The Pulpit Commentary

Deuteronomy 4:1-40 (Deuteronomy 4:1-40)

EXPOSITION

ADMONITIONS AND EXHORTATIONS . Moses, having presented to the people certain facts in their recent history which had in them a specially animating and encouraging tendency, proceeds to direct his discourse to the inculcation of duties and exhortations to obedience to the Divine enactments. This portion also of his address is of an introductory character as well as what precedes.

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Deuteronomy 4:1-8 (Deuteronomy 4:1-8)

Exhortation to the observance of the Law generally . The Law was to be kept as a complete whole; nothing was to be taken from it or added to it; it comprised the commandments of Jehovah, and therefore they were not only to do it as what Moses, their leader and lawgiver, had enjoined, bat to keep it as a sacred deposit, not to be altered or tampered with, and to observe it as what God their Sovereign had enacted for them. The dignity and worth of the Law are here asserted, and also its completeness as given by Moses. Any addition to it, no less than any subtraction from it, would mar its integrity and affect its perfection. Altered circumstances in process of time might, indeed, lead to the desuetude of some parts of the Mosaic enactments, and new institutions or laws might be required to meet a new condition of things, or even in that new condition to fence and sustain the primitive code; but that cede was to remain intact in the Statute-Book, and no alterations were to be made upon it that should affect its substance or nullify any of its principles. New laws and institutions appointed by God would, of course, have the same authority as those originally ordained by Moses; and such, it can hardly be doubted, were in point of fact under the Hebrew monarchy introduced by the prophets speaking in the name of God. The Law, nevertheless, was kept substantially entire. Even under the new dispensation, the Law has not been abolished. Christ, as he himself declared, came not to destroy the Law and the prophets, but to fulfill them ( Matthew 5:17 ). The sin of the Pharisees, for which they were censured by our Lord, lay in this, that they taught for doctrines the commandments of men ( Matthew 15:9 ), and had "made the commandments of God of none effect by their traditions" ( Matthew 15:6 ).

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Deuteronomy 4:7-8 (Deuteronomy 4:7-8)

Translate, For what great nation is there that hath gods that draft near to it , as Jehovah our God whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there that hath righteous statutes and ordinances like this whole Law which I am giving before you this day? (comp. Deuteronomy 33:29 ; Psalms 34:17-20 ; Psalms 145:18 ; 1 Samuel 14:36 ; I Kings 1 Samuel 18:26-29 , 37; James 4:8 ). "True right has its roots in God; and with the obscuration of the knowledge of God, law and right, with their divinely established foundations, are also shaken and obscured (cf. Romans 1:26-32 )" (Keil).

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Deuteronomy 4:5-9 (Deuteronomy 4:5-9)

National greatness dependent on obedience to God.

In these verses we have a continuation of the address of Moses to the people. He had previously reminded them of incidents which had occurred. He here points out to them the advantageous position they are privileged to occupy, and shows them how to maintain and perpetuate it. He reminds them of the following points:—

1. That theirs was the very special privilege of having God nigh unto them as the Lord their God (see also Deuteronomy 4:32-34 ).

2. That they would occupy a prominent place among the nations round about (cf. Exodus 9:16 ; Exodus 15:14 ; Numbers 14:13-21 ; Deuteronomy 28:10 ).

3. That the cornerstone of their national life and honor was the worship of God and the practice of righteousness. Their" statutes and judgments" were characterized by this special mark—they were righteous above those of any other nation £ ( Deuteronomy 4:8 ).

4. That the carrying out into action of these precepts was their only wise course ( Deuteronomy 4:6 ).

5. That such wisdom would be their true greatness, and such greatness would win them regard and honor from surrounding peoples ( Deuteronomy 4:6 ). [This was actually the case to a very large extent. Our space will not allow us even to touch on the matter here; but careful research will show the student how Israel's greatness has manifested itself in the influence exerted by them in modifying the religion, philosophy, literature, politics, institutions, and moral judgments of the world. First, among the Egyptians, Canaanites, and Phoenicians; and then among the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, See Wines, Gale, Stillingfleet, and others.]

