SONG OF MOSES AND ANNOUNCEMENT OF HIS DEATH
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:
be delivered is announced.
the corruptness and perversity
declared (vs. 19-23).
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).
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
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
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 (hq"l, from jq"l; 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 (μydiy[ic]) primarily
means hairs, and is here used of rain coming down in thin streams like hair.
Showers; heavy rain (μybiybiri from bb"r;, 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.
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” (rWxh"), 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 (tn;Wm,a], from ˆm"a;, 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!
immutability, pure being, personality. “I AM THAT I AM!”
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
ground of strength, through all the changing years!
THIS DOCTRINE OF THE LIVING GOD AS THE ROCK IS FRAUGHT WITH
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.
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 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
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,
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
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
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
combines them, and stamps on them the conception of the everlasting hills.
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.
CHRIST IS LIKE THE FATHER:
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).
· ROCK A NATURAL IMAGE OF WHAT, IN VIRTUE OF HIS
ATTRIBUTES, GOD IS TO HIS PEOPLE.
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
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,
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
(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
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 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.”
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
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
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
in view in all that He appointed and ordered. “He set the bounds of the people
according to the number of the children of
portioned out to the nations the heritage of each, He
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.
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
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.
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 (ˆwOvyai) 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
AND TENDEREST CARE!
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
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
One feels that there is something violent in this, for whilst God’s care for
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
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 (pjer"y]) -
“spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her
Wings:” - “I once saw a very interesting sight above one of the crags of
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
“He suffered their manners in the wilderness” (Acts 13:18), disciplined them,
and trained them for what they were appointed to do.
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).
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;”
olive trees, which grew on a rocky soil; as is still the
14 “Butter of kine,” - The Hebrew word (ha;m]j,) 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 (bl;j;) properly denotes fresh milk,
milk in a fluid state, and with all its richness (bl,j,, 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
literally, rams, sons of Bashan; i.e.
“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 (rm,j,, from rm"j;, 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.
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
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
Ø The reason of this is declared. “The Lord’s 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
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
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
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.
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
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
Jeshurun” - This name, formed from rc"y;, righteous, designates
chosen to be a righteous nation; and in the use of it here lies the keenest reproach
destined. By using the name righteous in place of
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.
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
(lBeni, from lb"n; 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
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 dWv, to rule, and means primarily
“lords.” The Septuagint renders by daimo>nia – 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” (bwOrq;)
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 - ejgkate>lipev – 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
on the relations between them and their God.
IN THE MIDST OF WORLDLY PROSPERITY. There are four steps in
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
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
symptom of a MORAL and SPIRITUAL PARALYSIS!
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
LIGHTLY OF GOD ALTOGETHER and A FORSAKING OF HIM!
How true is the picture here given to the actual progress of sin in the
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
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
§ Let us inquire solemnly, “What shall it profit a man, if be
shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life?”
§ Let us repent before God of the wrong we have done to Him
in seeking from creature comforts the joy which He alone
§ 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
God’s Casting Off of
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
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 (lwOav]) answering to the Greek a[dhv – hades – grave – 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 la"v;, 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 sheol — consumes
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
description of the effects of the Divine wrath when that is poured forth in judgments
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, thkome>noi limw~| - 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.”
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.”
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 ha;p;, to breathe, to blow, and is found only here. The rabbins make
it a denominative from ha;pe, a corner, and this the Authorized Version follows;
others trace it to an Arabic root, aap, 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.
be provoked to wrath by the
enemy ascribing the destruction of
their own prowess.
feared lest the enemy should be
encouraged to rise up against
ascribe their destruction to their own valor. Of these that most generally
approved is the first. (On this
reason for sparing
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 rk"n;, 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
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,
INSTEAD OF RUSHING UNTO RUIN! (vs. 28-33)
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
COURSE WHICH THEY WERE TAKING!
