Deuteronomy 6:16
Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God.—In the LXX., “Thou shalt not tempt,” and so where our Lord used it against the tempter (Matthew 4 and Luke 4).

As ye tempted him in Massah.—How did they tempt Him in Massah? By raising the unbelieving question, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7). Even by the side of Satan upon the giddy pinnacle of the Temple, our Saviour refused to doubt the care of Jehovah. He would not throw Himself from thence into the arms of the angels to escape Satan, but “He endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” To this standard of action Israel was called in face of the powers of evil. But it was not always realised.

6:6-16 Here are means for maintaining and keeping up religion in our hearts and houses. 1. Meditation. God's words must be laid up in our hearts, that our thoughts may be daily employed about them. 2. The religious education of children. Often repeat these things to them. Be careful and exact in teaching thy children. Teach these truths to all who are any way under thy care. 3. Pious discourse. Thou shalt talk of these things with due reverence and seriousness, for the benefit not only of thy children, but of thy servants, thy friends and companions. Take all occasions to discourse with those about thee, not of matters of doubtful disputation, but of the plain truths and laws of God, and the things that belong to our peace. 4. Frequent reading of the word. God appointed them to write sentences of the law upon their walls, and in scrolls of parchment to be worn about their wrists. This seems to have been binding in the letter of it to the Jews, as it is to us in the intent of it; which is, that we should by all means make the word of God familiar to us; that we may have it ready to use upon all occasions, to restrain us from sin, and direct us in duty. We must never be ashamed to own our religion, nor to own ourselves under its check and government. Here is a caution not to forget God in a day of prosperity and plenty. When they came easily by the gift, they would be apt to grow secure, and unmindful of the Giver. Therefore be careful, when thou liest safe and soft, lest thou forget the Lord. When the world smiles, we are apt to make court to it, and expect our happiness in it, and so we forget Him who is our only portion and rest. There is need of great care and caution at such a time. Then beware; being warned of your danger, stand upon your guard. Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God; neither by despairing of his power and goodness, while we keep in the way of our duty; nor by presuming upon it, when we turn aside out of that way.The command "to swear by His Name" is not inconsistent with the Lord's injunction Matthew 5:34, "Swear not at all." Moses refers to legal swearing, our Lord to swearing in common conversation. It is not the purpose of Moses to encourage the practice of taking oaths, but to forbid that, when taken, they should be taken in any other name than that of Israel's God. The oath involves an invocation of Deity, and so a solemn recognition of Him whose Name is made use of in it. Hence, it comes especially within the scope of the commandment Moses is enforcing.CHAPTER 6

De 6:1-25. Moses Exhorts Israel to Hear God and to Keep His Commandments.

1-9. Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them … whither ye go to possess it—The grand design of all the institutions prescribed to Israel was to form a religious people, whose national character should be distinguished by that fear of the Lord their God which would ensure their divine observance of His worship and their steadfast obedience to His will. The basis of their religion was an acknowledgment of the unity of God with the understanding and the love of God in the heart (De 6:4, 5). Compared with the religious creed of all their contemporaries, how sound in principle, how elevated in character, how unlimited in the extent of its moral influence on the heart and habits of the people! Indeed, it is precisely the same basis on which rests the purer and more spiritual form of it which Christianity exhibits (Mt 22:37; Mr 12:30; Lu 10:27). Moreover, to help in keeping a sense of religion in their minds, it was commanded that its great principles should be carried about with them wherever they went, as well as meet their eyes every time they entered their homes. A further provision was made for the earnest inculcation of them on the minds of the young by a system of parental training, which was designed to associate religion with all the most familiar and oft-recurring scenes of domestic life. It is probable that Moses used the phraseology in De 6:7 merely in a figurative way, to signify assiduous, earnest, and frequent instruction; and perhaps he meant the metaphorical language in De 6:8 to be taken in the same sense also. But as the Israelites interpreted it literally, many writers suppose that a reference was made to a superstitious custom borrowed from the Egyptians, who wore jewels and ornamental trinkets on the forehead and arm, inscribed with certain words and sentences, as amulets to protect them from danger. These, it has been conjectured, Moses intended to supersede by substituting sentences of the law; and so the Hebrews understood him, for they have always considered the wearing of the Tephilim, or frontlets, a permanent obligation. The form was as follows: Four pieces of parchment, inscribed, the first with Ex 13:2-10; the second with Ex 13:11-16; the third with De 6:1-8; and the fourth with De 11:18-21, were enclosed in a square case or box of tough skin, on the side of which was placed the Hebrew letter (shin), and bound round the forehead with a thong or ribbon. When designed for the arms, those four texts were written on one slip of parchment, which, as well as the ink, was carefully prepared for the purpose. With regard to the other usage supposed to be alluded to, the ancient Egyptians had the lintels and imposts of their doors and gates inscribed with sentences indicative of a favorable omen [Wilkinson]; and this is still the case, for in Egypt and other Mohammedan countries, the front doors of houses (in Cairo, for instance) are painted red, white, and green, bearing conspicuously inscribed upon them such sentences from the Koran, as "God is the Creator," "God is one, and Mohammed is his prophet." Moses designed to turn this ancient and favorite custom to a better account and ordered that, instead of the former superstitious inscriptions, there should be written the words of God, persuading and enjoining the people to hold the laws in perpetual remembrance.

i.e. Not provoke him, as the following instance explains. Sinners, especially presumptuous sinners, are oft said to

tempt God, i.e. to make a trial of God, whether he be what he pretends to be, so wise as to see their sins, so just and true and powerful as to take vengeance on them for their sins, concerning which they are very apt to doubt because of the present impunity and prosperity of many such persons. See Numbers 14:22 Psalm 78:18 Matthew 4:7 Acts 5:9.

Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God,.... By striving with him or against him, by murmuring at or complaining of his providential dealings with them, or by requiring a sign of him, or miracles to be done by him; this is another passage used by Christ to repel the temptations of Satan, Matthew 4:7,

as tempted him in Massah; a place so called from the Israelites tempting the Lord there, Exodus 17:7, the Targum of Jonathan adds, with ten temptations; see Numbers 14:21.

Ye shall not {g} tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

(g) By doubting his power, refusing lawful means, and abusing his graces.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. Ye shall not tempt, etc.] Rather, try, or put to the proof. On Massah cp. Deuteronomy 9:22, Deuteronomy 33:8, and see on Exodus 17:2; Exodus 17:7.

16, 17. Another interruption by the Pl. Because of this; because the reference to Massah is hardly relevant to the context, and because the perfect, he hath commanded, is not yet true of the separate laws; these sentences seem to be a later editorial insertion. The return to the Sg. at their close is explicable by the attraction of the Sg. in Deuteronomy 6:18.

Deuteronomy 6:16The worship of Jehovah not only precludes all idolatry, which the Lord, as a jealous God, will not endure (see at Exodus 20:5), but will punish with destruction from the earth ("the face of the ground," as in Exodus 32:12); but it also excludes tempting the Lord by an unbelieving murmuring against God, if He does not remove any kind of distress immediately, as the people had already sinned at Massah, i.e., at Rephidim (Exodus 17:1-7).
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