And in the wilderness, where you have seen how that the LORD your God bore you, as a man does bear his son…
These words are part of a discourse delivered by Moses to all Israel, in the plain over against the Red Sea. Some of the most tender Divine utterances are to be found in the books of Moses. The subject of the text is the paternal upholding of God.
I. Glance first at what we may call OUR HISTORY. There is a history appertaining to each of us, a story of our life. It has been written, though not with a pen, and it is inscribed on the mind of God. We study the biographies of others, and neglect the story of our own lives.
II. The next thing is, GOD IN OUR HISTORY. The chief agents in our history are God and ourselves. God is in a good mother, God is in a wise father, God is in a competent tutor, God is in useful companions, God is in holy social influences, and God is in the ministry of angels; while bad parents, and bad teachers, and evil companions, and devils, have acted upon us by God's permission. God is, on these grounds, in all our history. Those passages which seem to present prominently the mother contain God, and they contain more of God than they do even of the mother. From no portion of the story of life can we exclude God. His purpose and thought and will are in each part and in the whole. Every step we take works out some part of the plan of life which He has laid down for us, so that God is in our history, in a certain sense, far more than we ourselves are in it.
III. Now, seeing that God is in our history, WHAT DOES THAT HISTORY EXPRESS WITH REFERENCE TO GOD? It shows God's upholding of us. God bare thee when thou seemedst to thyself to walk alone. There are seasons in which you appear to design and arrange, but you have only been rough-hewing, as the mason sometimes rough hews for the sculptor, and even this rough-hewing has been under Divine direction. God bare thee when thou wast carried by others, and the Lord thy God bare thee when thou wast thyself inactive, and no fellow creature seemed to be ministering to thee. Then He held thy soul in life, and kept thy feet from falling. He has also borne with thee. A most important part of bearing thee is this.
IV. The great point, however, of this passage is, THE PATERNAL CHARACTER OF THE DIVINE SUSTENANCE. We each have a history, and God is in it, and the upholding of God is expressed by it. But that upholding is paternal. "The Lord thy God bare thee as a man doth bear his son." Now let us break this up a little. We may say that a man bears his son by taking charge of him, and by being responsible for him. We may say that a man bears his son by working for him, and by being a sort of subordinate providence over him. We may say that a man hears his son by teaching him, in due time, to act and to work for himself. We may say that a man bears his son when he shows patience towards his ignorance and folly, pity towards his sorrows, forbearance towards his faults, and love for his person. And thus does God sustain those who trust and fear Him.
V. THERE ARE OBLIGATIONS AND DUTIES THAT SPRING FROM THESE TRUTHS.
1. In the first place, if "God bears us as a man bears his son," we ought to be quiet from the fear of evil. Real evil, while God is bearing us as a man his son — evil in the sense of real calamity — cannot happen to us.
2. If "God bear us as a man his son," we ought to be careful for nothing. God cares for us. What have we to do with care? What have we to do, in many circumstances, with responsibility? We are responsible for finding out God's will, and for doing that will with all our might, but beyond where is our responsibility? Are we responsible for consequences? Is the husbandman, for example, responsible for the harvest? He is responsible for breaking the clods of the field, and for ploughing, and for tilling the ground; he is responsible for the choice of the seed, for the way in which it is sown, for the treatment of the field after seed is sown; but is lie responsible for the clouds? Is he responsible for the rain? Is he responsible for frost? Is be responsible for light or for darkness? Is he responsible for the calm or for sunshine? The man may plough to perfection and sow most carefully and treat his ground most scientifically, but there is something more than that which man can do required for the increase of the earth; and that something more is God's care, not man's.
3. If "God bear us as a man his son," we ought lovingly to trust Him. Obey Him and honour Him, and when God tries your confidence in Him take care that this confidence conies forth from the trial like gold purified seven times. Eventually you shall be free from such trials, but now God often exposes you to them. The results of God's guidance and the results of God's upholding are now, in some respects, or at least in some of their results, very much like unripe fruit — green, sour, bitter, but as months roll on these results will become like ripened fruit, beautiful, sweet, and mellow, a picture to the eye, and as honey to the taste.
(S. Martin, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.