Deuteronomy 31:20
For when I shall have brought them into the land which I swore to their fathers, that flows with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn to other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.
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31:14-22 Moses and Joshua attended the Divine Majesty at the door of the tabernacle. Moses is told again that he must shortly die; even those who are most ready and willing to die, need to be often reminded of its coming. The Lord tells Moses, that, after his death, the covenant he had taken so much pains to make between Israel and their God, would certainly be broken. Israel would forsake Him; then God would forsake Israel. Justly does he cast those off who so unjustly cast him off. Moses is directed to deliver them a song, which should remain a standing testimony for God, as faithful to them in giving them warning, and against them, as persons false to themselves in not taking the warning. The word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of men's hearts, and meets them by reproofs and correction. Ministers who preach the word, know not the imaginations of men; but God, whose word it is, knows perfectly.A witness for me against them - i. e., an attestation from their own mouths at once of God's benefits, their own duties, and their deserts when they should fall away. Being in verse it would be the more easily learned and kept in memory. The use of songs for such didactic purposes was not unknown to the legislators of antiquity. Compare also the advice of Paul, "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" Colossians 3:16.19. Now therefore write ye this song—National songs take deep hold of the memories and have a powerful influence in stirring the deepest feelings of a people. In accordance with this principle in human nature, a song was ordered to be composed by Moses, doubtless under divine inspiration, which was to be learnt by the Israelites themselves and to be taught to their children in every age, embodying the substance of the preceding addresses, and of a strain well suited to inspire the popular mind with a strong sense of God's favor to their nation. No text from Poole on this verse. For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers,.... To give it to them, and put them into the possession of it, even the land of Canaan, often thus described, and as it is by the following character:

that floweth with milk and honey; aboundeth with all good things; see Exodus 3:8,

and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; that is, after they have for a considerable time enjoyed the good things of the land, and they abound with them, and increase in them, and have great fullness of them:

then will they turn unto other gods: turn from the Lord who has brought them into all this plenty, from the fear, worship, and service of him, and turn to the worship of idols:

and serve them: the works of men's hands, and at most but creatures, and not the Creator; than which nothing can be more absurd and stupid, as well as wicked and ungrateful:

and provoke me: nothing being more provoking to the Lord than idolatry, it striking at his very nature, being, and glory:

and break my covenant; now made with them; this being foretold by the Lord, which exactly came to pass in numerous instances, proves his precise foreknowledge of future events, even such as depend on the inclinations, dispositions, and wills of men.

For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; {k} then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.

(k) For this is the nature of flesh, no longer to obey God, than it is under the rod.

20. For I shall bring it into the land which I sware unto its fathers] Deuteronomy 6:10, but also in E. On flowing with milk and honey, see Deuteronomy 6:3.

and it shall eat and be satisfied and grow fat] Cp. Deuteronomy 6:11, Deuteronomy 8:12, Deuteronomy 32:15. Here even the deuteronomic phrases receive a peculiar form. And it will turn, as in Deuteronomy 31:18; despise me, not elsewhere in Deut., but in JE, Numbers 14:11; Numbers 14:23; Numbers 16:30, and in the Song, ch. Deuteronomy 32:19; break my covenant, as in Deuteronomy 31:17. The only plur. vbs are serve, despise.After handing over the office to Joshua, and the law to the priests and elders, Moses was called by the Lord to come to the tabernacle with Joshua, to command him (צוּה), i.e., to appoint him, confirm him in his office. To this end the Lord appeared in the tabernacle (Deuteronomy 31:15), in a pillar of cloud, which remained standing before it, as in Numbers 12:5 (see the exposition of Numbers 11:25). But before appointing Joshua, He announced to Moses that after his death the nation would go a whoring after other gods, and would break the covenant, for which it would be visited with severe afflictions, and directed him to write an ode and teach it to the children of Israel, that when the apostasy should take place, and punishment from God be felt in consequence, it might speak as a witness against the people, as it would not vanish from their memory. The Lord communicated this commission to Moses in the presence of Joshua, that he also might hear from the mouth of God that the Lord foreknew the future apostasy of the people, and yet nevertheless would bring them into the promised land. In this there was also implied an admonition to Joshua, not only to take care that the Israelites learned the ode and kept it in their memories, but also to strive with all his might to prevent the apostasy, so long as he was leader of Israel; which Joshua did most faithfully to the very end of his life (vid., Joshua 23 and 24). - The announcement of the falling away of the Israelites from the Lord into idolatry, and the burning of the wrath of God in consequence (Deuteronomy 31:16-18), serves as a basis for the command in Deuteronomy 31:19. In this announcement the different points are simply linked together with "and," whereas in their actual signification they are subordinate to one another: When thou shalt lie with thy fathers, and the people shall rise up, and go a whoring after other gods: My anger will burn against them, etc. קוּם, to rise up, to prepare, serves to bring out distinctly the course which the thing would take. The expression, "foreign gods of the land," indicates that in the land which Jehovah gave His people, He (Jehovah) alone was God and Lord, and that He alone was to be worshipped there. בּקרבּו is in apposition to שׁמּה, "whither thou comest, in the midst of it." The punishment announced in Deuteronomy 31:17 corresponds most closely to the sin of the nation. For going a whoring after strange gods, the anger of the Lord would burn against them; for forsaking Him, He would forsake them; and for breaking His covenant, He would hide His face from them, i.e., withdraw His favour from them, so that they would be destroyed. לאכל היה, it (the nation) will be for devouring, i.e., will be devoured or destroyed (see Ewald, 237, c.; and on אכל in this sense, see Deuteronomy 7:16, and Numbers 14:9). "And many evils and troubles will befall it; and it will say in that day, Do not these evils befall me, because my God is not in the midst of me?" When the evils and troubles broke in upon the nation, the people would inquire the cause, and would find it in the fact that they were forsaken by their God; but the Lord ("but I" in Deuteronomy 31:18 forms the antithesis to "they" in Deuteronomy 31:17) would still hide His face, namely, because simply missing God is not true repentance.
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