Spurgeon Verse Expositions - Deuteronomy 8:1 - 8:20

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Spurgeon Verse Expositions - Deuteronomy 8:1 - 8:20


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Deu_8:1. All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.

Every word here seems emphatic. Like the children of Israel, we are to observe all the commandments of the Lord our God; not merely some of them, picking and choosing as we please. It is a very ill conscience, which regards some of God’s statutes, and pays no attention to the others; in fact, the very act of making a selection as to what commands we will observe is gross disobedience. “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do.” Notice that we are not only to do as we are bidden, but to do it with carefulness: “ye shall observe to do.” God would not have a thoughtless, careless, blind service; but we must bow our mind and heart as well as our will to his service. Remember also that it is not sufficient to “observe” the commandments so as to note what they are, but we are to “observe to do” them. That observation which does not end in right practice is like a promising blossom upon a tree, which never knits, and which therefore produces no fruit. Further notice that, to walk in the ways of God, is for our own benefit as well as for his glory: “That ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers.” There are, doubtless, many good things, which we miss because we are not careful in our walking. I am sure that the happiest life will be found to be that which is most carefully conducted upon the principles of holy obedience to God’s commands. There are certain blessings which God will not give to us while we are disobedient to him. Many a father feels that he cannot indulge his child as he would wish to indulge him when he finds the child negligent as to his father’s will. So, if we please God, God will please us; but, if we walk contrary to him, he will walk contrary to us. Let me read this most instructive verse again, that it may be further impressed upon your memories and your hearts: “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers.” To help you in obeying these commands, it is added,-

Deu_8:2. And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

Look back, and derive from your past experience a motive for more careful obedience in the future. He does not read his own life aright who does not see in it abundant causes for gratitude; and how can gratitude express itself better than by a cheerful, hearty obedience in the present and the future?

Deu_8:3. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna,

These two sentences come very closely together: “Suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna.” I suppose we are not fit to eat heavenly bread till first of all we begin to hunger for it. God loves to give to men who will eat with an appetite: “He suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna.”

Deu_8:3. Which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know;

It was a new kind of food; and even in the day when they ate it, they did not fully know what it was. They saw that it came by a miracle, and it remained a mystery; and I think we can say that, though we have fed upon the Bread of heaven, some of us, for well-nigh forty years, yet we hardly know, nor dare to think that we know, what it is made of, nor can we tell all the sweetness that is in it. We know the love of Christ, but it still passes our knowledge. It is true of us, as of Israel in the wilderness, “He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know.”

Deu_8:3. That he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

It is a grand thing to be delivered from materialism, to be freed from the notion that the outward means are absolutely essential for the accomplishment of the divine purpose. If God had so willed it, we could have lived on air, if the air had been sanctified by the Word of God and prayer for such a use. The Lord has, however, chosen to feed us upon bread; yet our highest life, our real life, does not live on bread, but it lives on the Word which proceeds out of the mouth of God. This is one of the passages with which our Lord fought Satan in the desert, and overcame him. Happy is that servant of God who will arm himself with this same truth, and feel, “I am not to be provided for merely by money, or by anything else that is visible. God will provide for me somehow, and I can leave all care about the means if the means fail, and get away to the God of the means, and lean, not on what I see, but on that arm which is invisible. That which you can see may fail you, for it is, like yourself, a shadow; but he whom you cannot see will never fail you. The strongest sinew in an arm of flesh will crack, but the arm eternal never faileth, and never is shortened. Lean on that arm, and you shall never be ashamed, nor confounded, world without end. It takes forty years to teach some people that lesson, and some, alas! have not learned it even at the end of eighty years.

Deu_8:4. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.

