, ought willingly to have been

devoted in His service. Obedience is the normal condition. Heaven and

earth, undeviatingly obeying the law of their existence, condemn man’s

apostasy (v. 1). The very brute creation testifies against him (Isaiah 1:3).


Ø      Ungrateful. God had bought them for Himself, had made a nation of

them, and established them in Canaan. Yet, without compunction, they

cast off His yoke.


Ø      Foolish.  The way they chose was the way of death, whereas in God’s

favor was life (v. 47), with every blessing that heart could wish for. The

same remarks apply to sinners — despising the gracious overtures

which God makes to them, with all the favors, temporal and spiritual,

He has actually shown them, and careering on to their eternal ruin.

O foolish people and unwise!”



8 “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when

He separated the sons of Adam,” –  From the very beginning, when God first

allotted to the nations a place and a heritage, He had respect in His arrangements

to the sons of Israel, who were His portion, and had as it were kept their interest

in view in all that He appointed and ordered.  “He set the bounds of the people

according to the number of the children of Israel.”  When the Most High

portioned out to the nations the heritage of each, He reserved for Israel, as the

people of His choice, an inheritance proportioned to its numbers. The Septuagint

has “according to the number of the angels of God,” an arbitrary departure from

the original text, in accommodation, probably, to the later Jewish notion of each

nation having its guardian angel.





                        The World Ruled for the Benefit of the Church

                                                            (v. 8)


What this verse asserts is that in the providential distribution of the nations,

and assignment to them of their special territories, respect was had from

the beginning to the provision of a suitable dwelling-place for the chosen

race. Our subject is — The government of the world conducted with a view

to the interests of the Church.



of history, and by express statement. Israel’s position brought it into

contact, not only with petty neighboring states, but with the mightiest

empires of East and West. These appear in Scripture only as they affect the

chosen race, but it is then made manifest how entirely their movements are

directed and controlled by DIVINE PROVIDENCE!   And the center of

God’s purposes is always Israel.


Ø      “For your sake,” says God, “I have sent to Babylonia, and have

       brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is

in the ships” (Isaiah 43:14; compare vs. 3-4).


Ø      Is Egypt visited with famines — with scarce years and good years?

      The design is the working out of a certain plan in the chain of God’s

appointments for Israel.


Ø      Is a Cyrus raised up in Persia? God saith of him, “He is my shepherd,

      and shall perform all my pleasure,” etc. (Isaiah 44:28).


So is it throughout. Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Rome, appear

in all their relations with Israel as ministers of the Divine will, as simple

executors of the Divine purposes, and their power is strictly limited by their

commission.  In harmony with this prophetic teaching are the express

testimonies of the Epistles (e.g. Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:20-23; 3:9-11).


(1) Nature,

(2) history, are ruled for the benefit Of the Church.


·         A TRUTH IN ITSELF REASONABLE. Once admit the goal of

history to be the establishment on earth of a universal spiritual kingdom —

a gathering together in one of all things with Christ as Head (Ephesians

1:10), and it is certain that herein must lie the key to all historical

developments, the explanation of all arrangements and movements of

Divine providence. The center of interest must always be that portion of

the race with which for the time being the kingdom of God is identified.

Just as, in tracing the course of a stream, not the huge morasses nor the

vast stagnant pools on either side would delay us: we should not, because

of their extent, count them the river, but recognize that as such, though it

were the slenderest thread, in which an onward movement might be

discerned; so is it here. Egypt and Assyria and Babylon were but the vast

stagnant morasses on either side of the river; the Man in whose seed the

whole earth should be blessed, he and his family were the little stream in

which the life and onward movement of the world were to be traced They

belong not to history, least of all to sacred history, those Babels, those

cities of confusion, those huge pens into which by force and fraud the early

hunters of men, the Nimrods and Sesostrises, drove and compelled their

fellows... where no faith existed but in the blind powers of nature and the

brute forces of the natural man” (Archbishop Trench).





Ø      When the powers of the world are threatening.

Ø      In times of internal decay.

Ø      Under long-continued trials.




9 “For the LORD’s portion is His people;” -  (compare Exodus 15:16; 19:5;

I Samuel 10:1; Psalm 78:71).  “Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.” - literally,

the cord, etc., the allusion being to the measuring of land by a cord, equivalent to

the portion by measure which Jehovah allotted to Himself as His inheritance

(compare Psalm 16:6).  [I recommend Deuteronomy ch.32 v. 9 – God’s

Inheritance by Arthur Pink – this web site – CY – 2012)


10 “He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling

wilderness;” - God’s fatherly care of Israel. In the desert land, and in the

waste howling wilderness; literally, in the land of the desert, in the waste

(the formless waste; the word used is that rendered, Genesis 1:2, “without form”),

the howling of the wilderness.  Israel is figuratively represented as a man

without food or water, and surrounded by howling, ferocious beasts, and

who must needs have perished had not God found him and rescued him.

“He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.” 

- literally, the mannikin (אִישׁון) of his eye, the pupil; so called because in it, as in

A mirror, a person sees his own image reflected in miniature, or because, being

the tenderest part of the eye, it is guarded as one would a babe (compare Psalm 17:8;

Proverbs 7:2; Zechariah 2:8).  The use of the word mannikin here must be taken as

indicating that Israel is ever in the eye of the Lord, the object of His CONSTANT



11 “As an eagle” -  God’s treatment of His people is compared to that of an eagle

towards its young (compare Exodus 19:4). In the Authorized Version, the apodosis

of the sentence is made to begin at v. 12, and v.11 is wholly understood of the eagle

and its young. To this arrangement it has been objected that it overlooks the fact that

the suffixes to the verbs taketh and beareth are singulars, and are to be

understood consequently, not of the eaglets, but of Israel. It has, therefore, been

proposed to render the passage thus: As an eagle which stirreth up its nest,

fluttereth over its young, he spread out his wings, took him up, and carried

him on his pinions. The Lord alone did lead him, etc. The comparison is thus

made to pass into a metaphorical representation of the Lord’s dealing with Israel.

One feels that there is something violent in this, for whilst God’s care for

Israel might be fittingly compared to that of an eagle towards her young, it

is less fit to speak of God Himself as if He were an eagle with wings which

He spread abroad and on which He bare Israel. The rendering in the

Authorized Version is on this account to be preferred, if it can be

grammatically vindicated. And this it may on the ground that the suffixes

may be understood of the “nest” as containing the young, or the young may

be referred to individually, taketh it, beareth it,” i.e. each of them; or, if the

nest be understood, the whole body of them as therein contained -stirreth up

her nest,” - i.e. its nestlings. It is undoubtedly used generally in the sense of

rousing, exciting, stirring up, i.e. by the parent bird coming to them with food.

This is certainly more in keeping with what follows; for when the eagle nestles

or broods over her young, she does not excite them to fly - fluttereth over

her young,” - :” rather, broods over, nestles, or cherishes (יְרַחֵפ) -

spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her

Wings:” - “I once saw a very interesting sight above one of the crags of

Ben Nevis, as I was going in pursuit of black game. Two parent eagles were

teaching their offspring, two young birds, the maneuvers of flight. They began

by rising from the top of a mountain, in the eye of the sun; — it was about

midday, and bright for this climate. They at first made small circles, and the

young imitated them; they paused on their wings, waiting till they had made their

first flight, holding them on their expanded wings when they appeared exhausted,

and then took a second and larger gyration, always rising towards the sun, and

enlarging their circle of flight, so as to make a gradually ascending spiral” (Davy,

Salinertia;’ see also Bochart, ‘Hierozoicon,’ 2:181). The general reference is to

God’s fostering care of Israel, and especially His dealing with them when

“He suffered their manners in the wilderness” (Acts 13:18), disciplined them,

and trained them for what they were appointed to do.




                                    A Panorama of Grace (vs. 10-14)


How Israel was found, led, taught, kept.


·         WHERE GOD FOUND HIM. (v. 10.) Partly metaphorical — the

state of Israel in Egypt being likened to that of a man perishing in the

desert; partly literal — it being in the desert that God found the people

when He took them into covenant.  This is an image of the helpless and

hopeless condition of the sinner. Cut off from life, without shelter, provision,

resting-place, or final home.


·         HOW GOD DEALT WITH HIM. (vs. 10-11) That Israel was kept

in the wilderness so long was his own fault. But grace overruled the

discipline for good. The long sojourn in the desert made Israel’s case, also,

a better type of our own. There are ends to be served by this sojourn

(John 17:15). God showed Himself:


1. Condescending to Israel’s feebleness (Hosea 11:3-4).

2. Mindful of his ignorance. “Instructed him.”

3. Watchful of his safety. “Kept him.”

4. Careful of his training (v. 11).


The love and solicitude implied in such phrases as, “kept him as the apple

of His eye” (v. 10), and “as an eagle stirreth up,” etc. (v. 11), specially

deserve notice. The apple of the eye is a sensitive part, which we protect

with the utmost care, and from the slightest injuries.  (The best illustration

I have heard of this is the image that reflects in the pupil when one looks

on another is what is meant.  CY – 2020)  On the eagle, see below.


·         WHITHER GOD CONDUCTED HIM. (  vs. 13-14) To a land of

plenty and rest.  He made his defense the munitions of rocks. God

provided him with all that heart could desire. So does God bring the

believer to a large and wealthy place — a place of “fullness of joy,”

of richest satisfactions, of most perfect delights. Spiritually, even here,

where the most unpropitious circumstances yield him unexpected

blessings.  Eternally hereafter it will be in perfected form!

            Note: GOD ALONE did all this for Israel. (v. 12).




                                                The Eagle (v. 11)


“The description is of a female eagle exciting her young ones in teaching

them to fly, and afterwards guarding with the greatest care lest the weak

should receive harm” (Gesenius). In this picture of the eagle’s treatment of

her young, note:


·         HER AIM. She aims at teaching them self-reliance. It is not God’s wish

that His children should be tethered by leading-strings. They must be trained

to prompt, fearless, self-reliant action. This was an aim of the discipline of

the wilderness. Our action is to be in a spirit of dependence, but it is to be

active, not passive dependence.


·         HER METHOD. She stirs up her nest. She does not leave her brood to

the ignoble ease they would perhaps prefer. So God rouses His people to

action by making their place uneasy for them. By placing them in trying

situations, by removing comforts, by the stimulus of necessity, by the sharp

provocation of afflictions, He goads them to think, act, and put forth the

powers that are in them. It is not for the good of Christians that they

should have too much comfort.


·         HER CASE. The experiment is not carried to the point of allowing

the young to hurt themselves. She hovers over them, supports them on the

            tip of her wings, etc. God tries us, but not beyond our strength.


12 “So the LORD alone did lead him,” -  (compare Exodus 13:21; 15:13) –

“and there was no strange God with him.” - i.e. along with Jehovah, as aiding him.


13 “He made him ride on the high places of the earth,” - To ride over or drive

over the heights of a country is figuratively to subjugate and take possession of that

country (compare ch.33:29; Isaiah 58:14). Israel, having subjugated Canaan, could

eat of its produce, - “that he might eat the increase of the fields;” – as his own –

“and He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock;”

Canaan abounded in wild bees, which had their hives in crevices of the rock, and in

olive trees, which grew on a rocky soil; as is still the case in Palestine.


14 “Butter of kine,” - The Hebrew word (חֶמְאָה) here used designates milk in a

solid or semi-solid state, as thick cream, curd, or butter. As distinguished from this is

“and milk of sheep,” - where the word used (חָלָב) properly denotes fresh milk,

milk in a fluid state, and with all its richness (חֶלֶב, fatness) in it (compare Genesis

18:8; Isaiah 7:22) - “with fat of lambs,” - lambs of the best, “fat” being a figurative

expression for the best (Numbers 18:12) -  “and rams of the breed of Bashan,” - 

literally, rams, sons of Bashan; i.e. reared in Bashan, a district famous for its cattle –

“and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat;” - with the kidney-fat of wheat;

i.e. the richest fat, the best and most nutritious wheat -“and thou didst drink the

pure blood of the grape.”  The blood of the grape is the expressed juice of the grape,

which, being red, is compared to blood. The rendering “pure” here is not inapt.

The original word (חֶמֶר, from חָמַר; to boil up, to foam, to rise in bubbles) describes

this juice as it appears when pressed into a vessel, when the surface of the liquid is

covered with froth or foam. There is no ground for the explanation fery wine”  -

wine in such a state was never among the Hebrews counted a blessing. That they

had and used fermented wine is certain; but what they specially esteemed as a

 luxury was the pure unadulterated juice of the grape freshly pressed out and

 drunk with the foam on it.



                                    The Fatherhood of God (vs. 1-14)


In this first section of the Divine song, the predominating idea is God’s

fatherhood. It comes out in v. 6 in express terms; it is implied in the care

that is attributed to Him for His children of Israel; it passes into the still

more tender idea of motherhood in the illustration of the eagle (v. 11); and

may fairly be taken as the idea dominating the whole. It has been thought

that the fatherhood of God is almost altogether a New Testament idea; but

we have it here expressly stated, and it underlies many portions of the Old

Testament. This whole song is, in fact, a paternal expostulation with

children that have been wayward in the wilderness, and will be more

wayward still in the land of promise. We shall notice in order the ideas

suggested by this section.


