Give ear, O you heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.…
Moses was directed to instruct the people by composing for their use a song (Deuteronomy 31:19, 21). A song is:
2. Easily handed down from mouth to mouth.
3. Of singular power to awaken sympathetic feeling (cf. influence of ballads, of Jacobite songs, of the 'Marseillaise,' of popular hymns). The action of song is not violent, but gentle and persuasive. It steals about the heart like rippling water or like sunlight, trickles into its pores, works as if by spirit-influence on its seats of laughter and tears, explores its innermost labyrinths of feeling. Here compared (ver. 2) to the gently distilling dew and rain.
I. THE DEW AND RAIN AS EMBLEMS OF THE TEACHING MOST LIKELY TO PROVE EFFECTIVE. Their action is:
(4) kindly; yet:
1. Invigorative. They revive, refresh, stimulate.
2. Powerful Rocks shattered by drops of water in their pores and crevices.
3. Deep-reaching. They act on plants by watering their roots. Take a lesson from them. It is not the best kind of teaching which is loud and violent, which tries to force men's convictions. Convictions must have time to grow. Teaching must be loving. The earthquake, the whirlwind, the fire, have their own place, but "the still small voice" is needed to succeed them. The Lord is peculiarly in that. Angry scolding, petulant rebuke, biting censure, clever satire, seldom do much good. Love alone wins the day.
II. THE DEW AND RAIN AS EMBLEMS OF THE TEACHING MOST SUITABLE IN THE INSTRUCTIONS OF RELIGION. Moses employed it here. Christ employed it. "He shall not strive nor cry," etc. (Matthew 12:19). Paul commends "truthing it in love" (Ephesians 4:15). "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (2 Timothy 2:24, 25). This kind of teaching harmonizes best:
1. With the subject of religion - "the Name of the Lord" (ver. 3). God had revealed his Name to Moses (Exodus 34:6, 7), and the attributes of mercy preponderate.
2. With the end of religion - the ascription of greatness to God (ver. 3). Religious teaching fails if it does not inspire men with such convictions of God's greatness as will lead them to fear, honor, worship, praise, and serve him.
3. With the special theme of the gospel - peace, love, good will to men. This song of Moses has to deal with stern truths, but even in its sternest passages it breathes the pathos of tender and sorrowful affection. It dwells largely on God's kindnesses and the people's ingratitude, and ends with loving promises. The song has numerous echoes in Isaiah. - J.O.
Parallel VersesKJV: Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.