Deuteronomy 32:31
For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
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(31) For their rock.—Perhaps this may be taken, For their rock (the enemies’ God) is not as our Rock (Jehovah), and yet our enemies are judges, i.e., lords, over us. So Rashi takes it. The verse should be read as a parenthesis. The argument would be this: No cause can be found for the defeat of Israel except the displeasure of Jehovah. The enemies have no gods that could fight against Israel.

The word for judges occurs only in Exodus 21:22; Job 31:11. The phrase “our enemies themselves being judges” (of the question) is more like Latin than Hebrew, but it may be correct.



Deuteronomy 32:31

Moses is about to leave the people whom he had led so long, and his last words are words of solemn warning. He exhorts them to cleave to God. The words of the text simply mean that the history of the nation had sufficiently proved that God, their God, was ‘above all gods.’ The Canaanites and all the enemies whom Israel had fought had been beaten, and in their awe of this warrior people acknowledged that their idols had found their lord. The great suit of ‘Jehovah versus Idols’ has long since been decided. Every one acknowledges that Christianity is the only religion possible for twentieth century men. But the words of the text lend themselves to a wider application, and clothe in a picturesque garb the universal truth that the experience of godless men proves the futility of their objects of trust, when compared with that of him whose refuge is in God.

I. God is a Rock to them that trust Him.

We note the singular frequency of that designation in this song, in which it occurs six times. It is also found often in the Psalms. If Moses were the singer, we might see in this often-repeated metaphor a trace of influence of the scenery of the Sinaitic peninsula, which would he doubly striking to eyes accustomed to the alluvial plains of Egypt. What are the aspects of the divine nature set forth by this name?

{1} Firm foundation: the solid eternity of the rock on which we can build.

Petra: faithfulness to promises, unchanging.

{2} Refuge: ‘refuge from the storm’; ‘my rock and my fortress and my high tower.’

{3} Refreshment: rock from which water gushed out; and {4} Repose: ‘shadow of a great rock’; ‘shadow from the heat.’

Trace the image through Scripture, from this song till Christ’s parable of the man who ‘built his house on a rock.’

II. Every man’s experience shows him that there is no such refuge anywhere else.

We do not assert that every man consciously comes to that conclusion. All we say is that he would do so if he rightly pondered the facts. The history of every life is a history of disappointment. Take these particulars just stated and ask yourselves: What does experience say as to the possibility of our possessing such blessings apart from God? There is no need for us to exaggerate, for the naked reality is sad enough. If God is not our best Good, we have no solid good. Every other ‘rock’ crumbles into sand. Else why this restless change, why this disquiet, why the constant repetition, generation after generation, of the old, old wail, ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’? Why does every heart say Amen to the poet and the dramatist singing of ‘the fever and the fret,’ the tragic fare of man’s life?

Our appeal is not to men in the flush of excitement, but to them in their hours of solitary sane reflection. It is from ‘Philip drunk to Philip sober.’ We each have material for judging in our own case, and in the cases of some others. The experiment of living with other ‘rocks’ than God has been tried for millenniums now. What has been the issue? You know what Christianity claims that it can do to make a life stable and safe. Do you know anything else that can? You know what Christian men will calmly say that they have found. Can you say as much? Let us hear some dying testimonies. Hearken to Jacob: ‘The God which hath fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil.’ Hearken to Moses: ‘The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are judgment, a God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is He.’ Hearken to Joshua: ‘Not one good thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake.’ Hearken to David: ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want . . .. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.’ Hearken to Paul: ‘The Lord stood by me and strengthened me, and I was delivered . . . the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and will save me unto His heavenly kingdom.’ What man who has chosen to take refuge or build on men and creatures can look backward and forward in such fashion?

III. Every man’s own nature tells him that God is his true Rock.

Again I say that here I do not appeal to the surface of our consciousness, nor to men who have sophisticated themselves, nor to people who have sinned themselves, into hardness, but to the voice of the inner man which speaks in the depths of each man’s being.

There is the cry of Want: the manifest want of the soul for God.

There is the voice of Reason.

There is the voice of Conscience.

IV. Yet many of us will not take God for our Rock.

Surely it is a most extraordinary thing that men should be ‘judges,’ being convinced in their deepest consciousness that God is the only Foundation and Refuge, and yet that the conviction should have absolutely no influence on their conduct. The same stark, staring inconsequence is visible in many other departments of life, but in this region it works its most tragic results. The message which many of my hearers need most is-follow out your deepest convictions, and be true to the inward voice which condenses all your experience into the one counsel to take God for the ‘strength of your hearts and your portion for ever,’ for only in Him will you find what you need for life and strength and riches. If He is ‘our Rock,’ then we shall have a firm foundation, a safe refuge, inexhaustible refreshment and untroubled rest. Lives founded on aught beside are built on sand and will be full of tremors and unsettlements, and at last the despairing builder and his ruined house will be washed away with the dissolving ‘sandbank and shoal of time’ on which he built.

Deuteronomy 32:31. Their rock is not as our rock — The gods of the heathen are not wise, and powerful, and gracious, like Jehovah. Our enemies being judges — Who, by their dear-bought experience, have often been forced to acknowledge that our God is far mightier than they and their false gods together.

