Deuteronomy Chapter 6:4-14; 7:6-9 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
Deuteronomy 6:4
4.Hear, O Israel. When Moses proclaims that God is One, the statement is not confined to His sole essence, which is incomprehensible, but must be also understood of His power and glory, which had been manifested to the people; as though he had said, that they would be guilty of rebellion unless they abode in the One God, who had laid them under such obligations to Himself. Therefore he not only calls him Jehovah, but at the same time infers that He is the God of that people whom he addresses, “Thy God.” Thus all other deities are brought to nought, and the people are commanded to fly and detest whatever withdraws their minds from the pure knowledge of Him; for although His name may be left to Him, still He is stripped of His majesty, as soon as He is mixed up with a multitude of others. Thus He says by Ezekiel, (Eze_20:39,) “Go ye, serve ye every one his idols;” in which words He not only repudiates all mixed worship, but testifies that He would rather be accounted nothing than not be worshipped undividedly. The orthodox Fathers aptly used this passage against the Arians; because, since Christ is everywhere called God, He is undoubtedly the same Jehovah who declares Himself to be the One God; and this is asserted with the same force respecting the Holy Spirit.

Adam Clarke
Deuteronomy 6:4
Hear, O Israel – שמע ישראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד shema Yisrael, Yehovah Eloheinu, Yehovah achad. These words may be variously rendered into English; but almost all possible verbal varieties in the translation (and there can be none other) amount to the same sense: “Israel, hear! Jehovah, our God, is one Jehovah;” or, “Jehovah is our God, Jehovah is one;” or, “Jehovah is our God, Jehovah alone;” or, “Jehovah is our God, Jehovah who is one;” or, “Jehovah, who is our God, is the one Being.” On this verse the Jews lay great stress; it is one of the four passages which they write on their phylacteries, and they write the last letter in the first and last words very large, for the purpose of exciting attention to the weighty truth it contains. It is perhaps in reference to this custom of the Jews that our blessed Lord alludes, Mat_22:38; Mar_12:29, Mar_12:30, where he says, This is the first and great commandment; and this is nearly the comment that Maimonides gives on this place: “Hear, O Israel; because in these words the property, the love, and the doctrine of God are contained.”

Many think that Moses teaches in these words the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity. It may be so; but if so, it is not more clearly done than in the first verse of Genesis, to which the reader is referred. When this passage occurs in the Sabbath readings in the synagogue, the whole congregation repeat the last word אחד achad for several minutes together with the loudest vociferations: this I suppose they do to vent a little of their spleen against the Christians, for they suppose the latter hold three Gods, because of their doctrine of the Trinity; but all their skill and cunning can never prove that there is not a plurality expressed in the word אלהינו Eloheinu, which is translated our God; and were the Christians, when reading this verse, to vociferate Eloheinu for several minutes as the Jews do achad, it would apply more forcibly in the way of conviction to the Jews of the plurality of persons in the Godhead, than the word achad, of one, against any pretended false tenet of Christianity, as every Christian receives the doctrine of the unity of God in the most conscientious manner. It is because of their rejection of this doctrine that the wrath of God continues to rest on them; for the doctrine of the atonement cannot be received, unless the doctrine of the Godhead of Christ is received too. Some Christians have joined the Jews against this doctrine, and some have even outdone them, and have put themselves to extraordinary pains to prove that אלהים Elohim is a noun of the singular number! This has not yet been proved. It would be as easy to prove that there is no plural in language.

Pulpit Commentary
Vers. 4-25. THE FIRST AND GREAT COMMANDMENT. “In the fear of Jehovah all true obedience is rooted (vers. 2, 3); for this is the first and most intimate fact in the relation of Israel and Jehovah. (Deu_5:26) But where the supreme fear of Jehovah hinders men from allowing self to preponderate in opposition to God, there will be no stopping at this renunciation of self-will, though this comes first as the negative form of the ten commandments also shows, but there will come to be a coalescence of the human with the Divine will; and this is love, which is the proper condition of obedience, as the ten commandments also indicate” (Deu_5:10) (Baumgarten). Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. This is an affirmation not so much of the moneity as of the unity and simplicity of Jehovah, the alone God. Though Elohim (plu.), he is one. The speaker does not say, “Jehovah is alone God,” but “Jehovah our Elohim is one Jehovah”. (comp. for the force of dja. Exo_26:6, Exo_26:11; Eze_37:16-19) Among the heathen there were many Baals and many Jupiters; and it was believed that the deity might be divided and communicated to many. But the God of Israel, Jehovah, is one, indivisible and incommunicable. He is the Absolute and the Infinite One, who alone is to be worshipped, on whom all depend, and to whose command all must yield obedience. (cf. Zec_14:9) Not only to polytheism, but to pantheism, and to the conception of a localized or national deity, is this declaration of the unity of Jehovah opposed. With these words the Jews begin their daily liturgy, morning and evening; the sentence expresses the essence of their religious belief; and so familiar is it to their thought and speech that, it is said, they were often, during the persecution in Spain, betrayed to their enemies by the involuntary utterance of it.

