You are the children of the LORD your God: you shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.…
Mourning customs have significance, as testifying to the ideas of God, of human worth, and of immortality, held by those who practice them. Those here forbidden were degrading in their own nature, and embodied the false idea that God is pleased with the self-inflicted miseries of his creatures. They are condemned -
I. AS DISHONORING TO THE CREATOR. God, the Creator of the body, cannot take delight in seeing it abused. This proposition seems self-evident. The idea above referred to, and which lies at the root of so many false religions, viz. that it is pleasing to the Deity to see his creatures torturing and defacing themselves, is a libel on the Divine character. The body is rather to be reverenced as one of the noblest of God's works. It is to be studiously preserved and cared for. Religion, with reason, enjoins, "Do thyself no harm" (Acts 16:28).
II. AS INCONSISTENT WITH SELF-RESPECT. There is a propriety and decorum becoming in beings who possess reason. Wild and excessive grief, indicating the absence of power of self-control, lowers us beneath the dignity of rational existences. Neglect of the person, and, still more, wanton self-injury, in grief, betokens a like absence of proper self-respect. Least of all is such conduct excusable in those who claim the dignity of being God's children. They, of all others, ought to set an example of propriety and seemliness in behavior. They are "an holy people," and must study to deport themselves worthily of their high calling. The priests of Baal (1 Kings 18:28) behaved like maniacs. David and Job behaved like religious men (2 Samuel 12:20; Job 1:20, 21).
III. AS IMPLYING THE ABSENCE OF RELIGIOUS CONSOLATIONS. The early Jews were not without these (Hebrews 11:13, 14). We in the Christian age have them still more abundantly. Therefore must we not sorrow "as those which have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13). - J.O.
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.