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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Deuteronomy 26

Verses 1-19

National Safeguards

Deuteronomy 26:10

Each young man takes an immense stride in experience when he discovers that God has made him not only the member of a family but also the citizen of a nation. Gradually he comes to realize how much the word 'nation' means. The earlier part of the Bible occupies itself not so much with individuals as with the fortunes of a chosen nation. We read in the Old Testament how God called and trained up and delivered and chastened and restored His people Israel. And these precepts in Deuteronomy XXVI. were given as safeguards to the nation after it had entered into possession of Canaan, and had become settled and peaceful and prosperous, for the real test and touchstone of any people or any individual are how they endure prosperity. The whole tenor of these verses implies that a people's security depends not on outward but on inward conditions. And hence we may infer what are those invincible powers which alone can garrison the heart of any nation.

I. The first of these great guardian angels is reverence for the nation's past. The previous chapter has recalled Israel's deliverance from Amalek, and ends with the warning words 'Thou shalt not forget'. And through the Old Testament God's warnings and promises and appeals are based on the actual facts of Hebrew history. That wonderful and glorious record must never fall out of mind. And it still remains true that a nation which ignores its history is like a man who has lost his memory.

II. Hand in hand with such understanding comes a sense of the nation's election. God's calling and discipline had been manifest throughout the long generations of Israel. God Himself had chosen them and sealed them for His own high ends, and moulded them by the secret counsel of His will, and made them His witnesses and standard-bearers in the world. And on our land also God's finger has stamped a manifest and marvellous destiny which should needs make us humble and sober in proportion as we realize what it means.

III. Beyond the sense of national responsibility there must also be gratitude for national blessings. If Israel could rejoice in every good thing which God had given them, we too are bound to praise Him for all His benefits to us. Young men and women who have never lived in less favoured lands fail to estimate the incalculable blessings of their own.

IV. A nation's supreme safeguard lies in the dedication of its youth. Those firstfruits laid on the ancient Jewish altar were but an allegory. And we fulfil the spirit of the ancient command only as we consecrate the flower and firstfruits of our own lives.

T. H. Darlow, The Upward Galling, p. 80.

Reference. XXVII. 15. C. C. Bartholomew, Sermons Chiefly Practical, p. 464.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 26". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/deuteronomy-26.html. 1910.