·         FERTILIZING DOCTRINE. Divine doctrine, even in its severest forms,

has a gracious and fertilizing influence like rain or dew. It comes down

upon the wilderness of human nature, and makes it a fruitful field. It comes

down upon the tender herb of implanted graces, upon the grass of humble

and useful piety, and makes all to grow more luxuriantly. Nothing is so

important as “good doctrine.”


·         THE ROCK-STABILITY OF GOD. This is the first inquiry. Can God

be trusted as truly stable? The answer is that He is a Rock, and that upon

His veracity and justice and helpfulness we can constantly rely. Moses and

the Israelites had experienced this; as they wandered amid the rocky

fastnesses of the desert, they had found Him as firm and as reliable as the

rocks. Up to this time, the figure had not been applied to God. The

Israelites have, indeed, from the hard and flinty rock, had refreshing

streams; the rock was to them a fountain of waters; and doubtless when

here the figure is for the first time applied to God, they would find it

delightful to associate refreshment and shelter with him. Then in course of

time it became a favorite figure, as the Psalms in many passages show

(compare Psalms 28:1; 31:2-3; 42:9; 62:2,7; 78:20, 35; 95:1). And we

rejoice to call our Redeemer “Rock of Ages,” in the clefts of which,

according to Toplady’s idea, taken from Exodus 33:22, we can take

shelter and feel safe.


·         PATERNAL APPEAL. Although God is so worthy of trust, the

Israelites have corrupted themselves; they are unwilling to have upon them

the mark or spot of the children of God, but the mark of some other tribe;

and so as a Father He appeals to them because of their ingratitude. Has He

not made them, bought them, and established them, and, in consequence,

earned a right to different treatment from this? Fatherhood has rights by

reason of service which no grateful child can overlook.


·         PATERNAL FORESIGHT. He speaks next of the days of old, of the

years of many generations, which the fathers and elders could testify about,

during which time the Father was but implimenting His glorious plan,

separating and scattering the sons of Adam according to the interests and

number of the children of Israel. At Babel and the subsequent migrations

of men, “God so distributed the earth among the several peoples that were

therein, as to reserve, or in His sovereign counsel to appoint, such a part for

the Israelites, though they were then unborn, as might prove a commodious

settlement and habitation for them.”  Noble foresight, that is worthy of an

everlasting and infinite Father.


·         PATERNAL INSTRUCTION. One element in fatherhood is a sense of

possession in the children. The father rejoices that the children are his, and

will not part readily with his portion. So with God. “The Lord’s portion is

His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.” (v. 9)  Out of this sense of

property comes the improvement of the children by faithful instruction.

Hence Israel were led into the wilderness, and their Father found them there,

and led them about, instructing them, and keeping them as “the apple of

the eye.”  It was the Father educating them through His own companionship,

and leading them onwards in safety towards their home.


·         PARENTAL DISCIPLINE. The song introduces (v. 11) the figure

of the eagle, and the motherly discipline to which she subjects her brood.

Naturalists tell us that when her young are old enough to fly, the eagle

breaks her nest in pieces, in order to compel them to use their powers of

flight; fluttering over them, that by imitation they may learn how to employ

their wings, but, when unwilling to fly, spreading abroad her wings, she

bears them upwards in the air, and then shaking them off, compels them to

use their own exertions.”   From this Mr. Hull deduces the truth that “the

Divine discipline of life is designed to awaken man to the development of

his own powers.” We see thus the kindness of the parental discipline, and

that it takes motherhood as well as fatherhood to illustrate the Divine

relation (compare Isaiah 49:15).


·         PARENTAL BLESSING. Having exercised such parental care over

the people, the result was abundant temporal success and blessing. This is

beautifully brought out as a “riding upon the high places of the earth.”

(v. 13)  And then the whole panorama of agricultural prosperity is presented,

the increase of the fields” providing bread, the rocks affording shelter for

the bees which extracted abundant honey from the flowers, the olives clinging

to the flinty rocks and affording abundance of oil, while the kine in the fat

pastures gave butter, and the sheep milk, and the lambs were choice food,

and the rams of the breed of Bashan, while the finest wheat and the purest

wine made the lot of Israel princely. It was a land of promise surely which

supplied their wants in such a fashion. God’s goodness was exceeding

great.  (Compare Psalm 81:16)


The “fatherhood of God” had thus its grand exemplification in the history

of Israel. A Father who was firm as the rocky fastnesses around them and

as reliable; who provided for His children long before they were born; who

instructed and disciplined them, and brought them eventually to a splendid

inheritance, — might well look for their trust and obedience. The Lord

shows a similar fatherly care still to all men, even those who do not return

a filial spirit; and if, in His grace, they yield at length to His paternal appeals,

then He comes and gives them a fellowship such as they never dreamed of.

“He that loveth me,” saith Jesus, shall be loved of my Father, and I will

love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).   (He and the

Father also will come “and make our abode with him.”  - ibid. v. 23 –

CY – 2020)



                                    Ungrateful Men Interrogated (vs. 5-14)


In almost every clause of this paragraph there is some specific allusion, for

the elucidation (make something clear, clarification – [for the modern Progressive

of this era, “just to be clear, let us be clear, let me be clear, etc.] – CY – 2020)

for the modern proof which the reader will refer to the Exposition. The central

words around which the preacher’s expository thoughts may gather are these —

“Do ye thus requite the Lord?” Three main lines of illustration are suggested.





Ø      There is the mercy of redemption. “Is not he thy Father that hath



Ø      There is the mercy of Divine choice of Israel as a people. “Hath he not

made thee, and established thee?” (see also vs. 7-8).

Ø      There is Divine leadership. “He led him about,” etc.

Ø      There is Divine guardianship. “He kept him as the apple of His eye.”

Ø      There is Divine help and training of the most tender kind. A wonderful

description is given thereof in v. 11.

Ø      There is abundant Divine provision for the wants of the ransomed ones

(vs. 13-14). Each one of these six points may be enlarged upon, as

applicable to present gospel blessings and providential mercies.



MERCY, The burden of Moses here is not unlike that of a far later

prophet, even Isaiah (see Isaiah 1:2-4). The moan of many of God’s

prophets has been the same ever since; it is so now. The contrast between

God’s bounty and man’s perversity causes a grief almost too heavy to be

borne. (Once again, consult Psalm 81:11-16 – CY – 2020)  Here are at least

five complaints.


Ø      They are corrupt.

Ø      They are perverse, or false.

Ø      They are crooked, twisted.

Ø      They are foolish, not acting as reasonable men.

Ø      Instead of being like His children, they are a spot upon them

            stain (see Hebrew).


The question may fairly be asked, Who are they of whom similar

complaints may be made now?


We reply:


Ø      Those who profess to be the people of God, and who show no signs

      whatever that their profession is real.

Ø      Those of God’s children who are but half-hearted in their love and zeal.

      (see Revelation 3:16)

Ø      Those who are ready with lip-service, but are grievously defective in

Christian morality.

Ø      Those who have neither yielded themselves to God nor yet made any

      profession thereof.


Of all such, similar complaints may be made to those here laid against Israel

of old.


·         HERE IS A REASONABLE QUESTION. It is, indeed, a reproachful

one. And if ever the servants of God now take it up and apply it to the

heart and conscience of their hearers, it should be done with the utmost

tenderness, even unto tears; remembering, on the one hand, how infinitely

greater the mercies of God are now, compared with aught that Moses

knew; and also considering themselves, how often they have been as

ungrateful Israel of old, and that, if it had not been for ALMIGHTY

GRACE, would have been UNGRATEFUL STILL!   The solemn and

sorrowful interrogative “Do ye thus requite the Lord?” — may be

pressed home in a series of cumulative inquiries. It may be asked:


Ø      Is this the natural return for mercies so great?

Ø      Do not such love and care demand a holy and grateful life?

Ø      Can any reason whatever justify so poor a response as God has yet


Ø      Have men no remorse in the review of the contrast between God’s

mercies and their/OUR SIN?

Ø      Should not remorse lead on TO REPENTANCE?

Ø      And shall not this penitent life begin NOW? (“TODAY IS THE

      DAY OF SALVATION!”  Isaiah 49:8; II Corinthians 6:2)


It is quite certain that, though God is long-suffering, “not willing that any

should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9), He will

not always allow His mercies to be thus trifled with (see Genesis 6:3; Amos

ch. 4). But why, why should men compel us to present thus “the terrors

of the Lord?” (II Corinthians 5:11)  He would rather win by love. 

Judgment is “His strange work.”



History’s Testimony for God (vs. 7-14)


A defective character often results from mental indolence. Men do not use

their faculties. Did they consider, reflect, and ponder, they would be bettor

men. To call into activity all our powers is an imperative and sacred duty.

For this purpose God has given them. Whose am I? whence have I come?

what is my business in life? what are my obligations to my Maker? — these

are questions possessing transcendent interest, and are vital to our joy. Ask

intelligently and thoroughly; then act upon the answers. God’s careful

provision for Israel had been long-continued, thoughtful, special (see

Isaiah 5:1-5).  No less, probably greater, has been his considerate and far-seeing

provision for us.




Ø      Our earth has for untold ages been undergoing preparation as a

suitable dwelling-place for man. Rocks have been formed for man’s

use, treasures of coal and metals have been stored up for his advantage.

The soil has been pulverized to receive his seed. A marvelous and

painstaking preparation has been made.


Ø      Equally conspicuous is God’s wisdom in selecting special territory for

special nations. Amidst all the hurly-burly of war, the unseen hand of

God has “divided to the nations their inheritance” (v.8).  Oceans and

rivers, mountains and deserts, have been God’s walls of partition.


Ø      All these selections have been subordinate to Israel’s welfare. All the

lines of God’s government met here. To Israel’s good everything was

to bend.


Ø      The reason of this is declared. “The Lords portion is His people.”

(v.9).   Some location on earth was to be reserved for Jehovah. He

too had chosen a dwelling-place, an inheritance. And His habitation

was in the hearts of His people Israel. “For to that man will I look,

 and with him dwell, who is of an humble and contrite spirit and

trembleth at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)  “Jacob is the lot of His

inheritance.” (v.9)




Ø      Apart from God, earth would be a barren desert. Man’s environment,

where God is not, would be discordant, unsuitable, painful. The

flowers and fruits of life are divinely provided.


Ø      Inscrutable are the methods of God’s training. “He led him about”

(v.10).  A masterly hand is in the matter, and we are very incompetent

critics. Those marches and counter-marches in the wilderness were all

needful to nourish robust courage and simple faith in the Hebrews. In

God’s arrangements no waste is permitted.


Ø      Tenderest kindness is here expressed. “He kept him as the apple of His

eye”  (Ibid.).  We count the eye among our most precious endowments.

It is protected by the most clever contrivances. No part of the body is

so delicate or so susceptible of pain. So God regards His chosen people.

As a man guards from harm his eye, so God guards His own.


Ø      Consummate skill was expended to develop the best qualities of Israel.

This is set forth by a piece of impressive imagery. As the eagle knows

the perils of indolence, and is anxious to train her young brood to early

self-exertion, she breaks up the nest, takes the eaglets on her strong

pinions, bears them heavenward, shakes them free, then, as they sink,

darts beneath them, bears them up again, and encourages them to seek

the sun; so, by a thousand kind devices, God taught His people “to seek

the things which are above.” (Colossians 3:2).  So precious an end is

worthy of the largest expenditure of means.



GOD. In proportion as man has loyally served his God, man has gained

earthly dominion. To Adam was accorded sovereignty over all living things

in air, or earth, or sea; and of the second Adam we read, “Thou hast put

all things under his feet”  (I Corinthians 15:27).


Ø      Victory over enemies is secured. “He made him ride on the high

places of the earth” (v.13).  Every mountain fortress was, one by one,

possessed. To ride is significant of military conquest. The triumphs

of Israel were swift, signal, and complete.


Ø      The peaceful conquest of nature followed. To the arts of industry, the

earth yielded in sevenfold profusion. The olives on the rugged hills

filled their presses with oil. Wild bees toiled early and late to lay up

stores of honey. Their cattle, plentifully fed, yielded butter and milk

in abundance.  (So also God has provided for the United States

now that we are in the process of turning our back on Him, we

are starting to feel the consequences and “O, how we howl!”

It is as if we can’t take it and “the little selfish imp tries to wiggle

himself into notice somehow!” – CH Spurgeon – CY – 2012)

Under the curse of civil strife and petty feuds of the Canaanites,

crops had been devastated, and flocks had been destroyed. Now,

peace reigned in every valley, and the very trees blossomed with

ruddy gladness. Hill and plain poured their unceasing tributes at

the feet of lordly man.


  • The SOLE AUTHOR of this splendid inheritance is GOD!   THE

LORD ALONE did lead him.”  “BY HIMSELF” -  (Hebrews 1:3).

The deities of the Amorites (if they had any power at all)

had bestowed on their votaries an inheritance of lust and war and ruin.