32:26-38 The idolatry and rebellions of Israel deserved, and the justice of God seemed to demand, that they should be rooted out. But He spared Israel, and continues them still to be living witnesses of the truth of the Bible, and to silence unbelievers. They are preserved for wise and holy purposes and the prophecies give us some idea what those purposes are. The Lord will never disgrace the throne of his glory. It is great wisdom, and will help much to the return of sinners to God, seriously to consider their latter end, or the future state. It is here meant particularly of what God foretold by Moses, about this people in the latter days; but it may be applied generally. Oh that men would consider the happiness they will lose, and the misery they will certainly plunge into, if they go on in their trespasses! What will be in the end thereof? Jer 5:31. For the Lord will in due time bring down the enemies of the church, in displeasure against their wickedness. When sinners deem themselves most secure, they suddenly fall into destruction. And God's time to appear for the deliverance of his people, is when things are at the worst with them. But those who trust to any rock but God, will find it fail them when they most need it. The rejection of the Messiah by the Jewish nation, is the continuance of their ancient idolatry, apostacy, and rebellion. They shall be brought to humble themselves before the Lord, to repent of their sins, and to trust in their long-rejected Mediator for salvation. Then he will deliver them, and make their prosperity great.Our enemies - i. e., the enemies of Moses and the faithful Israelites; the pagan, more especially those with whom Israel was brought into collision, whom Israel was commissioned to "chase," but to whom, as a punishment for faithlessness, Israel was "sold," Deuteronomy 32:30. Moses leaves the decision, whether "their rock" (i. e. the false gods of the pagan to which the apostate Israelites had fallen away) or "our Rock" is superior, to be determined by the unbelievers themselves. For example, see Exodus 14:25; Numbers 23; 24; Joshua 2:9 ff; 1 Samuel 4:8; 1 Samuel 5:7 ff; 1 Kings 20:28. That the pagan should thus be constrained to bear witness to the supremacy of Israel's God heightened the folly of Israel's apostasy.29. Oh, … that they would consider their latter end—The terrible judgments, which, in the event of their continued and incorrigible disobedience, would impart so awful a character to the close of their national history. Who by their dear-bought experience have been forced to acknowledge that our God was far stronger than they and their false gods together. See Exodus 14:25 Num 23 1 Samuel 4:8 Jeremiah 40:3.

For their rock is not as our rock,.... That is, the gods of the Heathens, the rock in which they trusted, are not like the God of Israel, the rock of salvation, in which all true believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, place their confidence; and indeed let that be what it will, that is short of Christ the rock, men lay the stress of their salvation on, it is no rock, but sand, and will stand them in no stead; see Matthew 7:24,

even our enemies themselves being judges; as has been confessed of the God of Israel by the Heathens; see Exodus 14:25; and was by Titus with respect to the destruction of Jerusalem; See Gill on Deuteronomy 32:27; and by the Roman emperors when conquered by the Christians, who asked pardon of the God of the Christians, and owned that the God of Constantine was the true God; See Gill on Revelation 6:16.

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
31 For not as our Rock is their rock,

Our foes being judges;

32 For their vine’s from the vine of Sedóm

And out of the tracts of Gomorrah;

Their grapes are poisonous grapes,

Bitterest clusters are theirs.

33 Their wine is the venom of dragons,

The pitiless poison of asps.

31. emphasises the previous couplet; it must have been Israel’s God who brought such defeat on His people.

Verse 31. - The heathen had also a rock in which they trusted - their idol-gods; but even they knew and felt that their rock was not as the Rock of Israel, for, having often experienced the almighty power of God, they could not but acknowledge that he was mightier far than the gods whom they worshipped (cf. Exodus 14:25; Numbers 33, 34; Joshua 2:9; 1 Samuel 5:7). Moses is here himself again the speaker. Deuteronomy 32:31The giving up of Israel into the power of the heathen arose, not from the superior power of the heathen and their gods, but solely from the apostasy of Israel from its own God. "Our rock," as Moses calls the Lord, identifying himself with the nation, is not as their rock, i.e., the gods in whom the heathen trust. That the pronoun in "their rock" refers to the heathen, is so perfectly obvious from the antithesis "our rock," that there cannot possibly be any doubt about it. The second hemistich in Deuteronomy 32:30 contains a circumstantial clause, introduced to strengthen the thought which precedes it. The heathen themselves could be arbitrators (vid., Exodus 21:22), and decide whether the gods of the heathen were not powerless before the God of Israel. "Having experience so often the formidable might of God, they knew for a certainty that the God of Israel was very different from their own idols" (Calvin). The objection offered by Schultz, namely, that "the heathen would not admit that their idols were inferior to Jehovah, and actually denied this at the time when they had the upper hand (Isaiah 10:10-11)," has been quite anticipated by Calvin, when he observes that Moses "leaves the decision to the unbelievers, not as if they would speak the truth, but because he knew that they must be convinced by experience." As a confirmation of this, Luther and others refer not only to the testimony of Balaam (Numbers 23 and 24), but also to the Egyptians (Exodus 14:25) and Philistines (1 Samuel 5:7.), to which we may add Joshua 2:9-10.
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