Deuteronomy 14:1, 2
You are the children of the LORD your God: you shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.…
Israel had been called to honorable privilege; therefore it was fitting there should be seemly conduct. Royal children should be royal in all their acts.
I. ISRAEL'S SPECIAL PRIVILEGE. They enjoyed a position superior to all the nations of the earth.
1. They were the objects of God's choice. Out of all the peoples and tribes which dwelt on this round globe, Israel had been selected for a noble purpose. We may not be able to divine the reason, for our knowledge is exceedingly small. Yet God, who does nothing unwisely, did in this matter the wisest thing.
2. They had been chosen to sonship. God had revealed himself to these Hebrews in a special and endearing character. Had he not informed them of his dispositions towards them and his loving interest in them, they would not have dared to call him Father. In special condescension he informed them that he would treat them, in all substantial respects, as a father doth his children.
3. They had been chosen to righteous character. By virtue of this choice, they were on the high road to perfection. Their destiny was not secured irrespective of their own will and choice. They were now consecrated to the Divine service of Jehovah, and must perform holy actions, foster holy habits, so as to acquire a holy character. This is man's highest reward - a heaven within.
II. A SPECIFIC PROHIBITION. A prohibition against serf-mutilation. There were natural outlets for abundant grief - tears, sighs, and moans; these self-mutilations were unnatural and irrational.
1. Because inordinate sorrow for the death of friends is sinful. Moderate grief is allowable: it is the necessary concomitant of strong affection. But as we should enjoy every friend as a gift of God, so our sorrow at separation should be accompanied by filial submission.
2. Because such symbols of mourning were often pretences. Frequently, if not usually, this manifest sorrow was assumed. 'Twas mere trickery and falsehood. Such actions injured and deteriorated character.
3. Because even the body is the property of God. There is no part of his nature which the true Israelite does not recognize as belonging to God. Throughout, he is Jehovah's temple. Every faculty of body, every organ and member, is to be utilized for God, is to be preserved in health and vigor to do credit to Jehovah. "His Name is to be upon our foreheads."
4. Because this stir-mutilation would be conformity with heathen customs. The practices connected with idol-worship were dictated by a spirit of cruelty - by the genius of Satan. Far as the east is from the west, or north pole from the south, were the followers of God to-withdraw from heathen practices. As sane men flee from pestilence, so should pious men avoid the neighborhood of sin. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.