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Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary Preacher's Homiletical
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 28". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ phc/ deuteronomy-28.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 28". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
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CRITICAL NOTES.—Moses now enlarges and gives the blessings and curses in detail (cf. Exodus 23:20-23 and Leviticus 26:0.) The blessings are declared in fourteen verses; the curses require nearly four times as many. Thus here again the curse is the more conspicuous feature in the law Speak. Com. Obedience the condition of blessing and this is repeated at beginning (Deuteronomy 28:2) middle (29) and close (Deuteronomy 28:13-14) in positive and energetic form.
Deuteronomy 28:1-6. Blessings actual powers which follow and overtake them in all relations of life. Field (Deuteronomy 28:3; Leviticus 26:3.) Body (Deuteronomy 28:4), i.e. children. Basket (Deuteronomy 28:5) for carrying articles for personal use (Deuteronomy 26:2). Store lit. kneading-trough, in which daily bread is prepared (Exodus 12:34). Comest in all journeys or affairs and administrations (Numbers 27:17; Deuteronomy 31:2; 2 Samuel 3:25.)
Deuteronomy 28:7-14. Effects of blessings expressed in the optative forms earnestly desired. May the Lord bless, etc. Conquest over enemies (Deuteronomy 28:7). Flee in rout, in many ways. Storehouses (Deuteronomy 28:8) underground generally (Leviticus 26:7-8). Exhaltation (Deuteronomy 28:9). Holy (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 7:6). Called (Deuteronomy 28:10) rightly and truly a most excellent and favoured people. Plenteous (Deuteronomy 28:11) lit. shall make thee abound in good, superabundance for good, i.e. for happiness and prosperity (cf. Deuteronomy 30:9.) Treasures rain and fruitful seasons. Head (Deuteronomy 28:13) independent in power and dignity (Isaiah 9:14; Isaiah 19:15). Tail not vassals. (Deuteronomy 28:14) emphatic conditions on which blessings depend.
Deuteronomy 28:15-19. Curses proclaimed in sixfold repetition, the exact counterpart of blessing almost. “The special modes in which these threats should be executed are described in five groups of denunciations,” Deuteronomy 28:20-68. (Speak. Com.)
Deuteronomy 28:20-26. First group. Cursing (cf. Malachi 2:2) on all they do, issuing in various forms of disease. famine, and defeat in war. Vex. Confusion, as armies in defeat (cf. Deuteronomy 7:23; 1 Samuel 14:20), Pestilence. Fatal epidemic (1 Kings 8:37; Amos 4:10). Consumption. Wasting sickness, not European phthisis. Fever. Acute disease. Sword. Others drought or heat; curse rests on vegetation. Brass (Deuteronomy 28:23). Hard, dry, and shut up from giving rain. Dust shall fall like showers—dry, and as a burning sirocco (Deuteronomy 28:25). Smitten (cf. Leviticus 26:17; Isaiah 30:17). Removed. Not dispersion among heathen, but driven from one place to another without settlement. Meat (Deuteronomy 28:26), a great horror, the case with many Jews in Antiochian persecution (Psalms 79:2).
Deuteronomy 28:27-34. Second Group. Loathsome diseases, and humbled and oppressed by calamities. Botch, black leprosy, peculiar to Eg. (Exodus 9:9). Emarods. fistula or piles. Scab. scurvy. Itch, most malignant in East. Deuteronomy 28:28. Mental ailments, bewilderment, and paralysed with terror. Mad (Jeremiah 25:16-18). Grope, like the blind, in painful uncertainty (Isaiah 59:10). Deuteronomy 28:30. Utter spoliation. Everything dear taken and not restored (Deuteronomy 28:31). Might. All help would fail (Genesis 31:29).
Deuteronomy 28:35-46. Third Group. As such diseases separated from men so Israel would be separated, rejected by God and brought under the dominion of strangers. Knees. Incurable leprosy, affecting joints, extremities, and whole body. King. A prophetic anticipation. No king given under Mosaic system. Serve. Seduced or compelled by idolatry as in Assyrian and Babylonish captivity (Jeremiah 44:17-19).
Deuteronomy 28:38. In their own land curse would rest upon labour and enterprise (Micah 6:15; Haggai 1:6; Joel 1:4). Worms. Weevil destructive to vines. Deuteronomy 28:43-44 compare with Deuteronomy 28:12-13 Sign (Deuteronomy 28:46). A warning to other nations. For ever. A remnant would return to faith and obedience (Romans 9:27; Romans 11:5)
Deuteronomy 28:47-57. Fourth Group. More severe calamities are described in subjugation to a foreign foe.
Deuteronomy 28:49. Nation. Some think the Chaldeans. “But it needs only to read this part of the denunciation and to compare it with the narrative of Josephus’ De Bell. Jud. VI. to see that its full and exact accomplishment took place in the wars of Vespasian and Titus against the Jews, as indeed the Jews generally admit.” Speak. Com. Eagle. Roman ensign (cf. Matthew 24:28). Fierce (Deuteronomy 28:50). Strong of face (cf. Daniel 7:23), upon whom nothing would make impression. The foe would consume cattle, besiege towers, and so distress them that they would eat the fruit of their body, i.e., their own children (2 Kings 6:24-30; Jeremiah 19:9). The effeminate man would have an evil eye. i.e., envy toward a brother who had nothing left to give to the revolting viands.
Deuteronomy 28:55. The tender woman would be led to appease hunger by her young one, her after-birth, and then with her children.
Deuteronomy 28:58-68. Ultimate issue of the curse in uprooting Israel and dispersing them if obstinate in rebellion Book the Law or Pentateuch. The diseases of Egypt would decimate them remarkably fulfilled in persecution and war. God, who had done them good, would rejoice over their destruction; those who survived would be scattered (cf Leviticus 26:33; Jeremiah 16:13; Eccles. 48:15; Jos. De Bell. Jude 1:6. 9:2). They would find no rest (cf. Jeremiah 36:26; Amos 9:4). Life would be suspended on a mere visible thread, which might be snapped any moment (Deuteronomy 28:66). Brought out of Egypt by mighty power, they would be carried back in slave ships and become bondmen.
NATIONAL OBEDIENCE AND UNIVERSAL PROSPERITY.—Deuteronomy 28:1-6
National obedience would be rewarded with extraordinary prosperity.
I. Prosperity in city and country (Deuteronomy 28:3). The city needs God in business; councils, boards, and counting-houses would never increase and prosper without Him. “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that (are builders of it) build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalms 127:1). The field—such a contrast from the city, for “God made the country, but man made the town”—needs God’s sunshine and shower. In trade and agriculture they would prosper if obedient.