Pulpit Commentary
Deu 6:5
To the one indivisible Jehovah undivided devotion and love are due. Hence the injunction, Thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. The “heart” is the inner nature of the man, including his intellectual, emotional, and cognitive futurities; the “soul” is the personality, the entire self-consciousness; and the” might” is the sum of the energies, bodily and mental. Not by profession merely is Jehovah to be loved; the whole man, body, soul, and spirit, is to be yielded to him in holy and devout affection. (Mat_22:37; Mar_12:33; Luk_10:27; Rom_12:1) The last letter Of the first word, and the last letter of the last word in this verse are larger than the ordinary size (majuscula), and as these two form the word for witness (d), the Jews say that they are written thus “that every one may know, when he professes the unity of God, that his heart ought to be intent and devoid of every other thought, because God is a witness, and knoweth everything” (R. Bechai, fol. 195, quoted by Michaelis, “Bib. Heb,” in loc.).

John Calvin
Deuteronomy 6:6
6.And these words. In these four next verses God again commands (as before) the study of His Law. And first, indeed, He would have it implanted in their hearts, lest forgetfulness of it should ever steal over them; and by the word “heart” He designates the memory and other faculties of the mind; as though He had said that this was so great a treasure, that there was good cause why they should hide it in their hearts, or so fix this doctrine deeply in their minds that it should never escape. Afterwards He enjoins that constant conversation should be held about it with their children, in order that fathers should diligently attend and apply themselves to the duty of instruction. The word שנן shanan, which Moses uses, means properly “to whet.” Commentators think that it is employed metaphorically for “to reiterate,” or “to repeat constantly,” because, when the heavenly doctrine is inculcated, it will scarcely even thus be duly impressed on their hearts; but, since it is here used in the conjugation Piel, its signification may be transitive, viz., that they should cause it to penetrate their minds, as if they should prick them with the point of a sword; for the other translation does not seem consistent. But it is sufficient for me to state my opinion, lest any should be offended by its novelty. Lastly, he exhorts them to exercise themselves in its meditation both publicly and privately, in order to stimulate their want of energy. But, although he may seem to speak hyperbolically, yet if any one will carefully consider how slow and careless men are in learning, and how forgetful they are when they seem to have made some progress, he will readily acknowledge that Moses does not urge them so strongly on insufficient grounds, but that it was highly necessary for him to be thus rigid in exacting their attention. For this reason the Prophet in Psa_1:2, pronounces them to be blessed who meditate in God’s law “day and night.”

He leaves, then, no portion of time unoccupied with meditation on the Law; whether they are at home, or abroad, or when they retire to rest, or when they rise in the morning. To this precept David appears to allude in Psa_119:62, where he says, “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments;” and again, Psa_119:148, “Mine eyes prevent the night-watches, that I might meditate in thy word.” But still, by the expression “talk of them,” Moses does not urge the people to empty talkativeness, to which many are too much inclined, but he would have them severally thus establish themselves and be teachers of each other. He enumerates these various engagements, lest that change of occupation by which the mind is wont to be distracted should withdraw the godly from the right path, as though he commanded them to make this their chief aim in whatever business they might be engaged. For the same reason he desires bracelets and frontlets to be made of the precepts of the Law, contrasting doubtless this spiritual ornament with chains of gold, as much as to say that they would more properly take delight in the pious recollection of the Law, than in those trifling ornaments which attract men’s senses. The Jews understanding this literally, accounted this external ostentation a mark of holiness, so as to think that they had almost done all they needed, when they wore the Law on their arms and foreheads. Thence their mistaken zeal proceeded still further, so that, as each desired to be thought better than others, they widened their phylacteries in proportion, for so they denominated the borders of their garments, on which were written certain sentences of the Law, as safeguards. This error our Lord severely reproves in the Scribes and Pharisees, ( Mat_23:5,) because it was a mere mockery of this admonition, and a profanation of its doctrine. The intention of God sufficiently appears in the passage from Exodus, which I have subjoined, and in which they are simply commanded to be diligent in keeping the Law. But there is good reason why diligence should be required, not only on account of the matter being highly important, but because, through our vanity, we are apt to relax our exertions, unless our slowness of heart is stimulated.

Adam Clarke
Deuteronomy 6:7
Thou shalt teach them diligently – שננתם shinnantam, from שנן shanan, to repeat, iterate, or do a thing again and again; hence to whet or sharpen any instrument, which is done by reiterated friction or grinding. We see here the spirit of this Divine injunction. God’s testimonies must be taught to our children, and the utmost diligence must be used to make them understand them. This is a most difficult task; and it requires much patience, much prudence, much judgment, and much piety in the parents, to enable them to do this good, this most important work, in the best and most effectual manner. See at the end of this chapter, Deu_6:25 (note).

And shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house – Thou shalt have religion at home, as well as in the temple and tabernacle.

And when thou walkest by the way – Thou shalt be religious abroad as well as at home, and not be ashamed to own God wheresoever thou art.

When thou liest down, and when thou risest up – Thou shalt begin and end the day with God, and thus religion will be the great business of thy life. O how good are these sayings, but how little regarded!

Adam Clarke
Deuteronomy 6:8
Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thins hand – Is not this an allusion to an ancient and general custom observed in almost every part of the world? When a person wishes to remember a thing of importance, and is afraid to trust to the common operations of memory, he ties a knot on some part of his clothes, or a cord on his hand or finger, or places something out of its usual order, and in view, that his memory may be whetted to recollection, and his eye affect his heart. God, who knows how slow of heart we are to understand, graciously orders us to make use of every help, and through the means of things sensible, to rise to things spiritual.

And they shall be as frontlets – טטפת totaphoth seems to have the same meaning as phylacteries has in the New Testament; and for the meaning and description of these appendages to a Jew’s dress and to his religion, see the notes on Exo_13:9, and Mat_23:5 (note), where a phylactery is particularly described.

Pulpit Commentary
Deu 6:8
The words of God were to be bound for a sign a memorial or directory upon thine hand, the instrument of acting, and to be as frontlets fillets or bands between thine eyes, the organs of direction in walking or moving, and so on the forehead, the chamber of thought and purpose; and they were to inscribe them on the posts of their houses, and on their gates. The purport of this is that they were constantly and everywhere to have these commandments of the Lord in view and in mind, so as to undeviatingly observe them. It seems, however, to have been a custom widely prevalent among the ancient Eastern peoples to carry about their persons slips of parchment or some other material, on which were written sentences of moral or religious import; and such sentences they were also wont to inscribe on conspicuous places of their dwellings; usages still to be found among the Moslems (see Wilkinson, “Ancient Egyptians,” 3:364; Lane, “Modern Egypt,” 1:358; Russell, “Nat. Hist. of Aleppo;” Thomson, “Land and the Book,” 1:216), and the latter of which was not altogether unknown among Western nations (cf. Virgil, “Georg.” lit. 26, etc.), of which traces may still be seen in Switzerland, Germany, and on old houses in both England and Scotland. This custom originated, probably, in a desire to have the sentiments inscribed always in mind; but for the most part these inscriptions came to be regarded as amulets or charms, the presence of which on the person or the house was a safeguard against evil influences, especially such as were supernatural. By the Jews this custom was followed; and they regarded it as authorized by the injunction of Moses in this passage. Taking his words literally, they had their t and their mezuzah, the former of which the phylacteries of the New Testament were strips of parchment, on which passages of the Law (Exo_13:2-10, Exo_13:11-17; Deu_6:4-10, Deu_6:13-22) were written, and these, enclosed in a box, were bound on the forehead and left wrist, and worn at prayers by the worshippers; the latter a slip of parchment, on which were written certain passages of Scripture (vers. 4-9; Deu_11:13-21) and which, enclosed in a reed or cylinder, was fixed on the right-hand doorpost of every room in the house (see arts. “Mezuzah” and “Phylacteries” in Kitto”s “Biblical Cyclopedia,” 3rd edit.).

Albert Barnes
Deuteronomy 6:8-9
By adopting and regulating customary usages (e. g. Egyptian) Moses provides at once a check on superstition and a means of keeping the Divine Law in memory. On the “frontlets,” the “phylacteries” of the New Test. Mat_23:5, see Exo_13:16. On Deu_6:9; Deu_11:20 is based the Jewish usage of the mezuzah. This word denotes properly a door-post, as it is rendered here and in Exo_12:7, Exo_12:22; Exo_21:6 etc. Among the Jews however, it is the name given to the square piece of parchment, inscribed with Deu_6:4-9; Deu_11:13-21, which is rolled up in a small cylinder of wood or metal, and affixed to the right-hand post of every door in a Jewish house. The pious Jew touches the mezuzah on each occasion of passing, or kisses his finger, and speaks Psa_121:8 in the Hebrew language.

John Calvin
Deuteronomy 6:10
10.And it shall be, when the Lord thy God. Since wealth and prosperity for the most part blind men’s minds, so that they do not sufficiently attend to modesty and moderation, but rather grow wanton in their lusts, and intoxicate themselves with pleasures, God prescribes against this error by anticipation. For not without cause does he admonish them to beware lest they forget God, when they shall have been liberally and luxuriously treated by Him, but because he knew this to be a common vice, for abundance to beget arrogance; as afterwards he will say in his song,  “Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked: thou art waxen fat, etc., then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.” (Deu_32:15.)

First of all, he shews how base and unworthy would be their ingratitude, if, when loaded with so many excellent benefits by God, they should cast away the recollection of Him; for, as His goodness was inestimable, in giving them cities built by the hands of others, and in transferring to them whatever others had prepared by their great labor and industry, so would their impiety be the more detestable in neglecting Him, when He daily set Himself before them in this abundant store of blessing. Let us learn, therefore, from this passage, that we are invited by God’s liberality to honor Him, and that whenever He deals kindly by us, He places His glory before our eyes; but, on the other hand, we should remember, that what ought to be as it were vehicles, to lift up our minds on high, are, by our own fault, converted into obstacles and clogs, and that therefore we ought to be the more upon our guard. At the end of verse 12, he reproves their folly by another argument, if being thus suddenly enriched, they should give way to intemperance; as if he had said, that their absurdity would be insupportable, if, when uplifted by God’s bounty, they should not remember their origin; for nothing should have served more to incline them to humility than that wretched state of servitude from whence they had been rescued. Therefore he contrasts with that ample dominion to which God had exalted them, the house of bondmen,” in order that the recollection of their former lot may restrain all frowardness.

Pulpit Commentary
Vers. 10-12. As the Israelites were about to enter upon the possession of a rich and fertile land, where everything for their accommodation and comfort was already provided for them, there was a danger of their being so engrossed with their new possessions as to forget the Lord and his gracious dealings with them. They are, therefore, here warned against the danger to which they would be thus exposed. House of bondage. (Exo_13:3)

Albert Barnes
Deuteronomy 6:10-25
The Israelites were at the point of quitting a normal, life for a fixed and settled abode in the midst of other nations; they were exchanging a condition of comparative poverty for great and goodly cities, houses and vineyards. There was therefore before them a double danger;

(1) a God-forgetting worldliness, and

(2) a false tolerance of the idolatries practiced by those about to become their neighbors.

The former error Moses strives to guard against in the verses before us; the latter in Deu_7:1-11.

Adam Clarke
Deuteronomy 6:12
Beware lest thou forget the Lord – In earthly prosperity men are apt to forget heavenly things. While the animal senses have every thing they can wish, it is difficult for the soul to urge its way to heaven; the animal man is happy, and the desires of the soul are absorbed in those of the flesh. God knows this well; and therefore, in his love to man, makes comparative poverty and frequent affliction his general lot.

Should not every soul therefore magnify God for this lot in life? “Before I was afflicted,” says David, “I went astray;” and had it not been for poverty and affliction, as instruments in the hands of God’s grace, multitudes of souls now happy in heaven would have been wretched in hell. It is not too much to speak thus far; because we ever see that the rich and the affluent are generally negligent of God and the interests of their souls. It must however be granted that extreme poverty is as injurious to religion as excessive affluence. Hence the wisdom as well as piety of Agur’s prayer, Pro_30:7-9 : “Give me neither poverty nor riches, lest I be full and deny thee, or lest I be poor and steal,” etc.

Keil and Delitzsch
Deuteronomy 6:12-13
“House of bondage,” as in Exo_13:3. “Not forgetting” is described from a positive point of view, as fearing God, serving Him, and swearing by His name. Fear is placed first, as the fundamental characteristic of the Israelitish worship of God; it was no slavish fear, but simply the holy awe of a sinner before the holy God, which includes love rather than excludes it. “Fearing” is a matter of the heart; “serving,” a matter of working and striving; and “swearing in His name,” the practical manifestation of the worship of God in word and conversation. It refers not merely to a solemn oath before a judicial court, but rather to asseverations on oath in the ordinary intercourse of life, by which the religious attitude of a man involuntarily reveals itself.

John Calvin
Deuteronomy 6:13
13.Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God. Hence it is more evident why He has just declared that there is One God, viz., that He alone may be undividedly worshipped; for unless our minds are fixed on Him alone, religion is torn, as it were, into divers parts, and this is soon followed by a labyrinth of errors. But, first, he calls for reverence, and then for the worship which may testify and demonstrate it. “Fear” contains in it the idea of subjection, when men devote themselves to God, because His terrible majesty keeps them in their proper place. Hence results worship, which is the proof of piety. But we must observe that the fear enjoined in this passage is voluntary, so that men influenced by it desire nothing more than to obey God. When I stated, therefore, that God brings us under the yoke by a sense of His power and greatness, I did not understand that a violent and servile obedience is extorted from us; I only wished to affirm that men cannot be induced to obey God, before they have been subdued by fear; because their innate corruption always carries with it a contempt for religion, and a spirit of licentiousness. Therefore, in Jeremiah (Jer_5:22), in order to exhort men to fear, He sets forth His terrible power in restraining the strength of the sea; but this fear leads on His true worshippers further. In the other passage which we have subjoined from Deu_10:0, the word cleave again confirms the truth, that as soon as men decline from God in the least degree, His worship is corrupted. For this is the meaning of that union with Himself to which He calls His worshippers, that they should be, as it were, glued to Him, and should not look elsewhere.

