And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.Deuteronomy 5:1. Moses called all Israel — Moses having in his first discourse, by a general recapitulation of the mercies and providences which had attended them, prepared the minds of the Israelites for further impressions, summons them by their elders and representatives to a second meeting, in which, after repeating to the new generation the several laws which God had enjoined, he earnestly exhorts them to lay them to heart, and make them the rule of their spirit and conduct.
The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.Deuteronomy 5:3. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers — That is, with our remote progenitors, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but with us, their descendants: or if it be understood as spoken of their immediate parents, it means, according to the Hebrew idiom, Not with our fathers only, but with us also, as Genesis 32:28, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; that is, not only Jacob, but Israel, or Israel preferably to Jacob. Moses might truly say, God made this covenant with them then present before him; for a great part of them, even all who were under twenty years of age, when God gave the law on mount Sinai, were at Horeb; and, as God foreknew that their parents would die in the wilderness for their unbelief and murmuring, and would have comparatively little profit from that covenant, he especially intended it for those who should enter Canaan, and who, with their posterity, should be governed and benefited by it from generation to generation.
The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,Deuteronomy 5:4. The Lord talked with you face to face — Personally and immediately, and not by the mouth or ministry of Moses; plainly and certainly, as when two men speak face to face; freely and familiarly, so as not to overwhelm and confound you. It may also signify that they beheld a conspicuous symbol of the divine presence, and heard a divine voice speaking from thence clearly and distinctly.
(I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying,Deuteronomy 5:5. Between the Lord and you — As a mediator, according to your desire. The word of the Lord — Moses does not mean the ten commandments, which God himself had uttered, but the other statutes and judgments following them.
I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.Deuteronomy 5:6. I am the Lord thy God — The ten commandments, delivered Exodus 20., are here repeated, with some small difference of words, but the sense is perfectly the same. There being little said concerning the spiritual meaning of the ten commandments in the notes there, it may not be improper to add a few inquiries here, which the reader may answer between God and his own soul.
Thou shalt have none other gods before me.Deuteronomy 5:7. Thou shalt have no other gods before me — Hast thou worshipped God in spirit and in truth? Hast thou made him the end of all thy actions? Hast thou sought for any happiness in preference to the knowledge and love of God? Dost thou experimentally know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent? Dost thou love God? Dost thou love him with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, so as to love nothing else but in that manner and degree which tends to increase thy love of him? Hast thou found happiness in God? Is he the desire of thine eyes, the joy of thy heart? If not, thou hast other gods before him.
Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:Deuteronomy 5:8. Thou shalt not make any graven image — Hast thou not formed any gross image of God in thy mind? Hast thou always thought of him as a pure spirit, whom no man hath seen, nor can see? and hast thou worshipped him with thy body, as well as with thy spirit, seeing both of them are God’s?
Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.Deuteronomy 5:11. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain — Hast thou never used the name of God unless on solemn and weighty occasions? Hast thou then used it with the deepest awe? Hast thou duly honoured his word, his ordinances, his ministers? Hast thou considered all things as they stand in relation to him, and seen God in all? Hast thou looked upon heaven as God’s throne? Upon earth as God’s footstool? On every thing therein as belonging to the great King? On every creature as full of God?
Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.Deuteronomy 5:12. Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it — Dost thou do no work on this day, which can be done as well on another? Art thou peculiarly careful on this day to avoid all conversation which does not tend to the knowledge and love of God? Dost thou watch narrowly over all that are within thy gates, that they too may keep it holy? and dost thou try every possible means to bring all men, wherever thou art, to do the same?
Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.
And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.Deuteronomy 5:16. Honour thy father and mother — Hast thou not been irreverent or undutiful to either? Hast thou not slighted their advice? Hast thou cheerfully obeyed all their lawful commands? Hast thou loved and honoured their persons, supplied their wants, and concealed their infirmities? Hast thou fervently prayed for them? Hast thou loved and honoured thy prince, and avoided, as fire, all speaking evil of the ruler of thy people? Have ye that are servants done all things as unto Christ; not with eye-service, but in singleness of heart? Have ye who are masters behaved as parents to your servants, with all gentleness and affection? Have ye all obeyed them that watch over your souls, and esteemed them highly in love for their works’ sake?
