Deuteronomy 4:25
When you shall beget children, and children's children, and you shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD your God, to provoke him to anger:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) Shall have remained long.—Literally, shall slumber—a very suggestive expression. Prosperity often sends true religion to sleep, and brings conventional, or fashionable, religion in its stead.

Deuteronomy 4:25. And shall corrupt yourselves — This seems to be evidently a prediction of what Moses foresaw would take place; which that he did is still more manifest in Deuteronomy 4:30.4:24-40 Moses urged the greatness, glory, and goodness of God. Did we consider what a God he is with whom we have to do, we should surely make conscience of our duty to him, and not dare to sin against him. Shall we forsake a merciful God, who will never forsake us, if we are faithful unto him? Whither can we go? Let us be held to our duty by the bonds of love, and prevailed with by the mercies of God to cleave to him. Moses urged God's authority over them, and their obligations to him. In keeping God's commandments they would act wisely for themselves. The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom. Those who enjoy the benefit of Divine light and laws, ought to support their character for wisdom and honour, that God may be glorified thereby. Those who call upon God, shall certainly find him within call, ready to give an answer of peace to every prayer of faith. All these statutes and judgments of the Divine law are just and righteous, above the statutes and judgments of any of the nations. What they saw at mount Sinai, gave an earnest of the day of judgment, in which the Lord Jesus shall be revealed in flaming fire. They must also remember what they heard at mount Sinai. God manifests himself in the works of the creation, without speech or language, yet their voice is heard, Ps 19:1,3; but to Israel he made himself known by speech and language, condescending to their weakness. The rise of this nation was quite different from the origin of all other nations. See the reasons of free grace; we are not beloved for our own sakes, but for Christ's sake. Moses urged the certain benefit and advantage of obedience. This argument he had begun with, ver. 1, That ye may live, and go in and possess the land; and this he concludes with, ver. 40, That it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee. He reminds them that their prosperity would depend upon their piety. Apostacy from God would undoubtedly be the ruin of their nation. He foresees their revolt from God to idols. Those, and those only, shall find God to their comfort, who seek him with all their heart. Afflictions engage and quicken us to seek God; and, by the grace of God working with them, many are thus brought back to their right mind. When these things are come upon thee, turn to the Lord thy God, for thou seest what comes of turning from him. Let all the arguments be laid together, and then say, if religion has not reason on its side. None cast off the government of their God, but those who first abandon the understanding of a man.Compare with these verses Leviticus 26:33-40, and Deuteronomy 28:64 ff. 20. But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace—that is, furnace for smelting iron. A furnace of this kind is round, sometimes thirty feet deep, and requiring the highest intensity of heat. Such is the tremendous image chosen to represent the bondage and affliction of the Israelites [Rosenmuller].

to be unto him a people of inheritance—His peculiar possession from age to age; and therefore for you to abandon His worship for that of idols, especially the gross and debasing system of idolatry that prevails among the Egyptians, would be the greatest folly—the blackest ingratitude.

In the sight of the Lord: these words are here added, either,

1. As a caution. Your idolatry, though possibly secretly and cunningly managed, will not be hid from him; he sees it, and he will punish it. Or,

2. To aggravate their spiritual whoredom, as being committed in the sight and presence of their Lord and Husband, whose eye is alone peculiarly upon them in all their ways, than it is upon other people. Or,

3. By way of opposition unto men’s judgment. Idolatry ofttimes seems good, and reasonable, and religious in the eyes of men, but, saith he, it is evil in the eyes of the Lord, whose judgment is most considerable. When thou shall beget children, and children's children,.... Children and grandchildren, and several ages and generations have passed:

and shalt have remained long in the land; many years and even ages, or have grown old (h) in it: now they were in their infancy, and as such they were about to enter into it; during the times of the judges, they were in their childhood, or youth; in the times of David and Solomon, they were in their manhood; after that, in their decline; and in the times of Jeconiah and his brethren in their old age, when for their sins they were carried captive:

and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of anything; See Gill on Deuteronomy 25:16.

and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger; that sin of idolatry, that God provoking sin, is chiefly intended.

(h) "inveteraveritis", Montanus: "veteres facti fueritis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "senueritis", Vatablus.

When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall {q} corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger:

(q) Meaning by this all superstition and corruption of the true service of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
25. When thou shalt beget … and ye shall have been] Read, ye shall beget. The sentence illustrates the difficulties raised by the variant forms of address. So quick a change from Sg. to Pl., confirmed by LXX (though Sam. has Pl. for both verbs), is logically possible (thou = the mother nation; ye = the nation and its children). Yet the Sg. is more probably due to the attraction of the previous Sg., a copyist naturally continuing the latter till the changed form arrested him. For thy God both Sam. and LXX read your God. Thus the Pl. is complete throughout 25–28. The word for beget only here, Deuteronomy 27:1 and in P.

ye shall have been long] Or grown old or stale, used of old corn, Leviticus 26:10, and inveterate leprosy, Deuteronomy 13:11, Here not merely living long in the land, but growing aged in spirit, losing spiritual freshness. Similarly the prophets judged the wilderness days to have been the ideal period of Israel’s history, the subsequent ages decadent.

corrupt yourselves] See on Deuteronomy 4:16; graven image, etc., ibid.

do evil in the
eyes of the Lord] Deuteronomy 9:18, Deuteronomy 17:2, Deuteronomy 31:29, and P, Numbers 32:13; or good, Deuteronomy 6:18, Deuteronomy 12:28.

to provoke him] Deuteronomy 9:18, Deuteronomy 31:29, Deuteronomy 32:16; Deuteronomy 32:21, also in deuteronomic passages in Kings and in Jeremiah.

