If you walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;…
Religion has the first claim upon us as the supreme obligation of the soul. We are hound to worship and honour God because we owe far more to him than to all other beings in the universe. The first and all-sufficient reason why we should "worship and bow down" before him, is in the fact that "he is our God" - that One from whom we come, in whom we live, from whom cometh down every good gift. But God condescends to urge us to obedience by presenting incentives to our minds. He wishes us to consider that he has made it infinitely remunerative for us to do so; that, by so doing, we become recipients of the largest blessings he can confer and we can receive. There is so much of contrast as well as comparison between the blessings of the old and the new dispensations, that we must divide our subject into two parts.
I. THE INCENTIVES WHICH GOD HELD OUT TO HIS ANCIENT PEOPLE. These were importantly spiritual, but prominently temporal. If they did but "walk in his statutes, and keep his commandments, and do them" (verse 3), they might reckon on
(1) fertility in the field (verses 4, 5, 10);
(2) sense of security from without and disturbance from within (safety and peace, verses 5, 6);
(3) victory in war (verses 7, 8);
(4) national growth (verse 9);
(5) God's presence with them (verses 11, 12);
(6) his pleasure in them (verse 11); and
(7) his guarantee of their liberty and self-respect (verse 13).
II. THE PROMISES WHICH HE HAS MADE TO US. These are partly temporal, but principally spiritual. They include:
1. Sufficiency of worldly substance. God does not now say, "Serve me, and you shall be strong, wealthy, long-lived," but he does say, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God,... and all these things" (food, clothing, etc.) "shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). "Godliness has promise of the life that now is" (1 Timothy 4:8). Those who are his children in Christ Jesus may reckon upon all needful support from his bountiful hand.
2. Consciousness of spiritual integrity. As God made his people to be delivered from the yoke and to "go upright" (verse 13), so he makes those who have returned to him, and who have escaped from the yoke of sin, to "walk in uprightness of heart." Instead of shrinking in fear, bowing down with a depressing sense of wrong-doing, we have a happy consciousness of integrity of soul. We say with the psalmist, "As for me," etc. (Psalm 41:12).
3. Sense of reconciliation with God. God promises peace and a sense of safety (verses 5, 6) to those who seek his favour in Christ Jesus. Being justified by faith in him, we have peace with God; and we know that, whatever may be our circumstances, we are secure behind the shield of his almighty love.
4. Victory in the battle of life. If it be not wholly true that "our life is but a battle and a march," yet it is true that there is so much of spiritual struggle in it, from its beginning to its close, that we all understand only too well what is meant by "the battle of life." There are many foes with which to wrestle (Ephesians 6:12), and we need the invigorating power which only the Spirit of the Strong One can impart. If we are his, he will help us in the strife. "Our enemies will fall before us" (verse 7; see 2 Corinthians 2:14 and Romans 8:37).
5. His presence with us and his pleasure in us. "God will set his tabernacle among us;" he "will walk among us" (verses 11, 12). He will be "with us always," and his sustaining presence will uphold us in the darkest hour, in the most trying scene. "His soul will not abhor us" (verse 11); he will take Divine pleasure in us; we shall be his children, his guests, his friends, his heirs.
6. An everlasting heritage in him. He will be our God (verse 12). The sacred page does not speak of any duration; but that which is adumbrated in the Old Testament is revealed in the New. Jesus Christ has brought life and immortality out into the light, and we know that "him that overcometh will the Son of man make a pillar in the temple of his God, and he shall go no more out," etc. (Revelation 3:12), and that "to him that overcometh will he grant to sit with him on his throne," etc. (Revelation 3:21). The present and the future, the best of the one and the whole of the other, are the heritage of those who "know the will of God and do it." Surely it is the choice of the wise to "make haste and delay not to keep his commandments." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;