Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
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(9-11) These verses are a direct comment upon the second commandment. The “thousands of them that love Him” are here expanded into a “thousand generations.” The “hatred,” too, is the same thing denoted there: “Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments.”



Deuteronomy 7:9

‘Faithful,’ like most Hebrew words, has a picture in it. It means something that can be {1} leant on, or {2} builded on.

This leads to a double signification-{1} trustworthy, and that because {2} rigidly observant of obligations. So the word applies to a steward, a friend, or a witness. Its most wonderful and sublime application is to God. It presents to our adoring love-

I. God as coming under obligations to us.

A marvellous and blessed idea. He limits His action, regards Himself as bound to a certain line of conduct.

1. Obligations from His act of creation.

‘A faithful Creator,’ bound to take care of those whom He has made. To supply their necessities. To satisfy their desires. To give to each the possibility of discharging its ideal.

2. Obligations from His past self.

‘God is faithful by whom ye were called,’ therefore He will do all that is imposed on Him by His act of calling.

He cannot begin without completing. There are no abandoned mines. There are no half-hewn stones in His quarries, like the block at Baalbec. And this because the divine nature is inexhaustible in power and unchangeable in purpose.

3. Obligations from His own word.

A revelation is presupposed by the notion of faithfulness. It is not possible in heathenism. ‘Dumb idols,’ which have given their worshippers no promises, cannot be thought of as faithful. By its grand conception of Jehovah as entering into a covenant with Israel, the Old Testament presents Him to our trust as having bound Himself to a known line of action. Thereby He becomes, if we may so phrase it, a constitutional monarch.

That conception of a Covenant is the negation of caprice, of arbitrary sovereignty, of mystery. We know the principles of His government. His majestic ‘I wills’ cover the whole ground of human life and needs for the present and the future. We can go into no region of life but we find that God has defined His conduct to us there by some word spoken to our heart and binding Him.

4. Obligations from His new Covenant and highest word in Jesus Christ.

‘He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.’

II. God as recognising and discharging these obligations.

That He will do so comes from His very nature. With Him there is no change of disposition, no emergence of unseen circumstances, no failure or exhaustion of power.

That He does so is matter of fact. Moses in the preceding context had pointed to facts of history, on which he built the ‘know therefore’ of the text. On the broad scale the whole world’s history is full of illustrations of God’s faithfulness to His promises and His threats. The history of Judaism, the sorrows of nations, and the complications of national events, all illustrate this fact.

The personal history of each of us. The experience of all Christian souls. No man ever trusted in Him and was ashamed. He wills that we should put Him to the proof.

III. God as claiming our trust.

He is faithful, worthy to be trusted, as His deeds show.

Faith is our attitude corresponding to His faithfulness. Faith is the germ of all that He requires from us. How much we need it! How firm it might be! How blessed it would make us!

The thought of God as ‘faithful’ is, like a precious stone, turned in many directions in Scripture, and wherever turned it flashes light. Sometimes it is laid as the foundation for the confidence that even our weakness will be upheld to the end, as when Paul tells the Corinthians that they will be confirmed to the end, because ‘God is faithful, through whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son’ {1 Corinthians 1:9}. Sometimes there is built on it the assurance of complete sanctification, as when he prays for the Thessalonians that their ‘whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord’ and finds it in his heart to pray thus because ‘Faithful is He that calleth you, who will also do it’ {1 Thessalonians 5:24}. Sometimes it is presented as the steadfast stay grasping which faith can expect apparent impossibilities, as when Sara ‘judged Him faithful who had promised’ {Hebrews 11:11}. Sometimes it is adduced as bringing strong consolation to souls conscious of their own feeble and fluctuating faith, as when Paul tells Timothy that ‘If we are faithless, He abideth faithful; for He cannot deny Himself’ {2 Timothy 2:13}. Sometimes it is presented as an anodyne to souls disturbed by experience of men’s unreliableness, as when the apostle heartens the Thessalonians and himself to bear human untrustworthiness by the thought that though men are faithless, God ‘is faithful, who shall establish you and keep you from evil’ {2 Thessalonians 3:2 - 2 Thessalonians 3:3}. Sometimes it is put forward to breathe patience into tempted spirits, as when the Corinthians are comforted by the assurance that ‘God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able’ {1 Corinthians 10:13}. Sometimes it is laid as the firm foundation for our assurance of pardon, as when John tells us that ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins’ {1 John 1:9}. And sometimes that great attribute of the divine nature is proposed as holding forth a pattern for us to follow, and the faith in it as tending to make us in a measure steadfast like Himself, as when Paul indignantly rebuts his enemies’ charge of levity of purpose and vacillation, and avers that ‘as God is faithful, our word toward you is not yea and nay’ {2 Corinthians 1:18}.

