Deuteronomy 9:6
Understand therefore, that the LORD your God gives you not this good land to possess it for your righteousness; for you are a stiff necked people.
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(6) Understand therefore.—Literally, and thou knowest. Three times the formula occurs in these verses. “The children of Anak thou knowest; and thou knowest the Lord thy God; and (thirdly) thou knowest thyself too.”

A stiffnecked people.—The metaphor seems to be taken from a camel or other beast of burden, who hardens his neck, and will not bend it for the driver.

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. Rebellious and perverse, and so destitute of all pretence of righteousness; such were the people, but there were divers particular persons amongst them truly righteous and holy, and yet even their righteousness is denied to be the procuring cause of this land. Understand therefore that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness,.... This is again repeated to impress it upon their minds, that it was not for any goodness of theirs, but as a gift of divine goodness to them, that they were put into the possession of the good land, which greatly exceeded any merits of theirs, and was entirely owing to the kindness of God to them, and not to any righteousness of theirs; and this he frequently inculcates, that they might have a thorough understanding of it. And so the doctrines of justification by the righteousness of Christ, and not man's, and of salvation by the grace of God, and not the works of men, are points of knowledge and understanding; and to lead men into an acquaintance with them is the general design of the Gospel; and he cannot be reckoned an understanding man, but ignorant of God and his righteousness, of the law and the spirituality of it, of Christ and the way of salvation by him, of the Spirit and of spiritual things, of the Gospel and its doctrines, nor can he be wise unto salvation, who expects to get to heaven by his own works of righteousness; and it might be added, that he is ignorant of himself, of his state and condition, of his sinfulness and vileness, and of the nature of his best works; as the Israelites in a good measure seemed to be, whose conviction is laboured in the following part of this chapter:

for thou art a stiffnecked people; refractory and unruly, like an heifer unaccustomed to the yoke, that draws back from it, and wriggles its neck out of it; so untoward and perverse were this people, and disobedient to the commands of God; wherefore there was no show of reason that they were put into the possession of Canaan for their righteousness; and to make it appear that they were such a people as here described, several instances are given.

Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a {e} stiffnecked people.

(e) Like stubborn oxen who will not endure their masters yoke.

6. Know therefore] See on Deuteronomy 7:9 : the verse begins by giving the conclusion of the previous proof, but adds also another—

for thou art a stiffnecked people] Apparently first used of Israel (in connection with the golden calf) in J, Exodus 33:3; Exodus 34:9 (Exodus 32:9; Exodus 33:5 are editorial); then here and Deuteronomy 9:13 : cp. Deuteronomy 10:16, Deuteronomy 31:27. Cp. Isaiah 48:4 : thou art obstinate, thy neck is an iron sinew: the figure is of an animal refusing to turn in the direction his rider desires.Verse 6. - Stiffnecked, hard of neck; stubborn, obstinate, rebellious. To strengthen his admonition, Moses pointed again in conclusion, as he had already done in Deuteronomy 6:14 (cf. Deuteronomy 4:25.), to the destruction which would come upon Israel through apostasy from its God.
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