Adam Clarke
Deuteronomy 6:13
Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God – Thou shalt respect and reverence him as thy Lawgiver and Judge; as thy Creator, Preserver, and the sole object of thy religious adoration.

And serve him – Our blessed Lord, in Mat_4:10; Luk_4:8, quotes these words thus: And him Only (αυτῳ μονῳ) shalt thou serve. It appears, therefore, that לבדו lebaddo was anciently in the Hebrew text, as it was and is in the Septuagint, (αυτῳ μονῳ), from which our Lord quoted it. The Coptic preserves the same reading; so do also the Vulgate, (illi soli), and the Anglo-Saxon. Dr. Kennicott argues, that without the word only the text would not have been conclusive for the purpose for which our Lord advanced it; for as we learn from Scripture that some men worshipped false gods in conjunction with the true, the quotation here would not have been full to the point without this exclusive word. It may be proper to observe that the omitted word לבדו lebaddo, retained in the above versions, does not exist in the Hebrew printed text, nor in any MS. hitherto discovered.

Shalt swear by his name – תשבע tishshabea, from שבע shaba, he was full, satisfied, or gave that which was full or satisfactory. Hence an oath and swearing, because appealing to God, and taking him for witness in any case of promise, etc., gave full and sufficient security for the performance; and if done in evidence, or to the truth of any particular fact, it gave full security for the truth of that evidence. An oath, therefore, is an appeal to God, who knows all things, of the truth of the matter in question: and when a religious man takes such an oath, he gives full and reasonable satisfaction that the thing is so, as stated; for it is ever to be presumed that no man, unless in a state of the deepest degradation, would make such an appeal falsely, for this would imply an attempt to make God a party in the deception.

John Calvin
Deuteronomy 6:14
14.Ye shall not go after. In this passage Moses commands the people not to turn away from the simple service of God, although examples of superstition may present themselves to their sight on every side. For this was a very destructive temptation, that none could be anywhere found who subscribed to the doctrine of the Law, although the respective nations had some religion, or at any rate the name of it existing among them. Since, therefore, these various forms of worship were so many temptations to forsake the right way, it was needful to provide against the danger betimes, and so to establish the authority of the One God, that the Jews might have courage to despise the common belief of all the Gentiles. A threat is added, that vengeance would not be far off if they should fall away into these superstitions, since God is a jealous God, and dwelling among them. As to the former epithet, I am about to say more under the Second Commandment. Meanwhile, let my readers observe that God is called jealous, because He permits no rivalry which may detract from His glory, nor does He suffer the service which is due to Him alone to be transferred elsewhere. When He reminds the people that he dwells among them, it is partly to inspire terror by reason of His presence, and partly to reprove indirectly their ingratitude, if they should forsake Him, and seek for themselves gods who are afar of.

Keil and Delitzsch
Deuteronomy 6:14-16
The worship of Jehovah not only precludes all idolatry, which the Lord, as a jealous God, will not endure (see at Exo_20:5), but will punish with destruction from the earth (“the face of the ground,” as in Exo_32:12); but it also excludes tempting the Lord by an unbelieving murmuring against God, if He does not remove any kind of distress immediately, as the people had already sinned at Massah, i.e., at Rephidim (Exo_17:1-7).

John Calvin
Deuteronomy 7:6
6.For thou art a holy people. He explains more distinctly what we have lately seen respecting God’s gratuitous love; for the comparison of the fewness of the people with the whole world and all nations, illustrates in no trifling degree the greatness of God’s grace; and this subject is considerably enlarged upon. Almost the same expressions will very soon be repeated, and also in the Song of Moses; but there by way of reproof, whilst here it is directed to a different object, as is plain from the context, viz., that they might be, by so great a blessing, laid under obligation to devote themselves and their services to God. He begins by declaring the end of their election, viz., that God had deigned to bestow this peculiar honor upon them that He might acquire unto Himself a holy people, pure from all pollutions, and then, by adding the circumstance I have adverted to, he magnifies the excellence of the benefit. From his argument drawn from their dignity, that they ought therefore to labor after holiness, we gather, that in proportion to the abundance of grace with which any one is endued, he is solemnly bound to live piously and justly. For God does not wish the gifts he bestows upon us to lie idle, but to produce their appropriate fruits; and we must especially remember that when He adopts us, and gathers us into His Church, we are not “called to uncleanness,” but to purity of life, and to shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.” ( 1Th_4:7, and 1Pe_2:9.) The Hebrew word סגלה, segullah, which we translate “peculiaris,” special, some understand to mean a “treasure,” or a precious and desirable thing, as was stated on Exo_19:0. Undoubtedly it appears from many passages that gold, silver, pearls, and the like, are designated by this word; but substantially it is agreed that this title is given to the elect people, because God delights Himself in them; and herein His incomparable goodness shines forth, that He so highly esteems such miserable and worthless creatures, (homunciones.) Hence, too, it appears that by His holy calling He, as it were, creates out of nothing “things which are not,” that they may excel every earthly being.

Pulpit Commentary
Deu 7:6
A holy people; a people consecrated to God, to be holy as he is holy (cf. Lev_11:43-45 Lev_19:2 Lev_20:26 Lev_21:6 Deu_23:14) A special people unto himself; literally, to be to him for a people of property (hLgus), a people his own, his peculiar property (cf. Deu_14:2 Deu_26:18; and, for the meaning of the word, 1Ch_29:3, “mine own proper good;”; Ecc_2:8, “peculiar treasure of kings LXX, laosiov, applied by St. Paul to Christians as the chosen and special property of Christ. (Tit_2:14) Above all people; rather, out of or from among all the peoples.

Vers. 6-9. Reasons for non-conformity to the world, and for aggression on its evil.

I THE HOLINESS OF OUR CALLING. (Ver. 6.) The believer stands toGod in the relation described in this verse. He is one chosen from the unholy mass to be peculiarly God”s property. He belongs to God in body, soul, and spirit. He is a vessel for the Master”s use. His every power is to be consecrated. What higher dignity could a human being sustain than that? But the obligations are coextensive with the honor. This man is, in virtue of his holiness, summoned to take up an attitude of non-conformity to the. (Rom_12:2) In virtue of the same holiness, he is bound to unite with others in a sacred crusade against its evil.

II THE GRACE OF OUR ELECTION. (Ver. 7.) This puts another powerful weight into the scale. Standing in so close and honorable a relation to God, the believer is bid look to the rock whence he is hewn, and the hole of the pit whence he is digged. Who made him to differ? Whence this mercy shown peculiarly to him? We need not press texts on election in favor of any special theory. Sufficient that every believer is willing to confess, as regards his own salvation, that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy”. (Rom_9:16) An elective purpose comes to light in his spiritual history. (Eph_1:4, Eph_1:5) When tracing his salvation to its source, he is constrained to say, “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ”. (Eph_2:4, Eph_2:5) All this implies special obligation to God”s service.

III THE NIGHT OF OUR REDEMPTION. (Ver. 8.) The redemption from Egypt, with its tragic accompaniments and mighty signs and wonders, was but a faint type of the greater deliverance which God has now wrought for his Israel in Christ. We are entitled to put the greater for the less, and to plead the stronger claimers which the redemption from sin and wrath establishes on the redeemed soul. The cost of our salvation is Christ”s blood. What return can we conceivably make exhaustive of our obligations to Father and Son for so great a sacrifice? J.O.
Vers. 6-8. On the election of rations.

We are here introduced to remarkable words touching the election of, or we might say, selection of the Jews. The leading principles of the Divine administration are here set before us. The following points may be noticed:

I THE JEWS WERE SELECTED NOT ON ACCOUNT OF ANY NATIONAL SUPERIORITY. Moses tells them that, numerically, they were the fewest of all people. It was not numerical strength, nor national advantages of any kind, which induced God to select them.

II THEY WERE SELECTED BECAUSE GOD CHOSE TO SET HIS LOVE UPON THEM. “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people but because the Lord loved you.” It was sovereign love which is its own reason. And, in the last resort, it is to this we must come. We can give no better account of the matter than that God chose to do it.

III THE DELIVERANCE FROM EGYPT WAS THE PROOF OF HIS SOVEREIGN LOVE. Hereby he kept his promise made to their fathers, and fulfilled his own gracious purpose. The series of judgments, the outcome of his mighty hand, which proved how infinitely stronger it was than the hand of Pharaoh, while severe to Egypt, were love-tokens to Israel.

IV THE CHOICE OF ISRAEL WAS WITH A VIEW TO THEIR BEING A HOLY PEOPLE AND A SPECIAL PEOPLE UNTO THE LORD. Electing love extended to a nation or a people is really a Divine investment. The result is the holiness and consecration of the people. It is this holiness, this sense of consecration, which proves the electing love of God. And this is all the more intense when it is seen clearly that God”s love is manifested, not on the ground of national or personal merit, but as a matter of free grace.

And, doubtless, the Jews proved themselves a special people, although far from a perfect people. They were the custodians of the holy oracles for ages. They showed, and they still show, wonderful linguistic and other qualifications. All this, let us believe, is due to that grace and Divine development through which, as a nation, they were permitted to pass.