(Basically, their own ideas and vulgar thoughts – “They that make them

are like unto them; so is everyone that trusteth in them.” – Psalm 115:8 –

CY – 2012)  In whatever respect Israel’s inheritance was a contrast, it

was due to the beneficence of Jehovah. He had blessed them with an

ungrudging hand.  Twas the indulgence of his native instinct to give

and to make glad. NO SANE MAN among them could reach any other

conclusion than that JEHOVAH WAS THE GIVER OF ALL!  And

with one voice they should have rung with many hearty hallelujahs:

“The Lord hath done great things for us whereof we are glad.”

(Psalm 126:3).  The gift was unique. It was conspicuously a deed of grace.



Israel Ungrateful Return for the Lord’s Benefits (vs. 15-18)


15 “But Jeshurun” - This name, formed from rc"y;, righteous, designates Israel as

chosen to be a righteous nation; and in the use of it here lies the keenest reproach

 of apostate Israel, as fallen into a state the opposite of that to which it was

destined.  By using the name righteous in place of Israel, Moses ironically censures

those who had swerved from rectitude; by recalling to memory with what dignity they

had been endowed, he the more sharply rebukes the perfidy which was their crime.

(Compare the United States demeaning itself as well – CY – 2012). This

name appears also in ch.33:5, 26, and in Isaiah 44:2; but in these places without any

implied censure - “waxed fat, and kicked:” - (compare ch.6:11; 8:10; 31:20).

The allusion is to an ox that had grown fat through good feeding, and had become

unmanageable in consequence - “thou art waxen fat, thou art grown  thick, thou

art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and  lightly

esteemed” -    The Hebrew is strongly expressive  here: Thou hast treated as a fool

 (נִבֵּל, from נָבַל; to be foolish (compare Micah 7:6) - “the Rock of his salvation.”


16 “They provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations

provoked they Him to anger.” They provoked Him to jealousy. God had bound

Israel to Himself as by the marriage bond, and they by their unfaithfulness had

incited Him to jealousy (compare ch.31:16; Exodus 34:15; Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 1.).

Strange gods (compare Jeremiah 2:25; 3:13).


17 “They sacrificed unto devils,” - shedim, a word which occurs only here and

Psalm 106:37. It stands connected with the verb שׁוּד, to rule, and means primarily

“lords.” The Septuagint renders by δαιμόνια daimonia - demons. In Assyrian it

is said to be a name for demigodsn - “not to God;” - rather, to a not God, a

composite term in apposition to shedim; the meaning is rightly given in the margin of

the Authorized Version, “which were not God”  - “to gods whom they knew

not, to new gods that came newly up,” -  The word rendered by “newly” (קָרוב)

properly means “near;” it is an adjective both of place and of time; here it is the

latter, equal to of a near time, recently — gods recently invented or discovered -

 “whom your fathers feared not.”


18 “Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten

God that formed thee.”  Moses here returns to the thought of v. 15, for the

Purpose of expressing it with greater force, and also of leading on to the description

he is about to give of the Lord’s acts towards the nation who had so revolted from

Him. Thou art unmindful;  Septuagint -  ἐγκατέλιπες engkatelipes -  to

desert, forsake or leave - That formed thee; literally, that brought thee forth

or caused thee to be born.



        God Provoked to Jealousy by an Unfaithful People (vs. 15-18)


This paragraph is a continuation of the same theme as that touched on in preceding

verses. It not only sets forth the waywardness of the people but is a prophecy.

Moses sees the people in the enjoyment of all the blessings of God’s providence;

he looks onward, and, with the seer’s eye, he beholds them in the Promised Land,

their wanderings over, and their marches hither and thither exchanged for a settled

life in a land of plenty and of delight. There they are prospering abundantly;

and if they only used their prosperity aright they would be doubly blessed, even with

that blessing which maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow therewith”  (Proverbs

10:22).  But, alas! how different is the picture here drawn! And how precisely did the

after-reality answer thereto! There is in these verses a logical order of thought, in the

sketch given, first, of Israel’s downward course; and then, of the effect of that

on the relations between them and their God.



IN THE MIDST OF WORLDLY PROSPERITY.  There are four steps in

the descent:


Ø      Prosperity generates willfulness, and a resistance to the Divine claims.

If men can have their own way entirely, for a while, and secure precisely

Their own ends, such success, if not sanctified, will but create a self-will and

self-assertion stronger than ever. Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked.” The

restraints of duty, conscience, and God, will be irksome, and will provoke to

resistance. Men will “kick against the pricks.”  (Acts 9:5)  (When I first

started coaching in 1966, it was under Roy Woolum.  He had a saying in

dealing with the basketball team, “You guys can’t stand prosperity!”

This the team had in common with the Israelites and apparently, with

the citizenry of the United States today! – CY – 2012)


Ø      Another stage will surely follow on. The irritation which was at first felt

will subside, and insensibility will steal over the soul. “Thou art waxen fat,

thou art grown thick.” Stubborn obstinacy without the former stings of

conscience leads to  “Past feeling” (Ephesians 4:19) – which is a terrible



Ø      To this there will follow a third stage. “He forsook God... and lightly

esteemed the Rock of his salvation.” Here there sets in A THINKING


How true is the picture here given to the actual progress of sin in the

soul everywhere!


Ø      Then the problem is compounded!  To this succeeds not only neglect of

God, but the substitution of other gods (vs. 16-17)! This actually came

about (see Jeremiah 2., specially v. 13). The heart of man must have a

supreme object of love (Why?  God designed us that way! – CY  - 2012);

and if God be not enthroned in the heart, some rival will be seated there.


Note — How very little all possible worldly good can do for a man unless

there is a process of spiritual renewal and culture going on, which will

enable him to sanctify all to the highest purposes! Yea, more. If worldly

prosperity is not sanctified to God and by Him, it will be as a dead weight

upon the spirit. It will engender, first resistance, then deadness, then

estrangement, then idolatry! This is the sure and certain effect of an

accumulation of worldly good, when its possessor is not led by Divine

grace to use it wisely and piously. It is an evil much to be lamented that so

many glory in the accumulation of things, while neglecting the culture and

education of their souls. It brings with it aa prodigious strength of self-will,

without the knowledge of self-government.  (The United States has

achieved this stage as I write  - CY – 2012)  And of all men in the world,

they are of the least use to their generation.  (This is brought home to us

as we decline as a nation of influence in the world!  - Why?  Because it

is a natural result of sin in the world!  - CY – 2012)


o       How May Such Evil Be Guarded Against?.”


§         Let us regard our souls as of infinitely more important

than our possessions. What we are is beyond measure

of more concern than what we have. Our culture for

eternity is of the first importance.


§         Let us from the outset of life regard God as the Author of

all good, and as therefore having the first claim on our regard.


§         Let us cultivate the devotional habit of receiving all our

temporal comforts as from God. If we have used means to

secure them, He it is who has given us the means to use; who

has given us the power to use them, and who has made those

means a success.


§         Let us seek wisdom from above to hallow all our good for

God, and to “honor the Lord with our substance, and

 with the first-fruits of all our increase” (Proverbs 3:9 –

see comments about tithing in ch.14:22 – this web site).


§         Conscious of the deceitfulness of the human heart, let us

entreat our God to fill us with the power of the Spirit,

 as well as to give us providential mercies. Then, the first

will ensure the sanctification of the second. The larger our

possessions, the more we need of the Spirit of God, to ensure

their becoming a blessing, and to prevent their becoming a



o       If We Have Fallen into Such Evil, How May We be Recovered



§         Let the very suggestion that a spiritual paralysis may have

stolen over the soul, startle us into the inquiry. Is this the case

with us?


§         Let us inquire solemnly, “What shall it profit a man, if be

 shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life?”

(Mark 8:36)


§         Let us repent before God of the wrong we have done to Him

in seeking from creature comforts the joy which He alone

can give.


§         Let us implore His renewing and sanctifying grace to enlighten

our understandings, to regulate our affections, to mold our will,

to empower and transform our life. If God fills us by His grace,

then will earthly good be sanctified. Our God will be our

 richest joy of all, He will be our Shield and Exceeding

Great Reward!” (Genesis 15:1) - and every worldly

comfort will yield us double joy, when hallowed by Him and

for Him.



                                                Jeshurun (vs. 15-18)


·         A GOOD NAME BELIED. Jeshurun, equivalent to righteous. An

honorable name, but sadly falsified by the conduct described. How many

Jeshuruns have thus forsaken the God of their early vows! Notice, a good

name is of no account without the good character. Balaam praised Israel’s

righteousness, and wished to “die the death of the righteous” (Numbers

23:10, 21); but it is the being righteous, not the being called so, which

makes the happy deathbed.


·         AS EVIL EFFECT OF PROSPERITY. “Waxed fat — kicked.” How

common! The effect foretold or warned against in earlier chapters

(ch. 8:12-18, etc.).


Ø      Prosperity,

Ø      then pride,

Ø      then stubborn self-willedness.


The self willed heart:


Ø      refuses to submit to God’s government;

Ø      throws off the memory of past obligations,

Ø      treats God with ill-concealed indifference

      and dislike; and,

Ø      turns from THE TRUE GOD to gods of its own choosing.


There are two steps in the great apostasy:


Ø      forsaking the fountain of living waters, and

Ø      hewing out broken cisterns, that can hold no water!

(Jeremiah 2:13).


Such conduct is:


(1) wicked,

(2) ungrateful,

(3) irrational,

(4) fatal (vs. 22-25).


·         RESULT OF AN ITCH FOR NOVELTY. (v. 17.) The newness of

the gods was a chief attraction. The worship of them was a change, a

novelty. It pleased them by variety.


Ø      When God has been abandoned, men are at the mercy of the most trivial

influences. “Itching ears” (II Timothy 4:3); “every wind of doctrine”

(Ephesians 4:14).


Ø      When God has been abandoned, novelty is greedily accepted as a

substitute for truth, in theories, in creeds, in styles of worship, in

religious nostrums.  (Half-time shows at the latest NFL Super

Bowl would not be far off in parallel results.  CY – 2020)


Ø      Apostasy from God means transference of the affections to that which is

degrading. In this case to “destroyers,” so the word means; devils,

malignant deities. But we worship devils, or the devil who offers each

of us the proposition, as he did with Jesus Christ, “All these things will

I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”  (Matthew 4:9),

when we bow in spirit to the world’s modes and shows; when we serve

gold, or fashion, or the opinion of society; when we are slaves to lust of

power; when we bow to a false gnosis, etc.




                        The Danger of Worldly Success (vs. 15-18)


Success, when granted, bids for men’s trust. They begin accordingly to

insinuate that the reliable Rock who begat them is not the source of all

success, and that the rill may be tracked to some nearer source. Hence new

gods, novelties of man’s imagination, or demons from the waste, grateful

for even a false faith, are worshipped; and the ever-living and true God

FORGOTTEN !   Apostasy and scepticism, we would repeat, are born of luxury

and success. Men think, because they are rich, that they can do bravely

without God.



SUCCESS. Many a man was more religious when poor than after he

became rich. Increase of riches needs increase of grace; and, if men are not

watchful, riches only minister to backsliding. It is undesirable independence

which proves independence of God. Better to trust God in the absence of

wealth than to defy Him or ignore Him with it. Many a successful worldling

would have had more success in a poor station, through increase of faith

and of heart. The success was at the price of leanness being sent into his

soul.  (Psalm 106:15)



FOUND SACRIFICING TO THEIR FEARS. The credulity of unbelief is

one of the most curious questions of the time. When men deny God His due

reverence and ignore His existence, their fancy haunts them with new gods,

and powers whom they must propitiate — the luck and chance THAT THEY

ADVANCE TO THE THRONE.   The man alone is free from vain fears who

trusts in the living God; all others sooner or later prove adepts at new religions,

and are devotees at fancy shrines.



FORGETFULLNESS. Jealousy is the anger of ill-requited love. It is what

has been called, as already observed, “love-pain,” and is eminently worthy

of Him who is love itself. God cannot but feel He deserves man’s love; He

cannot but desire it; He longs for it more intensely than ever love-sick one

among the children of men has longed; and when He sees the love He

deserves made over to another, when He sees His life of love and death of

love ignored, — is it not eminently reasonable that He should be jealous

and have His holy anger stirred?


Herein lies the danger, then, of success. It may decoy the unguarded soul

to mean fears and fancy shrines, and lead at length to the encountering of

that jealousy which a God of love most justly entertains. Hence the prayer

of souls should be that:


Ø      with success may come watchfulness;

Ø      with fatness may come faith;

Ø      that out of goodness may come repentance.


Then success may help and not hinder. Successful saints become a blessing to

their kind, and make success a stewardship. “It takes a steady hand to carry

a full cup;” so says the proverb. Blessed be God, amid many shaky hands,

unequal to the task, there is a select few that carry their success in a cool,

conscientious fashion!



     God’s Casting Off of Israel Because of their Rebellion (vs. 19-33)


19 “And when the LORD saw it, He abhorred them, because of the

provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.”  When the Lord saw how they had

departed from Him to serve idols, He abhorred (rather, spurned or rejected) them

in consequence of the provocation which their unworthy conduct had given Him.