II. Increase of population and of cattle (Deuteronomy 28:4). “The fruit of thy body.” A numerous offspring was promised to Abraham (Genesis 22:17). Children healthy and happy “are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalms 127:3). There should be increase in cattle, kine, nd flocks of sheep, and the ground should produce enough to keep them.
III. Abundant supply of the necessities of life. In their basket and in their store they would never want—enough for personal and domestic use, no scarcity in anything. “Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”
IV. Safety in all journeys. “When thou comest in and when thou goest out” (Deuteronomy 28:6). We need constant protection on sea and land, in train and market traps. What wrecks, what accidents we read of! How we depend upon God! Never safe, never easy, if He suspends His favour! If He bless, go where we will and engage in what trade we like, all is well. “The blessing of the Lord it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it.”
EFFECTS OF DIVINE BLESSING IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF LIFE.—Deuteronomy 28:7-10
The effects of God’s blessing, like the influence of gentle showers, would be diffusive and rest upon them in all circumstances and conditions of life. This is seen in three relationships, to their enemies, to trade, and to other nations.
I. Supremacy over enemies (Deuteronomy 28:7). They shall be smitten and put to flight in various ways. A small number would over-match a mighty host. On God’s side we are on the right side. “God and one man are always a majority” says one. “There is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.
II. Success in all undertakings. “In all that thou settest thine hand unto” (Deuteronomy 28:8). In all handicraft and labour, in what they had and in what they did they would be blessed. If rich, we must not be idle. Accumulation of wealth may be accumulation of sorrow. Life which may be a continual feast may be a constant vexation if not faithful to God. “Godliness is profitable unto all things, etc.”
III. Increase of national glory. This glory is special, universal and certain.
1. In renewed covenant. God would exalt them in character and position according to the oath which he made from the first. An oath never forgotten, but specially mentioned and confirmed for help and encouragement to His people. They were a peculiar and special treasure unto Him above all people.
2. In exalted holiness. “An holy people unto himself” (Deuteronomy 28:9). He not only takes them, but keeps them in the covenant. Establishes them in holiness and truth. This is the highest honour. Outward prosperity decays like a flower, withers away like Jonah’s gourd; but the glory of holy character and conduct is a glory that excels.
3. In great wealth. “Thou shalt lend unto many nations and thou shalt not borrow” (Deuteronomy 28:12). The borrower is always servant to the lender. But they would have money to lend, never be reduced to straits, to dependence upon others—never become victims of cruelty, nor even objects of sympathy.
4. In mighty power. “The head and not the tail.” Never servile, but always supreme. “Above only rising in wealth, dignity, and power, and not beneath.” This realised in the time of David and Solomon. Loyalty to God is the way to ascendency among nations. “The ancient and honourable he is the head.”
5. In universal favour “All people of the earth shall see and be afraid of thee (Deuteronomy 28:10). When God is with us, and his glory reflected in holy life, men reverence our grandeur and fear our authority. The nearer to God, the greater our influence over men. An obedient holy Church would be a formidable power, “terrible as an army with banners.” All people would see its spiritual distinctions, feel its moral force and mysterious influence (Acts 2:43; Acts 4:13; Joshua 2:10-11.) “There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the Lord your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land.”
WONDERFUL BLESSINGS.—Deuteronomy 28:1-14
I. Blessings extensive in their character (Deuteronomy 28:3-7). Given to Israel first, but for every nation that fears God and keeps His commands. Reaching into the future and enduring for ever.
1. Wide in their sphere. For family and city, social intercourse, business and war. Comprehending everything needful for a nation’s wealth, health, and happiness.
2. Abundant in variety. Rain in its seasons, increase of cattle and flocks, increase of men and of honour. Temporal and spiritual in going out and coming in, upon individuals, households and possessions.
II. Blessings certain in their bestowment. Not merely by the soil of Canaan or the laws of Nature; but by special promise and special providence “Thy God will set thee on high.” “All these blessings shall come upon thee.” We speak of “the reign of law,” and forget that all laws physical or spiritual are ordained and controlled by one supreme lawgiver. Fidelity to God prompts to right use of means and reaps the results of natural laws. “All things work together” (in harmony, not in opposition) for good (as the result) to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).
III. Blessings conditioned in their enjoyment. Not given at random and without special design. The conditions of their tenure are plain—
1. Attention to God’s will. “If thou shalt hearken diligently”—eager and diligent attention given to every word of God.
2. Obedience to God’s commands. “To observe and to do all His commandments”—obedience habitual, sincere, and devout.
3. Perseverance in good. Unswerving in principle, apostacy would provoke divine judgments. These are the conditions, repeated in positive and negative form, in Deuteronomy 28:2; Deuteronomy 28:9; Deuteronomy 28:13-14. “Thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them” (Deuteronomy 28:14).
IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES OF LIFE
We may sum up the preceding thoughts in a brief sketch of the principles which ought to influence our conduct.
I. That our future happiness largely depends upon our present conduct. “If thou shalt.” Man is free to choose, obedience is not forced. Life and death set before us, which shall it be? “Choose ye.”
II. That obedience to God alone will secure this happiness. God has pledged this; a kind providence fulfils the pledge, sends blessings in time and place where most needed.
III. That therefore obedience is the best policy for nations and individuals. There is intimate connection between conduct and destiny, between morality and worldly prosperity. Regard to our own interests, to divine law, and to the future welfare of the country urge decision for God—instant and earnest decision. “For it is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life, and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 28:2. The happy journey. I. The direction indicated, “overtake thee.”
1. Started for God and His service, or could not be overtaken.
2. Obedient to the guide. The voice heard. God’s will revealed in Scripture or could not be fulfilled.
3. Progress made. No loitering, no standing still, constantly going on. II. The blessings which accompany those who walk in this direction. All good things mentioned shall come upon them, overtake them and rest upon them in every stage of their journey—“Unexpectedly befall thee. ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow thee’ (Psalms 22:6), as the evening sunbeams follow the passenger, as the rock-water followed the Israelites in the wilderness and overtook them in their stations (1 Corinthians 10:4). ‘O continue,’ or draw out to the length, ‘thy loving kindness unto them that know thee (Psalms 36:11). There will be a continued series, a connexion between them to all such.”—Trapp.
Deuteronomy 28:5. Store. Cicero saith, one friend should wish to another three things only, to enjoy health, to possess honour, and not suffer necessity. He that observeth God’s commands, shall have all these and more.—Trapp.