6. That it behooves them to "keep and do" these precepts, to retain them in their heart, to hand them down to their children, and to take constant care of themselves. In turning all this to pulpit use for modern times, observe—

I. THERE ARE CERTAIN PRINCIPLES , THE APPLICATION OF WHICH WILL SECURE THE TRUE GREATNESS OF A PEOPLE . It is becoming to a true patriot to think of his country as being renowned among the nations of the earth, Jehovah evidently meant the people to be moved by such an ambition. It is far more healthful to direct natural desires into a right channel than to try to suppress them. Let a man cherish the most fervent wish to see his country unsurpassed among the people. God promises this as the result of his blessing. Thou shalt be "the head, and not the tail." But observe: No conspicuousness is so much to be desired as that arising from wisdom and understanding . The prominence which arises from moral influence is that alone which is worth striving after. Any influence by which we help to lift up other nations in virtue and power, is worth infinitely more than that which comes of martial valor, or diplomatic tactics, or such supremacy over a people as shall simply make them stand amazed at the length of our purse, or the precision and deadly fire of out arms. To be known as the wisest people, so that others seek in friendly emulation to learn from us—this is an eminence any patriot well may desire for the land he loves. But observe: This will depend on the amount of moral culture in a people , i . e . on the degree of clearness with which a people see what is right, on the measure of force they put forth in the pursuit of it, and on the firmness with which they insist on the right being paramount to any considerations of power, expediency, or gain. "The throne shall be established in righteousness." "Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people." Not only in the individual, the family, and the social life must righteousness be the chief corner-stone of a common weal, but in those acts in which a man has to play the part of a citizen, and in which a nation has to do with other nations. Righteousness may not be eliminated from politics, nor may it play a subordinate part. Universal, eternal, unchangeable, are the laws of righteousness, and by whomsoever they are violated—by individuals, families, Churches, or nations—such violation will surely be followed by remorse and shame. The truest form of moral culture is loyalty to the Divine Being and his commands . No nation ever has or ever can thrive without the recognition of a Great Supreme. It is only the fool, the " nabal ," the withered one, who says there is no God. And no nation which ignores the duty of loyalty to God will ever be great. But then in the Book, as the world's grandest moral text-book, there are statutes, precepts, testimonies, judgments, for the regulation of life, both individually and collectively. The appeal of verse 8 is still valid, "What nation is there … that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this Law, which I set before you this day?" We know how the Law may be summed up: "All the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law." And this principle of love to all , carried out in loyalty to God , will ensure that greatness which is most worth having . The Egyptians were at one time renowned for learning, the Phoenicians for their commerce; the men of Bashan for their giant strength; Greece for its philosophy; Rome for her "imperium et libertas." Their sway has gone. But the Hebrew race, by whom first and alone this law of love was proclaimed as the one guiding principle of a nation's life, is living in its literature the grandest of all lives, and swaying, with the scepter of its one Perfect Man , men of different nations, tribes, and tongues in every quarter of the globe. Yes, this one law of love has given to the Hebrew race a greatness it will never lose. The brightest streaks of light on the globe now are to be discerned only where the law of love is known and obeyed; that law given by Moses, brought in by Jesus Christ. And in proportion as nations follow and act out this law, will they attain to the only greatness on which heaven smiles. "The world passeth away and the lusts thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." This righteousness is in itself an armor of light—a nation's best defense. For on " the righteous nation which keepeth the truth" will God's blessing rest, and, next to the Divine blessing, the good will of the nations is our surest and happiest guard.

II. HERE IS AN APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS TO TAKE HEED TO THESE PRINCIPLES . The appeal is fourfold in this paragraph.

1. "Keep therefore and do them ." There is as much obedience to God in the nation as is rendered to him by individual souls, and no more . Hence it is the part of the true patriot who desires his nation's greatness to see that he is living the life which will help to make the nation great.

2. This is not to be superficial work, but the Law is to be in the heart . Not an accidental, surface life, but an intelligent and designed direction of the inner and outer life according to God's ways and Word.

3. This law of righteousness, truth, and love is to be handed down from sire to son, and so on to generation after generation. The parent is to be the true depositor, conservator, teacher, and transmitter of God's Law. He is to live after he has gone in the truth he has taught, and, when he is dead, his speech is to be molding the young hearts of a nation.

4. Each one is to put a careful guard around himself, lest any of the baneful influences around him should destroy or weaken his loyalty to God and the right. "Take care of thyself;"—such is the meaning of the phrase in verse 9 (cf. Proverbs 4:23 , " Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life"). It is easy to gather from the Book of Deuteronomy against what influences the ancient Hebrews would have to guard. These influences, hostile to unswerving loyalty, vary with each land and race and age. A careful observation and knowledge of the times will show us against what foes we have at all points to be armed. Let us take the whole armor of God. Let us save ourselves from this untoward generation. Let us play the man and the citizen, with hearts loyal to our Savior, jealous for the right and the true, fearing God, but having no fear beside!