See how God not only cares for his people’s food, but for their raiment also. We may, therefore, well take heed to Paul’s injunction: “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” Whether it was by a miracle that the Israelites’ raiment did not wear out, or whether it came to pass, in the order of providence, that they were able to get fresh clothing when it did wear out, does not signify at all; it made no difference to them how it was arranged, for it was equal kindness on the part of God who provided for them. “Neither did thy foot swell.” We call the Arab, sometimes, “The pilgrim of the weary foot;” but the Israelites’ feet were not weary. They traversed a stony, wilderness, yet God kept them in such health and strength that their feet swelled not even after forty years of journeying. You and I often get worn out in forty hours; forty days are as long as we can hope to go; but God enabled his ancient people to go on for forty years, and still their feet swelled not. Dr. Watts sweetly sang,-

Mere mortal power shall fade and die,

And youthful vigor cease;

But we that wait upon the Lord Shall feel our strength increase.

The saints shall mount on eagles’ wings,

And taste the promised bliss,

Till their unwearied feet arrive Where perfect pleasure is.”

Deu_8:5. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

We sometimes think that we could do without the Lord’s chastening. If he will give us food and raiment, and keep our foot from swelling, we will not crave the rod. No; but though we do not ask for it, the rod is one of the choicest blessings of the covenant; and if we are the Lord’s children, we shall not go without it. To come under divine discipline, is one of the greatest mercies we can ever have. Many of us, who are now men and women, thank God for earthly parents who have corrected us; we wonder what we should have been if there had been no discipline in our father’s house. So, truly, is it with all of us who are God’s children; in years to come, we shall prize the chastisement which now makes us grieve. Even now, it is well if, by faith, we can apply to our own heart this text: “as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.”

Deu_8:6-7. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;

There are changes in our condition. Israel was not always in the wilderness; the chosen people were brought into a good land, into a place of rest from their weary wanderings. So it may happen to you and to me that, even in temporal circumstances, God may work a great change for us, and especially will he do this in spiritual matters. After a time of wilderness traveling, we who have believed do enter into rest; we come to understand the gospel, and he who understands the gospel is not any longer in the wilderness. In a certain sense, he has come into the land of promise, where he already enjoys covenant mercies. It is true that the Canaanite is still even in that land, and we have to drive him out; but it is a good land to which God has brought us, “a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills.” The Lord makes us drink of the river of his good pleasure, he satisfies us with the cooling streams of his covenant love.

Deu_8:8. A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;

I will not go into a spiritualizing of all this; but I know that you, who have come to believe in Christ, and have entered by faith into his rest, know what sweet things God has provided for you; not merely bare necessaries, but choice delights. He gives you to eat of the sweetnesses, he gives you the fatnesses,-the wines on the lees, well-refined, and the fat things full of marrow. I trust that there are many here who know the blessed experience of joy and peace in believing. You have entered into a fair region, you have passed through the belt of storms, you have come where the trade winds blow heavenward, your sails are filled, your vessel skips along before the breeze, you are making good way towards the Fair Havens of eternal felicity.

Deu_8:9. A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.

There are deep things hidden away in the gospel treasuries. Silver and gold there may be none; but then, iron and copper are much more useful things, and the most useful things we shall ever want in this life lie hidden beneath the surface of the gospel. If we know how to dig deep, we shall be abundantly rewarded by the treasures, which we shall discover. Well now, if your experience has thus changed, if you have left the fiery serpents and the howling wilderness behind you, and have come into a place of peace and enjoyment, what follows?

Deu_8:10. When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.

He permits you to eat, not to satiety, but you may eat and be full; only not so full but that you can always bless his name. Do not be afraid of holy joy. Eat and be full of it, only let it never take off your heart from him who gives you the joy. On the contrary, bless thy God for the good land, which he has given thee. It is said that, in the olden time, pious Jews always blessed God before they ate, and always blessed God after they ate. They blessed God for the fragrance of the flower when ever they smelt it. Whenever they drank a cup of water, they blessed the Lord who gave them drink out of the rock in the desert. Oh, that we were always full of praises of God! Then it would not hurt us to be full of meat; but if we get full of meat, and are empty of praises, this is mischievous indeed.

Deu_8:11. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:

That would be practical atheism; not keeping the commandments of God, is one of the most vivid ways of forgetting him.