Deuteronomy 28:7. The routed enemy. This is a world of conflict. Incessant war between truth and error. This verse describes I. The enemy’s attack.
1. It was united: gathered into one force;
2. Concentrated. II. The enemy’s defeat.
1. Not a strategic movement;
2. But a disorderly flight (ill. morning at Waterloo: the evening cry—“Let him save himself who can”). III. The cause of the defeat.
1. Not by the courage of Israel, or sagacity of leaders.
2. But the help of God.
Divine help is sometimes most apparent (ill. Armada scattered by storm). Learn
(1.) To serve God in times of peace, and then
(2.) you may safely trust him in times of war.—Bib. Museum.
Deuteronomy 28:9-10. Israel’s pre-eminence.
1. In relationship to God.
2. In temporal prosperity, abundant harvest, etc.
3. In the influence over international counsels. Deuteronomy 28:10. Be afraid. The homage of the world to moral worth. God’s name, God’s glory reflected in human character, will not merely command respect, but receive the homage of conscience, and conversation—Nebuchadnezzar and Darius and Daniel, Herod and John, Pharoah and Joseph.
Deuteronomy 28:12. Heaven God’s storehouse, earth depends upon this storehouse—Canaan especially required rain. God keeps the key, opens and shuts according to his good pleasure, to discipline and train the people.
Deuteronomy 28:12-13. I. God in Nature, giving rain and fruitful seasons. II. God in history, bestowing wealth to individuals, exalting nations to dignity favouring the good and confounding the evil.
DISOBEDIENCE AND ITS PENALTIES.—Deuteronomy 28:15-20
The curses are given as counterparts of blessings (Deuteronomy 28:16-19) in sixfold repetition. covering all relationships of life, corresponding to Deuteronomy 28:3-6—Learn:
I. If men are disposed to act rightly, they may be happy. Difficulties lie not in the Lord, in the providence or in the sovereignty of God; all things are ready with him, but men are unwilling. Jerusalem “would not.” Obedience is the surest way to happiness. “Righteousness tendeth to life.” Walking in the precepts we enjoy the promises of God. God appeals to us, seeks to dispose, not to compel us to do right, “Will ye?” If we serve him, we find that in the way of righteousness is life, and in the pathway thereof is no death.
II. If men persist in doing wrong they may be ruined. “If thou wilt not hearken.”
1. Ruined in business. “In city and in field,” in commerce and agriculture (Deuteronomy 28:16). If we love gain and forget God, our schemes may be upset and security taken away. “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right” (Proverbs 16:8).
2. Reduced in daily necessities. “Cursed in basket and in store” (Deuteronomy 28:27). God gives daily bread, sends scarcity and want at his pleasure. Life is sustained, not by bread only, but by his will. If in the midst of plenty, we offend God, the blessings may be turned into curses.
3. Disappointed in family prospects. No fruit of the body: or if children, sickness, and death cut them down in early bloom. No lambs for the flock, no increase of kine; God does not bless and multiply them, but suffers cattle to decrease and disappoints expectations. “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just” (Proverbs 3:33).
4. Unsafe in journeys (Deuteronomy 28:19). A kind providence watches over a good man; but the wicked, through imprudence and neglect, often meet with mishaps. God alone can make our journey prosperous (Genesis 24:21), and for this a Christian will pray (Romans 1:10). Such are some of the ways in which a man may be ruined. The very reverse of former prosperity and a sure indication of God’s providence.
III. Hence persistence in wrong doing is most foolish. Heedless, impetuous, and thoughtless, stripped of all they esteem valuable, exposed to mischief, and deaf to divine learning, sinners go on to their doom. Conduct most reckless and most criminal! God expostulates but in vain. Fighting against God and their own interests! What monstrous folly! What infinite mercy to prevent irremediable destruction. “Ye fools, when will ye be wise?”
FIRST GROUP: SIN AND SUFFERINGS.—Deuteronomy 28:20-26
Judgments are grouped together in series. Examine each in order. From the first group, learn—
I. That sin brings miseries. Sin and suffering are bound together by iron chains. This is—
1. A doctrine of Scripture. “He that pursueth evil, pursueth it to his own death.” “The wages of sin is death.”
2. A law of nature. “Curses never come causeless.” Sin is violation of natural order, and suffering must follow as season follows season.
3. A Divine appointment. Misery springs not from the dust, but is linked by Divine decree to evil doing. Moral laws are as certain in operation and results as natural laws. We cannot evade the issues of conduct; the seed determines the nature of the crop, and the sowing the reaping.
II. That the miseries of sin are often most distressing. What a list in these verses!
1. Consuming pestilence. Cleaving unto men, cemented and inseparable—defying the skill of the physician and the efforts of sanitary authorities.
2. Manifold bodily diseases (Deuteronomy 28:22). Germs of disease float in the atmosphere, and are developed by the conduct of depraved men. Moral poison destroys physical beauty and life, and covers the body with sores and diseases.
3. Terrible drought. Destroying vegetation by “blasting and mildew” (Deuteronomy 28:22). Early and latter rain withheld, and the earth hard and incapable of cultivation. Heaven above as brass, and earth beneath as iron. The surface of the ground reduced to powder, which is taken up by strong winds and poured down in showers of destructive violence (Deuteronomy 28:24).
4. Defeat in war. A nation ever victorious through God, bereft of his help, smitten by the enemy; fleeing away in disgrace; “removed into all the nations of the earth,” or left on the field exposed to indignity, “meat unto all the fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth” (Deuteronomy 28:26). Sin brings ruin—ruin in everything connected with the sinner—ruin in body and soul, in family and estate. We best serve our own interests, and preserve our well-being, for this world and the next, by acting in conformity with God’s word.
“When sorrows come,
They come not single spies,
But in battalions.”—Shakespeare.
ABOVE AND BENEATH.—Deuteronomy 28:23-24
These words have a moral application and may typify spiritual dearth.
I. Above abundant supplies. A storehouse full of good things, ready to be poured out. The Holy Spirit and showers of divine blessings. “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.”
II. Beneath, parched ground. The ministry needs quickening. The Church languishes. Failure of effort and lack of conversions. The vineyard of God unfruitful and the world perishing. “Popularize your societies” is the cry of many; we say vitalize them. “I beheld, and lo. the fruitful place was a wilderness.”