- The Pulpit Commentary

Deuteronomy 4:1-13 (Deuteronomy 4:1-13)

The sacredness of the Divine Law.

Law, being the utterance of righteousness, is unalterable as righteousness itself, permanent amid all the mutations of human affairs. Its requirements are statutes, stable as the everlasting hills.

I. LAW IS THE VERITABLE VOICE OF GOD ; the manifestation of his thought; the mirror of his mind. "The Lord spake unto you." "Out of the midst of the fire" the flame of holiness and zeal—issues every command. If man's moral nature has an open ear, it may often detect the imperial voice of Heaven. 'Tis not to sight God reveals himself, but to the ear. His messengers are emphatically "a voice." "Faith comes by hearing."

II. LAW , IN ITS SPHERE , IS PERFECT . Over every work of his hands God pronounces the verdict "Very good;" and Law, being the instrument with which he works, is "holy, just, and good." For unrighteous man there may be something more precious than Law; but when restored to God, Law is his delight. In the domain of belief we cannot augment or diminish God's Law without self-injury. Perfection cannot be improved upon. In the sphere of practice, to halt short of the line of duty, or to go beyond the line, is alike an offence. Self-mutilation, or blemish, is the effect.

III. THE VERACITY OF LAW ATTESTED BY ACTUAL EXPERIENCE . Every honest minded man may discover whether or not the written Word embodies a Divine Law. If a genuine Law, its authority is ratified by an honest conscience; as sanctions, whether of commendation or curse, are witnessed by every clear-sighted eye. Every truthful man is a witness that God's laws (whether written in external nature, in man's constitution, or in Scripture) bring life to the obedient, death to the transgressor. Not a Law is revealed in the Scriptures, but it tends to righteousness, happiness, life!

IV. DIVINE LAW ASSERTS ITS AUTHORITY OVER THE WHOLE MAN .

1. Over the intellect, for it demands attention, investigation, comparison, and discrimination.

2. Authority over the affections, for it demands reverence, esteem, choice, and love.

3. Authority over the moral faculty; for it demands assent, response, and loyalty.

4. Over the active powers, for it requires watchfulness, self-restraint, uninterrupted deference, and uncompromising service.

V. LAW IS THE PATHWAY TO TRUE EMINENCE . Every successful application of science to practical life is simply a treading of the pathway of law. So long as man finds the footprints of God's Law, he moves onward. There is no real progress in any department of human life, except along the line of God's Law. To find that , and to follow it, is success. This is equally true in the spiritual province. This is the quintessence of wisdom—the stepping-stone to eminence! What men—what nation—have ever reached to permanent greatness, save they who have trodden the path of Divine Law?

VI. LOYALTY TO GOD 'S LAW BRINGS US NEAR TO GOD . As when we follow up the footprints of a man rapidly enough, we at length come up with the man himself; so, as we pursue the pathway of Law, we come soon without the hallowed precincts of God's presence. We see the working of the heavenly machinery, the movements of God's thought and purpose. We move with it, and ever come nearer to the central light and love. It is a narrow path, and few they are who find it.

VII. A SPIRIT OF OBEDIENCE IS SELF - PROPAGATING . Like plants in the garden, every righteous man bears seed after his own kind. Without formal teaching, the beauty of his life will be a living lesson—the fragrance of his deeds will be contagious. They who love God's Law will be zealous to teach God's Law, and to commend it to others. A fine trait in Abraham's character comes into view when God said, "I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him." Every man bequeaths to posterity a large legacy of blessing or of bane.

VIII. THE LAW OF GOD B DESTINED TO HAVE PERMANENCE IN HUMAN LIFE . There was high significance in the fact that the Decalogue was written, not in rays of light upon the sapphire firmament, nor in legible characters upon parchment, but on stone . The stone of Sinai is said to belong to one of the oldest formations—the granite period. The forms and modes of law may undergo change to meet the growing necessities of men; but the inner sense—the kernel—of every law still abides. "Heaven and earth may pass away," all material stricture may undergo radical change—but the words of God can undergo no change. What is true once is true always! What was right a myriad of ages since, retains all its authority today, and will be obligatory world without end. The sum and substance of moral law is writ by the finger of God, and graven on the solid rock!—D.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Deuteronomy 4:1-28 (Deuteronomy 4:1-28)

The curse of idolatry.