The practical application of this subject is surely this:

1. To receive God”s mercy under an abiding sense that it is undeserved.

2. To cultivate the sense of obligation to God for his undeserved mercy, which it is intended to foster.

3. And to realize the consecration of spirit through which all that is noble in human life comes. God saves us that we may serve him. He shows us his loving-kindness that we may become through it “a peculiar people, zealous of good works. R.M.E.

John Calvin
Deuteronomy 7:7
7.The Lord did not set his love upon you. He proves it to be of God’s gratuitous favor, that He has exalted them to such high honor, because He had passed over all other nations, and deigned to embrace them alone. For an equal distribution of God’s gifts generally casts obscurity upon them in our eyes; thus the light of the sun, our common food, and other things, which all equally enjoy, either lose their value, or, at any rate, do not obtain their due honor; whilst what is peculiar is more conspicuous. Moreover, Moses takes it for granted, that there was nothing naturally in the people to cause their condition to be better or more distinguished; and hence infers, that there was no other reason why God should choose them, except His mere choice of them. We have elsewhere observed, that by this His love, whatever men would bring of their own is excluded or annihilated. It follows, therefore, that the Israelites could never be sufficiently grateful to God, since they had been thus liberally dealt with by Him, without any desert of their own.

Pulpit Commentary
Deu 7:7
Set his love upon you. The Hebrew verb meaning primarily to cleave to, to be attached to, is used to express ardent and loving affection. (Gen_34:8; Deu_10:15; Isa_38:17) The fewest of all people . It might have been supposed that, in choosing a people to be his special treasure, the Almighty would have selected some one of the great nations of the world; but, instead of that, he had chosen one of the smallest. They had, indeed, grown till now they were as the stars for multitude; but it was not in prospect of this that they were chosen. The election of Israel was purely of grace.

John Calvin
Deuteronomy 7:8
8.Because he would keep the oath. The love of God is here referred back from the children to the fathers; for he addressed the men of his own generation, when he said that they were therefore God’s treasure, because He loved them; now he adds that God had not just begun to love them for the first time, but that He had originally loved their fathers, when He chose to adopt Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But although he more clearly proves that the descendants of Abraham had deserved nothing of the kind, because they are God’s peculiar people only by right of inheritance, still it must be remarked that God was induced to be kind to Abraham by no other cause than mere generosity. A little further on, therefore, he will say that those who then survived were dear to God, because He had already loved their fathers. But now he still further commends the goodness of God, because He had handed down His covenant from the fathers to the children, to shew that He is faithful and true to His promises. At the end of the verse, he teaches that the deliverance of the people was both an effect and a testimony of that grace.

Pulpit Commentary
Deu 7:8
Because the Lord loved you. Targum Onkelos, “Because he had complacency in you;” Vulgate, quia vobis junctus est. “Instead of saying, He hath chosen you out of love to your fathers, as in Deu_4:37, Moses brings out in this place love to the people of Israel as the Divine motive, not for choosing Israel, but for leading it out and delivering it from the slave-house of Egypt, by which God had practically carried out the election of the people, that he might thereby allure the Israelites to a reciprocity of love”. (Keil)

John Calvin
Deuteronomy 7:9
9.Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God. The verb might have been as properly translated in the future tense; and, if this be preferred, an experimental knowledge, as it is called, is referred to, as if he had said that God would practically manifest how faithful a rewarder He is of His servants. But if the other reading is rather approved, Moses exhorts the people to be assured that God sits in heaven as the Judge of men, so that they may be both alarmed by the fear of His vengeance, and also attracted by the hope of reward. This declaration, however, was appended to the Second Commandment, and there expounded; for since it is comprehended in the Decalogue, it was not right to separate it from thence; but since it is now repeated in confirmation of the whole Law, it is fitly inserted in this place. It will not be amiss, nevertheless, slightly to advert to what I there more fully explained. The promise stands first, because God chooses rather to invite His people by kindness than to compel them to obedience from terror. The word mercy is coupled with the covenant, that we may know that the reward which believers must expect, does not depend on the merit of their works, since they have need of God’s mercy. We may, however, thus resolve the phrase — keeping the covenant of mercy — or the covenant founded on mercy — or the mercy which He covenanted.

When it is required of believers that they should love God before they keep His Commandments, we are thus taught that the source and cause of obedience is the love wherewith we embrace God as our Father. With respect to the “thousand generations,” it is better that we should refer to the Second Commandment, because it is a point which cannot be hurried over in a few words.

Keil and Delizsch
Deuteronomy 7:9-10
By this was Israel to know that Jehovah their God was the true God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant, showing mercy to those who love Him, even to the thousandth generation, but repaying those who hate Him to the face. This development of the nature of God Moses introduces from Exo_20:5-6, as a light warning not to forfeit the mercy of God, or draw upon themselves His holy wrath by falling into idolatry. To this end He emphatically carries out still further the thought of retribution, by adding לְהַאֲבִידֹו, “to destroy him” (the hater), and וגו יִאַהֵר לֹא, “He delays not to His hater (sc., to repay him); He will repay him to his face.” “To the face of every one of them,” i.e., that they may see and feel that they are smitten by God (Rosenmüller).