III. How to remove the sterility. It is not designed to be permanent.
1. Forsake sin. This brings blight and curse. “He turneth a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.”
2. Pray to God. “Prayer,” says Robert Hall, “is a spring which the Almighty never fails to touch when He has a rich blessing to communicate to His church.” Unexpected and marvellous things may be witnessed through prayer. “Prove me now herewith, said the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 28:20. The Threefold Curse. Cursing, vexation, and rebuke.
1. Moral in its cause. “Wickedness of thy doings … Thou hast forsaken me.”
2. Extensive in its scope. “In all that thou settest thine hand unto.”
3. Long in its duration. “Until.”
4. Terrible in its end. “Destroyed.” “Perish quickly.” … “The first of these words seems to import that God would blast all their designs; the second relates to disquiet and perplexity of mind arising from disappointment of their hopes, and presages of approaching miseries; the third respects such chastisements from God as would give them a severe check and rebuke for their sins and follies.”
Deuteronomy 28:22. Seven Plagues. What a fearful thing, to fall into the hands of the living God!
Deuteronomy 28:23-24. The pitiless storm.
1. Endangering life, blinding eyes, filling nostrils and mouth, making it difficult to breathe and drive in the street.
2. Creating intense thirst; the lips crack, and no water to slake burning thirst.
3. Affording no shelter; often no bush, no rock, no friendly house to hide from the fierce simoon.—Cf. Dr. Porter, and Ld. and Bk. II. 311, Thom.
SECOND GROUP: THE POWER OF GOD IN THE AFFLICTION OF MEN.—Deuteronomy 28:27–Once the sinner having set himself against God, he of necessity suffers in mind, body, and estate. The primitive laws of nature become executors of God’s power and judgments.
I. God’s power displayed in human life. God is absolutely supreme, a law unto Himself and does what He will among men.
1. In the human body (Deuteronomy 28:27). God, who built our body, can smite it with disease; acute and loathsome; torture every nerve, and render man hideous from “the sole of the foot to the crown of the head.”
2. In the human mind (Deuteronomy 28:28). Mental sufferings are greater than bodily. It the mind is smitten and reason dethroned, man is down and no physician can help him up. With a healthy body, elevated desires and happy prospects, we may triumph over physical suffering. But when body and mind are tortured, how terrible! “A wounded spirit, who can bear?”
3. In the social circle (Deuteronomy 28:30). Wife, house and vineyard, everything most dear would be touched and taken by the curse. Sin robs of family joys and family status. Domestic comfort, reputation and property all go. Often from heights of worldly greatness, families fall to the lowest depths of degradation and distress. “For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this” (2 Chronicles 29:9).
II. God’s power displayed in national history. Nations are but men, governed by the providence, according to the purpose of God. He can dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. God has power.
1. Over the possessions of nations. “Vineyards” are planted by Him. Sheep and oxen; “the cattle on a thousand hills are His.” A nation’s property may be great, constantly accumulating, and apparently secure, but if unjustly gained, ungratefully held or wickedly abused, God may give it to the “enemies and thou shalt have none to rescue” (Deuteronomy 28:31). “He increaseth the nations and destroyeth them; He enlargeth the nations and straiteneth (carrieth them away) again (Job 12:23).
2. Over the population of nations. God builds up a people in number, as well as in material wealth. But “He breaketh down and it cannot be built again.” Vice poisons the blood and destroys the life; war, famine and pestilence waste the inhabitants of nations. Posterity, to whom are committed the interests of commerce, the defence of the throne and the glory of our name, are often cut off by divine judgments. “I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord.”
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.
III. God’s power irresistible in its displays. Israel would see their children carried captives but have “no might in their hand” to rescue them, and would pine away in sorrow (Deuteronomy 28:32).
1. Powerless to resist His doings. Power is seen in creation, sustenance and government of the world. “He is mighty in strength,” the force of all forces, in heaven and earth. “Men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts.” “I will work and who shall let it” (hinder, or turn it back) Isaiah 43:13.
2. Powerless to resist his purpose. No man, no combination of men can prevent the fulfilment of His plan. “He is of one mind, and who can turn Him?” Can a pebble hinder the advancing tide? God moves on in majestic power. Nations are futile in their rage and opposition. “If he cut off and shut up (i.e. arrest and imprison), or gather together (call an assembly for judgment), then who can hinder Him?” (Job 11:10). What folly to resist God. “Why dost thou strive against Him?” Has He done you harm? Can you succeed? Submit, avoid the curse and secure the blessing.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 28:28-29. The dreadful power of suffering. “Smite thee with madness.” God’s judgments reach the mind as well as body and estate, make men a terror to themselves and drive them to desperation.
Blindness, physical and mental, loss of sight and confounding of understanding. Unable to devise means to prevent or remove calamities, and led to adopt those which tended directly to their ruin. How true the saying, Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat “Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first infatuates.” What a warning to nations! What an awful type of wicked men!
1. When truth is rejected.
2. Moral light intellectnal and spiritual withdrawn. And
3. Moral vision entirely obscured (cf. Romans 11:18; 2 Corinthians 3:4). “They met with (run into) darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night (Job 5:14).
Deuteronomy 28:27-34. Elements of Distress.
1. Personal annoyances (Deuteronomy 28:27).
2. Mental derangement (Deuteronomy 28:28).
3. Providential reverses (a) In domestic life (Deuteronomy 28:30). (b) In commercial life (Deuteronomy 28:31-33). Distress indicating Divine agency. Divine severity.
THIRD GROUP: THE REJECTION AND DEGRADATION OF ISRAEL.—Deuteronomy 28:35-46
We have here solemn gradation of evils. Confusion and anarchy, uniting with oppression, produce madness of heart; disease pursues its ravages in most malignant forms; labour and enterprise are blasted by the curse, and the nation sinks into total disgrace and ruin.
I. Israel would be cut off from fellowship with God (Deuteronomy 28:35). From “the sole of the foot unto the crown of the head” they would be smitten with loathsome and incurable disease, “a sore botch that cannot be healed.” Leprosy cut off from the society of man, so Israel would be excluded from fellowship with God.
II. Israel would become impoverished at home.
1. The fruits of the land would be consumed. Locusts would devour the seed. They might carry much into the field, but would reap little (Deuteronomy 28:28); the planting and dressing of the vineyard would give no wine to drink, for the worm would devour the vine (Deuteronomy 28:39); the trees would yield no oil to anoint, but would be uprooted or destroyed (Deuteronomy 28:40).
