DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 8.
An Exhortation to Obedience.
A REFERENCE TO GODíS GOODNESS. ó V.1. All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers. The constant repetition of the same leading thought serves to impress it upon the minds of the hearers with great force. V.2. And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord, thy God, led thee these forty years in the wilderness, with all the various attendant miracles, to humble thee under Godís mighty hand, and to prove thee, to teat out their trust in Godís almighty power, love, and justice, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments or no. It is only when a person despairs of his own strength and is humbled from his self-presumption that he is ready to hear and obey God. The entire wilderness journey had an educational purpose. V.3. And he humbled thee and suffered thee to hunger, Ex. 16, 2. 3, and fed thee with manna, Ex. 16, 12-35, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know, and the very fact that God was able to keep them alive without the food ordinarily demanded by men was intended to keep them humble; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. For the maintenance of life in His creatures the Lord is not bound to the food upon which men, by His order, must depend, but He has ways and means to sustain life by the direct exercise of His almighty power, if He so chooses. In this sense Jesus quoted this passage when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Matt. 4, 4. V.4. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, compelling them to wear torn and insufficient clothes, neither did thy foot swell, become blistered on account of their being compelled to march barefooted for lack of sandals, these forty years. This was a special mark of Godís providence and loving care for His people, a miracle of His goodness. V.5. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, ponder that fact continually, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord, thy God, chasteneth thee; everything which He did for them had the object of educating them, of training them for His service. Both His punishments and the manifestations of His goodness served this purpose. V.6. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord, thy God, to walk in His ways, as He pointed them out in the Law, and to fear Him; for the fear of the Lord, as the outgrowth of faith, is the source of all good works. The obligation of obedience is now further emphasized by an enumeration of the excellencies of the Land of Promise, where even the highest blessings, because so common, partook of the nature of the ordinary. V.7. For the Lord, thy God, bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains, springs, and depths, underground watercourses, that spring out of valleys and hills, the land being richly watered both for agriculture and for stock-raising; v.8. a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, that is, of olive-orchards from which the best oil was obtained, and honey; v.9. a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, not in poverty, misery, and want; thou shalt not lack anything in it, everything being supplied that was needed for comfortable and even luxurious living; a land whose stones are iron, for iron ore was found in various parts of Canaan, especially in the North, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass; traces of former copper works have been found in the Lebanon range. V.10. When thou hast eaten and art full, having enjoyed the various blessings as here enumerated, then thou shalt bless the Lord, thy God, for the good land which he hath given thee. It is on the basis of this and similar passages in Scripture that the believers, also in the New Testament, say grace and return thanks at meal-time, Matt. 14, 19; 15, 36; 26, 26.
A WARNING AGAINST PRIDE. ó V.11. Beware that thou forget not the Lord, thy God, in not keeping His commandments and His judgments and His statutes which I command thee this day; for true gratitude is not confined to the words of the mouth; v.12. lest, when thou hast eaten and art full, enjoying the rich abundance of Godís blessings, and hast built goodly houses and dwelt therein, v.13. and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied, a picture of the highest prosperity, v.14. then thine heart be lifted up, in pride and presumption, and thou forget the Lord, thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; v.15. who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, Is. 63, 12-14, wherein were fiery serpents, Num. 21, 6, and scorpions, and drought, literally, ďa land of thirst,Ē where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint, Num. 20, 11; v.16. who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that He might humble thee, and that He might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end, cp. v.3 (only a few of the vicissitudes of the wilderness are touched upon for the sake of illustration); v.17. and thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth, for there is always the danger of such presumption and overweening pride, Prov. 30, 9; Dan. 4. V.18. But thou shalt remember the Lord, thy God, always acknowledging Him as the Giver of all good gifts, Jas. 1, 17; for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, a fact which so many rich people overlook or forget, that he may establish His covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day; for in the case of Israel the promises of the covenant were being fulfilled even then. V.19. and it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord, thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, becoming guilty of deliberate idolatry, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. Cp. chap. 4, 25-27; 6, 14. V.20. As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish, because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord, your God. If they joined the heathen nations of Canaan in their enmity towards Jehovah, they would also have to share the punishment which would surely strike them, had, in fact, already begun. The same thing applies to all believers. Through humiliations and temptations the Lord tests out the faith of His children, in order to keep them humble in prosperity as well. And the Christians will ever be mindful of the fact that it is not their own ability and intelligence to which, in the last analysis, they owe their position and their wealth, but the goodness of the Lord. With this thought ever uppermost in their mind, they will receive the gifts of His grace with due gratitude.