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
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
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)
their vine is of the vine 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
given: It was because
forsaken of the Lord and left to the power of their
enemies. Their vine; i.e.
itself (compare Psalm 80:9, Isaiah 5:2; Jeremiah 2:21; Hosea 10:1 ). The vine of
plant, and different plants have been suggested as deserving to be so
named. But it is more
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).
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
become abominable; probably also it is intimated that, as they had imitated
the impiety of the
perish as they did.
Notwithstanding the iniquity of
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
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
EMPTY MIRAGE OF A CARNAL PARADISE!
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,
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”
TRUST, THE FALSE IS A CLEVER IMITATION OF THE TRUE.
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
NO HEED TO THE CONSEQUENCES OF A COURSE OF CONDUCT.
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
BOUND UP WITH CONDUCT BY A LAW WHICH NO CREATED
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.
ISSUES OF CONDUCT THERE WILL BE AWFUL RESULTS ON
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.
Venomous poison as the
fruit of their vine of
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).
THOUGHTLESSNESS OF SINNERS IS AN EVIL GREATLY TO
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
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 - i]dete i]dete o[ti ejgw> eijmi – 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 - ajpo< kefalh~v ajrco>ntwn
ejcqrw~n – apo kephalaes archonton echthron – from 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. twO[r"p], the plural of [r"p,, 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 - eujfra>nqhte e]qnh meta< tou~ laou~
aujtou~ - euphranthaete ethane meta tou laou autou – rejoice 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.
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)
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
Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all
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
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 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,
AND NOT A WORD OF JEHOVAH’S WOULD BE LOST! There are six
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
o Moses and Joshua appear together before the people, as
if TO DECLARE UNTO THEM THE SAME TEACHINGS
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
WE HAVE AN UNCHANGING MESSAGE FROM
ABOVE, ON THE OBSERVANCE OF WHICH OUR
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).
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.
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).
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.)
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).
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!
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.
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
men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (II Timothy 2:2)
“Thus shall the bright succession run,
Till the last courses of the sun.”
Your Life (v.47)
The doing or not doing of God’s will, the obeying or not obeying of God’s
Word, is a matter of life and death to us. This is the simple and solemn and
uniform testimony of Scripture from its first page to its last. The gospel,
with its revelation of “life and immortality,” only heightens the solemnity of
the alternative. Instead of bare “life,” it is now “ETERNAL LIFE” which is
proposed for our acceptance, and which is lost or forfeited by sin. If “life”
is the promise, the counter-alternative is death, and “DEATH” accordingly is
denounced against the sinner in gospel, as in Law. “The wages of sin is
death” (Romans 6:23). Eternity is a factor to be taken into account
here, as well as in the case of “life.” Death, indeed, is not nonexistence, but
it is the loss of all that makes existence a boon; the extinction in the soul of
holiness, happiness, and love. Whatever the final state of the lost may be,
it will be true death. The man loses his “soul” — his “life” — “himself”
(Matthew 16:26; Luke 9:25). Oh that men were wise, that they understood
these things, and acted on their choice as wise men should!
48 “And the LORD spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying,
thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto
Numbers 21:10, 20). Nebo (compare Numbers 32:3, 38). An idol Nebo was
worshipped by the Moabites (Isaiah 46:1) - “which is in the
is over against
50 “And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto
thy people;” - “To Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This signifies that he should be
associated and joined to the souls of the just who are called his people. For the
people of Moses were not buried in
of gathering his body to their bodies, but of his soul to their souls - “as Aaron thy
brother died in
ye trespassed against me among the children of
the waters of MeribahKadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye
sanctified me not in the midst of the
20:13, 24.) Because ye sanctified me not (Numbers 27:14; I Peter 3:15).