2. They would fall into an inferior position. They would have to borrow money instead of lending (Deuteronomy 28:44); strangers would rise above them in wealth and social rank, “become the head, and they would be the tail;” their condition would be the opposite to Deuteronomy 28:13.
3. A curse would rest upon their children. Children may deteriorate through sin, and carry in their persons the curse of God to future generations. “And upon thy seed for ever.” Israel as a nation would be rejected, but a remnant would be saved (cf. Isaiah 10:22; Isaiah 6:13; Romans 9:27; Romans 11:5).
III. Israel would be a terror to spectators. “For a sign and for a wonder” (Deuteronomy 28:46). God’s doings are not simply wonderful, but signs of supernatural interposition, illustrations of spiritual truth. Never was a people such a sign as the Jews, whose seed for thousands of years have been a wonder over the face of the earth!
IV. Israel would be brought under subjection to a foreign Power.
1. They were taken into captivity (Deuteronomy 28:36). Their kings—Jehoichin (2 Kings 24:12; 2 Kings 24:14), Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:7; 2 Kings 25:11), and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:11)—were taken away by foreign nations. Edward III. had the King of Scots and the King of France captives together. Monarchs with body-guards and means of protection cannot escape the vengeance of God. How hopeless that case when the defender shares the fate of the subjects!
2. They were forced to serve other gods. As in Babylon and in Popish countries. “Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night, where I will not show you favour” (Jeremiah 16:13).
V. Israel would become a byeword among nations (Deuteronomy 28:37). Jews have been despised among Mahometans, Pagans, and Christians. There is scarcely any part of the globe where the prediction has not been verified. “In short, the annals of almost every nation, for 1800 years, afford abundant proofs that this has been, as it still is, the case, the very name of Jew being a universally recognised term for extreme degradation and wretchedness, and is often applied by passionate people in derision—‘You Jew!’ ” “And now am I their song; yea, I am their byeword” (Job 30:9).
GOD’S CONTROL OVER NATURE.—Deuteronomy 28:35; Deuteronomy 28:38-42
I. In the material department. Earth with its produce, in fields and vineyards—heaven with its sun and its showers, are under the superintendence of God and governed in the interests of men. The heavens satisfy the earth and the earth yields its increase to men; but all things in heaven and earth depend upon God. “So that without His bidding,” says Calvin, “not a drop of rain falls from heaven, and the earth produces no germ, and consequently all nature would be barren, unless he gave it fertility by his blessing.” “How long shall the land mourn and the herbs of every field wither for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.
II. In the intelligent department. Over the bodies and minds of men. The beauty of the one and the vigour of the other. The strength of the limb (Deuteronomy 28:35) and the use of reason (Deuteronomy 28:28) come from Him. The condition of the parents and the fate of the children are fixed by His providence (Deuteronomy 28:41). God directs and controls all forces and all agencies to accomplish His designs. None are beyond the reach and none can escape the punishment of God. “All troubles,” says Bishop Reynolds, “have their commission and instructions from Him—what to do, whither to go, whom to touch, and whom to pass over.”
PARENTAL DISAPPOINTMENT.—Deuteronomy 28:41
I. Parents anticipate great things from children. Dutiful conduct and reverence, joy, advancement, honour and prosperity. Gratitude, needful help and preservation of family name.
II. Parents are often disappointed in their children. Sometimes cut down by early death. They often turn out badly, a curse instead of a blessing. They are taken captives by evil habits and evil company—because disloyal and unnatural. “God help me, my own children have forsaken me,” said James
2. who stands forth a type of a deserted father. “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 28:35. Diseases.
3. Incurable (cf. Isaiah 1:4-6).
Deuteronomy 28:37. A Proverb.
1. A fact.
2. A dishonour.
3. A punishment.
4. A witness to prophetic truth. What a fall from the original mission of Israel. “Poets, dramatists, have all taken the Jew as the personation of what is mean, grasping, and avaricious (“Greedy as a Jew.” “Avaricious as a Jew”). Yet he is not more so, intrinsically, than we are; it is circumstances that have made him so; it is persecution and ill-treatment that have crushed him. And all this is the fulfilment of prophecies old as the days of Moses, and yet not the justification of his persecutors.”—Dr. Cumming. This teaches two important lessons: First, he explains this severe persecution, permitted by God to fall upon them because they were set up as a model nation chosen from heathendom, enriched with privileges, glory and position. But they were untrue, forsook God; and the height of the dignity to which they were raised, is the measure of the depth of degradation to which they have sunk for abuse of it. Secondly, how impossible to escape the conclusion that the Book of Deuteronomy is inspired! The predictions in this chapter, and in the ensuing one, are so specific, so literal, that they carry in their own bosoms the tests of inspiration.—(Idem).
FOURTH GROUP: DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD RESULTING IN SERVITUDE TO MAN. Deuteronomy 28:47-57
Every department of national life has been under the curse; yet, in love to His people and earnest desire to preserve them from wrath, the faithful servant of God goes further, and pictures greater severity in bondage to heathen yoke. Having forsaken God, they were left in servitude to man.
I. If Israel would not obey God, they would be compelled to serve enemies. “Because thou servedst not the Lord, therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies” (Deuteronomy 28:47-48).
1. Serve in hunger and want. “In hunger, thirst, nakedness and in want of all things.” “Man’s life,” says Calvin, “is not shut up in bread, but hangs on the Sovereign will and good pleasure of God.” He can withhold bread, take away water, create natural and spiritual distress in schools, churches, and nations.
2. Serve in vigorous oppression. “He shall put a yoke of iron about thy neck” (Deuteronomy 28:49). Instead of the easy yoke of God, they would be slaves to a cruel foe (cf. Jeremiah 27:11-12). Those who refuse reasonable service to God, will have to bow to the tyranny of sin.
II. These enemies would be most barbarous and cruel. This description might apply to the Chaldeans when compared with Moabites, Philistines and other neighbours in Judea, but the Romans answer best to it.
1. Enemies which scorn the distant foe. They came “from far,” from France, Spain and Britain—then considered the end of the earth.
2. Enemies which defy the strength of battlements (Deuteronomy 28:52). All fortified places to which the people escaped were taken, and the walls of Jerusalem razed to the ground.
3. Enemies which have no pity for the people. “Not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young” (Deuteronomy 28:50). Josephus says the Romans had no mercy for infants and spared neither sex nor age. Cruel and insensible to human instincts.
4. Enemies of ruthless vengeance. “Fruit of thy cattle, fruit of thy land,” all consumed. The invader destroyed everything within reach, every district through which they passed was strewed with wrecks of devastation.
