This chapter is almost entirely filled with that beautiful song of Moses which was spoken of in the last chapter; and it contains so much Gospel-truth in it, that it has warned and instructed the minds of God’s people in all ages. Having finished his sermon, Moses gave out this song at the end of it, before he dismissed his congregation and prepared to depart for the heavenly Promised Land. He began with a solemn appeal to heaven and earth (just as he said he would do, in 31:28) concerning the truth and importance of what he was about to say. His doctrine was the Gospel of Christ’s grace, mercy, life, and salvation. “My doctrine,” he said in verse 2, “shall drop as the rain.” When we apply this to the Gospel, we may observe how appropriate the figure is! The Gospel is from heaven, and so is the rain. The Gospel is a blessing wherever it comes, and so is the rain. The Gospel acts sweetly and unperceived in the mind of the person who receives and loves its truth, and so do the dew and the rain.
Moses pronounced a wondrous declaration of the greatness and righteousness of the Lord. He speaks of Him as “the Rock.” This is the first time that God is called by this name in the Scriptures. The expression denotes that the Divine power, faithfulness, and love – as revealed in Christ and the Gospel – form a foundation which cannot be changed or moved, and we may build our hopes of happiness upon it! Under His protection, we may find refuge from all our enemies, and in all our troubles – just as the rocks in those desert countries provided shelter from the burning rays of the sun, and were fortresses from enemies. “His work is perfect” – especially His work of redemption and salvation, in which there is a display of all the Divine perfection, complete in all its parts.
Moses tenderly expostulated with the disobedient and rebellious people (verse 6), endeavoring to show them how ungrateful – not to mention how foolish! – it was for them to thus requite the Lord Who had taken such good care of them. He compared the Lord’s care for His people with the care that an eagle takes for her young – not only by feeding and providing for them; but also by showing them how they must use their wings, and by carrying them on her own wings until they have successfully learned to fly. The eagle’s care for her young is a beautiful emblem of Christ’s love; He came between Divine justice and our guilty souls, and bare our sins in His own body on the tree. And by the preached Gospel, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, He stirs up and prevails upon sinners to leave Satan’s bondage.
In verses 15-18, we have a description of the apostasy of Israel from God, which would shortly come to pass. They indulged their carnal appetites, as if they had nothing to do except to fulfill their fleshly lusts; and this sin led them to the second and greater instance of their apostasy: idolatry. Those who make a god of themselves forsake the Lord and show how lightly they esteem Him. How foolish are those who forsake the Rock of salvation, for they ruin themselves upon the rock of perdition! And can anything be more ungrateful and unworthy than to forget the God Who is the Author of our very being?
It is no wonder that the fire of God’s anger would consume such a people, and that the arrows of His just judgments would be directed at them. Our idolatry and rebellions richly merit His wrath and displeasure. But verses 26-38 show us many surprising words which make it clear that God does not rejoice in the death of sinners; rather, He desires that they would return to Him and live! People ought to consider the happiness they will lose, and the misery they will certainly plunge into, if they stubbornly go on in their trespasses! Those who trust any rock except God will find that it will fail them when they need it most.
The conclusion of this song (verses 39-43) speaks of three things. First, it gives glory to God. He is the Great “I Am,” and He is absolutely sovereign. Second, there are words of terror to the Lord’s enemies who hate Him and worship other gods. And last, this song closes by giving comfort to the Lord’s own people. Christ’s Church will be enlarged, her enemies will be requited, and He will pour out His stores of mercy upon her and all who belong to her.
Moses solemnly delivered this song to Israel, with an earnest charge to mind all the good words which he had said to them. They themselves were to carefully pay attention to these things, and they were to faithfully transmit them to the generation of children who came after them. These things are not a trifle; they are a matter of life and death! O that people everywhere would be fully persuaded that religion is the life of their souls!
This chapter concludes with orders given to Moses concerning his death. Now that he had finished his work and testimony, he was to go up to Mount Nebo and prepare to pass into eternity. God reminded him of the sin of which he had been guilty, for which he was kept from entering Canaan. But He did send him to the top of a high mountain so that he might get a good view of the Promised Land before he died. Those who have a believing prospect and a well-grounded hope of eternal life beyond death may die with comfort and ease – whenever God calls for them!
Lord, grant that we may not – like Israel of old – lightly esteem the Rock of our salvation. Be our Rock, O Jesus, to which we may always fly for refuge; for You have promised to help us! Amen.
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