Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,Deuteronomy 9:1-2. This seems to be a new discourse, delivered at some distance of time from the former, probably on the next sabbath day. This day — That is, shortly, within a little time, the word day being often put for time. To possess nations — That is, the land of those nations. Mightier than thyself — This he adds that they might not trust to their own strength, but wholly rely upon God’s help for the conquering them, and after the work was done, might ascribe the glory of it to God alone, and not to themselves. Who can stand — This seems to have been a proverb used in those times.
A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak!
Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.Deuteronomy 9:3. As a consuming fire — Before whom thine enemies shall be as easily consumed as stubble before the flames. So shalt thou drive them out — quickly — Not the whole seven nations, whom he said (Deuteronomy 7:22,) God would drive out by little and little, but so many as to make a settlement for them in Canaan.
Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.Deuteronomy 9:5. Not for thy righteousness — Neither for thy upright heart nor holy life, the two things which God, above all others, regards. Here, therefore, all merit in them is excluded: and they are given to know that, although the Canaanites were expelled for their national wickedness, they were not settled in their room for their righteousness. And surely they, who did not deserve this earthly Canaan, could not merit the kingdom of glory. To perform the word — To show my faithfulness in accomplishing that promise which I graciously made and confirmed with my oath.
Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.
Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD.Deuteronomy 9:7. Stiff-necked — Rebellious and perverse, and so destitute of all pretence to righteousness. And thus our gaining possession of the heavenly Canaan must be ascribed to God’s power and grace, and not to our own might or merit. In him we must glory, and not in ourselves.
Also in Horeb ye provoked the LORD to wrath, so that the LORD was angry with you to have destroyed you.Deuteronomy 9:8. Also in Horeb ye provoked the Lord — Rather, even in Horeb; for there is an emphasis in this. Even when your miraculous deliverance out of Egypt was fresh in your memories; when God had but newly manifested himself to you, and delivered you the law in so stupendous and awful a manner, and with such visible displays of his divine majesty; when he had just taken you into covenant with himself, and was actually conferring still further mercies upon you.
When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:
And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.Deuteronomy 9:10. With the finger of God — Immediately and miraculously, which was done not only to procure the greater reverence to the law, but also to signify that it is the work of God alone to write this law upon the table of men’s hearts. In the day of the assembly — That is, when the people were gathered by God’s command to the bottom of mount Sinai, to hear and receive God’s ten commandments from his own mouth.
And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.
And the LORD said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.
Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.Deuteronomy 9:14. Let me alone — Stop me not by thy intercession: desist from all prayer and pleading in their behalf.
So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands.
And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you.
And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes.Deuteronomy 9:17. I brake them before your eyes — Not by an unbridled passion, but it zeal for God’s honour, and by the direction of God’s Spirit; to signify to the people that the covenant between God and them, contained in those tables, was broken, and that they were now cast out of God’s favour, and could expect nothing from him but fiery indignation.
And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you. But the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also.
And the LORD was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time.
And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount.Deuteronomy 9:21. I cast the dust thereof into the brook — That there might be no monument nor remembrance of the calf left.
And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibrothhattaavah, ye provoked the LORD to wrath.
Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadeshbarnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice.
Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.
Thus I fell down before the LORD forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the LORD had said he would destroy you.Deuteronomy 9:25. I fell down — In a way of humiliation and supplication, on your behalf. Forty days — The same forty that were mentioned Deuteronomy 9:18, as appears by comparing this with the account given in Exodus, where this history is more fully related, and where this is related to have been done twice only. See Exodus 32:10; Exodus 33:5.
I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand.Deuteronomy 9:26-29. Redeemed through thy greatness — The greatness of thy power and goodness, which appeared most eminently in that work. Remember thy servants Abraham, &c. — That is, thy promise made and sworn to them. They are thy people — Whom thou hast chosen to thyself out of all mankind.
Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin:
Lest the land whence thou broughtest us out say, Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.
Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm.