Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said…
1. So far as we are capable of judging, it was a thing in itself indifferent, having nothing in it of an intrinsically moral character. Now, in this view of it, it was peculiarly appropriate. It was a test of subjection to the Divine will; a test, simply considered, of obedience to God.
2. It has been remarked that the circumstances in which Adam was, at his creation, were such as to remove him from all temptations to, and, in some instances, from all possibility of, committing those sins which now most frequently abound amongst his posterity; "which is one thought of considerable importance to vindicate the Divine wisdom in that constitution under which he was placed."
3. We further observe that it was specially appropriate in this, that, from the comparatively little and trivial character of the action prohibited, it taught the important lesson that the real guilt of sin lay in its principle, the principle of rebellion against God's will; not in the extent of the mischief done, or of the consequences arising out of it.
4. I might notice also its precision. The language of Dr. Dwight on another part of this subject may be fairly applied here. "It brought the duty which he (Adam) was called to perform up to his view in the most distinct manner possible, and rendered it too intelligible to be mistaken. No room was left for doubt or debate. The object in question was a sensible object, perfectly defined, and perfectly understood." No metaphysical or philosophical discussion was demanded or admitted.
5. A test of this particular kind being once admitted to be suitable, the one actually selected was one which, from its obvious connection with the condition in which our first parents were placed, was, in the highest degree, natural. "Considering they were placed in a garden, what so natural, what so suitable to their situation, as forbidding them to eat of the fruit of a certain tree in that garden?" "The liberal grant of food was the extent of their liberty; this single limitation the test of their obedience."
6. It was, besides, an easy test. It was neither any mighty thing they were to do, nor any mighty indulgence they were to deny themselves, that was made the criterion of their subjection to God.
(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?