Deuteronomy 9:3
Understand therefore this day, that the LORD your God is he which goes over before you; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before your face: so shall you drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD has said to you.
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(3) Understand therefore.—Literally, the connection seems to be this: “The children of Anakim thou knowest—thou knowest also (the same word) to-day, that it is Jehovah thy God Himself that passeth over before thee, a consuming fire. He will destroy them, and He will make them to bow down before thee. And thou shalt make a conquest of them, and speedily annihilate them, according as Jehovah hath commanded thee.”

Deuteronomy 9:3. As a consuming fire — Before whom thine enemies shall be as easily consumed as stubble before the flames. So shalt thou drive them out — quickly — Not the whole seven nations, whom he said (Deuteronomy 7:22,) God would drive out by little and little, but so many as to make a settlement for them in Canaan.9:1-6 Moses represents the strength of the enemies they were now to encounter. This was to drive them to God, and engage their hope in him. He assures them of victory, by the presence of God with them. He cautions them not to have the least thought of their own righteousness, as if that procured this favour at God's hand. In Christ we have both righteousness and strength; in Him we must glory, not in ourselves, nor in any sufficiency of our own. It is for the wickedness of these nations that God drives them out. All whom God rejects, are rejected for their own wickedness; but none whom he accepts are accepted for their own righteousness. Thus boasting is for ever done away: see Eph 2:9,11,12.So shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly - This is not inconsistent with Deuteronomy 7:22, in which instant annihilation is not to be expected for the reasons assigned. Here Moses urges the people to trust in God's covenanted aid; since He would then make no delay in so destroying the nations attacked by them as to put them into enjoyment of the promises, and in doing so as fast as was for the well-being of Israel itself. CHAPTER 9

De 9:1-25. Moses Dissuades Them from the Opinion of Their Own Righteousness.

1. this day—means this time. The Israelites had reached the confines of the promised land, but were obliged, to their great mortification, to return. But now they certainly were to enter it. No obstacle could prevent their possession; neither the fortified defenses of the towns, nor the resistance of the gigantic inhabitants of whom they had received from the spies so formidable a description.

cities great and fenced up to heaven—Oriental cities generally cover a much greater space than those in Europe; for the houses often stand apart with gardens and fields intervening. They are almost all surrounded with walls built of burnt or sun-dried bricks, about forty feet in height. All classes in the East, but especially the nomad tribes, in their ignorance of engineering and artillery, would have abandoned in despair the idea of an assault on a walled town, which to-day would be demolished in a few hours.

Quickly; without great difficulty or long wars. Understand therefore this day,.... Or be it known to you for your encouragement, and believe it:

that the Lord thy God is he which goeth over before thee as a consuming fire: did not only go before them over the river Jordan, in a pillar of cloud and fire, to guide and direct them, and was a wall of fire around them to protect and defend them, but as a consuming fire, before which there is no standing, to destroy their enemies; see Deuteronomy 4:24,

he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face; be they as great and as mighty, as large and as tall as they may, they will not be able to stand before the Lord, but will soon be made low, and be easily brought down to the earth by him, and to utter destruction; which would be done in a public and visible manner, so as that the hand of the Lord would be seen in it by the Israelites:

so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the Lord hath said unto thee; that is, the far greater part of them, and so many as to make room for the Israelites, and which was quickly done. The Jews commonly say (a), that they were seven years in subduing the land; otherwise they were not to be driven out and destroyed at once, but by little and little: see Deuteronomy 7:22.

(a) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 11. p. 31, 32.

Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which {c} goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.

(c) To guide you and govern you.