Alexander MacLaren
Deuteronomy 7:9
‘Faithful,’ like most Hebrew words, has a picture in it. It means something that can be {1} leant on, or {2} builded on.
This leads to a double signification-{1} trustworthy, and that because {2} rigidly observant of obligations. So the word applies to a steward, a friend, or a witness. Its most wonderful and sublime application is to God. It presents to our adoring love-

I. God as coming under obligations to us.
A marvellous and blessed idea. He limits His action, regards Himself as bound to a certain line of conduct.

1. Obligations from His act of creation.
‘A faithful Creator,’ bound to take care of those whom He has made. To supply their necessities. To satisfy their desires. To give to each the possibility of discharging its ideal.

2. Obligations from His past self.
‘God is faithful by whom ye were called,’ therefore He will do all that is imposed on Him by His act of calling.
He cannot begin without completing. There are no abandoned mines. There are no half-hewn stones in His quarries, like the block at Baalbec. And this because the divine nature is inexhaustible in power and unchangeable in purpose.

3. Obligations from His own word.
A revelation is presupposed by the notion of faithfulness. It is not possible in heathenism. ‘Dumb idols,’ which have given their worshippers no promises, cannot be thought of as faithful. By its grand conception of Jehovah as entering into a covenant with Israel, the Old Testament presents Him to our trust as having bound Himself to a known line of action. Thereby He becomes, if we may so phrase it, a constitutional monarch.

That conception of a Covenant is the negation of caprice, of arbitrary sovereignty, of mystery. We know the principles of His government. His majestic ‘I wills’ cover the whole ground of human life and needs for the present and the future. We can go into no region of life but we find that God has defined His conduct to us there by some word spoken to our heart and binding Him.

4. Obligations from His new Covenant and highest word in Jesus Christ.
‘He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.’

II. God as recognising and discharging these obligations.

That He will do so comes from His very nature. With Him there is no change of disposition, no emergence of unseen circumstances, no failure or exhaustion of power.

That He does so is matter of fact. Moses in the preceding context had pointed to facts of history, on which he built the ‘know therefore’ of the text. On the broad scale the whole world’s history is full of illustrations of God’s faithfulness to His promises and His threats. The history of Judaism, the sorrows of nations, and the complications of national events, all illustrate this fact.

The personal history of each of us. The experience of all Christian souls. No man ever trusted in Him and was ashamed. He wills that we should put Him to the proof.

III. God as claiming our trust.
He is faithful, worthy to be trusted, as His deeds show.

Faith is our attitude corresponding to His faithfulness. Faith is the germ of all that He requires from us. How much we need it! How firm it might be! How blessed it would make us!

The thought of God as ‘faithful’ is, like a precious stone, turned in many directions in Scripture, and wherever turned it flashes light. Sometimes it is laid as the foundation for the confidence that even our weakness will be upheld to the end, as when Paul tells the Corinthians that they will be confirmed to the end, because ‘God is faithful, through whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son’ {1Co_1:9}. Sometimes there is built on it the assurance of complete sanctification, as when he prays for the Thessalonians that their ‘whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord’ and finds it in his heart to pray thus because ‘Faithful is He that calleth you, who will also do it’ {1Th_5:24}. Sometimes it is presented as the steadfast stay grasping which faith can expect apparent impossibilities, as when Sara ‘judged Him faithful who had promised’ {Heb_11:11}. Sometimes it is adduced as bringing strong consolation to souls conscious of their own feeble and fluctuating faith, as when Paul tells Timothy that ‘If we are faithless, He abideth faithful; for He cannot deny Himself’ {2Ti_2:13}. Sometimes it is presented as an anodyne to souls disturbed by experience of men’s unreliableness, as when the apostle heartens the Thessalonians and himself to bear human untrustworthiness by the thought that though men are faithless, God ‘is faithful, who shall establish you and keep you from evil’ {2Th_3:2 – 2Th_3:3}. Sometimes it is put forward to breathe patience into tempted spirits, as when the Corinthians are comforted by the assurance that ‘God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able’ {1Co_10:13}. Sometimes it is laid as the firm foundation for our assurance of pardon, as when John tells us that ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins’ {1Jn_1:9}. And sometimes that great attribute of the divine nature is proposed as holding forth a pattern for us to follow, and the faith in it as tending to make us in a measure steadfast like Himself, as when Paul indignantly rebuts his enemies’ charge of levity of purpose and vacillation, and avers that ‘as God is faithful, our word toward you is not yea and nay’ {2Co_1:18}.


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