Idolatry is the general bias of fallen humanity, the perversion of an innate principle, the misgrowth of the religious instinct. Men everywhere "feel after God, if haply they may find him." Absolute atheism cannot long endure anywhere. If men reject a personal Deity, they invent an inferior God, and practically worship that. The wildest atheist which the world has seen, must admit that there is some power or force in the world superior to himself. There is no resting-place for reason, short of a spiritual God.

I. IDOLATRY WAS THE PREVALENT DANGER OF THE PATRIARCHAL AGE . During the childhood of men, they are under the domination of the bodily senses. They demand a god whom they can see and handle and hear. The kindred of Abraham were addicted to idolatry. The wife of Jacob furtively abstracted the teraphim of her father, and held them in a measure of reverence. Even Moses yearned for a visible Deity. "I beseech thee, show me thy glory!" The absence of Moses from the camp for forty days sufficed for the people to relapse into idolatry. Throughout their history, every decline in relic, ions feeling showed itself in a fresh lapse towards idolatry.

II. IDOLATRY GROSSLY CORRUPTS ITS VOTARIES . The object which is at first selected to be a symbol of the Deity, soon detains on itself the homage of the worshipper, and becomes his Deity. Matter is at the antipodes from spirit. The laws and forces working in material nature may help us to understand the Divine Being, but matter itself never . Apart from a written revelation, we best rise to the knowledge of God through the contemplation of our own minds and consciences. The object of our worship molds us after itself. The worshipper of beasts becomes bestial. "They that make them become like unto them." This is God's law.

III. MATERIAL IMAGES DEGRADE THE GODHEAD . For God is a Spirit, and cannot be represented by material images. For matter can convey no impressions of omnipresence, or of eternity, or of moral qualities, or of emotions, affections, or joys! Representation by material images strips our God of all that is noblest in his nature, cf. all that is distinctive in the Godhead. It cloaks his perfections and eclipses his glory.

IV. IDOLATRY ANNULLED THE COVENANT BETWEEN GOD AND ISRAEL . That gracious compact required upon the part of the Israelites the honest recognition and worship of the One Jehovah. Unfaithfulness on this vital point invalidated the entire covenant; God had pledged himself specially to be their God, on condition that they were his loyal people. All the resources of God's kingdom were pledged to Israel in that covenant. It was an act of mercy that God should bind himself in any form to his creatures, and this superabundant grace ought to have held their homage by closest and tenderest ties. His part of the covenant, God had conspicuously observed in the release of his people from the "iron furnace." Was not every sign and wonder wrought in Egypt a fresh seal upon the heavenly bond? This covenant, between a gracious God and undeserving men, idolatry destroyed.

V. OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IS DESIGNED AS A REGULATIVE FORCE . There are limitations to our knowledge of God imposed by our constitution, and further limitations imposed by our sin. These latter can be removed at once by the redemptive power of Christ; and the first named shall gradually be relaxed in the resurrection state. Fire does not represent God, except so far as it consumes , and this illustration is meant to check our presumption; 'tis not for the satisfaction of a curious intellect, but to restrain a wayward life. Knowledge of God, which is honestly reduced to practice, becomes larger and clearer knowledge. "Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord."

VI. INIQUITY BECOMES ITS OWN PUNISHMENT . Throughout the Scriptures this doctrine is taught, that sin ripens and culminates in punishment. The penalty threatened upon the idolatry of the Jews was this , that they should be driven into a heathen land, and be compelled to serve the senseless blocks of wood and stone. The punishment of avarice is this , that the sensibilities become as hard as gold. The penalty of drunkenness is this , that the morbid appetite grows into an uncontrollable passion! The voice of doom says, " He that is filthy, let him be filthy still."

VII. PRESENT PUNISHMENTS ARE THE TYPE OF FUTURE PUNISHMENTS . The penalty to be imposed on the Jews for disloyalty, was banishment from Canaan—defeat, scattering, death. So the final penalties revealed for reprobate men are exclusion from the heavenly Canaan; banishment to the darkness they have preferred; utter destruction. Each man "goes to his own place."

