Charles Simeon Commentary - Deuteronomy 32:9 - 32:12

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Deuteronomy 32:9 - 32:12

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Deu_32:9-12. The Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob it the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.

THE declarations of God in his word are the principal source from whence we derive our knowledge of the Deity. But much may be learned also from the dispensations of his providence, both from those which are recorded in the inspired volume, and those which pass daily before our eyes: nor can we more profitably employ our thoughts than in meditating on his dealings towards the Church in general, and ourselves in particular. This Moses recommended to the Israelites just before his final departure from them. He assured them that God, as far back as the Deluge, had appointed the boundaries of the different kingdoms, with an express reference to the children of Israel; and that he had assigned to Canaan, that accursed son of Noah, and to his posterity, the land which he had marked out for his chosen people, and which they, in pursuance of his will, were now about to possess [Note: ver. 7, 8.]. And, with respect to themselves in particular, he had conducted them with astonishing kindness and condescension from their first entrance into the wilderness to that present moment.

His words on that occasion will naturally lead us to consider,

I.       God’s interest in his people—

God regarded his ancient people as his portion and inheritance—

[When he brought his people into Canaan, he divided the land amongst the twelve tribes, assigning to each by lot their destined inheritance. Thus amongst all the people upon the face of the earth he chose, as it were by lot, (“the whole disposal whereof is of the Lord,”) the descendants of Abraham as his portion. Even amongst these he selected only a part, adopting Isaac, and not Ishmael, and still further limiting his choice to Jacob and his posterity, whilst he withheld this privilege from Esau. These he chose, not because they were either more numerous or more holy than other people; for “they were the fewest of all people,” and “a stiff-necked generation from first to last.” “He loved them purely because he would love them [Note: Deu_7:6-8.],” and, having “set them apart for himself,” he ordained them to be his own portion and his own inheritance.]

In precisely the same view he regards his chosen people at this day—

[He has a people still, whom “he chose from before the foundation of the world [Note: Jer_31:3; Eph_1:4.],” and “predestinated to the adoption of children to himself [Note: Rom_8:29.],” and accounts as “his peculiar treasure above all people upon the face of the earth [Note: Exo_19:5.].” Respecting all who truly believe in Christ it is said, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people [Note: 1Pe_2:9.]:” and from these, as from an inheritance, does God expect “a revenue of praise” and glory, such as he receives not from the whole world besides [Note: 1Pe_2:9.]. It is “of his own purpose and grace alone that he has called them to this honour,” without being influenced by any goodness in them [Note: 2Ti_1:9.]: his choice of them was wholly irrespective of their works, past, present, or future [Note: Tit_3:5.]: “he loved them, and not they him [Note: 1Jn_4:10.]:” “he chose them, and not they him [Note: Joh_15:16.]:” for his own sake, and not theirs, he has vouchsafed to them his grace, that to all eternity they may be monuments of his sovereign love and mercy [Note: Isa_43:21.].]

But that which our text chiefly leads us to consider, is,

II.      His tender care over them—

This towards his ancient people is illustrated both by an appeal to fact, and by an apt and beautiful similitude

[It was in the wilderness that he first formed them into a peculiar people for himself. There he took the entire charge of them, leading them in all their way, and supplying their every want. There he instructed them both by his providence and grace; shewing them by all his diversified dispensations the extreme depravity of their own hearts, and the marvellous patience and long-suffering of their God [Note: Deu_8:15-16; Neh_9:19-21.]. Had he even for a few days intermitted his care over them, they must all have perished; being in the midst of perils on every side, and incapable of protecting themselves against any of the dangers to which they were exposed. But “he kept them even as the apple of his eye,” so that no evil whatever, except what he himself sent for their correction, could assail them. An eagle is very careful of its young: and when the dam judges that her young are prepared to fly, will “flutter over them, and spread abroad her wings, and stir up her nest,” that one or other of her offspring may try their powers: and with such tenderness does she watch the attempt, that, if the scarcely fledged young one prove incapable of stretching its flight so as to return to its nest, she will, with incredible swiftness and skill, fly to its succour, and on her own wings bear it back in safety to its wonted home. Thus did God encourage his ancient people to soar towards heaven, and succour them effectually in every hour of need. And in all this he acted “alone, there being no strange god with him,” nor any that could claim the smallest measure of honour from their success. The passage of the Red Sea, the bread from heaven, and the water from the rock, the passage of Jordan, and the fall of Jericho, with a thousand other events, clearly shewed, that all that was effected for them was done by him alone.]

And is he not alike attentive to his people now?—

[Where did he “find any of us,” my Brethren, but “in a waste howling wilderness,” where we must have inevitably perished) if he of his own sovereign grace and mercy had not come to our relief? And how has he “led us about” even to the present hour, not in the way that would have been most pleasing to flesh and blood, but in the way which he knew would be most conducive to our good, and to the glory of his own name! In this way he has conveyed to our minds such instruction as we could not by any means have so well received in any other way. By his word and by his Spirit he has imparted to us much knowledge of himself: but by his various dispensations, and especially those of a more afflictive nature, he has led us into discoveries of his perfections, which we could never otherwise have obtained. Oh! what views has he given us of our own deserts and of his own tender mercy towards us! In fact, we may, in his dealings with his people in the wilderness, see as in a glass all that is passing in the Church at this day, and all that is passing in our own hearts: and our heavenly rest will be infinitely the more endeared to us from our recollection of all our troubles by the way, and of the infinite wisdom and power and love by which we have been led in safety through them.]

Think then I pray you, Brethren, what should be our regard towards this Almighty Saviour—

[Who was it that led his people through the wilderness in the days of old? It was the Lord Jesus Christ, the Angel of the covenant: for he it was whom they tempted [Note: Exo_23:20; 1Co_10:9.], and he it was “whose reproach Moses counted to be of more value than all the treasures of Egypt [Note: Heb_11:26.].” That same Jesus is still “Head over all things to his Church [Note: Eph_1:22-23.],” and “guides all his chosen people by his counsel, till he brings them safely to his glory.”

I ask then with confidence should we not love him with most intense affection? and trust in him with unshaken affiance? and serve him with all the powers of our souls? Methinks, there should be no bounds to our love and gratitude, no limit to our zeal in his service [Note: Deu_10:14-15; l Sam. 12:24.]. We all see and acknowledge this in reference to the Jews, who were favoured with his viable interposition: and how much more is it all due from us, who enjoy the substance, of which they had but the shadow! I call you then, everyone of you, to shew forth your sense of the obligations conferred upon you, and, if possible, to be as zealous in his service as he is in yours.]