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DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 29
The manifold works and mercies of God a motive to obedience, Deuteronomy 29:1-9.
Moses solemnly engageth them to keep covenant with God, Deuteronomy 29:10-17.
Unbelief, careless contempt, and breach of covenant shall be severely punished, Deuteronomy 29:18-28.
The end and use of the revealed will of God, Deuteronomy 29:29.
These are the words of the covenant; these are the term, or conditions upon which God hath made, i.e. renewed covenant with you.
Beside the covenant, i.e. that entering into or striking of covenant. The covenant was but one in substance, but various in the time and manner of its dispensation.
This verse comes in by way of correction or exception to the foregoing clause in this manner, I said indeed, Ye have seen, &c., Deuteronomy 29:2, and thine eyes have seen, &c., but I must recall my words, for in truth you have not seen them; in seeing you have not seen, and perceiving you have not perceived them: you have perceived and seen them with the eyes of your body, but not with your minds and hearts; you have not seen them to any purpose; you have not yet learned rightly to understand the word and works of God, so as to know them for your good, and to make a right use of them, and to comply with them; which he expresseth thus,
the Lord hath not given you, & c., not to excuse their wickedness, but partly to direct them what course to take, and to whom they must have recourse for the amending of their former errors, and for a good understanding and improvement of God’s works; and partly to aggravate their sin, and to intimate that although the hearing ear, and the seeing eye, and the understanding heart, be the workmanship of God, Proverbs 20:12, and the effects of his special grace, Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 31:33; Jeremiah 32:39, &c., yet their want of this grace was their own fault, and the just punishment of their former sins; their present case being like theirs in Isaiah’s time, who first shut their eyes and ears that they might not see and hear, and would not understand, and then by the tremendous, but righteous judgment of God, had their hearts made fat, and their eyes and ears closed, that they should not be able to see, and hear, and understand, as is manifest from the history of their carriage in the wilderness.
So far that it was necessary for you to throw them away, and to get new ones. See on "Deuteronomy 8:4".
Not eaten bread, i.e. common bread purchased by your own money, or made by your own hands, but heavenly and angelical bread, Deuteronomy 8:3; Psalms 78:24,Psalms 78:25. You have subsisted without bread, the staff of life.
Neither wine or strong drink, but only water out of the rock.
The Lord your God; the Lord omnipotent and all-sufficient for your provision, without the help of any creatures, and your God in covenant with you, who hath a true affection to you, and fatherly care of you, even when ordinary means fail.
Before the Lord your God; in his presence, who sees your hearts and carriages; and before his tabernacle, where it is probable they were now called together, and assembled for this work. See Deuteronomy 29:2.
Thy stranger; such strangers as had embraced their religion.
From the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water; all sorts of persons, yea, even the meanest of them, such as these were, Joshua 9:27, all sorts and ranks of servants.
Into covenant, and into his oath, i.e. into covenant or agreement, confirmed by a solemn oath.
i.e. With your posterity; for so the covenant was made at first with Abraham and his seed, by which, as God engaged himself to continue the blessing of Abraham upon his posterity, so he also engaged them to the same duties and conditions which were required of Abraham. So it is even among men, where a king confers an estate upon a subject and his heirs for ever, upon some certain conditions, all his heirs who enjoy that benefit are obliged to the same conditions. But whatsoever becomes of man’s right, God the Creator and sovereign Lord of all men and things hath an unquestionable right and power to oblige all persons that are or shall be to such conditions as he pleaseth, and especially to such conditions as are for their own benefit, which is the present case.
In the land of Egypt, where you have seen their idolatries, and learned too much of them, as the golden calf showed, and therefore need to renew your covenant with God; where also we were in dreadful bondage, whence God alone hath delivered us, to whom therefore we are deeply obliged, and have all reason to renew our covenant with him.
How we came through the nations, i.e. with what hazards, if God had not appeared for us.
What sorry tools they are, what senseless and ridiculous deities; so that you have great reason to value your God, and to cleave to him in covenant, and to take heed of such abominable idolatries.
Lest there should be; or take heed or beware lest there be; for it seems to be an ellipsis, or defect of a verb, which is usual in Scripture, and which we have in a case parallel to this. Genesis 3:22. And now we must take care lest he put forth, &c. Or this particle lest may be joined with Deuteronomy 29:14,Deuteronomy 29:15, to this purpose, I now renew the covenant with you, and with your posterity, lest any of you or yours should be tempted to depart from God, &c. Whose heart turneth away, i.e. who turneth away from God to idols, not by constraint, but by choice, and the inclination of his own heart. By this phrase he leads them to the spring of their sin and ruin, even their own hearts, which he admonisheth them hereby to look to above all things.
