Charles Simeon Commentary - Deuteronomy 11:18 - 11:21

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Deuteronomy 11:18 - 11:21

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Deu_11:18-21. Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord swore unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

TO have the holy oracles in our hands is one of the greatest advantages that we enjoy above the heathen [Note: Rom_3:2.]: a due improvement of them therefore will be expected of us. The Jews, who were in like manner distinguished above all other nations upon earth, were required to shew the most affectionate, obediential regard to the writings of Moses. But the injunctions given to them with respect to the revelation they possessed, are still more obligatory on us, who have the sacred canon completed, and, by the superior light of the New Testament, are enabled to enter more fully into its mysterious import.

The words which we have just read, point out to us,

I.       Our duty with respect to the word of God—

A revelation from heaven cannot but demand our most serious attention—

1.       We should treasure it up in our hearts—

[It is not sufficient to study the Scriptures merely as we read other books; we must search into them for hid treasures [Note: Pro_2:1-4.], and lay up “in our hearts,” yea, in our inmost “souls,” the glorious truths which they unfold to our view; and be careful never to let them slip [Note: Heb_2:1.]. They should be our delight, and our meditation all the day [Note: Psa_119:92; Psa_119:97.].]

2.       We should make it a frequent subject of our conversation—

[It is to be regretted that there is no other subject so universally proscribed and banished, as that of religion. But, if we loved God as we ought, we could not but love to speak of his word, that word which is our light in this dark world, and the one foundation of all our hopes. When Moses and Elias came from heaven to converse with our Lord, the prophecies relating to the sufferings and glory of Christ were their one topic of discourse [Note: Luk_9:30-31.]. Thus at all times and places should our conversation be seasoned with salt [Note: Col_4:6.], and tend to the use of edifying [Note: Eph_4:29.]. If it were thus with us, God would listen to us with approbation [Note: Mal_3:16-17.], and Jesus would often come and unite himself to our company [Note: Luk_24:14-15.].]

3.       We should bring it on all occasions to our remembrance—

[The Jews, putting a literal construction on the passage before us, wrote portions of God’s word on scraps of parchment, and wore them as bracelets on their wrists, and as frontlets on their heads. But we shall more truly answer the end of this commandment by consulting the Scriptures on all occasions as our sure and only guide, and making them (N.B.) the one rule of our faith and practice. There are many general precepts and promises which we should have continually in view, as much as if they were fixed on our doors and gates; which also, as if fastened on our foreheads and our hands, should both direct our way, and regulate our actions.]

4.       We should instruct the rising generation in the knowledge of it—

[All are solicitous to teach their children some business, whereby they may provide a maintenance for their bodies: and should we not endeavour to instruct them in the things relating to their souls? Abraham was particularly commended for his care with respect to this [Note: Gen_18:19.]: and the injunction in the text, confirmed by many other passages [Note: Exo_13:8; Exo_13:14-16; Psa_78:5-8.], requires that we should “diligently” perform this duty. Nor should we imagine that the mere teaching of children to repeat a catechism will suffice: we should open to them all the wonders of redemption, and endeavour to cast their minds, as it were, into the very mould of the Gospel.]

In the close of the text we are directed to bear in mind,

II.      Our encouragement to fulfil this duty—

This unfeigned love to the Scriptures will be productive of the greatest good:

1.       It will tend greatly to our present happiness—

[A peaceful enjoyment of the promised land, and of all the good things of this life, was held forth to the Jews as the reward of their obedience: but we are taught rather to look forward to the possession of a better country, that is, an heavenly. Nevertheless, “godliness has at this time also the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come [Note: 1Ti_4:8.]:” and therefore we may properly consider the present benefits arising from a due attention to the Scriptures. Suppose then that the blessed word of God were regarded by us as it ought to be, that it engaged our affections, entered into our conversation, regulated our conduct, and were instilled into the minds of the rising generation, would not much light, obscene, and impious discourse be suppressed? Would not sin of every kind receive a salutary check? Would not many of the diseases, the troubles, the feuds, and the miseries that result from sin, be prevented? Would not many of the judgments of God which now desolate the earth, the wars, the famines, the pestilences, be removed [Note: ver. 13–17.]? Would not, in numberless instances, knowledge be diffused, consolation administered, and virtue called forth into act and exercise? Would not our children, as they grow up, reap the benefit of such examples [Note: Pro_22:6.]? Let any one judge impartially, and say, whether a due regard to the Scriptures would not greatly meliorate the state of society, and of every individual, in proportion as his life was conformed to them [Note: Psa_19:11.]?]

2.       It will secure an inheritance beyond the grave—

[The earthly Canaan was typical of heaven; when therefore we see the possession of that good land promised to the Jews, we must, in applying the promises to ourselves, raise our views to the Canaan that is above. Now what are the means which God has prescribed for the securing of that glorious inheritance? Certainly an attention to the Scriptures is that one mean, without which we never can attain to happiness, and in the use of which we cannot but attain it. It is by the Scriptures that God quickens us [Note: Psa_19:7-8; Psa_119:50.], and brings us first into his family [Note: Jam_1:18; 1Pe_1:23. See also Act_8:28-39.]. It is by them that he directs our way [Note: Psa_119:105.], and keeps our feet [Note: Psa_119:9; Psa_119:11; Psa_37:31.], and sanctifies our hearts [Note: Eph_5:26.], and makes us wise unto salvation [Note: 2Ti_3:15.], and gives us a very “heaven upon earth.”

And shall not the hope of such benefits allure us? When we have eternal life in the Scriptures, shall we not search them [Note: Joh_5:39.], yea, and meditate upon them day and night [Note: Psa_1:2.]? Let then the word be sweeter to us than honey or the honey-comb [Note: Psa_19:10.], and be esteemed by us more than our necessary food [Note: Job_23:12.].] [Note: If this were the subject of a Sermon for Sunday Schools, or Charity Schools, or the distribution of Bibles and religious tracts, an Application, suited to the occasion, should be added.]