Deuteronomy 28:47
Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;
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Deuteronomy 28:47 - Deuteronomy 28:48

The history of Israel is a picture on the large scale of what befalls every man.

A service-we are all born to obedience, to depend on and follow some person or thing. There is only a choice of services; and he who boasts himself free is but a more abject slave, as the choice for a nation is either the rule of settled order and the sanctities of an established law, or the usurpation of a mob and the intolerable tyranny of unbridled and irresponsible force.

I. The service of God or the service of our enemies.

Israel was the servant in turn of Egypt, Philistia, Edom, Assyria, Babylon, Syria, and Rome. It was every invader’s prey. God’s invisible arm was its only guard from these, and an all-sufficient guard as long as it leaned on Him. When it turned from Him it fell under their yoke. Its lawful Lord loved it; its tyrants hated it.

So with us. We have to serve God or enemies. Our lusts, our passions, the world, evil habits-in a word, our sins ring us round. God is the only defence against them.

The contrast between the one and the many-a king or an ochlocracy. The contrast of the loving Lord and the hostile sins.

II. A service which is honour or a service which is degradation.

God alone is worthy of our absolute submission and service. How low a man sinks when he is ruled by any lesser authority! Such obedience is a crime against the dignity of human nature, and the soul is not without a galling sense of this now and then, when its chains rattle.

III. A service which is freedom because it is rendered by love, or a service which is hard slavery.

‘With joy for the abundance of all things.’ How sin palls upon us, and yet we commit it. The will is overborne, conscience is stifled.

IV. A service which feeds the spirit or a service which starves it.

The soul can only in God get what it wants. Prison fare is what it receives in the other service. The unsatisfying character of all sin; it cloys, and yet leaves one hungry. It is ‘that which satisfieth not.’ ‘Broken cisterns which hold no water.’

V. A service which is life or a service which is death.

The dark forebodings of the text grow darker as it goes on. The grim slavery which it threatens as the only alternative to joyful service of God is declared to be lifelong ‘penal servitude,’ and not only is there no deliverance from it, but it directly tends to wear away the life of the hopeless slaves. For the words that follow our text are ‘and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.’ That is dismally true in regard to any and every life that has shaken off the service of God which is perfect freedom, and has persisted in the service of sin. Such service is suicidal; it rivets an iron yoke on our necks, and there is no locksmith who can undo the shackles and lift it off, so long as we refuse to take service with God. Stubbornly rebellious wills forge their own fetters. Like many a slave-owner, our tyrants have a cruel delight in killing their slaves, and our sins not only lead to death, but are themselves death.

But there is a bright possibility before the most down-trodden vassal of sin. ‘The bond-servant abideth not in the house for ever.’ He is not a son of the house, but has been brought into it, stolen from his home. He may be carried back to his Father’s house, and there ‘have bread enough and to spare,’ if a deliverer can be found. And He has been found. Christ the Son makes us free, and if we trust Him for our emancipation we ‘shall be free indeed,’ ‘that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, should serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.’

28:45-68 If God inflicts vengeance, what miseries his curse can bring upon mankind, even in this present world! Yet these are but the beginning of sorrows to those under the curse of God. What then will be the misery of that world where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched! Observe what is here said of the wrath of God, which should come and remain upon the Israelites for their sins. It is amazing to think that a people so long the favourites of Heaven, should be so cast off; and yet that a people so scattered in all nations should be kept distinct, and not mixed with others. If they would not serve God with cheerfulness, they should be compelled to serve their enemies. We may justly expect from God, that if we do not fear his fearful name, we shall feel his fearful plagues; for one way or other God will be feared. The destruction threatened is described. They have, indeed, been plucked from off the land, ver. 63. Not only by the Babylonish captivity, and when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans; but afterwards, when they were forbidden to set foot in Jerusalem. They should have no rest; no rest of body, ver. 65, but be continually on the remove, either in hope of gain, or fear of persecution. No rest of the mind, which is much worse. They have been banished from city to city, from country to country; recalled, and banished again. These events, compared with the favour shown to Israel in ancient times, and with the prophecies about them, should not only excite astonishment, but turn unto us for a testimony, assuring us of the truth of Scripture. And when the other prophecies of their conversion to Christ shall come to pass, the whole will be a sign and a wonder to all the nations of the earth, and the forerunner of a general spread of true christianity. The fulfilling of these prophecies upon the Jewish nation, delivered more than three thousand years ago, shows that Moses spake by the Spirit of God; who not only foresees the ruin of sinners, but warns of it, that they may prevent it by a true and timely repentance, or else be left without excuse. And let us be thankful that Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us, and bearing in his own person all that punishment which our sins merit, and which we must otherwise have endured for ever. To this Refuge and salvation let sinners flee; therein let believers rejoice, and serve their reconciled God with gladness of heart, for the abundance of his spiritual blessings.Forever - Yet "the remnant" Romans 9:27; Romans 11:5 would by faith and obedience become a holy seed.37. And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee, &c.—The annals of almost every nation, for eighteen hundred years, afford abundant proofs that this has been, as it still is, the case—the very name of Jew being a universally recognized term for extreme degradation and wretchedness. Or,

in the abundance of all things; for this is opposed to in hunger, in thirst, &c., Deu 28:48. And the Hebrew men oft signifies in, as Exodus 25:18 Job 19:26 Psalm 72:16.

Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God,.... By attending his worship, and keeping his commandments:

with joyfulness and gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; which they enjoyed in the land of Canaan, a land that abounded with all good things; which laid them under great obligations to serve the Lord: and yet, as they were wanting in a ready attendance on his worship, and in a cheerful obedience to his laws, so in their sacrifices, of praise and thanksgivings for their manifold mercies; and, because of all this, the curses written in this book came upon them.

Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;
47. This should be a new sentence opening a new paragraph.

Because thou hast not served the Lord thy God] or worshipped.

with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart] Characteristic of the temper of D; 12. 7, 12, 18, Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 16:14 f. (be altogether joyful), Deuteronomy 26:11; cp. Isaiah 65:13 f.

by reason of the abundance, etc.] Cp. Deuteronomy 6:10-12, Deuteronomy 8:11-18.

47–57. A Further Development of the Curses

Invasion by a far-off, unknown nation, who shall ruthlessly devastate the land and besiege Israel’s cities; with the horrors of his siege. All this is not threatened conditionally on the possible disobedience of the people, but predicted absolutely because of their actual failure to serve God.

Verses 47-57. - Fourth group. In order still more to impress on the minds of the people the evil and danger of rebellion and apostasy, Moses enlarges on the calamities that would ensue on their being given up to the power of the heathen. Because they would not serve Jehovah their God, they should be delivered to be servants to their enemies. Deuteronomy 28:47The fourth view. - Although in what precedes every side of the national life has been brought under the curse, yet love to his people, and the desire to preserve them from the curse, by holding up before them the dreadful severity of the wrath of God, impel the faithful servant of the Lord to go still further, and depict more minutely still the dreadful horrors consequent upon Israel being given up to the power of the heathen, and first of all in Deuteronomy 28:47-57 the horrible calamities which would burst upon Israel on the conquest of the land and its fortresses by its foes.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48

Because it had not served the Lord its God with joy and gladness of heart, "for the abundance of all," i.e., for the abundance of all the blessings bestowed upon it by its God, it would serve its enemies in hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, and want of everything, and wear an iron yoke, i.e., be obliged to perform the hardest tributary service till it was destroyed (השׁמיד for השׁמיד, as in Deuteronomy 7:24).

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