And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.
We find throughout the law that this commandment was put forth as the great foundation on which others were built. On him "that setteth light by his father or his mother" was one of the curses pronounced on Mount Ebal; and it was commanded, "He that curseth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death."
I. The keeping of this commandment implies and produces a certain temper of mind which we call meekness. So far as anything like peace can be obtained in this world, it can only be obtained by keeping this commandment, by obedience, obedience to God; and this cannot be shown but by obedience to those whom He has set over us.
II. The temper of obedience being, therefore, the very foundation of all true piety, God has so appointed it that men should be all their lives in conditions of life to exercise and practise this habit of mind, first of all as children under parents, then as servants under masters, as subjects under kings, as all under spiritual pastors, and spiritual pastors under their superiors.
III. It is in this temper of meekness, above all, that Christ has set Himself before us as our Pattern. Christ was willingly subject to a poor carpenter in an obscure village, so much so as even to have worked with him, it is supposed, at his trade. He, alone without sin, was subject to sinful parents.
IV. The more difficult it is for children to pay this honour and obedience to parents who may be unworthy, the more sure they may be that it is the narrow way to life and the strait and difficult gate by which they must enter. True love will cover and turn away its eyes from sins and infirmities. For this reason there is a blessing even unto this day on the children of Shem and Japheth, and a curse on the descendants of Ham.
Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. ix., p. 277.
References: Deuteronomy 5:16.—J. Oswald Dykes, The Law of the Ten Words, p. 105. Deuteronomy 5:17-21.—Ibid., pp. 123, 139, 155, 171, 189. Deuteronomy 5:22.—Old Testament Outlines, p. 49; J. Oswald Dykes, The Law of the Ten Words, p. 1. Deuteronomy 5:24.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 201. Deuteronomy 5:24-26.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 203. Deuteronomy 5:29.—R. D. B. Rawnsley, A Course of Sermons for the Christian Year, p. 209. Deuteronomy 5:31.—J. Keble, Sermons for the Christian Year: Easter to Ascension Day, p. 182.
Deuteronomy 5:33I. One of these clauses is commonly said to enjoin a duty, the other to promise the blessings which those might confidently look for who performed it. This is not a satisfactory definition. Moses teaches his countrymen that God has conferred upon them the highest prize which man can conceive, freely and without any merit on their part. Was the knowledge of the living and unseen God nothing in itself, but only valuable in virtue of some results that were to come of it? Moses tells his countrymen that it was everything. To hold it fast was to be a nation; to lose it was to sink back into that condition out of which they had been raised.
II. Is there no duty then assigned in the text? Certainly when it is said, "Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you," it must be meant that there is something required on the part of the creature as well as something bestowed by the Creator. We cannot understand what is required unless we understand what is bestowed. If we believe that a way has been made for us, and that we have been put in that way, we can apprehend the force of the precept to walk in it, we can feel what is meant by transgression and revolt.
III. It is here signified in very simple, clear language that a people in a right, orderly, godly state shall be a well-doing people, a people with all the signs and tokens of strength, growth, triumph, a people marked for permanence and indefinite expansion.
IV. It cannot be true that the blessings of adversity were unknown to the Jews, were reserved for a later period. The more strong their feeling was that God had chosen their nation and made a covenant with it, the greater was their struggle with their individual selfishness, their desire of great things for themselves, the more need had they of God's fires to purify them. No men could be more taught than the Jewish seers were that punishments are necessary for individuals and nations, and that "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth."
V. It is a perilous and an almost fatal notion that Christian men have less to do with the present than the Jews had, that their minds and their religion are to be projected into a region after death, because there only the Divine Presence is dwelling.
The alternative is between a faith which shall belong to men as men, which shall concern all their ordinary pursuits, toils, relations—the alternative is between such a faith and absolute atheism.
F. D. Maurice, Patriarchs and Lawgivers of the Old Testament, p. 241.
References: Deuteronomy 6:1-12.—Parker, vol. iv., p. 136. Deuteronomy 6:1-25.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 217.
The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.
The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,
(I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying,
I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
Thou shalt have none other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.
Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.
And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
Neither shalt thou steal.
Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.
These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.
Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die.
For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.
And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken.
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
Go say to them, Get you into your tents again.
But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.