Deu_8:12-14. Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;

The other day, a friend asked me this question, “Whence does God get his princes?” and the answer I gave was, “He often picks them off dunghills.” Oh, but they sometimes forget the dunghills where they grew, and think themselves wonderfully important individuals! Then there is a time of pulling down for them. We cannot eat and be full without having the temptation of getting our heart lifted up. It is a great blessing to have the heart lifted up in one way, that is, in God’s ways; but to be lifted up by bread, to be lifted up by silver, to be lifted up by flocks and herds, is such a bad way of being lifted up that evil and sorrow must come of it. See, the Lord does not forbid his people to build a house, or to eat and to enjoy what he gives them; but he does charge them not to forget the God who gave them these mercies, nor to forget where they used to be in slavery: “Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”

Deu_8:15. Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;

I cannot but pause as I recollect my own passage through “that great and terrible wilderness, where there was no water.” When a soul is under conviction of sin, “fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought” are very feeble images of the pains and miseries that come of guilt unforgiven. “Where there was no water.” Oh! what would we not have given then to have understood a little of that gospel which, perhaps, we now despise? Oh! what would we not have given then just to have moistened our burning lips with the living water of the precious Word in which, possibly, now we see no refreshing? May God have mercy upon us for our forgetfulness of his great mercy! Let us, with deep gratitude, think of him again: “Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint.” “More likely,” says one, “to bring fire rather than water out of a rock of flint;” and it did seem as if the cross of the curse must have cursed us, yet it blessed us. The Lord brought forth living water out of that Rock which was smitten for guilty man.

Deu_8:16-17. Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; and thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.

We must not say this either about temporal or spiritual wealth. If we have grown in grace, and have become useful, and are spiritually a blessing to others, we must not take any credit for it to ourselves; or else down we shall go before long. God did not enrich thee that thou mightest set up for a god in opposition to him. Christ did not love thee that thou mightest make thyself a rival to him. Oh, that must not be! We must never say in our heart, “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.”

Deu_8:18-19. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.

If you live like sinners, you will die like sinners. “Where, then, is the perseverance of the saints?” asks one. Why, in this, that they shall not live like sinners! God’s grace will not let them go wandering after idols, to worship and to serve them. He will keep us faithful to himself; but if we will wander after idol gods, it proves that we are not the Lord’s true Israel, and we must expect to be served as others have been who have turned aside to worship idols,

Deu_8:20. As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.



Deu_8:1. All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.

Observe, dear friends, that the Lord demands of his people universal obedience to his commands: “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do.” Christians, although they are not under the law, are under the sweet constraints of love; and that love incites them to complete obedience, so that they desire to leave undone nothing which the Lord commands. And this obedience is to be careful as well as complete: “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do;” not only do them, but do them with care. When the commandment applies to a certain duty, obey it in full, both in the letter and in the spirit, for there are numerous and weighty blessings attached to obedience, — not of merit, but of grace. If we walk carefully in the fear of God, we shall find that in keeping his commandments there is great reward.

Deu_8:2. And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

It is well to have a good memory, and that is the best memory which remembers what is best worth remembering. There are many things which we would gladly forget, yet we find it hard to forget them; they often rise up at most inappropriate times, and we loathe ourselves to think that we should ever recollect them at all. But, whatever we forget, we ought always to remember what God has done for us. This should excite our gratitude, create deep humility, and foster our faith both for the present and the future: “Thou shalt remember all the way which Jehovah thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness” If forty years of the Lord’s leading should make some of us bless his holy name, what ought you to do, my brethren, who, perhaps, are getting near the fourscore years? What praise and gratitude should be rendered by you to him who has led you all your life long! See what God intends to accomplish by our wilderness experience. It is, first, to “humble” us. Has it had that effect? Then it is to “prove” us. Ah, I am afraid it has had that result, and has proved what poor wretched creatures we are! That has been proved in our experience again and again. It is, also that it may be known what is in our heart, whether we will keep God’s commandments, or not.