20 “And He said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall

be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.”

God Himself comes forth to announce His resolution to withdraw His favor from them,

and to inflict chastisement upon them; He would withdraw His protecting care of them,

and see how they would fare without that; and He would also send on them the tokens

of His displeasure. A very froward generation, etc.; literally, a generation of

perversities, an utterly perverse and faithless race.


21 “They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have

provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy

with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish

nation.” Because they had moved God to jealousy and provoked Him to anger by

their vanities, their nothingnesses, mere vapors and empty exhalations  (μyl;b]hi;

Jeremiah 10:6; I Corinthians 8:4); as they had forsaken Him for  a no-God, He

would send retribution on them by adopting as His a no-people, and  giving to a

foolish nation, i.e. a nation not before possessed of that true wisdom the

beginning of which is the fear of the Lord, the privileges and blessings which

Israel had forfeited by their apostasy. By “a no-people” is not to be understood a

savage tribe not yet formed into a community, but a people without God, and not

recognized by Him as in covenant union with Him (compare Romans 10:19;

Ephesians 2:12; I Peter 2:10).


 22 “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest

hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the

foundations of the mountains.”  (Compare Jeremiah 15:14; 17:4; Lamentations

4:11.) The lowest hell; the lowest sheol, the uttermost depth of the under-world.

The Hebrew sheol (שְׁאול) answering to the Greek ἅδης hadesgrave – hell –

 by which it is usually rendered by the Septuagint, is a general designation of the

unseen state, the place of the dead. By some the word is derived from שָׁאַל; to

ask, because sheol is ever asking, is insatiable (Proverbs 30:16); but more probably

it is from a root signifying to excavate, to hollow, and, like the German holle,

means primarily a hollow place or cavern. The Divine wrath kindles a consuming fire,

that burns down to the lowest depths — to the deepest part of sheolconsumes

the earth’s produce, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. This does not

refer to any particular judgment that was to befall the national Israel, but is a general

description of the effects of the Divine wrath when that is poured forth in judgments

on men.


23 “I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.”

I will inflict on them so many calamities that none shall remain. The evils sent on

men by God are represented as arrows shot on them from above. (Compare v.42;

Job 6:4; Psalm 7:13; 38:2; 45:5; 58:7; Zechariah 9:14).


24 “They shall be burnt with hunger,” -  render: Sucked out by hunger,

 consumed with pestilential heat, and bitter plague; I will send against them

 the tooth of beasts and the poison of things that crawl in the dust - “and

devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the

teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.”  The evils

threatened are  famine, pestilence, plague, wild beasts, poisonous reptiles, and war.

When hunger, pestilence, and contagious disease had wasted and exhausted them,

then God would send on them wild beasts and poisonous reptiles. Shall be burnt.

The Hebrew word occurs only here; it is a verbal adjective, meaning, literally, sucked

out, Septuagint, τηκομένοι λιμῷ - taekomenoi limo - utterly exhausted;  Tooth

 of beasts and poison of serpents; poetical for ravenous and poisonous animals

(compare Leviticus 26:22).


25 “The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy” - literally, shall make

childless, shall bereave, viz. the land which is thought of as a mother whose children

were destroyed. The verb is here sensu praegnanti, shall bereave by destroying,

(compare I Samuel 15:23; Lamentations 1:20; Jeremiah 18:21) - “both the young

man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.”




                                    Sowing and Reaping (vs. 15-25)


The connection between sin and suffering is natural, organic, and universal.

Suffering, in some form, is the proper development of sin. Like the plants

of nature, sin has its seed within itself.




Ø      It was a wanton abuse of special kindness. The splendid gifts of

providence, which ought to have bound them by golden ties of obligation

to God, were erected into barriers to shut out God from them. An inner

principle of selfish perverseness turned all food into poison. Instead of

gratitude, there was scoffing; instead of loyalty, there was insolence. So it

often happens that earthly wealth is an injury instead of a benefit. It detains

a man’s faith and delight on itself. He exalts his riches into a god. Entering

a man’s heart, as his professed friends, riches become his secret foes: they

sap the foundations of his piety; they degrade and stultify the man.


Ø      The flagrancy of sin is seen in the perversion of privilege. The Hebrews

had been chosen by God to a place of peculiar honor. They had been

admitted to a nearer access to his friendship than any other nation. God

had called them his sons and daughters. Nothing of good had God withheld

from them. For these privileged persons to turn their backs on God, and

act as traitors to their Lord, was sin of more than ordinary flagrancy. If

such fall from their allegiance, how great must be their fall!


Ø      The course of sin proceeds by perceptible stages. Sin often begins by

culpable omissions. There is first negative good, then positive offence. The

people began their downward course by being “unmindful” of their Maker.

Their sense of dependence on God declined. Then they quite forgot the

God who had so often rescued them. The next stage was openly to forsake

God. They avoided His presence, neglected His worship. Soon they “lightly

esteemed their Deliverer. If they thought of Him at all, it was only to look

down on Him — yea, to despise Him. Yet in a condition of atheism they

could not long remain. Their nature demanded that they should worship

somewhat. So they set up strange deities; they sacrificed unto demons.

They provoked to jealousy, and to just indignation, the God of Israel.

Beyond this it was impossible for human rebellion to proceed.


Ø      Sin leads to a terrible alternative, viz. the worship and service of devils.

There is no middle place at which a man can halt. He either grows up into

the image of God or into the image of Satan.




Ø      It was the reversal of former good. He who aforetime had promised

them prolific plenty now threatens to “consume the earth with her

increase.” Instead of the sunlight of His favor, He was about to “hide His

face from them.” The wheels of providence were to be reversed, and the

effect would be to overthrow and to crush them.


Ø      Gods judgments are tardy. He did not smite at once. His first strokes

were comparatively light, and then He patiently waited what the effect

might prove. “I will see what their end shall be.” The long-suffering of God

is an immeasurable store. He “is slow to anger.” Attentively He listens, if so

be He may catch some sigh of penitence. “I have surely heard Ephraim

bemoaning himself.” (Jeremiah 31:18)


Ø      We may observe here the equity of Gods procedure. By making His

punishments, in great measure, like the sins, the Hebrews would the readier

detect their folly and guilt. They had forsaken God: therefore God will

hide His face from them.” They had “lightly esteemed” God: therefore He

wilt abhor them. They had “excited His jealousy,” by choosing another

object of worship: He will excite their jealousy by choosing another nation

to fill their place. They had provoked His anger by their choice of vanities:

He will provoke their anger by supplanting them with a foolish nation.”

The emotions which exist in man have their correspondences in the nature

of God. Thus, by stupendous condescension, God accommodates His

messages to human understanding — employs a thousand comparisons by

which to impress our hearts.


Ø      Gods agents to execute His behests are numerous and terrible. A few

only are mentioned here, but these may serve as samples of others.

Material forces are pressed into service.


o        The atmosphere will be a conveyer of pestilence.

o        Fire is a well-known minister of God.

o        Earthquake and volcano have often been commissioned to fulfill

Jehovah’s will.

o        As a skilled warrior aims well his deadly arrows upon his foes,

so God sends His lightnings abroad out of His quiver.

o        Famine is decreed: “they shall be burnt with hunger.”

o        Sickness and fever shall follow: they shall be “devoured with

         burning heat.”

o        Pestiferous insects shall assail them,

o        wild beasts shall overrun the land.

o        The sword of the invader shall fall with ruthless violence

upon young and old — upon babe and veteran. They who escape

from one peril shall fall under another.


From the hand of God release is impossible.





            An Unfaithful People Provoked to Jealousy by God

                                                (vs. 19-25)


This paragraph is the antithesis of the preceding one. In form the

expressions are archaic. The principles underlying these ancient forms of

expression are for all the ages. In fact, there are few of the Old Testament

passages which are more pointedly referred to in the New Testament; and

none, the principles of which are more frequently reproduced. The various

clauses are seriatim (point by point) explained in the Exposition. We propose but

to develop the main thought, which is indicated in the heading of this Homily.

Its contents are fourfold.


1. God was provoked to jealousy by His people choosing a no-God instead

    of Him.

2. The time would come when He would, as a punishment to Israel, choose

    a no-people instead of them.

3. Those who had been exalted in privilege should be deprived of their

    privileges, and should pass through the bitterest sorrows.

4. At the thought of their privileges passing away from them, and passing

    on to others, Israel should be provoked to jealousy.


Now, it would be a most instructive and impressive exercise to compare

what is here said by God in His Word with that which actually came to

pass. What does history say? Does it not confirm Moses at every point?

The facts of history are these:


1. The people of Israel did fall away from the God of their fathers, and

    bring upon themselves the remonstrance of prophet after prophet, and were

    made in the course of God’s providence to suffer sorrow upon sorrow.

2. The time did come when the kingdom of God passed away from them,

    and when they were no longer, as they once had been, the favored people.

3. That kingdom of God passed over to the Gentiles.  (Acts 28:28)

4. At its so passing over, the Jews were exceedingly jealous and angry.

5. So much so was this the case, that Paul makes use of the fact in

    arguments to quicken both the Jew and the Gentile, as the case may be.


The following passages of Scripture should be carefully compared

together, bearing as they do alike on the history, the principles revolved

therein, and their everlasting application:


  1. Romans 10:19;
  2. Matthew 8:11-12; 21:31, 43;
  3. Acts 13:46;
  4. Romans 9:30-32; 11:11;
  5. Hosea 1:10 (latter part);
  6. Romans 9:25-26;
  7. I Peter 2:10;
  8. Ephesians 2:11-13;
  9. Romans 11:13-25.


From all which several all important truths of permanent significance may

be clearly deduced and powerfully applied.



US. True, we are not exclusively a favored race, in the same sense as was

Israel of old. But our advantages are not less because others share them

with us. We have all that Israel ever had, and vastly more. “The kingdom

of God is come unto us.” The “word of faith” is nigh us, in our mouth and

in our heart. We are bidden to “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh

away the sin of the world,”  (John 1:29)




GOD. We have but to read the Epistle to the Hebrews in order to find such

an argument as this repeatedly presented, though in varying forms: If the

Law of Moses was trifled with by any one, they did not escape punishment.

But Jesus Christ is greater than Moses. By as much as He is greater than

Moses, by so much are the sin and danger of neglecting Him greater than

those of neglecting the lawgiver of old.




PRIVILEGES ARE CONTINUED. (See Isaiah 49:8; II Corinthians

6:2; Luke 13:6-9; Revelation 2:5, 21; Luke 19:42-44.) An unending

probation is granted to no one.











KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AND BE SAVED; while many of the children

of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. Hear what our Lord

says to the Pharisees: “The publicans and harlots will go into the kingdom

            of God before you.”  (Matthew 21;31)


26 “I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance

of them to cease from among men:  27  Were it not that I feared the wrath of

the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and

lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the LORD hath not done all this.”

Israel’s desert was to be utterly destroyed, but God refrained from this for His own

Name’s sake. I said, I would scatter them into corners; rather, I should say,

I will blow them away, i.e. disperse them as by a mighty wind. The verb here is

the Hiph, of פָאָה, to breathe, to blow, and is found only here. The rabbins make

it a denominative from פֵאָה, a corner, and this the Authorized Version follows;

others trace it to an Arabic root, פאא, amputavit, excidit, and render,

“will cut them off.”  The idea intended to be conveyed is obviously that of entire

destruction, and this is not satisfied by the representation of their being scared or

driven into corners. Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy. Various

renderings and interpretations of this passage have been given.



  • Were it not that I feared the provocation of the enemy, i.e. that I should

be provoked to wrath by the enemy ascribing the destruction of Israel to

their own prowess.


  • Were it not that I feared a wrath upon the enemy, with much the same



  • Were it not that I feared the fury of the enemy, i.e. against Israel

feared lest the enemy should be encouraged to rise up against Israel and

ascribe their destruction to their own valor. Of these that most generally

approved is the first. (On this reason for sparing Israel, see ch. 9:28;

Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13-16, Isaiah 10:5-7; Ezekiel 20:13-14.)


Should behave themselves strangely; rather, should mistake or falsely pretend.

The verb is the Piel of נָכַר; to look upon, to mark, and conveys the idea of looking

on askance or prejudicially, hence being ignorant of, mistaking, feigning, or falsely

pretending. Our hand is high; rather, was high, i.e. was mighty in power.



The cause of Israel’s rejection was that they were a people utterly destitute of

counsel and without understanding. Had they been wise, they would have

 looked to the end, and acted in a way conducive to their own welfare,




                                    A God Provoked (vs. 19-27)


Consider here:


·         THE REALITY OF WRATH IN GOD. Let it not be minimized or

explained away. “Instead of being shocked at the thought that God is

wrathful, we should rather ask, With whom? and For what? A God without

wrath, and a God who is wrathful on other accounts than for sin, is not a

God, but an idol” (Hengstenberg). It is only, as this writer observes, when

man himself is not displeased with sin, when it assumes to him the

appearance of a bagatelle (pin ball game),” that he no longer perceives why

God should feel wrath at it. But man, we may observe, is by no means disposed

to treat lightly sins against HIMSELF! He never feels that he does not “do well

to be angry” (as Jonah, Jonah 4:4) on account of these or against the person

who does them. A very slight wound to his honor makes him clamor for

satisfaction. A God who is incapable of moral indignation would be equally

incapable of moral love, and could not, with truth, be spoken of as dispensing

mercy. Wrath and love are opposite poles of one affection. Where there is no

offence, there needs no forgiveness.