3. Know therefore] See on Deuteronomy 7:9.

he which goeth over before thee] Deuteronomy 31:3 (cp. Joshua 3:11).

a devouring fire] Only here and Deuteronomy 4:24.

he shall destroy … and he] he emphatic.

bring them down before thee] In D the verb is found only here: it is used also of the subjection of Israel’s enemies in the deuteronomic Jdg 3:30; Jdg 4:23; Jdg 8:28, the late passage 1 Samuel 7:13, and otherwise only in late writers; except for Jdg 11:33 and 2 Samuel 8:1 which may be pre-deuteronomic.

quickly] Omitted by LXX B, but otherwise confirmed. See on Deuteronomy 7:22.

as the Lord hath spoken unto thee] Exodus 23:23 (edit.), Exodus 23:27 (E).Verse 3. - Understand therefore this day; rather, And thou knowest today or now. The expression corresponds to ver. 1, "Thou art to pass... and thou knowest." In the victory they had obtained over Sihon and Og, they had already had experience of the Lord's going before them, and leading them on in triumph. The repetition of the He in this verse is very emphatic. Consuming fire (cf. Deuteronomy 4:24). Quickly, or suddenly. There is no contradiction here of what is said in Deuteronomy 7:22; for there the reference is to the possession of the land by Israel, here it is to the destruction which was to come on the Canaanites - the former was to be by degrees, the latter was to come suddenly and overwhelmingly. As Jehovah hath said unto thee (cf. Exodus 23:23, 27, etc.; Deuteronomy 2:24, etc.). But if the Israelites were to eat there and be satisfied, i.e., to live in the midst of plenty, they were to beware of forgetting their God; that when their prosperity - their possessions, in the form of lofty houses, cattle, gold and silver, and other good things - increased, their heart might not be lifted up, i.e., they might not become proud, and, forgetting their deliverance from Egypt and their miraculous preservation and guidance in the desert, ascribe the property they had acquired to their own strength and the work of their own hands. To keep the people from this danger of forgetting God, which follows so easily from the pride of wealth, Moses once more enumerates in Deuteronomy 8:14-16 the manifestations of divine grace, their deliverance from Egypt the slave-house, their being led through the great and terrible desert, whose terrors he depicts by mentioning a series of noxious and even fatal things, such as snakes, burning snakes (saraph, see at Numbers 21; 6), scorpions, and the thirsty land where there was no water. The words from נחשׁ, onwards, are attached rhetorically to what precedes by simple apposition, without any logically connecting particle; though it will not do to overlook entirely the rhetorical form of the enumeration, and supply the preposition בּ before נחשׁ and the words which follow, to say nothing of the fact that it would be quite out of character before these nouns in the singular, as a whole people could not go through one serpent, etc. In this parched land the Lord brought he people water out of the flinty rock, the hardest stone, and fed them with manna, to humble them and tempt them (cf. Deuteronomy 8:2), in order (this was the ultimate intention of all the humiliation and trial) "to do thee good at thy latter end." The "latter end" of any one is "the time which follows some distinct point in his life, particularly an important epoch-making point, and which may be regarded as the end by contrast, the time before that epoch being considered as the beginning" (Schultz). In this instance Moses refers to the period of their life in Canaan, in contrast with which the period of their sojourn in Egypt and their wandering in the desert is recorded as the beginning; consequently the expression does not relate to death as the end of life, as in Numbers 23:10, although this allusion is not to be altogether excluded, as a blessed death is only the completion of a blessed life. - Like all the guidance of Israel by the Lord, what is stated here is applicable to all believers. It is through humiliations and trials that the Lord leads His people to blessedness. Through the desert of tribulation, anxiety, distress, and merciful interposition, He conducts them to Canaan, into the land of rest, where they are refreshed and satisfied in the full enjoyment of the blessings of His grace and salvation; but those alone who continue humble, not attributing the good fortune and prosperity to which they attain at last, to their own exertion, strength, perseverance, and wisdom, but gratefully enjoying this good as a gift of the grace of God. חיל עשׂה, to create property, to prosper in wealth (as in Numbers 24:18). God gave strength for this (Deuteronomy 8:18), not because of Israel's merit and worthiness, but to fulfil His promises which He had made on oath to the patriarchs. "As this day," as was quite evident then, when the establishment of the covenant had already commenced, and Israel had come through the desert to the border of Canaan (see Deuteronomy 4:20).
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