Deu_8:3. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, —

What a wonderful sequence there is in these short sentences! “He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger,” and one would think that the next sentence would be, “and allowed thee to starve.” No; it is, “and fed thee with manna.” They had the better appetite for the manna, and were the more ready to see the hand of God in sending the manna, because of that humbling and hunger which God had previously suffered them to endure. “Fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not.” The very name by which they called it was, “Manna,” or, “What is this?” “for they wist not what it was.” “And fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not.”

Deu_8:3. Neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

God can make us live on bread, if it be sanctified by the Word of God and prayer; he does make our souls to live upon his Word. He could, if so it pleased him, make our bodies live by that Word without any outward sustenance whatever.

Deu_8:4. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.

What a wonderful experience the Israelites had in the wilderness! They were always fed, though in a waste howling wilderness, dry and barren. They always had water following them from that stream which flowed out of the flinty rock, from Which you might sooner have expected to strike fire than to obtain water. And as for their garments, they did not wear out. They had no shops to go to, and they were unable to make new clothes in the wilderness, on account of their frequent moving to and fro; yet were they always clad; and, though they were a host of weary pilgrims, marching backwards and forwards for forty years, yet their feet did not swell. Oh, what a mercy that was! “He keepeth the feet of his saints.” Has it not been so with you also, dear friends? You have said, “What shall I do if I live so long, and if I have to bear so many troubles, and make so many marches through the very valley of the shadow of death?” What will you do? Why, you will do as you have done! Trust in God, and go on. You shall be fed, and you shall be upheld even unto the end.

Deu_8:5. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, —

Note that we are not only to remember God’s dealings with us, but we are to consider them, to ponder them, to weigh them. “Consider in thine heart,” —

Deu_8:5. That, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

Do I speak to anyone who is just now under the rod? “Consider in thine heart” then, that God is dealing with you as a father deals with his sons, “for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” How would you like to be dealt with? Would you rather be without the rod? Then remember that “if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” Do you wish to be treated so? I am sure you do not; you wish to have the children’s portion; so you say, “Deal with me, Lord, as thou art wont to do with those that fear thy name. We are willing to have the rod of the covenant for the sake of the covenant to which it belongs.

Deu_8:6-8. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;

This also is the experience of the child of God; in one sense, in heaven; but in another, and perhaps a truer sense, even here below. “We which have believed do enter into rest.” By faith, we take possession of the promised land; and when a Christian gets out of the wilderness experience of doubting and fearing, and comes into the Canaan experience of a simple faith and a fully assured trust, then he comes “into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;” for God gives to his people not only all they need, but something more. He gives them, not only necessaries, but also luxuries, delights, and joys.

Deu_8:9. A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it;

When you live in communion with God, and he brings you into the full enjoyment of the covenant blessings, then there is no scarceness with you, there is no lack of anything.

Deu_8:9. A land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.

Or, copper. Silver and gold they had none; but then the princes of Sheba and Seba were to offer them gifts, and bring them their gold and their silver. But if they had nothing for show, they had plenty for use, for iron is a great deal more useful metal than gold; and the copper, which they hardened into brass, was of much more service to them than silver would have been. God will furnish you, dear brother, with all the weapons you need for the Holy War; there may be no gold and silver ornaments for your pride, but there shall be iron instruments to help you in your conflict with your adversaries.

Deu_8:10. When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.

God permits his people to eat, and to be full; but, when they are so, they must take care that they do not become proud, and that they do not begin to ascribe their profiting to themselves.

Deu_8:11. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:

Whenever we see the word “Beware” in the Bible, we may be sure that there is something to beware of. The point here to note is, that our times of prosperity are times of danger. I remember that Mr. Whitefield once asked the prayers of the congregation “for a young gentleman in very dangerous circumstances,” for he had just come into a fortune of ₤. Then is the time when prayer is needed even more than in seasons of depression and of loss.

Deu_8:12-16. Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;

Why do we get these passages repeated? Surely it is because we have such slippery memories, and the Lord has to tell his children the same thing over and over again: “precept upon precept: line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little;” because we so soon forget.

Deu_8:17-20. And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish;

“If you sin as they do, you shall fare as they do.”

Deu_8:20. Because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.