Thou shalt not kill.Deuteronomy 5:17. Thou shalt not kill — Hast thou not tempted any one to what might shorten his life? Hast thou tempted none to intemperance? Hast thou suffered none to be intemperate under thy roof, or in thy company? Hast thou done all thou couldest, in every place, to prevent intemperance of all kinds? Art thou guilty of no degree of self-murder? Dost thou never eat or drink any thing because it is pleasant and agreeable to thy taste, although thou hast reason to believe it is prejudicial to thy health? Hast thou constantly done whatever thou hadst reason to believe was conducive to it? Hast thou not hated thy neighbour in thy heart? Hast thou reproved him that committed sin in thy sight? If not, thou hast, in God’s account, hated him, seeing thou didst suffer sin upon him. Hast thou loved all men as thy own soul, as Christ loved us? Hast thou done unto all men as, in like circumstances, thou wouldest they should do to thee? Hast thou done all in thy power to help thy neighbours, enemies as well as friends? Hast thou laboured to deliver every soul thou couldest from sin and misery? Hast thou showed that thou lovedst all men as thyself, by a constant, earnest endeavour to fill all places with holiness and happiness, with the knowledge and love of God?
Neither shalt thou commit adultery.Deuteronomy 5:18. Neither shalt thou commit adultery — If thou hast not been guilty of any act of uncleanness, hath thy heart conceived no unclean thought? Hast thou not looked on a woman so as to lust after her? Hast thou not betrayed thy own soul to temptation, by eating and drinking to the full, by needless familiarities, by foolish talking, by levity of dress or behaviour? Hast thou used all the means which Scripture and reason suggest, to prevent every kind and degree of unchastity? Hast thou laboured, by watching, fasting, and prayer, to possess thy vessel in sanctification and honour?
Neither shalt thou steal.Deuteronomy 5:19. Neither shalt thou steal — Hast thou seriously considered that these houses, lands, money, or goods, which thou hast been used to call thy own, are not thy own, but belong to another, even God? Hast thou ever considered that God is the sole proprietor of heaven and earth; the true owner of every thing therein? Hast thou considered that he has only lent them to thee? That thou art but a steward of thy Lord’s goods? And that he has told thee expressly the uses and purposes for which he intrusts thee with them; namely, for the furnishing, first thyself and those dependant on thee, and then as many others as thou canst, with the things needful for life and godliness? Hast thou considered that thou hast no right at all to apply any part of them to any other purpose? and that if thou dost thou art as much a robber of God as any can be a robber of thee?
Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.Deuteronomy 5:20. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour — Hast thou not been guilty of evil-speaking; of needlessly repeating the real fault of thy neighbour? If we see a man do an evil thing, and tell it to another, unless from a full and clear conviction that it is necessary to mention it just then, for the glory of God, the safety or good of some other person, or for the benefit of him that hath done amiss; and unless we then do it only so far as is necessary to these ends, that is evil-speaking. O beware of this! It is scattering abroad arrows, fire-brands, and death.
Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.Deuteronomy 5:21. Neither shalt thou covet any thing, that is thy neighbour’s — The plain meaning of this is, Thou shalt not desire any thing that is not thy own, any thing which thou hast not. Indeed, why shouldest thou? God hath given thee whatever tends to thy one end, holiness. Thou canst not deny it, without making him a liar; and when any thing else will tend thereto, he will give thee that also. There is, therefore, no room to desire any thing which thou hast not. Thou hast already every thing that is really good for thee; wouldest thou have more money, more pleasure, more praise still? Why, this is not good for thee. God has told thee so, by withholding it from thee. O give thyself up to his wise and gracious disposal!
These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.Deuteronomy 5:22. Out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness — This was a dispensation of terror, designed to make the gospel of grace the more welcome, and to be a specimen of the terrors of the judgment day. He added no more — He ceased for that time to speak immediately, and with that loud voice, unto the people; for the remaining precepts were delivered to Moses, and by him communicated unto them. This he did to show the pre-eminence of that law above the rest, and its everlasting obligation.
And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.
Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die.Deuteronomy 5:25. Why should we die? — For though God hath, for this season, kept us alive, yet we shall never be able to endure any further discourse from him in such a terrible manner, but shall certainly sink under the burden of it.
For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?Deuteronomy 5:26. Flesh — Is here put for a man in his frail, corruptible, and mortal state.
Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.
And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken.
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!Deuteronomy 5:29. O that there were such a heart in them! — A heart to fear God, and keep his commandments for ever! The God of heaven is truly and earnestly desirous of the salvation of poor sinners. He has given abundant proof that he is so. He gives us time and space to repent; by his mercies he invites us to repentance, and waiteth to be gracious; he has sent his Son to redeem us, published a general offer of pardon, promised his Spirit to those that pray for it; and he has said, yea, and sworn, that he hath no pleasure in the death of a sinner.
Go say to them, Get you into your tents again.
But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.