5. Enemies of sudden approach. Swift as an eagle—the ensign of the standards of the Roman army—pouncing violently upon its prey. It is true morally and physically that “where the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”
III. In their distress and siege Israel would be driven to horrible extremities (Deuteronomy 28:53-57).
1. Famine would lead them to eat the fruit of their own body (Deuteronomy 28:53). Fulfilled 2 Kings 6:25; 2 Kings 6:28-29; Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 4:10; Bar. 2:3; and in the Roman siege.
2. Famine would create domestic jealousy. The man of luxury would envy his relatives if better off than himself; or avoid them in jealousy and fear lest they should discover and demand a share of his unnatural viands. “In every house where there was any appearance of food, the dearest relatives fought each other for it—even mothers their infants.”—(Josephus).
3. Famine would destroy natural affection. The delicate and sensitive woman would be unrestrained by natural affection and appease her hunger with her offspring and afterbirth. In the siege of Samaria, a woman boiled her son (2 Kings 6:28-29), which was also done in the siege by the Romans. Famine was so terrible, that “for want of all things,” the leather of girdles, shoes and shields, and even stale dung of oxen were eagerly devoured (cf. Ezekiel 5:10; Jeremiah 19:9). Such were the awful consequences of forsaking God.
One woe doth tread upon another’s heel,
So fast they follow.—Shakespeare.
Thus woe succeeds woe, as wave a wave.—Herrick.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 28:47. Joyful Service. I. Its Motive. God’s goodness in personal mercies, family mercies, spiritual mercies. II. Its embodiment in secret and social devotion, in songs of praise, grateful offerings and loyal obedience. Here we have duty and favour, “the duty of delight,” as a modern writer would say, labour and sunshine. “The love which does not lead to labour will soon die out; and the thankfulness which does not embody itself in sacrifices is already changing to ingratitude.”
Deuteronomy 28:47-48. The dread alternative. God or man, with joyfulness or in want, etc.
Deuteronomy 28:49-52. Foreign conquest. I. The foe described swift, cruel and strong. II. The mischief he commits. III. The impotence to resist.
Deuteronomy 28:52. Confidence in strongholds. Jews seldom ventured to fight in open fields. They trusted to high and fenced walls. In a special manner they confided in the strength and situation of Jerusalem, as Jebusites, former inhabitants did before them (2 Samuel 5:6-7). Vain is the confidence of the sinner. His stronghold a refuge of lies (Isaiah 28:15). Divine Retribution.
1. Discovers every subject. None can hide from God.
2. Overturns every stronghold.
3. Penetrates every place. “Prince’s palaces are not above, the poor man’s cottage is not beneath the judgment of God.” God is the only stronghold in whom we should trust. Christ is the refuge, flee to him!
THE GLORIOUS AND FEARFUL NAME.—Deuteronomy 28:58
The name of Jehovah most prominent here to check the downward course, secure glory and regard. Pause and consider its nature and demands.
I. A Name revealed in Scripture. Not known to patriarchs, or if known not understood in its fulness and blessing (Exodus 6:3). It was a preface to the law (Exodus 20:2) and a special revelation to Moses (Exodus 3:13-15; Exodus 6:3), indicating a God faithful and self-existent, absolute being, and infinite perfection; a Name above every name, never to be uttered without reverence, the sanctity of which aggravates crime against it. It is the scriptural, the theocratic name of God.
II. A Name written in Nature. In letters of burning splendour in heaven above and earth beneath; “glorious” in goodness and “fearful” in power. In thunder, lightning, and earthquake we have displays of power and majesty. Men speak of laws and forces of nature; true science discerns God, and spells his name in all departments (cf. Psalms 104:0.): “For that Thy name is near Thy wondrous works declare” (Psalms 75:1).
III. A Name illustrated in Providence. It has been vindicated and honoured in history—
1. In displays of power. “Twice”—. ie., again and again in his providential government of the world—” have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God” (Psalms 62:11). God repeats the lesson if man will only hear (Job 33:14).
2. In displays of judgment. In Egypt and Babylon, in the Flood, in the destruction of Sodom and Jerusalem, God’s “judgments are manifest” (Revelation 15:4).
3. In displays of mercy. Mercy as well as power belongs to God (Psalms 62:12); mercy consonant with justice—mercy to the obedient and justice to offender. “The name of the God of Jacob (the manifested power and faithfulness of the God who saved Jacob in the day of trouble (Genesis 32:0) defend thee (lit. exalt, set thee on high and in a secure place”) (Psalms 20:1). Thus have we a continual manifestation of this memorial name (Hosea 12:5). “This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations (Exodus 3:15).
FIFTH GROUP: OBSTINATE REBELLION BRINGS UTTER RUIN—Deuteronomy 28:58-68
These are not expressions of vindictive feeling. God delights to bless, not to curse. But they describe natural consequences of transgression. In its beginning, progress and ultimate issue fearful is rebellion—constant rebellion against God.
I. Obstinate Rebellion increases calamities. Sin unpardoned develops new symptoms, and as the evil grows greater miseries follow.
1. It prolongs and intensifies those we have. “The Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, great plagues of long continuance (Deuteronomy 28:59).” God must rule. Afflictions are not taken away until the desired end is accomplished, Deuteronomy 28:23; Deuteronomy 20:2. It brings others upon us. “Every plague not written will the Lord bring upon thee,” Deuteronomy 28:61. God has infinite resources. As in the case of Job the climax is terrible. “Thou renewest thy witnesses (marg. plagues) against me, and increases thine indignation upon me; changes and war (successions and a host, i.e., one host succeeding another) are against me” (Job 10:17).
II. Obstinate rebellion turns God’s love into anger. His procedure towards men is changed by their disobedience.
1. In rejecting His people. “As the Lord rejoiced to do good so will be rejoice to destroy, bring to nought and pluck off” (Deuteronomy 28:63). The loss of children, the decay of prosperity and future hope grievous. But when God withdraws His presence and providence, nothing can sustain a church or people. Awful to be forsaken of God. To have his countenance turned from us and against us in trouble—to have frowns instead of smiles, must be hell and not heaven. “Woe also to them when I depart from them.”
2. In scattering them abroad. “The Lord shall scatter thee among all people,” etc. (Deuteronomy 28:64). Uprooted from Canaan, and driven to wander homeless to the ends of the earth. If no true allegiance to God, country, societies, and creeds cannot unite and secure. “The Lord scattered them abroad” (Genesis 11:8).