52 “Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither
unto the land which I
give the children of
Obedient unto Death (vs. 48-52)
In Moses, Faith had achieved one of her most signal triumphs. From early
youth to latest manhood, he had acted and “endured as seeing Him who is
invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). No earthly or visible honor had ever enchanted
his vision. He had lived very simply “in his Great Taskmaster’s eye.” Therefore
it was that he submitted to be deprived of the earthly Canaan without a murmur,
“for he looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker
was God” (Ibid. v. 10). To him death was but a darksome passage to an
Moses was a type of Christ, and has left us an example deserving our
imitation. It should be enough for us to know that God requires it. It is
no accident — no unforeseen event. Every circumstance touching the
believer’s death is wisely arranged by God. “Precious in the sight of the
Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). Our Elder Brother has
passed the dark valley before us, and His presence lights up the once
gloomy way. “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” (Ibid. 23:4)
At the girdle of our Captain hang “the keys of death and of Hades”
(Revelation 1:18). “He opens, and no man shuts” (Ibid. 3:7). To the
genuine disciple death is no terror. “It is my Father’s voice I hear. I see his
beckoning hand. I feel his sustaining arm.” “Death is swallowed up in
victory.” (Isaiah 25:8; I Corinthians 15:54)
MERCIFUL. To the full-grown and ripe Christian, earth has little
attraction. Its joys pall upon the taste. We aspire after nobler and better
things. “I would not live always.” A time comes in the good man’s history
when he wishes the probation to close, and the real life to begin. The heir
longs for his majority and for the ancestral heritage. The believer dies
because death is the most convenient portal by which he can enter heaven.
Yet judgment is mingled with the mercy. Moses was on the tiptoe of
earthly expectancy — on the threshold of a great success, when God
required him to relinquish all for heaven. To him it was revealed, in
clearest form, that earlier sin required this late correction. For Israel’s
sake, for the world’s sake, and for Moses’ sake, his trespass must
bear fruitage in loss and sorrow. In the very nature of things, it is
impossible that men can sin without privation of some kind. We may
flatter ourselves, at times, that God has winked at our folly, and that
no ill consequence has ensued. But judge not prematurely. Possibly,
in our last hours of life, the remembrance of that sin will rob us of
our peace, will impose some serious loss. In the moral realm, “whatsoever
a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7-8)
MOUNTAIN-PEAKS OF PERSONAL ATTAINMENT. There were
solid reasons in the Divine mind (partly hidden and partly revealed) why
Moses should die upon the mount. He might have viewed the magnificent
prospects, and then have descended to die. But mountains have often been
selected by God as the scene of grand events. On the summit of a mountain
we are inspired with a sense of awe. We take in the sense of the infinite.
We are constrained to worship. Thence we are already half disposed to
mount and soar to heaven. This is suggestive. When through much active
energy of faith we have climbed the heights of practical holiness, we feel
that the work of life is done. We have finished our course. There has been
steady advancement thus far, and now, what next? We feel that the world
is beneath our feet; and from this pinnacle of moral elevation we wait the
revelation of the future, we prepare for the strange transition.
From such an elevation of faith, too, we clearly discern the scene of the
Church’s future conquests. The past is a light which irradiates the
prospective triumphs of truth and holiness. “Much land remains to be
possessed;” but the assurance of success is absolute. Already the foes of
God are at our feet. “HE MUST REIGN TILL HE HATH PUT ALL
ENEMIES UNDER HIS FEET. THE LAST ENEMY THAT SHALL
BE DESTROYED IS DEATH.” (I Corinthians 15:25-26)
TO SOCIETY. “Thou shalt be gathered unto thy people” (v. 50).
Whatever thoughts, or hopes, or fears this language of God suggested to
Moses’ mind, it suggests to our minds one of the charms of heaven. We
love to think of it as a home. Next to the ecstasy which God’s presence
shall inspire, is the rapture of reunion with departed friends. “In my
Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2). No question need
distress us touching mutual recognition. Moses and Elijah were
recognized as such when they came down in glorified state, and
conversed with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-31).
Not a faculty shall be wanting there which we possessed here. “Then
shall we know, even as also we are known” (I Corinthians 13:12). If men
from distant climes shall “sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in
would be missed unless these illustrious patriarchs were known.
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