All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.Deuteronomy 8:1. That ye may live — Comfortably and prosperously, for life, in the Scripture phrase, signifies more than bare life, namely, happiness and prosperity, Genesis 17:18; 1 Samuel 25:6; Leviticus 25:36; 1 Thessalonians 3:8. On the other hand, afflictions and calamities are called death, Exodus 10:17, and 2 Corinthians 11:23.
And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.Deuteronomy 8:2. Thou shalt remember — Call to mind and meditate upon the wisdom and goodness of God toward thee, and the power exerted on thy behalf. All the way which the Lord led thee — All the events which befell thee in the way, the miraculous protections, deliverances, provisions, instructions, which God gave thee; and withal, the severe punishments of thy disobedience. To know what was in thy heart — That thou mightest discover thyself, and manifest to others, the infidelity, inconstancy, hypocrisy, and perverseness which lay hid in thy heart; the discovery and manifestation whereof God saw would be of peculiar use, both to them and to his church in all succeeding ages. It is well for us, likewise, to remember all the ways both of God’s providence and grace, by which he has hitherto led, and still leads us through the wilderness, that we may trust in him, and cheerfully serve him.
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.Deuteronomy 8:3. By every word of the Lord doth man live — By every, or any thing which God appoints and blesses for this end, how unlikely soever it may seem to be for the support and nourishment of the human frame. For it is not the creature, without God, that is sufficient for the support of life; it is only his command and blessing that makes it sufficient. We ought not, therefore, to fix our dependance, as we are prone to do, on natural causes, but to remember that we depend, absolutely, entirely, and immediately, on him for life and all things.
Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.Deuteronomy 8:4. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee — The common interpretation of these words is, that, by a constant miracle, their clothes did not so much as decay, nor their foot swell, or, as some render it, grow callous, by so long travelling in hot and stony places. But Le Clerc thinks “it is hardly to be imagined that Moses, whose principal intention was to record the miracles which God wrought for the Israelites in the wilderness, should have mentioned this so transiently, and, as it were, by the by, if it really had been wrought to that extent, especially as it would have been one of the greatest of them. For there must indeed have been as many miracles wrought as there were persons in the camp, and that not only once, but daily, and for the space of forty years. And if we add to this, that their clothes grew in proportion to their stature, as in that case they must have done, unless they had more coats than one apiece, a greater miracle can hardly be conceived. He observes further, that God is never wont to work miracles unless they be quite necessary; yet here is one of the greatest miracles without any necessity at all. For, as the Israelites had flocks of sheep and goats in the wilderness, and certainly were not ignorant of the art of weaving, as appears from the curious work of the tabernacle, and as nothing hindered them from trafficking with their Arabian neighbours, it is evident they might have been supplied with clothes in the common way, either by making or purchasing them. This being the case, is it not as reasonable to believe that God would have fed the Israelites with manna, after their settlement in Canaan, as that he would have preserved their clothes from decay, during their abode in the wilderness, when there was no necessity for their being thus clothed by a miracle?” He therefore explains Moses’s words thus: Thy raiment waxed not old — That is, “Providence has been so liberal in supplying your wants in this desert land, that you have never been under the necessity of letting your clothes grow old upon your backs, but have always been supplied with new before the old were worn out. Nor did your feet swell — Namely, for want of shoes to defend them.” Agreeably to this interpretation, in Deuteronomy 29:5, instead of Thy foot did not swell, it is, Thy shoe did not wax old upon thy feet; that is, “You were not reduced, through poverty, to wear shoes till they were grown so old and torn that they could not defend your feet against tumours, and other inconveniences, arising from heat and rugged ways.” This interpretation, it must be observed, is not peculiar to Le Clerc; Spanheim, Burman, Bynæus, Budæus, Calmet, and many others have adopted it.
Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.Deuteronomy 8:5. As a man chasteneth his son — That is, unwillingly, being constrained by necessity; moderately, in judgment remembering mercy; and for his reformation, not his destruction.
Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;Deuteronomy 8:7-9. Depths — Deep wells, or springs, or lakes, which were numerous and large. Whose stones are iron — Where iron mines are as plentiful as quarries of stone are in other places. Thou mayest dig brass — That is, copper, of which brass is made.
A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.Deuteronomy 8:10. Bless the Lord — Solemnly praise him for thy food; which is a debt both of gratitude and justice, because it is from his providence and favour that thou receivest both thy food and refreshment, and strength by it. The more unworthy and absurd is that too common profaneness of them, who, professing to believe in God, from whom all their comforts come, grudge to own him at their meals, either by desiring his blessing before them, or by offering due praise to God after them.
Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;Deuteronomy 8:14. Lifted up — As if thou didst receive and enjoy these things, either by thy own wisdom, and valour, and industry, or by thy own merit.
Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;
Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;Deuteronomy 8:16. That he might humble thee — By keeping thee in constant dependance upon himself for every day’s food, and convincing thee what an impotent, helpless creature thou art, having nothing whereon to subsist, and being supported wholly by the alms of divine goodness from day to day. The mercies of God, if duly considered, are as powerful a means to humble us as the greatest afflictions, because they increase our debts to God, and manifest our dependance upon him, and by making God great, they make us little in our own eyes. To do thee good — That is, that after he hath purged and prepared thee by afflictions, thou mayest receive and enjoy his blessings with less disadvantage, while by the remembrance of former afflictions thou art made thankful for those blessings, and more cautious not to abuse them.
And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.
As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.Deuteronomy 8:20. So shall ye perish — Assure yourselves, if you apostatize from the worship and service of God, and relapse into idolatry, irreligion, or vice, your nation will be involved in the same ruin and destruction that you are now going to execute upon the Canaanites for the like national sins. These cautions and exhortations which Moses here so forcibly and pathetically gives to the Israelites ought to be well observed and laid to heart by us all, to every one of whom they are equally necessary.