3. In reducing them to slavery. “Ye shall be sold for bondsmen” (Deuteronomy 28:68). Once they marched triumphant out of Egypt, but they would return as slaves in the ships of Tyre, Sidon, and Rome (Josephus). Those who live in luxury often lose their liberty and become reduced to servitude—servitude disgraceful and most severe. “So they came into the land of Egypt, for they obeyed not the voice of the Lord” (Jeremiah 43:7).
III. Obstinate rebellion endangers human life. “Thy life shall hang in doubt before thee” (Deuteronomy 28:66). Endangers.
1. By grievous suffering. Diseases of Egypt were brought upon them. Often acute physical disease, hideous and loathsome. Sometimes mental agony, sorrow of mind extinguishing the hope of life, or rendering it impossible to bear. “The days of affliction have taken hold (fast hold) upon me (as armed men besieging a city) a sad contrast to former days (Job 30:16).
2. By constant risks. There was no assurance, no certainty of life (Deuteronomy 28:66). Dangers, real and imaginary, create constant fear. Life’s thread may break. Its length may be unexpected and strong, but time will cut it down. “For live how we can, yet die we must.”—(Shakespeare.)
3. By premature death. Wickedness shortens life. “The evil that men do,” as well as the good, “lives after them.” “Deceitful men shall not live out half their days” (Psalms 55:23). Sin by its own nature and the righteous judgments of God upon it, bring men to untimely ends; but piety contributes to the length and enjoyment of life. “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days, but the years of the wicked shall be shortened” (Proverbs 10:27). Sinner, stop lest thy sin rise to presumption and forbearance end in certain death! “Neither be thou foolish; why shouldest thou die before thy time?” (Ecclesiastes 7:17).
IV. Obstinate rebellion destroys all remedy. Wilful opposition to the word of God leads to judicial blindness and destruction. When God abhors, he will soon abandon. Mighty population, regal sovereignty, military prowess and national prestige will be smitten like a flower. No remedy, no security against the judgment of God but submission. That kingdom is strongest, most splendid, and most secure which makes God its sovereign. Otherwise hated, forsaken, cast away! Divorced from God, forsaken of God. “I will love them no more.”
What day, what hour, but knock at human hearts,
To wake the soul to sense of future scenes.
GOD-FORSAKEN LIFE—Deuteronomy 28:63-68
When God withdraws, nothing can sustain a church or nation. When the ark of God was taken Ichabod was pronounced. Present affections only foreshadow future judgments. “Woe also to them when I depart from them.”
I. A life of bitterness and sorrow.
1. Bitterness in mind and heart. Conscience stings and fears alarm. Sin is bitterness and gall. Lord Byron declared that his days were “in the yellow leaf,” the flowers and the fruits were gone, “the worm, the canker, and the grief are mine alone.”
2. Bitterness in condition and prospect. Without ease, peace and comfort now (Deuteronomy 28:65) and nothing better in the future. “I close my eyes in misery, and open them without hope,” said the poet Burns, in dying hours.
II. A life of bondage and misery. Bondage to lust, evil habits, and fear of death. Misery is ever linked to sin; like a scorpion, vice brings its own torment (Revelation 9:5). Whatever the sinner does, he finds no relief. “Which way I move is hell, myself am hell,” Milton makes Satan say. “Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart.”
III. A life excluded from God’s Inheritance. “Plucked off the land” and driven into captivity and death. Sin drove man from Eden, and idolatry the Jews from Canaan; so unbelief and rebellion will exclude from heaven. Sinners cannot enter the kingdom of God on earth, and will be disinherited at last. What a warning to all in the bosom of the Church and under the sound of the Gospel! How sad a godless life! “I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Are not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ ” (Deuteronomy 31:17).
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 28:58. The Divine Name—
1. In its glorious nature: “glorious and fearful.”
2. In its covenant relation: “the Lord thy God.”
3. In its requirements upon life: “that thou mayest fear.” The duty of fearing God. I. What God requires of us. That we regard him
(1) with reverential awe;
(2) with obedient love;
(3) with undivided attachment. II. What we must expect at his hands if we comply not with his requisition; our plagues also shall be wonderful (Deuteronomy 28:59)—
(2) hereafter.—C. Simeon, M. A.
Deuteronomy 28:59-64. Great evils.
1. Smitten by the judgment of God with sickness severe, long and increasing (Deuteronomy 28:59-62).
2. Rejected in the covenant of God (Deuteronomy 28:63). “Greatly as the sin of man troubles God, and little as the pleasure may be which he has in the death of the wicked, yet the holiness of his love demands the punishment and destruction of those who despise the riches of his goodness and long-suffering; so that he displays his glory in the judgment of the wicked no less than in blessing and prospering the righteous” (Keil).
3. Scattered by the providence of God (Deuteronomy 28:64).
4. Forced to reject the worship of God. “Thou shalt serve other gods” (Deuteronomy 28:64)—lifeless, senseless gods, which hear not prayer nor deliver from distress.
“When sorrows come
They come not single Spies
But in battalions.”
Deuteronomy 28:63. Great must be wickedness which provokes God to reject and hate His people. Notice,
1. Exclusion from the blessings of the covenant. Driven from the house of God, loss of outward privileges and position. God deprives sinful nations of prestige and position, removes their candlestick for ingratitude, and casts them off for wickedness.
2. Uprooted from the land. God plants and uproots. He can overturn a people as well as pluck up a tree. Nations may have flourishing trade and nobility grand mottoes, but God candestroy their prosperity root and branch; leave them without power to revive inwardly or outwardly. We cannot flourish without God. “He shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling-place, and root thee out of the laud of the living” (Psalms 52:5).
NO REPOSE IN A GODLESS LIFE.—Deuteronomy 28:65
When Israel forsook God He forsook them. The predictions were fulfilled, and they were worse than fugitives and vagabonds in the earth, without settlement and ease. There is no repose in a Godless life.
I. This truth is illustrated in Jewish history. The Jews have been driven from land to land; from Russia, Poland and Spain. For 1800 years or more, they have been homeless, restless, and wretched—a byeword and a proverb.
II. This truth is confirmed by experience. God is the centre of rest, the fountain of bliss, and away from Him we can never find peace. “Thou madest us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it repose in thee” (Augustine).
1. The ungodly find no satisfaction in sin. Sin is disorder, disease, and creates dissatisfaction, bitterness, and anguish. Lord Chesterfield “run the silly rounds of pleasure,” but had “no wish to repeat the nauseous dose.” There is no peace to the wicked; their hearts are “like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt” (Isaiah 57:20-21).