VIII. SUFFERING FOR OTHERS , A PATHWAY TO HUMAN HEARTS . In connection with these fatherly counsels, Moses again reminds the people of his privation on account of their sins. The blame of his exclusion from Canaan he attributes to them. He who aforetime had prayed that, for the sake of Israel, his own name might be blotted out of God's book, now submits to this chastisement for the people's good. But Moses would not throw away the advantage which this fact might bring. In his desire for the people's good, he converts it into a persuasive argument, by which to confirm their loyalty to God. As if, should every other appeal fail, this appeal to their sensibility might succeed. It is as if he had said, "Remember what I am called to endure for you! Let your requital be unswerving obedience to my God." Here he serves as a feeble type of Jesus.—D.

HOMILIES BY J. ORR

- The Pulpit Commentary

Deuteronomy 4:6-10 (Deuteronomy 4:6-10)

A nation's glory.

I. A NATION POSSESSING GOD 'S WORD IS SUPREMELY FAVORED . ( Deuteronomy 4:8 .) Even to have such a Law as Israel possessed exalted her to a position of unique greatness. The knowledge of the true God—light on the great principles of conduct-equitable statutes-institutions adapted to promote material, moral, and spiritual well-being. Our own nation is exceptionally favored in the plentiful enjoyment of religious privileges—Bibles, churches, Sabbath schools, evangelistic agencies, Christian literature, etc; bringing the highest knowledge within the reach of the humblest; while the laws, institutions, etc; under which we live, as the fruit of a Christian civilization, are not surpassed by any on the earth. God has indeed, favored us to an unexampled degree in every religious respect.

II. A NATION ENLIGHTENED BY GOD 'S WORD IS SUPREMELY WISE . To have is much, but to be truly "a wise and understanding people," we must "keep and do" ( Deuteronomy 4:6 ). It is not in knowing, but in adopting, the wise course that we show ourselves truly wise. Wisdom is the course that conduces to the formation of a brave, noble, resolute, happy, and contented people; and the nation that loves God's Word, fears God himself, and applies the teaching he has given it in the various spheres of domestic, social, commercial, and political existence, is indubitably in possession of that wisdom. It is to be regretted that the nations most peculiarly privileged do not always set that store upon their privileges which they should do, or make a good use of them. The amount of irreligion, infidelity, and general indifference to the Word of God in our own land is a startling omen for the future. Britain's greatness will soon wane if she abandons her respect for the Bible, the Sabbath, and the guiding principles of revelation,

III. A NATION ORDERING ITSELF BY GOD 'S WORD IS SUPREMELY EMINENT . ( Deuteronomy 4:7 .) Its prosperity:

1. Rests on a solid foundation.

2. Is built up under conditions that ensure its permanence.

3. Is secured by a special blessing of God. And this is a matter admitting of ample historical verification.

Compare:

1. Pagan nations with Christian.

2. Unbelieving nations with believing (France: Britain).

3. Roman Catholic nations with Protestant (see Laveleye on 'Protestantism and Catholicism in their bearing upon the Liberty and Prosperity of Nations').

4. Sabbath-desecrating nations with Sabbath-keeping. It will be found that the Bible-loving, Bible-obeying, Sabbath-keeping nations exhibit:

IV. A NATION OBEYING GOD 'S WORD WILL HAVE THE SOURCE OF ITS GREATNESS ACKNOWLEDGED BY OTHERS . ( Deuteronomy 4:6 .) They will not only own to its eminence, but they will discern its true cause, and acknowledge that it springs from its religious faithfulness. Numerous testimonies of this kind exist to the source of the national greatness of our own country.

Lessons—

1. Value our religious privileges.

2. Seek the furtherance of religion in the community.

3. Be diligent in the training of our children ( Deuteronomy 4:9 ).

4. Extend our blessings to others.—J.O.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Deuteronomy 4:1-14 (Deuteronomy 4:1-14)

Obedience the secret of success.

Moses here reminds Israel of the privilege it possesses as a nation in having the oracles of God committed unto it ( Romans 3:2 ). He urges obedience upon them as the one purpose for which they are to be introduced into the Promised Land. National prosperity depends upon this. And here we have to notice—

I. DISOBEDIENCE HAS ALREADY PROVED FATAL . He recalls the terrible experience in connection with Dual-peer—how the people in large numbers became lewd idolaters with the Israelites ( Numbers 25:1-18 .), and how fierce anger from the Lord visited the people. In Canaan they shall be exposed to similar temptations, but the chastisement at Baal-peor must not be lost upon them. Past judgments are to secure more complete obedience.

