Deuteronomy 5:29
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
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Deuteronomy 5:29. O that there were such a heart in them! — A heart to fear God, and keep his commandments for ever! The God of heaven is truly and earnestly desirous of the salvation of poor sinners. He has given abundant proof that he is so. He gives us time and space to repent; by his mercies he invites us to repentance, and waiteth to be gracious; he has sent his Son to redeem us, published a general offer of pardon, promised his Spirit to those that pray for it; and he has said, yea, and sworn, that he hath no pleasure in the death of a sinner.5:23-33 Moses refers to the consternation caused by the terror with which the law was given. God's appearances have always been terrible to man, ever since the fall; but Christ, having taken away sin, invites us to come boldly to the throne of grace. They were in a good mind, under the strong convictions of the word they heard. Many have their consciences startled by the law who have them not purified; fair promises are extorted from them, but no good principles are fixed and rooted in them. God commended what they said. He desires the welfare and salvation of poor sinners. He has given abundant proof that he does so; he gives us time and space to repent. He has sent his Son to redeem us, promised his Spirit to those who pray for him, and has declared that he has no pleasure in the ruin of sinners. It would be well with many, if there were always such a heart in them, as there seems to be sometimes; when they are under conviction of sin, or the rebukes of providence, or when they come to look death in the face. The only way to be happy, is to be holy. Say to the righteous, It shall be well with them. Let believers make it more and more their study and delight, to do as the Lord God hath commanded.These verses contain a much fuller narrative of the events briefly described in Exodus 20:18-21. Here it is important to call attention to the fact that it was on the entreaties of the people that Moses had taken on him to be the channel of communication between God and them. God approved Deuteronomy 5:28 the request of the people, because it showed a feeling of their own unworthiness to enter into direct communion with God. The terrors of Sinai had done their work; they had awakened the consciousness of sin. 29. Oh, that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me—God can bestow such a heart, and has promised to give it, wherever it is asked (Jer 32:40). But the wish which is here expressed on the part of God for the piety and steadfast obedience of the Israelites did not relate to them as individuals, so much as a nation, whose religious character and progress would have a mighty influence on the world at large. Heb. Who will give them such an heart? This is spoken of God after the manner of men, to show that such a heart is desirable to him, and required by him; otherwise it is certain that God can give such a heart, and hath promised to give it, Jeremiah 32:40 Ezekiel 36:27. And if God will work, who can hinder him? Job 11:10. O that there were such an heart in them,.... Not that there is properly speaking such volitions and wishes in God; but, as Aben Ezra observes, the Scripture speaks after the language of the children of men; and may be considered as upbraiding them with want of such an heart, and with weakness to do what they had promised; and, at most, as approving of those things they spoke of as grateful to him, and profitable to them: the words may be rendered, "who will give (l) that they had such an heart"; not to me, but to them, as Aben Ezra notes; they cannot give it to themselves, nor can any creature give it to them; none but God can, and therefore they ought to have prayed to him to give them an heart to hearken and do; agreeably to which is the Arabic version,"it is to be wished by them, that such an heart would continue with them;''which they by their language signified was in them: that they would fear me; which is not naturally in the heart of man, is a gift of God, a part of the covenant of grace, is implanted in regeneration, and is no inconsiderable branch of it; it is opposed to pride, and is consistent with faith and joy, and is increased by views of the grace and goodness of God, and is a distinguishing character of a good man:

and keep all my commandments always; not only one, but all, and not only at some certain times, but continually; and which are to be kept in faith from a principle of love, with a view to the glory of God, and in the strength of Christ; and to this the fear of God is necessary, for where there is no fear of God, there is no regard to his commandments; but where there is a reverential fear of God, there are faith, hope, love, and every other grace; yea, the Spirit, the author of all, who is in the saints, to enable them to walk in the statutes of the Lord, and to keep his judgments and do them; and such keep the commandments of God, not from a slavish fear, but from a sense of divine goodness:

that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever; for the fear of God, and the keeping of his commandments, issue in the good of men, in their own good, their inward peace, and spiritual welfare; in the good of others, their neighbours, servants, and children, by way of example and instruction; and even in the public peace and prosperity of a nation in which they dwell: not that these things are meritorious of eternal life, but are what are approved of by the Lord, and are grateful to him; which is the chief view in the expression of the text.

(l) "quis det", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius; "quis dabit", Piscator.

O {k} that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!

(k) He requires nothing but obedience from us, showing also that we ourselves are the unveiling of it.

29. Oh that there were such an heart in them, etc.] heart is in antithesis to the said and spoken of the previous verse. Approving their present mood as evinced in their words, God doubts its constancy.

all my commandments] Sam. and LXX omit all.

always] Heb. all the days. One of the many points of similarity between Hosea and Deut. is doubt, if not of the sincerity, yet of the constancy, of the nation’s feeling of repentance or obedience; cp. Hosea 5:15 to Hosea 6:3, Israel’s repentant prayer, with Deuteronomy 6:4-6, God’s rejection of it: your goodness is as a morning cloud and as the dew that goeth early. See on Deuteronomy 1:41. Both the prophet and D insist upon heart in religion.

that it might be well with them] Deuteronomy 5:16; Deuteronomy 5:33, Deuteronomy 4:40.In vv. 6-21, the ten covenant words are repeated from Exodus 20, with only a few variations, which have already been discussed in connection with the exposition of the decalogue at Exodus 20:1-14. - In Deuteronomy 5:22-33, Moses expounds still further the short account in Exodus 20:18-21, viz., that after the people had heard the ten covenant words, in their alarm at the awful phenomena in which the Lord revealed His glory, they entreated him to stand between as mediator, that God Himself might not speak to them any further, and that they might not die, and then promised that they would hearken to all that the Lord should speak to him (Exodus 20:23 -31). His purpose in doing so was to link on the exhortation in vv. 32, 33, to keep all the commandments of the Lord and do them, which paves the way for passing to the exposition of the law which follows. "A great voice" (Exodus 20:22) is an adverbial accusative, signifying "with a great voice" (cf. Ges. 118, 3). "And He added no more:" as in Numbers 11:25. God spoken the ten words directly to the people, and then no more; i.e., everything further He addressed to Moses alone, and through his mediation to the people. As mediator He gave him the two tables of stone, upon which He had written the decalogue (cf. Exodus 31:18). This statement somewhat forestalls the historical course; and in Deuteronomy 9:10-11, it is repeated again in its proper historical connection.
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