Not for your righteousness, or for the uprightness of your heart, do you go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God does drive them out from before you, and that he may perform the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Not for thy righteousness . . . dost thou go.—The pronoun is emphatic. There is no reason why thou of all others shouldest be thus honoured.Deuteronomy 9:5. Not for thy righteousness — Neither for thy upright heart nor holy life, the two things which God, above all others, regards. Here, therefore, all merit in them is excluded: and they are given to know that, although the Canaanites were expelled for their national wickedness, they were not settled in their room for their righteousness. And surely they, who did not deserve this earthly Canaan, could not merit the kingdom of glory. To perform the word — To show my faithfulness in accomplishing that promise which I graciously made and confirmed with my oath.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. 1 Chronicles 29:17 Psalm 15:1,2; and consequently he excludes all merit. And surely they who did not deserve this earthly Canaan, could not merit the kingdom of glory. That he may perform the word which he sware; to show my faithfulness in accomplishing that promise which I graciously made and confirmed with my oath. By which words it is implied, that this land was not given to them for the righteousness of their fathers, though they were righteous and holy persons, and much less for their own righteousness, which they had not, as it follows.
dost thou go to possess their land; this is repeated, and enlarged on, and explained, that this notion might be entirely removed from them, and not entertained by them; similar to which is that of men, who fancy that their sincere obedience, though imperfect, will be accepted of God instead of a perfect one, on account of which they shall be justified and saved; but by the deeds of the law no flesh living can be justified in the sight of God, nor by any works of righteousness done by the best of men, and in the best manner they are capable of, will any be saved:
but for the wickedness of those nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee; which is repeated, that it might be taken notice of as the true reason of the Lord's dealing with them in such severity; and which because it would be now doing, when the Israelites passed over Jordan, and went in to possess the land, it is expressed in the present tense, "doth drive", the work being not yet finished; sin was the cause of their ejection out of their land, and another thing was the reason of the Israelites possessing it, and not their righteousness next expressed:
and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; it was to fulfil his covenant, and make good his word of promise to their fathers, and not on account of any righteousness of theirs; and the salvation of the Lord's people in a spiritual sense, and their enjoyment of the heavenly Canaan, are owing to the gracious purposes and promises of God, and to his covenant engagements, as well as to the undertakings, obedience, and righteousness of his Son, and not to any righteousness of theirs.Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)5. dost thou go in to possess] Characteristic of the Sg. passages.
the wickedness of these nations] wickedness the direct opposite of righteousness; in disputes as to justice the wicked is the man who is in the wrong (Deuteronomy 25:1; Exodus 2:13 (J), Deuteronomy 23:1; Deuteronomy 23:7 (E), see note; Isaiah 5:23); so wickedness in Deuteronomy 25:2. Both adj. and noun are largely used especially in later writings of all in opposition to Jehovah and His people; but the terms also cover a wider ethical range, Ezekiel 18:27; Ezekiel 33:19, etc. Here, therefore, the wickedness of these, nations will primarily mean their refusal to acknowledge the true God, but implicitly the immorality and ethical uncleanness of their rites: to which recent excavations at Gezer and elsewhere bear testimony. See what is said on abomination Deuteronomy 7:25 : here it is clearer that more than ritual unrighteousness is intended.
thy God] Sam. and LXX B omit.
establish the word, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 8:18 : establish the covenant, etc. It is true that the people must fulfil their side of the covenant by obedience to its laws without which they shall not receive these material blessings in the land; but God made the covenant out of His own free will, Deuteronomy 7:7, and will keep it because of His faithfulness, Deuteronomy 7:9, and not because of any merit of the people.
which the Lord sware] Sam. and LXX B etc.: which he sware.Deuteronomy 6:14 (cf. Deuteronomy 4:25.), to the destruction which would come upon Israel through apostasy from its God.
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