TERRIBLE IN ITS EFFECTS. Two aspects of its operation are:


Ø      Leaving men to themselves (v. 20). When God hides His face from

them, there need be little doubt what the “end” will be. Yet can the

sinner complain if he is at length permitted to eat the fruit of the



Ø      Heaping on them positive inflictions (vs. 22-25). It is a fire, burning to

destroy them. It is noteworthy that the conflagration of the Divine wrath

is represented as not only taking in sheol, but as widening till it embraces

THE WHOLE EARTH!  (v. 22). This, in connection with the glimpse

at the calling of the Gentiles in v. 21, points to the future universal

extension of the outward DISPENSATION OF GRACE! The extension

of the kingdom of God brings all nations within the range of the

Messianic judgment (Matthew 25:31). The wrath of God is not

represented in less terrible colors in the New Testament than it

is in the Old. The individualized description of these verses (vs. 24-25)

figures out terrors of a future life too painful to allow the mind to

dwell upon them.



      not at least so long as hope of recovery remains. GOD WOULD FAIN MAKE


v. 21. Israel is not cast off forever. God is seeking to provoke it to jealousy

by a transference of His regard to the Gentiles. His retaliation has a merciful

as well as a wrathful design. Mercy waits ON EVERY SINNER, courting his




REGARD TO HIS HONOR. (vs. 26\-27.) God is jealous of His honor.

He will take from His adversaries the power of boasting against Him, by

marvelously restoring those who, had they received their full deserts,

would have been utterly destroyed. This stays His hand from expending His

wrath against them to the uttermost. We may read this otherwise, and say

that zeal for His honor leads God to spare them, that He may glorify His

Name by causing mercy to rejoice over judgment (James 2:13). THERE

IS MORE HONOR TO GOD here is in saving men than in destroying them.



Most especially the sins of His own people.


Ø      “No faith” - want of fidelity to vows.

Ø      Frowardness  - Stubbornly contrary and disobedient; obstinate,

        persistence in sin (v. 20).


Those who have stood in nearest relations to Him, who have enjoyed most

            favors, are those who will be most severely punished (Amos 3:2).


28“For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding

in them.  29 O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would

consider their latter end!”  If they were wise they would understand this,

 the end to which they were going, THE INEVITABLE ISSUE OF THE




                                    The True Wisdom (vs. 28-29)






Ø      The choice of right ends.

Ø      Of right means to secure these ends.

Ø      In harmony with a just and proportioned view of all the

circumstances of our situation.


When essential circumstances are omitted in the calculation, when the

horizon is unduly narrowed, when all-important factors of the situation are

left wholly out of account, — it is vain to speak of wisdom. Absolutely,

and as regards our standing as moral beings, wisdom embraces:


Ø      The choice of a true end, i.e. the choice, as our end in life, of

      that end for which we were created.

Ø      The practical sharing of conduct with a view to that end, and in

      the way best calculated to attain it. And this:

Ø      In view of all the circumstances of the case, i.e. with right



o       of God,

o       of the issues of moral conduct,

o       of eternity.


ü      What wisdom is more to be desired than this?

ü      What efforts ought to be put forth to attain it!  (If ever there was

something in the world to do “diligently”  [exercise thyself] – ch. 6:7 –

it should be in this matter!  CY – 2020)

ü      What incalculable value ought to be set upon it!




Ø      For the true end of life it substitutes a false one! The end for which we

were made is holinessthe service of God with all our powers of:


o       soul,

o       body, and

o       spirit.


In this consists:


o       our life,

o       our happiness, and

o       our well-being. (To this I will add an excerpt from notes on

various passages early in Deuteronomy.  CY – 2020)


Success in all enterprise is announced as an effect. “It shall be well

with thee.”  (v . 3; ch. 4:40; 5:16, 29, 33; 6:3, 18; 12:25, 28; 19:13; 22:7,

and Ephesians 6:3)


In pursuit of this end, our nature works harmoniously with itself, and

with the general constitution of the world. But sin substitutes for this

an end which:


o       violates,

o       disturbs, and

o       perverts


the harmony of EVERY SPHERE OF OUR EXISTENCE! of our



o       It asserts a false independence of the creation.

o       It bids us use our powers for self, and not for God.

o       It holds up as an end a shadowy good which is never


o       It cheats with insincere promises.


By perverting the nature, it gives to fleshly lusts:


o       a tyrannical predominance to the flesh.

o       It degrades the spirit to the position of a bondservant.


For unity there is thus established ANARCHTY (one of the signs

of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ – Matthew 24:12 – CY - 2020)


Each lust, as its own master, seeks an independent gratification.


Life in this way falls asunder (yea disintergrates) and no longer

has a proper end.  


THE STRIFE (in your body, soul and spirit) CONTINUES

UNTIL a new equilibrium is established by one lust or passion



Ø      For the true conduct of life it substitutes a course of conduct resting on

false bases. The false end yields its natural fruit in false principles of life.

The sinner’s whole career, whatever he may think of it himself, is one

issue of errors and illogicalities. If measured by the end he ought to set

before him, it is seen to be a course leading him wildly and hopelessly

astray. The more skillfully and assiduously he applies himself to his

ends, only the more conspicuously does he convict himself of folly.


Ø      Instead of taking all the factors of the case into account, it usually

leaves God and eternity out of it. This is that which most convincingly

brands the sinner’s course as folly. If God exists, and if He have the power

to bless or blast our schemes, and if in the end we have to meet Him as our

Judge, — it surely cannot be wisdom to leave this fact unnoticed. So, if

we are beings made for eternity, destined to exist forever, he must be a

fool who makes preparations for everything but for ETERNITY!   If,

again, the issues of obedience and sin are on the one hand life, and on

the other death, he must be insane who deliberately makes a preference

of the latter. Even if the choice is not deliberately made, but the eyes are

kept closed (“...willingly... ignorant” – II Peter 3:5 – CY – 2020) to the

issues, this does not alter the folly of the choice itself. We can see,

therefore, how a man may be most wise as regards this world, and yet

a very fool as regards the whole scope of his existence. He may be gifted,

talented, energetic, a shrewd man of the world, sagacious in pursuit of

earthly ends, yet totally blind to his eternal interests. He may be

neglecting the “one thing needful” (Luke 10:42):


o       making no preparation for a hereafter,

o       missing the end of his existence, and

o       treasuring up wrath and sorrow for himself at the end.


“Thou fool!” was the stern word of Heaven to a man who, in earthly

respects, was probably deemed very wise (Luke 12:20).   (One of

the most expressive scriptures, to me, in the whole Bible is

“If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous

mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”

ibid. ch. 16:11 – CY – 2020)




                        The Divine Mind Influenced by Reasons (vs. 20:28)


Moses, in uttering this song, is “borne along” (II Peter 1:21) by a power

working through him and yet not of him, to make a most remarkable

assertion in the Name of Jehovah; viz. that Israel’s Deliverer was moved by

fear of the wrath of the enemy not to destroy them altogether! How is this

to be understood? Some might perhaps pass it over as a piece of obsolete

anthropomorphism. So will not we. To us, many a sentence in the grand

old volume, which at first sight seemed uncouth and almost repellent in its

archaism, has on further study yielded up treasures of delight with which

we would not willingly part. Perhaps it may be so here.


Note: The verb “I said,” in v. 26, is rendered by Keil, “I should say.”

This shows the sense more clearly, “I should say, I will blow them away, I

will blot out the remembrance of them among men; if I did not fear wrath

upon the enemy [i.e. “displeasure on the part of God at the arrogant

boasting of the enemy, which was opposed to the glory of God” (Vitringa,

quoted by Keil, in loc.)] that their enemies might mistake it, that they

might say, Our hand was high, and Jehovah has not done all this. For,”

etc. If we analyze these words, we shall find that they are separable into six

main thoughts, expressed or implied.


1. That Israel was a people void of understanding.

2. That they consequently tried the patience of God, as falling very far

    below His ideal and their duty and honor.

3. That it would have been no great loss to the world if they should

    therefore be blotted out of being, and should actually drop out of the

    remembrance of the nations.

4. That if this extreme punishment should be meted out, then the adversary

    would glory over them and against them, and say that Israel’s God either

    could not or would not guard the people whom He chose: that their

    enemies were mightier than their Redeemer.

5. That such a result would veil the glory of Jehovah, and make men

    uncertain whether God had a special people in the world or no.

6. That consequently, for His own sake, God would punish, but in measure;

    He would scourge, but not destroy. Hence there stands forth this great and

    glorious truth, God will so govern and discipline  His people as to reveal

    His own glory in them and by them. This is the thought we now propose to

    develop in a series of considerations arranged according to the structure of

    the text.


·         GOD HAS AN ISRAEL NOW. (Ephesians 2; Hebrews 12:18-28.)

The redemption from Egypt, the march through the wilderness, the

formation of a commonwealth, the inheritance of Canaan, are all at once

symbolic and typical of a greater deliverance, a nobler commonwealth, a

spiritual pilgrimage, a heavenly home.


·         During the march of the Church of God through the wilderness of this


IDEAL SET BEFORE THEM. They try the patience of God, and excite

the wonder, the laughter, and the ridicule of man. Think of what has been

done in the name of religion! Think of the sharp controversies, the angry

words, and the prolonged strife of Christendom! Think of the number of

inconsistent professors, who cause our enemies to laugh among

themselves! etc.





________ IN THE WORLD; yea, that it might, with advantage to

mankind, have ceased to exist. For certain it is that the great God could,

even if his Church should become extinct, create a purer and nobler people

in their stead, who would honor him and bless the world!




would destroy the fellowship by sapping the life thereof. They would sap

the life by undermining the faith. And never more eagerly than now — they

are at work to educate men into the belief that God never had a people,

that the people never had a God, and that all the faith they have been

cherishing for ages has been based on a delusion and a lie!  (This sounds

to me like secular education of today trying to rewrite history!  CY – 2020)



ENEMY GLORY! They would say, “Our hand is high, and the Lord hath

not done all this.” If only the Church should be driven from her moorings,

if her anchor of hope should become unusable, and she should be drifted out

to a wild, pathless, shoreless sea, — what glorying there would be in the

enemy’s camp! “Ha, ha! so we would have it!” “How would the powers of

darkness boast if but one praying soul were lost!”



COUNSELS. It is just such a provision that is indicated in the text. God

will not let the “adversaries behave themselves strangely” in this way. They

will never have the chance! The Church is built on a rock, from which it

can never be dislodged. The day will never come when it will cease to

exist; And ever will God remember the word on which He has caused us to





own honor and glory in the eyes of men is too precious in His eye for Him

to let things so move on that all trace thereof is lost to His own people (compare

Isaiah 43:5; Ezekiel 36:21-22, 32; Psalm 106:7-8; Ezekiel 20:9, 14, 22).

See too what argument Daniel uses in prayer (Daniel 9:19). David also

(Psalm 25:11).  For the sake of His own honor, God will purify His Church

from all corruption by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning;

and while thus jealous for His people’s purity, He will as jealously watch

over them, so that “upon all the glory there shall be a defense” (Isaiah 4:2-6;

compare I Corinthians 11:32; I Peter 4:17).


·         IN CONCLUSION.


Ø      Let the righteous rejoice, yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. God’s

supreme aim is that His glory shall be revealed. The bringing of it

forth to clear light is the aim and tendency of events, without let

or pause.


Ø      Let all men clearly distinguish between the two providential processes

which are ever, ever in process of fulfillment:


o       One, the purification of the Church.

o       The other, the condemnation and confusion of the world.


Ø      Let the wicked tremble. Or if they are too benumbed to tremble, let

      them at least cease to make merry over the corruptions of the Church.

They may laugh now. They will not laugh always. The severing

processes of God’s judgment are going on now, and they will issue in

everlasting contemptto the ungodly, and in the redemption of Israel

from all his iniquities!




                        The Pleading of Divine Wisdom (vs. 20-29)


The judicial anger of God is not an uncontrollable passion; it acts in

harmony with infinite wisdom. The vast and varied interests of all God’s

creatures are tenderly considered in the act of judicial retribution. We have



·         GOD’S ESTIMATE OF HUMAN DESERT. Were guilty men alone to

be considered, no penalty would be too severe as the award for their high-

handed offences. Every vestige of merit has disappeared. The consensus of

all righteous beings requires unreserved condemnation. Nor can the

condemned offender himself escape this conclusion. When his conscience

awakes to ponder his guilt, he joins in his own condemnation; he confesses

the justice of his sentence. If the demerit of the sinner were the only

question to be solved, the answer would be at once forthcoming; the

verdict would be complete destruction.




Ø      The advantage of other races is, by God, taken into the account. What

effect upon other nations will the condign punishment of Israel have?

