While it is said, To day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.…
The sacred writer refers us to the psalm from which he had drawn such affecting exhortations to steadfastness in the spiritual life, and now advances to enforce the lessons of earnestness by a series of weighty inquiries derived from the overthrow of many Israelites in the desert. The ideas resemble those of Paul, who in 1 Corinthians 10:1-5 instructs us that the Hebrews were baptized unto Moses, and ate spiritual meat and drank spiritual drink, and yet many were overthrown in the wilderness. The first question is (in the Revised Version) - Who were they that did provoke at Meribah and awakened the Divine displeasure? This inquiry is answered by another. Did they not all come out of Egypt, anti while the destroying angel was abroad their families were safe; when the sea opposed their march it was dried up to give them passage, and when the enemies pursued them with rage and breathed out threatenings and slaughter, were they not redeemed? These were they who added the baseness of ingratitude to the sin of unbelief. Another inquiry follows, which is - With whom was he displeased, and was it not with those whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? It is the historic realization of a truth penned many centuries afterwards by St. James, who writes," Lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." These unbelievers died under the frown of Jehovah, and left their sad experience as a beacon to warn against sins which provoked the Divine anger and laid them low in the dust of death. The inquiry advances once more, and asks - Who were they who were denied the privilege of entering upon the much-desired inheritance of Canaan? There is an awfulness in the oath which Jehovah takes, that the unbelieving Hebrews should not enter the pleasant land, with its fertile soil, its pastures, its vineyards, its brooks and streams, and the margin of the Mediterranean Sea. There is no secret in the cause of their failure, as there is no secret in the cause of Christian success. They could not enter in because of unbelief, which, while it barred their entrance into Canaan, excludes men from the "inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away." If these sad and awful punishments overtook Israel according to the flesh, then the truth which the author designed to teach is that redemption from sin, condemnation, must, to secure all the fruits and issues of the gospel, be associated with humble and persevering fidelity to our profession of faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. - B.
Parallel VersesKJV: While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.