Deuteronomy 9:4
Speak not you in your heart, after that the LORD your God has cast them out from before you, saying, For my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD does drive them out from before you.
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(4) But for the wickedness.—“Say not in thine heart, ‘in my righteousness,’ when it is in consequence of their wickedness that Jehovah is dispossessing them from before thee.”

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. 4-6. Speak not thou in thine heart, … saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land—Moses takes special care to guard his countrymen against the vanity of supposing that their own merits had procured them the distinguished privilege. The Canaanites were a hopelessly corrupt race, and deserved extermination; but history relates many remarkable instances in which God punished corrupt and guilty nations by the instrumentality of other people as bad as themselves. It was not for the sake of the Israelites, but for His own sake, for the promise made to their pious ancestors, and in furtherance of high and comprehensive purposes of good to the world, that God was about to give them a grant of Canaan. No text from Poole on this verse. Speak not thou in thine heart,.... Never once think within thyself, or give way to such a vain imagination, and please thyself with it:

after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee; to make way for the Israelites, and put them into the possession of their land; which is to be ascribed not to them, but to the Lord:

saying, for my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land; such a thought as this was not to be secretly cherished in their hearts, and much less expressed with their lips; nothing being more foreign from truth than this, and yet a notion they were prone to entertain. They were always a people, more or less, from first to last, tainted with a conceit of their own righteousness, and goodness, which they laboured to establish, and were ready to attribute all the good things to it they enjoyed, and nothing is more natural to men, than to fancy they shall be brought to the heavenly Canaan by and for their own righteousness; which is contrary to the perfections of God, his purity, holiness, and justice, which can never admit of an imperfect righteousness in the room of a perfect one; to justify anyone thereby, is contrary to the Gospel scheme of salvation; which is not by works of righteousness men have done, but by the grace and mercy of God through Christ; it would make useless, null, and void, the righteousness of Christ, which only can justify men in the sight of God, give a title to heaven and happiness, and an abundant entrance into it; and would occasion boasting, not only in the present state, but even in heaven itself; whereas the scheme of salvation is so framed and fixed, that there may be no room for boasting, here or hereafter, see Romans 3:27,

but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee; namely, their idolatry, incest, and other notorious crimes; see Leviticus 18:3, which sufficiently justifies God in all his dealings with these nations.

Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my {d} righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.

(d) Man by himself deserves nothing but God's anger, and if God spares anyone it comes from his great mercy.

4. Speak … in thine heart] See on Deuteronomy 8:17.

thrust them out] See on Deuteronomy 6:19.

For my righteousness] Here ethical: contr. Deuteronomy 6:25.

whereas for the wickedness … from before thee] The whole clause is wanting in LXX B and seems a gloss or expansion anticipating the next v. and weakening the connection (Valeton, Dillm., Driver, Steuern., Berth.).Verses 4, 5. - Speak not thou in thine heart (cf. Deuteronomy 8:17). The distinction between righteousness and uprightness (straightness) of heart, is that the former (צֶדֶ) has reference to rectitude of conduct, the latter (ישֶׁר) to rectitude of motive and purpose. "By naming justice [righteousness], he excludeth all merit of works, and by righteousness [uprightness] of heart, all inward affections and purposes. which men might plead, notwithstanding that they fail in action. Yet these two are the chief things which God respecteth in men (Psalm 15:1, 2; 1 Chronicles 29:17)" (Ainsworth). 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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