25–31. Threat of Exile with Promise of Grace on Repentance

If, with the slackness of increasing years, Israel give way to idolatry (Deuteronomy 4:25) Moses testifies that they shall perish from the land (Deuteronomy 4:26), and be scattered among the peoples (Deuteronomy 4:27) where indeed they must worship senseless idols (Deuteronomy 4:28). So far the Pl. address. But if—change to the Sg.—in these latter days of tribulation the nation seeks and returns to Jehovah it shall find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29 f.). He will not fail nor forget His covenant (Deuteronomy 4:31).—As we shall see from the notes the threat of exile is no sufficient ground for judging Deuteronomy 4:25-28 to be an exilic addition, but there are several phrases which only D and P have. Others are found only in xxviii. The exilic origin of 29–31 is more probable. Dillm. denies a connection between Deuteronomy 4:25 and the preceding; it seems to the present writer that Deuteronomy 4:25-28 is a natural continuation of Deuteronomy 4:23. This, however, by itself does not prove identity of authorship.

Further Note on 25–31. The two parts of this Deuteronomy 4:25-28 and Deuteronomy 4:29-31 are probably separate; note the change of address. Berth. says that the whole ‘bears clearly the stamp of exilic authorship.’ This is not true of Deuteronomy 4:25-28, the threat of exile. After the exile of N. Israel in 721 and the precedents in prophecy for a threat of exile (cp. Amos, Isaiah and Jeremiah), and the notorious policy of Assyria towards subject races, it would on the contrary have been strange not to have found in the pre-exilic deuteronomists, with their prophetic temper, some foreboding of exile. Dillm. rightly says, ‘the threat of exile has nothing surprising in it,’ if we compare ch. 28. But the case is different with the promise contingent on the conversion of the people in exile. In itself it is as conceivable in D as in the prophets (whom it is impossible to regard, as a powerful school of criticism does, as predicters only of judgement), but as Dillm. points out it lies here too far away from the purpose of the exhortation1[115]. Add to this reasons of form, (1) that the for introducing Deuteronomy 4:32 ff. has no relevancy to Deuteronomy 4:29-31, but continues Deuteronomy 4:25-28 (see Driver), and (2) the change from the Pl. to the Sg. address—and there is a strong case for taking Deuteronomy 4:29-31 as a later exilic insertion like Deuteronomy 30:1-10. Berth.’s argument that Deuteronomy 4:32 naturally follows Deuteronomy 4:24 is met by the fact that it more naturally follows Deuteronomy 4:28, and we have already seen that Deuteronomy 4:25-28 are the natural continuation of Deuteronomy 4:23. We may, therefore, take Deuteronomy 4:25-28 as integral, and only Deuteronomy 4:29-31 as a later exilic intrusion.

[115] There is an analogy, however, in 29 f.Verses 25-31. - Moses enforces the warning against idolatry, by predicting the evil that should come upon the nation through the apostasy of those who should in after times turn from Jehovah to strange gods. When they should have begotten children and children's children, and had been long in the land, i.e. when in after years a generation should arise that had not known the things they had seen, or had forgotten them (ver. 9), and the nation should then become wanton and corrupt, and fall into idolatry (cf. Deuteronomy 6:10, etc.; Deuteronomy 8:7, etc.; Deuteronomy 31:20, 21; 32:15, etc.; Hosea 13:6); then should they utterly perish from off the land of which they were now about to take possession. Verse 25. - Have remained long in the land; literally, have become old, an ancient nation, etc. To provoke him to anger; i.e. so as that he should be displeased and grieved, and roused to punish. They were not to allow themselves to be torn away (נדּח) to worship the stars of heaven, namely, by the seductive influence exerted upon the senses by the sight of the heavenly bodies as they shone in their glorious splendour. The reason for this prohibition is given in the relative clause, "which Jehovah thy God hath allotted to all nations under the whole heaven." The thought is not, "God has given the heathen the sun, moon, and stars for service, i.e., to serve them with their light," as Onkelos, the Rabbins, Jerome, and others, suppose, but He has allotted them to them for worship, i.e., permitted them to choose them as the objects of their worship, which is the view adopted by Justin Martyr, Clemens Alex., and others. According to the scriptural view, even the idolatry of the heathen existed by divine permission and arrangement. God gave up the heathen to idolatry and shameful lusts, because, although they knew Him from His works, they did not praise Him as God (Romans 1:21, Romans 1:24, Romans 1:26).
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