II. GOD 'S NEARNESS TO THEM SHOULD PROVE A HALLOWING PRIVILEGE . How gracious is God to dwell among them, always near at hand to be inquired of, a most serviceable King! He dwelt in their midst as a Pilgrim with his people. Upon his accessibility and wisdom they could always calculate. This distinguished Israel from the other nations. Such a privilege should of itself hallow them, and make them to abide under his shadow. Equally near is God still to all of us who seek him.

III. HIS LAW IS WISER THAN ALL MAN 'S DEVELOPED LEGISLATION . The surrounding nations had their laws and customs, but the superiority of the Mosaic code was admitted by all acquainted with it. It was an immense moral advance for Israel, as great an advance as in that rude age they could take in. Similarly, the morality of the gospel is ahead of all jurisprudence. Indeed, enlightened legislation and reform tend towards the scriptural ideal. God is wiser than man, and the Bible better than all acts of parliament.

IV. THE LAW WAS GIVEN AS A RULE OF LIFE FOR A COVENANT PEOPLE . They were redeemed from bondage, and then received the Law at Sinai to guide their redeemed lives. Obedience should be a matter of gratitude for deliverance , and would prove the secret of success. It is so still. "Christ redeems us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us." But as grateful and saved people, we feel that we are "under the Law to Christ" ( 1 Corinthians 9:21 ). And this grateful obedience proves the secret of comfort and success. It is the meat of life to do the wilt of him who hath sent us, and to finish his work ( John 4:34 ). Palestine becomes "paradise regained" to the grateful and obedient souls. We find a Promised Land where God's precepts are gratefully observed by redeemed souls. It is the attitude within, rather than the circumstances without, which constitutes life a blessed country and an antepast of heaven.—R.M.E.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Deuteronomy 4:1-14 (Deuteronomy 4:1-14)

Obedience the secret of success.

Moses here reminds Israel of the privilege it possesses as a nation in having the oracles of God committed unto it ( Romans 3:2 ). He urges obedience upon them as the one purpose for which they are to be introduced into the Promised Land. National prosperity depends upon this. And here we have to notice—

I. DISOBEDIENCE HAS ALREADY PROVED FATAL . He recalls the terrible experience in connection with Dual-peer—how the people in large numbers became lewd idolaters with the Israelites ( Numbers 25:1-18 .), and how fierce anger from the Lord visited the people. In Canaan they shall be exposed to similar temptations, but the chastisement at Baal-peor must not be lost upon them. Past judgments are to secure more complete obedience.

II. GOD 'S NEARNESS TO THEM SHOULD PROVE A HALLOWING PRIVILEGE . How gracious is God to dwell among them, always near at hand to be inquired of, a most serviceable King! He dwelt in their midst as a Pilgrim with his people. Upon his accessibility and wisdom they could always calculate. This distinguished Israel from the other nations. Such a privilege should of itself hallow them, and make them to abide under his shadow. Equally near is God still to all of us who seek him.

III. HIS LAW IS WISER THAN ALL MAN 'S DEVELOPED LEGISLATION . The surrounding nations had their laws and customs, but the superiority of the Mosaic code was admitted by all acquainted with it. It was an immense moral advance for Israel, as great an advance as in that rude age they could take in. Similarly, the morality of the gospel is ahead of all jurisprudence. Indeed, enlightened legislation and reform tend towards the scriptural ideal. God is wiser than man, and the Bible better than all acts of parliament.

IV. THE LAW WAS GIVEN AS A RULE OF LIFE FOR A COVENANT PEOPLE . They were redeemed from bondage, and then received the Law at Sinai to guide their redeemed lives. Obedience should be a matter of gratitude for deliverance , and would prove the secret of success. It is so still. "Christ redeems us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us." But as grateful and saved people, we feel that we are "under the Law to Christ" ( 1 Corinthians 9:21 ). And this grateful obedience proves the secret of comfort and success. It is the meat of life to do the wilt of him who hath sent us, and to finish his work ( John 4:34 ). Palestine becomes "paradise regained" to the grateful and obedient souls. We find a Promised Land where God's precepts are gratefully observed by redeemed souls. It is the attitude within, rather than the circumstances without, which constitutes life a blessed country and an antepast of heaven.—R.M.E.

- The Pulpit Commentary