Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein;National Safeguards
Each young man takes an immense stride in experience when he discovers that God has made him not only the member of a family but also the citizen of a nation. Gradually he comes to realize how much the word 'nation' means. The earlier part of the Bible occupies itself not so much with individuals as with the fortunes of a chosen nation. We read in the Old Testament how God called and trained up and delivered and chastened and restored His people Israel. And these precepts in Deuteronomy XXVI. were given as safeguards to the nation after it had entered into possession of Canaan, and had become settled and peaceful and prosperous, for the real test and touchstone of any people or any individual are how they endure prosperity. The whole tenor of these verses implies that a people's security depends not on outward but on inward conditions. And hence we may infer what are those invincible powers which alone can garrison the heart of any nation.
I. The first of these great guardian angels is reverence for the nation's past. The previous chapter has recalled Israel's deliverance from Amalek, and ends with the warning words 'Thou shalt not forget'. And through the Old Testament God's warnings and promises and appeals are based on the actual facts of Hebrew history. That wonderful and glorious record must never fall out of mind. And it still remains true that a nation which ignores its history is like a man who has lost his memory.
II. Hand in hand with such understanding comes a sense of the nation's election. God's calling and discipline had been manifest throughout the long generations of Israel. God Himself had chosen them and sealed them for His own high ends, and moulded them by the secret counsel of His will, and made them His witnesses and standard-bearers in the world. And on our land also God's finger has stamped a manifest and marvellous destiny which should needs make us humble and sober in proportion as we realize what it means.
III. Beyond the sense of national responsibility there must also be gratitude for national blessings. If Israel could rejoice in every good thing which God had given them, we too are bound to praise Him for all His benefits to us. Young men and women who have never lived in less favoured lands fail to estimate the incalculable blessings of their own.
IV. A nation's supreme safeguard lies in the dedication of its youth. Those firstfruits laid on the ancient Jewish altar were but an allegory. And we fulfil the spirit of the ancient command only as we consecrate the flower and firstfruits of our own lives.
—T. H. Darlow, The Upward Galling, p. 80.
Reference.—XXVII. 15.—C. C. Bartholomew, Sermons Chiefly Practical, p. 464.
That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there.
And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us.
And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the LORD thy God.
And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous:
And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage:
And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression:
And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders:
And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey.
And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God:
And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.
When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;
Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:
I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me.
Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice:
And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments;
And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.