7:1-11 Here is a strict caution against all friendship and fellowship with idols and idolaters. Those who are in communion with God, must have no communication with the unfruitful works of darkness. Limiting the orders to destroy, to the nations here mentioned, plainly shows that after ages were not to draw this into a precedent. A proper understanding of the evil of sin, and of the mystery of a crucified Saviour, will enable us to perceive the justice of God in all his punishments, temporal and eternal. We must deal decidedly with our lusts that war against our souls; let us not show them any mercy, but mortify, and crucify, and utterly destroy them. Thousands in the world that now is, have been undone by ungodly marriages; for there is more likelihood that the good will be perverted, than that the bad will be converted. Those who, in choosing yoke-fellows, keep not within the bounds of a profession of religion, cannot promise themselves helps meet for them.The fewest of all people - God chose for Himself Israel, when as yet but a single family, or rather a single person, Abraham; though there were already numerous nations and powerful kingdoms in the earth. Increase Deuteronomy 1:10; Deuteronomy 10:22 had taken place because of the very blessing of God spoken of in Deuteronomy 7:8.6-10. For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God—that is, set apart to the service of God, or chosen to execute the important purposes of His providence. Their selection to this high destiny was neither on account of their numerical amount (for, till after the death of Joseph, they were but a handful of people); nor because of their extraordinary merits (for they had often pursued a most perverse and unworthy conduct); but it was in consequence of the covenant or promise made with their pious forefathers; and the motives that led to that special act were such as tended not only to vindicate God's wisdom, but to illustrate His glory in diffusing the best and most precious blessings to all mankind. The faithful God; true to his word, and constant in performing all his promises.

The only true and living God, and not the idols of the Gentiles, who are false and lifeless ones, and therefore not the proper objects of adoration:

the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy; as appeared by fulfilling the promise made to their fathers, in bringing them out of Egypt, and now them to the borders of the land of Canaan given them for an inheritance:

with them that love him, and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations; see Exodus 20:6 which are not the causes or conditions of his covenant and mercy, nor of his keeping them, but descriptive of the persons that enjoy the benefit thereof.

Know therefore {d} that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

(d) And so put difference between him and idols.

9. Know therefore] A frequent formula in D in Sg. and Pl. Deuteronomy 4:39 (+ and lay it to thine heart), Deuteronomy 8:5 (A.V. and thou shalt consider in thine heart), Deuteronomy 9:3; Deuteronomy 9:6 (A.V. understand therefore), Deuteronomy 11:2 (and know ye); cp. Deuteronomy 29:4 Pl. (a heart to know); the passages where the object is other gods and the meaning therefore is to have experience of them, Deuteronomy 13:6; Deuteronomy 13:13, Deuteronomy 28:64 (Sg.), and Deuteronomy 11:28 (Pl.), also Deuteronomy 29:26; Deuteronomy 32:17; and in a similar sense, of other nations Deuteronomy 28:33; Deuteronomy 28:36 (Sg.), and of the diseases of Egypt Deuteronomy 7:15 (Sg.); and of manna Deuteronomy 8:3; Deuteronomy 8:16 (Sg.); also of God proving His people in order to know, i.e. find out, what was in their heart, Deuteronomy 8:2 (Sg.), Deuteronomy 13:3 (Pl.). These passages and their contexts show that D uses the verb to know with the same practical force, especially in religious matters, with which Hosea uses it. ‘It is not to know so as to see the fact of, but to know so as to feel the force of; knowledge not as acquisition and mastery, but as impression, passion. To quote Paul’s distinction, it is not so much the apprehending as the being apprehended. It leads to a vivid result—either warm appreciation, or change of mind or practical effort.… It is knowledge that is followed by shame, or by love, or by reverence, or by the sense of a duty … it closely approaches the meaning of our conscience.’ (The Twelve Prophets, i. 322: see the whole chapter there on the subject.)

he is God] the God, or God indeed, Deuteronomy 4:35; Deuteronomy 4:39, Deuteronomy 10:17; affirming not the soleness (Dillm.) so much as the reality of Jehovah’s deity, as shown (the vv. go on) in His working in history.

faithful] A participle with gerundive force, who shows Himself One to be trusted, i.e. by His deeds.

keepeth covenant and mercy] The conjunction shows that the Heb. word trans, mercy, ḥesed, is, as especially in Hosea, more than an affection; it is a relation and duty better rendered by loyal love. But see Driver’s note in loco.

that love him] See on Deuteronomy 6:5.

a thousand generations] ‘a rhetorical amplification, rather than an exact interpretation, of the thousands of Exodus 20:6’ [Deuteronomy 5:10] (Driver).

9, 10. A free paraphrase of the Second Commandment.

Verse 9. - To a thousand generations; rather, to the thousandth generation. As God is faithful to his covenant, and will show mercy and do good to those that love him, whilst on those who hate him he will bring terrible retribution, the people are warned by this to take heed against rebellion and apostasy from him (comp. Exodus 20:5). Deuteronomy 7:9By this was Israel to know that Jehovah their God was the true God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant, showing mercy to those who love Him, even to the thousandth generation, but repaying those who hate Him to the face. This development of the nature of God Moses introduces from Exodus 20:5-6, as a light warning not to forfeit the mercy of God, or draw upon themselves His holy wrath by falling into idolatry. To this end He emphatically carries out still further the thought of retribution, by adding להאבידו, "to destroy him" (the hater), and וגו יאהר לא, "He delays not to His hater (sc., to repay him); He will repay him to his face." "To the face of every one of them," i.e., that they may see and feel that they are smitten by God (Rosenmller).
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