Will it make them self-confident, arrogant, defiant? The true king has

at heart the well-being of all His subjects.


Ø      The honor of God Himself must be taken into account. The public

reputation of God is indissolubly bound up with the well-being of His

intelligent creatures. His honor is dear to Him; for His honor is nothing

more than His native excellence illustrated and made known.


Ø      How graciously the Most High accommodates His speech to suit the

conceptions of men! As a man may fear the wrath of his foes, so God (to

bring his doings within the compass of the human understanding) speaks of

himself as the subject of fear. In our present state, we cannot rise to the

comprehension of God as he is; our knowledge of him is conditioned by

our limitations of mind.


·         GOD’S GRIEF FOR HUMAN FOLLY. The tender affection of God

in pleading with men to avoid sin is very impressive; but more impressive

still are His exclamations of grief when the final step has been taken, and

when, for many, recovery is impossible. Thus when Jesus looked down

from Olivet upon the guilty metropolis, and knew that the die was cast, He

nevertheless wept and said, “How often would I have gathered your

children, as a hen her brood; but ye would not! Behold, your house is left

unto you desolate!” (Matthew 23:38)  So too in the Psalms God thus speaks,

“Oh that my people had hearkened unto me! that Israel had walked in my

ways!”  (Psalm 81:13-16)  The measure of God’s love TRANSCENDS ALL

KNOWN LIMITS; its forms are infinite in their variety! When every remedial

measure has been tried in vain, love can only weep. (See II Chronicles





                                    God’s Pathetic Appeal to Men (v. 29)


Wisdom is far-seeing. Not content with estimating present experiences and

fortunes, it embraces the remoter issues of our choice; it takes in all the

possibilities of the future.











30 “How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to

flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut

them up?”  If Israel were wise, they could easily overcome all their foes

through the help of the Almighty (Leviticus 26:8); but having forsaken

Him, they were left by Him, and so came under the power of the enemy.


31 “For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves

being judges.”  The heathen had also a rock in which they trusted — their

idol-gods; but even they knew and felt that their rock was not as the Rock

of Israel, for, having often experienced the almighty power of God, they

could not but acknowledge that he was mightier far than the gods whom

they worshipped (compare Exodus 14:25; Numbers chapters 33 & 34.;

Joshua 2:9-11; I Samuel 5:7). Moses is here himself again the speaker.

(I would like to highly recommend Acts 17 – Dwight Moody Sermon –

The Great Redemption – this web site – I apologize for the quality of

Its presentation but it will be well worth the effort!  - CY – 2012)




                        The Superiority of the Believer’s Rock (v. 31)


Few men but feel that they need a rock of some kind. Only when their

mountain stands very strong do they feel as if they were absolutely secure

and independent (Obadiah 1:3-4). Even then their trust is in acquired

power and riches, which is a “rock” to them, though their confidence often

proves delusive (i.e. Haman, Nebuchadnezzar). When men have lost

faith in religion, they frequently take refuge in the “rock” of philosophy.

The “rock” of the heathen is their idols and the arts of the soothsayer. Men

tend to make a “rock” of those superior to them in power and wisdom. The

rock” of nations is too often their military and naval defenses, with arts of

diplomacy, and alliances with stronger powers (Isaiah 30.). The believer’s

Rock, which is the best of all, IS GOD!




Ø      From the nature of this Rock. Grant that God is:


o       a Being, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable;

o       wise in His counsel,

o       omnipotent in His power,

o       faithful in His promises,

o       righteous in His actions,

o       infinitely gracious and merciful to those who put their

trust in Him,

o       a “strong Rock,”

o       “an House of defense” to save them (Psalm 31:2),

o       a “Hiding-place” to preserve them from trouble (ibid. ch. 32:7),


and the superiority of this Rock to every other needs no further

demonstration. It is self-evidently impossible to have

a SURER or a BETTER!  What can man ask more than that the

“ETERNAL GOD” should be his REFUGE,” and that underneath

him should be the “everlasting arms”? (ch. 33:27).


Ø      From the advantages derived from this Rock. These are such as no

other can pretend to give. The believer’s life being hid with God

(Colossians 3:3) and guaranteed by the life of Christ in heaven

(John 14:19), and his inheritance lying beyond death (I Peter 1:4),

no hostility of man can reach either. No other “rock” can give the same

security, the same peace, joy, shelter, strength, comfort, and refreshment,

as the believer’s.


To which considerations add the following:


Ø      Many of these so-called “rocks” are nonentities. The idols of the

heathen are of this description. So with the arts and charms of sorcery,

prayers to the Virgin, etc.


Ø      The surest of these “rocks” are not to be depended on. “Wisdom is

better than strength” (Ecclesiastes 9:16); but wisdom, strength, riches,

rank, powerful friend, long-consolidated might, — all sometimes fail

those who put their trust in them.


Ø      Not one of these “rocks” can stand when God wills its overthrow.

      God’s help, on the other hand, is real, always to be relied on, and

      invincible against opposition.



It is often confessed, even by the enemy. How often, e.g. have ungodly

men expressed themselves envious of the religious trust and peace of the

believer! How often have they admitted its superiority to anything

possessed by themselves! How often, again, have they owned to their own

rocks failing them in time of need! How often, even, when it came to the

end, have they lamented that they had not sought the Rock of the believer!

Philosophy is admitted, even by those who take refuge in it, to be but a

sorry substitute for religion. Passages could be culled from current

literature showing very distinctly this need of the believer’s rock — the

almost agonizing expression of a wish that belief were possible — the

confession that in the surrender of Christian beliefs a large part of life’s

hopefulness and joy has gone forever (see in Mallock’s “Is Life worth



32 “For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of

Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:”

If the Rock of Israel was so much mightier than the rock of their enemies, how

came it that Israel was beaten and put to flight by their enemies? The reason is here

given: It was because Israel had become wholly corrupt and vitiated that they were

forsaken of the Lord and left to the power of their enemies. Their vine; i.e. Israel

itself (compare Psalm 80:9,  Isaiah 5:2; Jeremiah 2:21; Hosea 10:1 ). The vine of

Sodom. It has been supposed that there is reference here to a particular

plant, and different plants have been suggested as deserving to be so

named. But it is more probable that Sodom and Gomorrah are here

advanced as types of what is depraved, and to the moral taste nauseous

(compare Isaiah 1:10; Jeremiah 23:14). Gall (compare ch. 29:18).


The vine of Sodom is an emblem of fruit of sin.


1. It is tempting.

2. It is deceptive.

3. It always ends in disappointment and disgust.


Sin will take you farther than you want to go,

Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay,

Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.

                                                (R.G. Lee)


33 “Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.”

The wine of these grapes is poison and venom. Dragons; tannin (compare

Exodus 7:9-10). Cruel [deadly] venom of asps. The pethen, one of the most

poisonous of snakes, the bite of which was immediately fatal. These figures

 express the thought that Israel had utterly corrupted their way and

become abominable; probably also it is intimated that, as they had imitated

the impiety of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, they deserved to

perish as they did.


Notwithstanding the iniquity of Israel and the judgments that should come upon them,

God would have compassion upon them for His Name’s sake, and would appear

for their vindication and defense. The “this” in v. 34 is by some understood of the

sinful doings of the Israelites which God should not forget or overlook. So the Targum

of Onkelos: “Are not all their works manifest before me, kept against the day

of judgment in my treasures?”  But there is a more ‘comprehensive reference here.

Not only the deeds of the transgressors, but the judgments that should come on Israel,

and also God’s interposition on their behalf, were laid up in store with Him, and

sealed up among His treasures. All that had been done had been noted, and

all that should happen was decreed, and should certainly come to pass. The

“this’ has thus both a retrospective and a prospective reference; it includes

both the sin of the nation and God’s dealing with them afterwards, as well

as His judgments on their enemies.  (vs. 34-43)


34 “Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my

treasures?  My treasures. God’s treasures contain not only a store of

blessing, but also instruments of punishment, which as He sees meet, He

sends forth on men (compare ch.28:12; Job 38:22-23; Psalm 135:7).


35 “To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide

in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things

that shall come upon them make haste.”  Render: Vengeance is mine, and

retribution for the time when their feet shall totter; for the day of their

calamity is at hand, and that which is prepared for them maketh haste.

The tottering of the feet represents the incipient fall. God would manifest Himself

as the Avenger when their calamity began to come upon them.



The Devil’s Counterfeit Coin (vs. 30-35)


It is not in the power of Satan to originate any new thing. Knowing that his

power is restricted, the utmost he can do is to make spurious imitations of

God’s good things. His base purpose is to deceive man with SPECTRAL

ILLUSIONS.   His nefarious design is to raise before the world’s eye an




EXTERNAL TO HIMSELF. To the men of the East, this external

foundation of trust was best described as a rock. What the solid rock is

amid the loose alluvial soil of Egypt, or amid the shifting sand of the

desert, that God is designed to be unto every man. Complete independence

is impossible to created man. He can never be self-contained nor self-

nourished.  Pure atheism has never been a permanent resting-place for the

human heart. When the invisible God is forsaken, the human mind swings

toward idolatry. The carnal mind finds delight in a ground of confidence

that is visible and tangible.  (While they condemn those who trust in the

God of the universe.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense!  - CY – 2012)   Some

god we must have, if it be only the shadowy deity named Fate, or Law,

or Chance.



HUMAN TRUST. The only point of similarity is the name. The devil

borrows this, so as the better to throw dust in the eyes of his followers.

“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them

which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ,

who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”  (II Corinthians 4:4)

Our God is a Rock; the world also has its counterfeit rock. By the

judgments and verdict of worldly men, our Rock differs in toto from

theirs.  Their rock, they acknowledge, is unstable and unreliable. They

trust it simply because they know not a better. It is misnamed a rock.

Their rock deserts them in the hour of greatest need. Ah! fortune, say

they, is fickle. Very tyrannical and self-willed is fate. But our God is a

Rock in very deed. He never forsakes His liege disciples. In the darkest

hour He is nearest — the shadow of a great rock in a weary land”

(Isaiah 32:2). 




All through life, we find that the false counterfeits the true. The thief puts

on the pretence of honesty. The villain trains himself to use fair speech.

The adulterer wears the garb of virtue. Beauty is the robe of God, but the

devil fabricates meretricious tinsel. He, too, has his “Promised Land,” but it

is a fool’s paradise. He has his vine, but his vine is the vine of Sodom,

which generates drunkenness and unchastity. He also has his fields, but

they are fields of Gomorrah. The fruits are pleasant to the eye, but they

turn to ashes in the mouth. There is the appearance of grapes, but lo! the

juice is gall — the clusters are bitterness itself. And not only is the

experience disappointing, it is even disastrous and deadly. This pretended

wine is only poison, it is a gilded pill. Cruel deceit has provided this

counterfeit banquet. Beneath the glamour of a fair exterior, there is the

“serpent’s venom.”   (For our  perusal, I offer the following excerpt

from Spurgeon’s Sermon – Number 1500 or Lifting Up the Brazen

Serpent –  # 5a - this web site – it contains the remedy – I recommend it

highly  - CY – 2012)


What an awful thing it is to be bitten by a serpent! I dare say some of you

recollect the case of Gurling, one of the keepers of the reptiles in the

Zoological Gardens. It happened in October 1852, and therefore some of

you will remember it. This unhappy man was about to part with a friend

who was going to Australia and according to the wont of many he must

needs drink with him. He drank considerable quantities of gin, and though

he would probably have been in a great passion if any one had called him

drunk, yet reason and common-sense had evidently become overpowered.

He went back to his post at the gardens in an excited state. He had some

months before seen an exhibition of snake, charming, and this was on his

poor muddled brain. He must emulate the Egyptians, and play with

serpents. First he took out of its cage a Morocco venom-snake, put it

round his neck, twisted it about, and whirled it round about him. Happily

for him it did not arouse it so as to bite. The assistant-keeper cried out,

“For God’s sake put back the snake,” but the foolish man replied, “I am

inspired.” Putting back the venom-snake, he exclaimed, “Now for the

cobra.” This deadly serpent was somewhat torpid with the cold of the

previous night, and therefore the rash man placed it in his bosom till it

revived, and glided downward till its head appeared below the back of his

waistcoat. He took it by the body, about a foot from the head, and then

seized it lower down by the other hand, intending to hold it by the tail and

swing it round his head. He held it for an instant opposite to his face, and

like a flash of lightning the serpent struck him between the eyes. The blood

streamed down his face, and he called for help, but his companion fled in

horror; and, as he told the jury, he did not know how long he was gone, for

he was “in a maze.” When assistance arrived Gurling was sitting on a chair,

having restored the cobra to its place. He said, “I am a dead man.” They

put him in a cab, and took him to the hospital. First his speech went, he

could only point to his poor throat and moan; then his vision failed him,

and lastly his hearing, His pulse gradually sank, and in one hour from the

time at which he had been struck he was a corpse. There was only a little

mark upon the bridge of his nose, but the poison spread over the body, and

he was a dead man. I tell you that story that you may use it as a parable

and learn never to play with sin, and also in order to bring vividly before

you what it is to be bitten by a serpent.


