Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask your father, and he will show you; your elders…
A defective character often results from mental indolence. Men do not use their faculties. Did they consider, reflect, and ponder, they would be bettor men. To call into activity all our powers is an imperative and sacred duty. For this purpose God has given them. Whose am I? whence have I come? what is my business in life? what are my obligations to my Maker? - these are questions possessing transcendent interest, and are vital to our joy. Ask intelligently and thoroughly; then act upon the answers. God's careful provision for Israel had been long-continued, thoughtful, special. No less, probably greater, has been his considerate and far-seeing provision for us.
I. WE NOTE A SPECIAL HABITATION PREPARED BY GOD.
1. Our earth has for untold ages been undergoing preparation as a suitable dwelling-place for man. Rocks have been formed for man's use, treasures of coal and metals have been stored up for his advantage. The soil has been pulverized to receive his seed. A marvelous and painstaking preparation has been made.
2. Equally conspicuous is God's wisdom in selecting special territory for special nations. Amidst all the hurly-burly of war, the unseen hand of God has "divided to the nations their inheritance." Oceans and rivers, mountains and deserts, have been God's walls of partition.
3. All these selections have been subordinate to Israel's welfare. All the lines of God's government met here. To Israel's good everything was to bead.
4. The reason of this is declared. "The Lord's portion is his people." Some location on earth was to be reserved for Jehovah. He too had chosen a dwelling-place, an inheritance. And his habitation was in the hearts of his people Israel. "For to that man will I look, and with him dwell, who is of an humble and contrite spirit." "Jacob is the lot of his inheritance."
II. SPECIAL TRAINING BY GOD.
1. Apart from God, earth would be a barren desert. Man's environment, where God is not, would be discordant, unsuitable, painful. The flowers and fruits of life are divinely provided.
2. Inscrutable are the methods of God's training. "He led him about." A masterly hand is in the matter, and we are very incompetent critics. Those marches and counter-marches in the wilderness were all needful to nourish robust courage and simple faith in the Hebrews. In God's arrangements no waste is permitted.
3. Tenderest kindness is here expressed. "He kept him as the apple of his eye." We count the eye among our most precious endowments. It is protected by the most clever contrivances. No part of the body is so delicate or so susceptible of pain. So God regards his chosen people. As a man guards from harm his eye, so God guards his own.
4. Consummate skill was expended to develop the best qualities of Israel. This is set forth by a piece of impressive imagery. As the eagle knows the perils of indolence, and is anxious to train her young brood to early self-exertion, she breaks up the nest, takes the eaglets on her strong pinions, bears them heavenward, shakes them free, then, as they sink, darts beneath them, bears them up again, and encourages them to seek the sun; so, by a thousand kind devices, God taught his people "to seek the things which are above." So precious an end is worthy of the largest expenditure of means.
III. DOMINION OVER NATURE AND OVER MAN ACCORDED BY GOD. In proportion as man has loyally served his God, man has gained earthly dominion. To Adam was accorded sovereignty over all living things in air, or earth, or sea; and of the second Adam we read, "Thou hast put all things under his feet."
1. Victory over enemies is secured. "He made him ride on the high places of the earth." Every mountain fortress was, one by one, possessed. To ride is significant of military conquest. The triumphs of Israel were swift, signal, and complete.
2. The peaceful conquest of nature followed. To the arts of industry, the earth yielded in sevenfold profusion. The olives on the rugged hills filled their presses with oil. Wild bees toiled early and late to lay up stores of honey. Their cattle, plentifully fed, yielded butter and milk in abundance. Under the curse of civil strife and petty feuds of the Canaanites, crops had been devastated, and flocks had been destroyed. Now, peace reigned in every valley, and the very trees blossomed with ruddy gladness. Hill and plain poured their unceasing tributes at the feet of lordly man.
3. The sole Author of this splendid inheritance was God. "The Lord alone did lead him." The deities of the Amorites (if they had any power at all) had bestowed on their votaries an inheritance of lust and war and ruin. In whatever respect Israel's inheritance was a contrast, it was due to the beneficence of Jehovah. He had blessed them with an ungrudging hand. 'Twas the indulgence of his native instinct to give and to make glad. No sane man among them could reach any other conclusion than that Jehovah was the royal Giver of all. And with one voice they should have made the clear welkin ring with hearty hallelujahs: "The Lord hath done great things for us." The gift was unique. It was conspicuously a deed of grace. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.