2. The ungodly find no comfort in affliction. They are full of fear and of “tossings to and fro.” Distracted with anxiety, accused by conscience and tormented with guilt, they have restless nights and wearisome days. Sleep, the gift of God, and “tired nature’s sweet restorer,” never refreshes them. Phantoms of horror terrified Tiberius and Caracalla, and fearful visions murdered the rest of Nero. “When I say, my bed shall ease my complaint, then thou scarest me with dreams and terrifiest me with visions” (Job 7:4; Job 7:13).
3. The ungodly have no hope in death. “No ease” nor foundation “for the sole of the foot” on the rock. Solon’s maxim not far wrong—“Call no man happy till death.” Whatever life may be, “What is the hope of the hypocrite (godless person), though he hath gained, when God takes away (cuts off, 6, 9; Isaiah 38:12) his soul?” (Job 27:8). There is rest in Christ, hope in the Gospel. Come and believe—“Ye shall find rest.”
Who builds on less than an immortal base,
Fond as he seems, condemns his joys to death.
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
Deuteronomy 28:65. Triple sorrows.
1. A trembling heart, as opposed to a fixed and courageous heart. A heart without dread of detection, disgrace and punishment. “Virtue is bold and goodness never fearful.”—(Shakespeare).
2. Failing of eyes. Weary of darkness and light, day and night a terror. When the eyes of the soul are put out, the spiritual universe is midnight and despair. “The eyes of the wicked shall fail.”
3. Sorrow of mind. Mental agony depriving of rest, affecting health and spirits. “Full of scorpions is my mind.”—(Shakespeare).
Better be with the dead
Than in the torture of the mind to lie
In restless ecstacy.—Shakespeare.
Deuteronomy 28:66. Life in suspense. “Hang in doubt, lit. “thy life shall be hanging before the, i.e. shall be hanging as it were on a thread, and that before thine eyes.”—(Speak. Com.) This might be taken as a warning. (The sword of Damocles). Take it as a fact.
1. Because naturally uncertain.
2. Because constantly endangered. Risks through guilt, disease, enemies, and divine judgments. Take warning, the thread may be cut any moment. What indifference? “Though death be before the old man’s face it may be behind the young man’s back.”—(Seneca). Serious things to-morrow cost Cæsar and Archias their lives.
Deuteronomy 28:67. A sad picture of a weary life. Deprived of comfort—of physical health and mental vigour under the curse of God. Such a life intolerable. “I loathe it” (Job 7:16). Let us learn from this chapter that our supreme interest is to cultivate the friendship and obey the word of God. Then blessings and not curses! Blessings here, blessings for ever!
Well may your hearts believe the truths I tell; ‘Tis virtue makes the bliss where’er we dwell;
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 28
Deuteronomy 28:1-6. Prosperity. Some years ago, when preaching at Bristol, among other notes I received to pray for individuals, one was this—“A person earnestly desires the prayers of this congregation, who is prospering in trade.” “Ah!” said I to myself, here is a man who knows something of his own heart; here is a man who has read the scriptures to some purpose.”—Jay.
Deuteronomy 28:7-10. Blessing upon thee. God gives us what we have, not so much that we may have it, but that we may do good. Everything in life, even the best earned rewards, are seeds sown for a future harvest.—Bengel. Deuteronomy 28:9. Keep. The virtue of Paganism was strength; the virtue of Christianity is obedience.—Hare.
Deuteronomy 28:13. Above. As long as time endureth there will be distinction of rank, not simply for the weal of the great, but for the economy and safety of the world.—(E. Davies). True elevation does not consist in the elevation of nature, in the material or exterior hierarchy of beings. True elevation, an elevation essential and eternal, is one of merit, one of virtue. Birth, fortune, genius, are nothing before God.—Lacordaire.
Deuteronomy 28:28-29. Madness is the last stage of human degradation. It is the abdication of humanity. Better to die a thousand times.—Napoleon I.
Deuteronomy 28:30. House. If men lived like men indeed, their houses would be temples—temples which we should hardly dare to injure, and in which it would make us holy to live.—Ruskin.
Deuteronomy 28:31. Rescue. As the net does not spring up without catching the bird, can ye imagine that when destruction passes by, ye will not be seized by it, but will escape without injury.—Hitzig.
Deuteronomy 28:34. Mad for sight. A man in great misery may so far lose his measure as to think a minute an hour.—Locke.
Deuteronomy 28:36. King. The lot of a dethroned king, who was born a king and nothing more, must be dreadful. The pomp of the throne, the gewgaws which surround him from his cradle, which accompany him step by step throughout life, become a necessary condition of his existence.—Napoleon I.
The king’s name is a tower of strength,
Which they upon the adverse party want.
Deuteronomy 28:37. A proverb. Reputation is gained by many acts, but is lost by one.—(Bacon). It is hopeless to recover a lost reputation.—Idem.
The purest treasure mortal times afford is spotless reputation; that away, Men are but guilded loam, or painted clay.—Shakespeare.
Deuteronomy 28:45-46. Wonder.
Think not the things most wonderful
Are those beyond our ken;
For wonders are around the paths,
The daily paths of men.—Hawkshaw.
Deuteronomy 28:47. Joyfulness. I have often read my duty and my sin in this verse. Notwithstanding innumerable proofs of His munificence how deficient our songs in number, and how languid in performance! In the commonest engagements of life, and in our daily enjoyments was sweet ingredient mingled, it would really enhance the worth of everything, however otherwise inconsiderable.—Dr. W. Hamilton.
Deuteronomy 28:53-57. Eat. During a famine in Italy A.D. 450, parents ate their children. Eaters of human flesh—(Anthropophagi)—have existed in all ages.
Famine has a sharp and meagre face.
’Tis death in an undress of skin and bone.—
Deuteronomy 28:58. Fear. Disobedience is the beginning of evil, and the broad way to rain.—D. Davies.
Return, my senses range no more abroad,
He only finds his bliss who seeks for God.—
Deuteronomy 28:59-61. Long continuance.
One woe doth tread upon another’s heel
So fast they follow.
Thus woe succeeds woe, as wave a wave.
Deuteronomy 28:63. Rejoice to destroy. The wrath of man is the rage of man; but the wrath of God is the reason of God.—Bp. Reynolds.
Not thou, O Lord, from us, but we
Withdraw ourselves from thee.
Deuteronomy 28:66. Hang. My life hangs by a single thread; but that thread is in a Father’s hand.—J. H. Evans.