A root; either,
1. An evil heart inclining you to such cursed idolatry, and bringing forth bitter fruits. Or rather,
2. Some secret and subtle apostate, who lurks and works like a root under ground, and slyly conveys his poison to the infection of others; for both the foregoing and following words speak of some particular person.
Gall and wormwood, i.e. which though for the present it may please your fancy, yet in the end, assure yourselves, will produce bitter fruits, not only distasteful to God, but also poisonful and destructive to yourselves.
When he, i.e. that root or that man mentioned Deuteronomy 29:18.
Of this curse, i.e. of that oath mentioned Deuteronomy 29:12, wherein he swore that he would keep covenant with God, and that with a curse pronounced against himself if he did not perform it. Now if when he reads this again, or hears of it from others.
Bless himself in his heart, i.e. flatter himself in his own eyes, as Psalms 36:2, with vain conceits and hopes, as if God did not mind such things, and either could not or would not punish them. Compare Psalms 49:18; Jeremiah 2:20; Zechariah 11:5.
Peace, i.e. safety and prosperity.
Though I walk in the imagination of mine heart; though in my practices and worship I do not follow God’s command, but my own devices, and whatsoever my fancy best liketh, minding nothing but the gratifying of mine own fancy and humour.
To add drunkenness to thirst; i.e. not only to satisfy his
thirst, i.e. his concupiscence and inclination to wickedness, but even to exceed it, as drunkards take ofttimes more than their appetite desires, and drink out of mere wantonness, or from a desire to be drunk; and as filthy persons commit lewdness with others more than their natural inclinations desire, or their strength can well bear, merely from a wicked mind, and from contempt of God, and because they will do so. The words may be rendered, to add thirst to drunkenness, the particle eth, which is a note of the accusative case, being joined with thirst, and not with drunkenness; and so the sense may be this, that when he hath multiplied his sins, and made himself as it were drunk with them, yet he is not satisfied therewith, but still whets his appetite, and provokes his thirst after more, as drunkards commonly will use means and temptations to make themselves thirst after more drink, that they may drink more abundantly. Or thus, to add the moist or moistening to the thirsty, i.e. instead of restraining and mortifying, as he ought to do, fully and greedily to satisfy his idolatrous or wicked inclinations, and resolved to give up himself to all the desires of his own heart. Compare Job 34:7; Proverbs 23:35; Isaiah 30:1; Isaiah 56:12; Ephesians 4:19.
Shall smoke, i.e. shall burn and break forth with flame and smoke as it were from a furnace. Compare Psalms 18:8.
Blot out his name from under heaven, i.e. destroy his person and memory from amongst men.
Unto evil, i.e. unto some peculiar and exemplary plague; he will make him a monument of his displeasure to the whole land.
According to all the curses of the covenant; he intimates that the covenant of grace, which God made with them, hath not only blessings belonging to it, as this foolish person imagined, but curses also to the transgressors of it.
The words following, Deuteronomy 29:24,Deuteronomy 29:25, &c.
Is brimstone, and salt, and burning, i.e. is burnt up and made barren, as with brimstone and salt. See Judges 9:45; Psalms 107:34; Jeremiah 17:6; Ezekiel 47:11.
i.e. Whom God had not given or divided to them, as their portion, or for their worship, but hath divided them unto all nations, as it is said, Deuteronomy 4:19, not for their worship, but for their use and service. So he speaks here of the sun and moon and stars, which were the principal gods worshipped by the neighbouring nations. Or, to whom none hath given this, i.e. that they should be worshipped, or, to whom no worship belongs. So this is an argument against idolatry. Or,
who had not given unto them, to wit, any thing: it is an ellipsis of the accusative, which is very frequent: gods known to them by no benefits received from them, as they had from their God, whom therefore it was the greater folly and ingratitude to forsake.
Having now mentioned the dreadful and amazing judgments of God upon the whole land and people of Israel, and foreseeing by the Spirit of prophecy the utter extirpation and destruction which would come upon them for their wickedness, he breaks out into this pathetical exclamation, either to bridle their curiosity, who hearing this, would be apt to inquire into the time and manner of so great an event; or to quiet his own mind, and satisfy the scruples of others, who perceiving God to deal so severely with his own people, when in the mean time he suffered those nations which were guilty of grosser atheism, and idolatry, and impiety than the generality of the Jewish people were, to live and prosper in the world, might thence take occasion to deny or reproach his providence, or question the equity of his proceedings. To this he answers, that the ways and judgments of God, though never unjust, are ofttimes secret and hidden from us, and unsearchable by our shallow capacities, and are matter for our admiration, not for our inquiry.
Unto us and to our children: but the things which are revealed by God and his word, these are the proper object of our inquiries and studies, that thereby we may come to the knowledge of our duty, by the practice whereof we may be kept from such terrible punishments and calamities as these now mentioned.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 29". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26