Thus fares it with all who leave their God. They find out the bitter

 mistake at last. So sang Byron in his last days —


“The worm, the canker, and the grief

Are mine alone.”



THE GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD. “Is not this laid up in store

with me, and sealed up among my treasures?” (v.34)  God knew well what

the effects of an idolatrous course would be, what bitter vexation and

disaster would come at last. But He foresaw that it was better for men that

they should pass through this experience than that He should remove the

possibility of it. He might have prevented, by exercise of power, the

stratagems of the tempter. He might have curtailed Satan’s freedom, and

put on him chains of darkness from the first. But His infinite wisdom has

decided otherwise.  He foresees more glorious results from this method,

so He patiently waits; He calmly watches the stages of the process.

“Their foot,” says He, shall slide in due time the day of their

calamity is at hand” (v, 35).  Now, it is difficult to discern between a

grain of living seed and a grain of dead sand; but put both into the

furrowed field, and give them time, so when the day of harvest comes,

the man who sowed the sand will be covered with shame, while he who

sowed good seed will bear gladly his sheaves into the heavenly garner.

Our business now is to discriminate between God’s corn and the devil’s

chaff. “The day will declare it.”  (I Corinthians 3:13; compare the parable

of the Sower and the Tares – Matthew 13:24-30)



The Short-sightedness of Sinners (vs. 29-35)


“Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would

consider their latter end!” Such is the moan with which this paragraph

begins. By “this” is meant the consequence which will certainly follow on

their departure from God. By “their latter end” is meant the latter days of

their history, when sins which were beforehand in germ should have

wrought out to full development. We need not again recount the historical

aspects of this serious outlook. We will but note, in a series of consecutive

thoughts, the truths which are here indicated, and which are of universal

and perpetual application:


o       to individuals,

o       families, and

o       nations.




If men take no reckoning of their “latter end,” it is the reverse of wise. Our

Saviour asks, “What shall it profit a man?” etc. To take heed only to

present appearances and to avoid all preparations for the future, is folly in

the extreme.




POWER CAN AVERT OR MODIFY. They may be “sealed up” —

Hidden from sight at present, but they are “laid up in store” (Romans 2:5;

I Thessalonians 5:3).



OF HIS OWN LAWS. “To me belongeth vengeance.” Vengeance cannot

safely be entrusted to frail and passionate man. Only in the hands of “THE

JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH” (Genesis 18:25) is there an absolute

guarantee that in its infliction there will be neither excess nor defect.

No weakness will cause delay or halt. No vindictiveness will induce any

variation from the right.



NOT BE POSTPONED TOO LONG. “Their feet shall slide in due time”

(v. 35).  Time is on God’s side. In the moral world there is not a moment’s

pause. Character is ripening for good or for ill, and great issues are

working out at every tick of the dial.




THE SIDE OF EVIL. The figurative expressions in each clause are of

terrific significance. They indicate:


Ø      The failure of the refuge to which they had fled.

Ø      The collapse of their strength in great emergencies.

Ø      Bitterness of misery.

Ø      Venomous poison as the fruit of their vine of Sodom.


Now is the day for accumulating; hereafter will be the day for the

manifestation, of these hidden treasures of ill.



SINNERS SUDDENLY. “The things that shall come upon them make

haste” (v. 35; compare Matthew 24:36-44; Mark 13:35-37; II Peter 3:10).

It is one remarkable feature of the Mosaic outlook, that the lawgiver scarcely

ever refers to another life, but to the working out of God’s judgments in

this. The future life comes into view in the New Testament. The law of

sowing and reaping holds good for both worlds (Galatians 6:7).




BE LAMENTED. “Oh that they were wise!” (v. 29; compare Jeremiah

9:1; Psalm 119:136).  (I recommend Spurgeon Sermon – Isaiah 1 – To the

Thoughtless – this web site – CY – 2012)


* Those who have to direct or influence national affairs should remember that a wrong

    policy is a foolish one. No nation will continue to thrive that fights against God.


* Heads of families should remember that, by a course of disloyalty to

   God, they are sowing the seeds of dishonor, grief, and shame in their

   families, and are entailing sorrow on the children of their care.


* Let each individual learn that whatever a man soweth that shall he also

   reap, both in this world and in that which is to come.  “Woe to him that

  striveth with his Maker.”  ( Galatians 6:7-8; Isaiah 45:9)


36 “For the LORD shall judge His people,” - (compare Psalm 135:14; I Peter

4:17-18) -“and repent Himself for His servants,” - rather, and have compassion

 upon His  servants -  “when He seeth that their power is gone, and there is none

shut up, or left.”  The words rendered “shut up or left” are a proverbial expression

for “every one, men of all sorts” (compare I Kings 14:10; 21:21; II Kings 9:8;

14:26); but how the words are to be rendered or explained is uncertain.


37 “And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,

38  Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their

drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.”

The Lord would show his people the utter worthlessness of idols, and bring them to

acknowledge Him as the only true God. Their gods; the idols to which Israel had

turned, the strange gods which they had foolishly and sinfully preferred to Jehovah.


39 “See now that I, even I, am He,” -  The Hebrew is more expressive, See now

that I, I am; Septuagint -  ἴδετε ἴδετε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι idete idete hoti ego eimi

behold, behold, that I am He -  (compare Isaiah 41:4; 48:12; John 8:24 18:5). Their

own experience of the utter impotency of these idol-gods to help them or to protect

themselves from the stroke of the Almighty was enough to convince them that they

were no gods, and that He alone was to be feared and worshipped -“and there is

no God with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there

any that can deliver out of my hand.”


The next two verses should be read continuously:


40 “For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.  41 If I whet my

glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance

to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.”  Lifting up the hand to

heaven was a gesture intended to express that the person taking an oath appealed to

God as a witness of his oath, and who would perish for falsehood (compare Genesis

14:22); and “as the Lord liveth was a common formula in taking an oath (compare

Numbers 14:21; I Samuel 14:39, 45; Jeremiah 5:2). As God could swear by none

greater, He swore by Himself (Exodus 6:8; Numbers 14:30; Isaiah 45:23; Jeremiah

22:5; Hebrews 6:17), that if He did come forth to avenge Himself of His enemies,

He would not spare, but would do thoroughly what He had come forth to do.

 Glittering sword; literally, lightning of sword (compare Ezekiel 21:10,15).


42 “I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall

devour flesh;” - literally, shall eat flesh;  the edge of the sword is called its mouth,

because, like a mouth, it is said to eat and devour - “and that with the blood of the

slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.”

Different renderings of this have been given: Septuagint -  ἀπὸ κεφαλῆς ἀρχόντων

ἐχθρῶν apo kephalaes archonton echthronfrom the heads of their enemies –

 from the head of the hostile princes; from the head of the chiefs of the enemy, from

the hairy head of the foe. פְרַעות, the plural of פֶרַע, hair, locks, signifies primarily

hairs, and a head of hairs, and may be taken as equivalent to “a hairy head;” but the

word is also used in the sense of “princes” or “chiefs” (probably because such were

distinguished by copious flowing locks; compare Judges 5:2); hence the rendering,

“head of the chiefs.” The former is to be preferred here, for why chiefs or princes

Should be referred to in this connection does not appear (compare Psalm 68:22).

The rendering of the Authorized Version is wholly unauthorized. This verse

presents an instance of alternate parallelism; each half falls into two members,

and of the four members thus constituted, the third corresponds

to the first, and the fourth to the second; thus —



a.      “I will make my arrows drunk with blood,

b.      And my sword shall devour flesh;


a’ With the blood of the slain and the captives,

b’ From the hairy head of the foe.”



43 “Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people: for He will avenge the blood

of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and

will be merciful unto His land, and to His people.” As this song commenced

with an appeal to heaven and earth to give glory to the Lord (vs. 1-3), so it very

suitably closes with an appeal to the heathen to rejoice with his people on account

of the acts of the Lord”. Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people. The Authorized

Version here follows the Septuagint -  εὐφράνθητε ἔθνη μετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ αὐτοῦ -

euphranthaete ethane meta tou laou autourejoice ye Gentiles

with His people - and so Paul cites the passage in Romans 15:10. The Jewish

interpreters generally render, Praise His people, O nations; and this several

Christian interpreters adopt. But  it is the Divine righteousness manifested

 in the vindication of His people from their enemies that is to be celebrated,

and not the people themselves, as what follows shows. Here as elsewhere the

nations and the people are in contrast.




                        Jehovah Reigns; Be Glad! (vs. 36-43)


This paragraph has about it a remarkably martial ring. It is not to be looked

at as bald and literal prose. It is part of a song; it is laden with imagery, in

which the God of Israel is set forth as a mighty Warrior, whose march none

can hinder, whose inflictions none can withstand or evade. The style of the

song was precisely appropriate to the age in which it was composed, and

suited to the people in whose hearing it was addressed. The truths clothed

in such Oriental garb are for all lands and for all time. For though there is

an abundance of figure, yet not all is figurative. There are at least two

phrases which are plain in their phraseology, and which furnish us with the

key for the right interpretation of the others. One of these is found at the

beginning of the passage, the other towards its close.


* The first is in v. 36, The Lord shall judge His people.”

*  The other is in v. 43, “Rejoice, O ye nations — His people.”


The former assures us that all the various processes of judgment to which the seer’s

eye looks forward are in the hands of God. The second calls upon the nations to

rejoice therein.  Between these two, the varied details in the paragraph fall naturally

into place. Our Homily will, therefore, be mainly an answer to one inquiry, viz.

What materials for joy are here given us?  It is useless to bid any one to be glad

unless a reason is given them why they should be so. A somewhat careful study

of the paragraph in hand will show at least eight reasons for holy and grateful joy.


·         It is matter for joy that God reserves in His own hands the judgment of

His people (v. 36). Where else could it safely be? Who else has the

power, the wisdom, the justice, the kindness, the knowledge required?

If the scepter of power were in any other hands, the guarantee of righteous

administration would cease.


·         We may rejoice that in His judging processes God will convince His

people of the folly of relying on any but on Himself (vs. 37-38). The

reason of the peculiar imagery in these verses every student knows. The

underlying thought is clear. It may be a sharp, but it is a necessary

discipline, that every prop should give way which would prevent us from

leaning on GOD ALONE!


·         We may rejoice in the severity with which a righteous God will deal

with sin. Severity against sin is mercy towards the sinner (v. 42). In the

early conquest of Canaan, severity towards Achan and his accomplices was

mercy towards Israel. In the early Church, judgment on Ananias and

Sapphira was mercy to the Church. In both cases the canker of dishonesty

and hypocrisy needed to be cut out by a strong and firm hand.


·         We may rejoice that the ruling motive and the ultimate intent of God’s

dealings are love and mercy (v. 43). Beyond the blackest clouds Moses

sees in the horizon light and glory. The twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth

chapters of this book, with all their threatenings, are followed by the

thirtieth, with all its promises:


Ø      Wrath in the process,

Ø      mercy as the product.


·         Let us rejoice that in this law of recompense there is mercy in the

educational process therein ensured (see Psalm 62:12). There is a wide

difference between a fatherly correction and the infliction of a legal penalty.

It is the former which God metes out towards His people. Their relation to

Him is one of grace, not of bare law.


·         Let us rejoice that mercy will regulate the mode, the time, and the

result of the chastisement.


Ø      The mode: “Their power is gone,” i.e. their false props are destroyed.

Ø      The time: “He will repent Himself,” i.e. He will not be wrath forever;

when the infliction has answered its end, He will change His

            dealings. Though God never changes a plan, He may plan a change.

Ø      The result: “He will be merciful unto His land,” etc., i.e. He will

be propitious.  When His people are brought back from their

wanderings, He will “cover “ all their sin in eternal forgetfulness.

          (Hebrews 8:12; Jeremiah 31:34; Micah 7:19)


·         Let us rejoice in the clear and perfect discrimination which will mark

all the Divine dealings with His people and with His adversaries; v. 43,

vengeance — mercy.” Both form part of God’s governmental methods.

How can it be otherwise in a world of sin? The perfections of Jehovah

guarantee that neither will infringe on the other. Tenderness will never

weaken vengeance. Vengeance will never lessen tenderness. God alone

knows the absolutely perfect adjustment.


·         Let us rejoice that the eye of the seer beholds brightness in the far

distance. The gloom does but intervene; it does not cover the whole

canopy of heaven, nor darken all the outlook. “Light is sown for the

righteous.” (Psalm 97:11)  “Joy cometh in the morning” (v. 43; Psalm

30:5).  Let all these several particulars be woven together, and they will

make one glorious pattern — at the sight of which we may well shout

aloud for joy.


·         LEARN:


Ø      In such a review of the methods and outcome of God’s providential

dealings only those who are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus

Christ are in a position to understand them. Enmity cannot understand

love. And where men are “enemies in their mind by wicked works”

(Colossians 1:21), they are certain to misunderstand God’s nature, and

to misinterpret His ways.  Mans first duty is to repent of sin and obey

God. Till he does this the mysteries of God will not be unveiled to him.


Ø      When we understand something of THE REDEMPTION WHICH

IS IN CHRIST JESUS, then the true key to the interpretation of

providence is in our hands (Romans 8:34). Hence we can “rejoice in

the Lord” (Psalm 33:1; Philippians 3:1; 4:4; Psalm 97:1; chps. 96; 98.).


Ø      In proportion to the greatness of the love which furnishes the key for

unlocking providential mysteries is the greatness of the sin which turns

away from and finally rejects God. (See the use of this paragraph in

Hebrews 10:30-31.) However deep the gloom which Moses depicts,

he sees a rim of golden glory in the horizon, as if another dispensation

were to follow. But the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews sees no after-light

for those who TURN AWAY FROM CHRIST!  “For if we sin willfully

after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no

more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment

and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries...... It is a

fearful  thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:

26-27; 31)  The contest of the sinner with God must end in the

guilty one’s ignominious and hopeless defeat!, “Because I will do this

                        unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.”  (Amos 4:12)



Moses, having composed this song, came, accompanied by Joshua, and they

together spoke it in the hearing of the people; after which Moses took occasion to

urge upon them anew the importance of keeping the commandments of God.

(vs. 44-47)




                                                Retribution (34-43)


·         VENGEANCE IS A PREROGATIVE OF DEITY. As just Judge of the

            earth, God must avenge transgression. Vengeance is to be distinguished

from personal vindictiveness. Of that God is incapable. But Scripture,

supported by reason and conscience, attributes to Him a holy and inflexible

determination to punish sin — to visit on the wrong-doer the consequences

of his transgression. The rule for individuals is, “Avenge not yourselves,”

etc.; but the reason for this is not that vengeance is unnecessary, but that

God will avenge (Romans 12:19). Magistrates, however, bear from

God a certain delegated power to punish public offences — to “avenge”

evil (ibid. ch. 13:4). He who “takes away vengeance from God, at the

same time takes it from God’s servant, the magistracy, which carries the

sword of vengeance over evil-doers” (Hengstenberg). God has His own

time, as well as His own way, of avenging sin, and it is not for man to

anticipate this.



however delayed by His forbearance. Because judgment is not executed

speedily, sinners take confidence (Ecclesiastes 8:11; II Peter 3:9-10).

But the sleepless eye of God is all the while upon them, and the stroke

falls when they are least expecting it. Sooner or later, every transgression

and disobedience will meet with its due recompense of reward.




Ø      “Judgment begins at the house of God” (vs. 35-36; I Peter 4:17-18).

Ø      It will ultimately extend to all who are God’s enemies (vs. 41-42).


We are taught that the Messianic kingdom will be established on earth amidst

mighty displays of judgment (Revelation 19:11-21). There will follow

the general judgment of quick and dead — “that day of wrath, that



God’s vengeance is:


Ø      Assured. “As I live,” etc. (v. 40).

Ø      Terrible. “My glittering sword;” “arrows drunk with blood,” etc.

Ø      No escape from it (v. 39).



THEIR SINS. They tend:


Ø      To break up false confidences (vs. 37-38).

Ø      To create a feeling of the need of God’s help (v. 39).

Ø      To convince of the folly of past conduct.


God is compassionate even while He punishes (ver. 36). He would fain,

through judgment, break a way for mercy. Illustrate this use of judgments

from Israel in time of the judges, or from case of Manasseh (II Chronicles

33:11-14). May we hope that the day of God’s “repenting Himself” toward

Israel is drawing near!



TIME OF BLESSING TO THE WORLD. The nations are to share in the

joy (v. 43). God is to be merciful to His land and people. The latter-day

glory includes the conversion of the Gentiles (Romans 11.).




                 The Final Revelation of God’s Supremacy (vs. 36-43)


In this inspired song — an epitome of the Bible — Moses looks adown the

long vista of history, and discerns what will be the outcome of the whole,

viz. to establish on a safe basis the acknowledged SUPREMACY OF

JEHOVAH!  Truth shall eventually conquer, whatever be her present

fortunes; and the supreme authority of Jehovah is a fundamental truth,

which must in due time effectually SHINE FORTH!



VANITY AND FUTILITY OF IDOLATRY. Men will accept, at the close

of a changeful and bitter experience, what they would not accept at the

beginning of their course, viz. that there is ONE GOD — invisible,

supreme, eternal. In the conscious pride of self-will, men will sound all the

possible problems of life. They will not at first accept, with the docility of

a childlike nature, the ipse dixit even of God Himself. But when all trust in

self and in created power has proved a failure; when all power is gone, and

we lie on the battlefield, wounded and helpless;then we begin to give heed

to the heavenly voice. Then the gentle message of God comes, with the

charm of evening music, upon the ear — yea, as an anodyne and a balm

upon the bleeding heart. In a mood of self-despair, we clutch the hope of

the gospel, viz. GOD MANIFEST TO MAN!   God invites us to earnest and

profound inquiry. He asks us to give a mature deliverance touching the

power and helpfulness of the God whom we have long trusted; and the

final experience of men, in all lands and ages, is uniform. “The gods WHO

HAVE NOT CREATED the heavens and the earth SHALL PERISH!



TRIUMPH OF JEHOVAH. “See now, that I, even I am He, and there is no

god with me.” The eye of man can clearly discern the fact — the

foundation-fact of all religion — so soon as the veil of prejudice and sin is

removed. The revelation is clear enough, if only the organ of mental vision

be in healthful vigor. Without question, God is the sole Arbiter of life and

death. No other deity has ever assumed an act of creation. The powers of

evil have flourished the wand of a necromancer, and have pretended to

effect sudden changes in the conditions of nature; but not one has ever

pretended to create a star or to produce a single human life. God is still left

upon the throne, as sole and undisputed Monarch.  Eternal existence is another

prerogative of Jehovah. Where are now the gods of the heathen? Who now

worships Jupiter, or Dagon, or Isis, or Moloch? Their names are historic only.

They had a passing popularity, but it has long since vanished. But with solemn

form of adjuration, the Most High lifts His hand and swears, “I live forever!”

As in a court of justice men accept the testimony of a fellow-man, when that

testimony is given under the sanction of a religious oath; so, in self-consistency,

are we bound to accept the asseveration of the eternal God. In pity for His

creatures, He also takes the form of oath, and since “He can swear by none

greater, He swears by Himself.”  (Hebrews 6:13)



HUMAN JOY. Every perfection of God is suitable material for grateful

praise. His power is a security for good men. All our interests are safe,

being under the protection of such a Friend. His holiness also affords

distinct ground for gladness. Because He is holy, we can cherish a confident

hope that we shall be holy too. Hence we “give thanks at the remembrance

of His holiness.” (Psalm 97:12; 30:4)  We rejoice to know that the scepter of

the universe is in the hands of a GOD WHO IS ABSOLUTELY AND

INCORRUPTLY JUST! We know that “the right” will not long be trodden

underfoot of the oppressor. We are assured that the malice and craft of Satan

shall not triumph. We heartily rejoice that Jehovah is King of all the earth;

for “all things must now work together for good to them that love Him.”

(Romans  8:28)


“Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again;

The eternal years of God are hers;

But Error, wounded, writhes with pain,

And dies amid her worshippers.”


Most of all, we rejoice in His mercy. He will be merciful to His land and to

His people.” We are the very persons who need Divine mercy; for lack of

that mercy we die. Not more urgently does the parched land need the liquid

shower, than do we, who have so grossly sinned, need Jehovah’s mercy.

Yet not more sure is the need than the supply. That mercy is made amply

secure to all who desire it. As certainly as light streams from the natural

sun, so freely and copiously does mercy stream forth from Jehovah’s heart.

Therefore we do well to “rejoice and to be exceeding glad.” For saith

Jehovah, “I will pardon your unrighteousness, and your sins and your

iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)  God’s revelation

closes with the theme of mercy.


44  And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of

the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.”  Moses invariably writes this name

Jehoshuah (Jehovah is help; compare Numbers 13:8; ch. 31:3, 7, 14). The use

of Hoshea here is due to the fact that this account is part of the supplement added

by another writer to the writing of Moses


45 “And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:

46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I

testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children

to observe to do, all the words of this law.”  Compare ch. 6:7; 11:19.)


47 “For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life:” -  these are

not mere empty words; they are of vital import (compare ch.30:20) - “and through

this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan

to possess it.”


On the day on which Moses rehearsed this song in the hearing of the people, his

death was announced to him by God, and the command was again given to him

to ascend Mount Nebo, thence to survey the Promised Land, and there to be gathered

to his people. The same in substance, the command as given here differs slightly in form

and in some minor particulars from that as recorded by Moses himself (Numbers




Life at Stake!  (vs. 44-47)


We have seen in ch. 31:7-8, that Moses gave Joshua a charge, and told him that he

must lead the people into the Promised Land. After that came the utterance of this

song. When it was uttered, Joshua stood side by side with Moses. The joint

presence of both the old and new leaders this signifying, that, though the earthly

administration changed hands, THE SAME MESSAGE WOULD BE PASSED,


feature’s about this closing public scene of the life of Moses:


o       Here is an assembly, met to hear Moses’ last song.

o       Though it is the last, there is in it nothing new. It is the

one message:  God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love,

calling for their reciprocation andobedience.

o       This old message is reimpressed on their hearts.

o       The people were to command their children to observe it.

The children were, in their home life, to receive an

education for God.

o       This is urged upon them by the consideration that all that

is precious to them in life depends on their obedience to

God’s message.

o       Moses and Joshua appear together before the people, as


 which the aged leader had laid down, the younger one would

accept, enforce, and transmit. There was a change in

human leaders, but not in Divine laws or the Divine message.

And to all the solemn sanctions with which Moses guarded the

Law, Joshua here pledges himself before the people and before

his God. Hence we get this theme:  AMID ALL CHANGES





  • Let us clearly declare and show that there is at this moment a message of

law and a revelation of grace, which have come to us, not of man, but by

the inspiration of the Spirit of God, by the manifestation of God in Christ,

and by the power of the Holy Ghost on and since the day of Pentecost.

This message is, in sum and substance, given in:


Ø      John 3:16;

Ø      I Timothy 1:15;

Ø      Revelation 22:17;

Ø      Titus 2:11-13.


This message is the development of that which through Moses was given

but in germ (John 5:46-47; Matthew 5:17).


  • Here past and present generations meet, giving out THE SAME WORDS!

We have now “the faith once [for all] delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Aged patriarchs in their declining years do reiterate the same message they

gave when in the vigor of youth. And young men, filled with the same spirit,

and having their hearts kindled with the same fire, take it up with the

earnest hope and prayer that it may suffer no loss in their hands! Often have

 a Moses and a Joshua thus stood side by side.


  • The message now is far fuller and clearer than it was when given to

Israel of old. How much, Christian preachers and teachers can tell. Yet in

three respects they are similar.


Ø      Both reveal the love of God, and recount a great deliverance.

Ø      Both solicit, in Heaven’s name, the response of the peoples’

hearts (see Romans 5:8; 12:1; II Corinthians 5:14-21).

Ø      Both require, on the ground of Divine love to man, love to

the redeemed brotherhood, and good will to all men

(I Corinthians 13.; John 4:10-19).


  • The commanding force of THE GOSPEL MESSAGE THROUGH OUR

LORD JESUS CHRIST than that sent through Moses. True, there was

terror at Sinai; there is tenderness in Calvary. Moses orders; Jesus pleads.

Moses speaks in thunderings; Jesus with tears. Yet must we not mistake

tenderness for weakness, nor gentleness for lack of authority or of power.

(See the entire argument in the Epistle to the Hebrews.)


  • All that can give fullest value to this life and joy to the next, depends on

how we treat this message from God. “It is not a vain thing for you; it is

your life” (v. 47).  We can but hint.


Ø      The enjoyment of peace with God (Romans 5:1).

Ø      The growth of character in holiness.

Ø      The true enjoyment and use of this earthly life, as families,

as nations, as individuals, depend on loyalty to God.

“Godliness is profitable unto all things; having promise

of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

(I Timothy 4:8).


  • All our hope for the next life depends on our response to God; hence the

close of the verse just quoted — “and of that which is to come.” Apart

from the acceptance of Jesus Christ by faith, and a life of loyalty to God,

there is not a gleam of light or hope for the next life (see Hebrews 2:3).

If God did not allow His message through Moses to be slighted with

impunity, certainly He will not suffer men to “trample under foot the

Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant….an unholy thing

…..and do despite unto the Spirit of grace”  (Hebrews 10:29), -

 and then leave them unpunished!


  • What dread, what awful possibilities as to the fate of immortal souls

are trembling in the balance, while they refrain from “yielding themselves

unto God!” How earnestly and frequently may we with reason reiterate the

words, “It is your life!” All that ensures life here and hereafter being a

blessing, depends on the way men treat Jesus Christ and His salvation.


  • However many changes there may yet be in the bearers of this

message, yet, down to the end of time, God will never send a greater.

Moses and Joshua. The old generation passing away, the new coming on

the stage. They meet and greet. The faithful and tried veteran passes on

the word. The younger messenger, with solemn vow to God before his

brother man, receives it, and swears before high heaven that he will

maintain the message unimpaired, and in his turn “commit it to faithful