For the LORD your God brings you into a good land, a land of brooks of water…
God's policy in the government of men is to win by prodigal kindness. A churlish parsimony has never been found with him; the very opposite. An open eye discovers widespread munificence - a royal banquet. The present is only a sample of the future. The full inheritance is always the object of hope. The children of a king have large expectations. This passage contains -
I. A NOTABLE INSTANCE OF DIVINE MUNIFICENCE.
1. The heritage of Israel was a "good land." Both climate and soil were suited to every variety of natural production. The fruits of the North, and the fruits of the Tropics, might alike find a home there. Untold ages had passed, during which God had been slowly preparing that land for Israel, and storing it with elements of fertility, and wealth of minerals.
2. Others had been employed to bring the virgin soil under culture. The harder and more unprofitable toil bad been accomplished. The house of Israel was already well furnished, as when a bridegroom brings home his bride.
3. There was every variety of provision. This betokened thoughtful foresight and tender affection. No needed good had been overlooked. The beneficent Creator had furnished, not only the necessaries of life, but every luxury. Whatever could please the palate, or gratify a taste, or invigorate the health, was there. These were pictures of heavenly good; for as yet the people could not appreciate the imperishable treasures of the spirit-land.
4. This inheritance was unpurchased and unreserved. It made them, body and soul, debtors to God. Had they preferred to purchase it with money, they had naught of their own; they could not create the medium of barter. They had not obtained it by the merit of obedience. They were the recipients of distinguished favor - pensioners on the Divine bounty. If it be said that they obtained the land by right of conquest, it must be counter-said that the Lord had given them victory. The battle was the Lord's. Herein God designed to conquer their proud spirits by the generosity of his love.
5. This inheritance was not the final end. God had ulterior purposes of good yet beyond, towards the realization of which this was a stepping-stone. His next design was to "establish his covenant with them." At present, they were reaping the fruit of their fathers' faith. This was a reward for Abraham's piety. If they should prove faithful, they too should be promoted to higher things. Canaan was not a home, but a school-house.
II. THE PASSAGE CONTAINS VALUABLE COUNSEL. The counsels of clear-eyed, venerable wisdom are more precious than pearls.
1. The counsel prescribes grateful recollection. Having received such measureless kindness, it would be the rankest villany to forget the Giver. Over the sunken rock of ingratitude a triple beacon stands: "Beware!" Give this murderous reef ample sea-room. Here many a gallant ship has gone to pieces.
2. The counsel directs suitable requital. "Thou shalt bless the Lord thy God!" But can man confer any blessing on his Maker? Can we add to God's wealth or enjoyment? In a sense we can. Dispositions are accepted as deeds. If we are not willing to give to God all we have, our hearts are base. We can bring him the wealth of our love. We can bring him the music of our praise. We can bring him the devotion of our lives. Does his voice whisper to us from heaven, "It is well that it is in thine heart?" Does he smell the sweet savor of our sacrifice?
3. The counsel includes practical obedience. Obedience, if genuine, will be complete. It will embrace every known command. If we observe some commandments, and consciously neglect others, this is not obedience; we are merely doing our own will. Whether we perceive the reason of the command or not, we shall honor it as oar Lord's will - as our Lord himself. No matter what compliance costs, we will give it. Ours not to reason why. True obedience is hearty, complete, perpetual.
III. THIS PASSAGE INDICATES IMMINENT PERILS.
1. Wealth often leads to fleshly indulgence. With abundance in our possession, it is easier to indulge the appetites than to deny them. Yet the higher life can only be developed at the expense of the lower. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom."
2. Wealth breeds self-sufficient pride. It serves to weaken our sense of dependence upon God. When from our visible stores every felt need can be supplied, we are prone to forget the unseen Giver. Most men may well thank God that the temptations of wealth dwell not under their roofs. "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" In the hot-bed of riches, the flower of sweet humility does not thrive.
3. Wealth loses sight of its own origin. It has a short memory for obligations. The millionaire soon forgets the days of poverty and struggle - forgets the Friend who succored him in his extremity - kicks away the ladder by which he rose. Riches naturally encumber and stifle the flame of religious feeling.
4. Riches beget in us false confidence. Like Nebuchadnezzar, we say, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built?" We find a delicious pleasure in hearing our own skill and sagacity praised. The tide of natural feeling sets strongly towards self-trust.
5. Riches tend towards idolatry. In the days of poverty we did not object to be accounted singular; but in the time of wealth we aspire to do as others do. It is arduous to have to think for one's self, to rely upon one's own judgments, to pursue a course which men will ridicule. If others bow clown to their own net, or rear a popular idol, we too must bow down and worship it. Wealth has given us prominence, set us on high, and we must not risk our new reputation. It is easier to drift with the stream than to stem it.
6. Justice, with her balances and sword, is always nigh. No man can defraud God. If the Amorites were thrust out from the land because they had become flagrant idolaters, so also shall the Israelites if they become votaries of idols. As the Hebrews conquered the Canaanites, so did the Assyrians vanquish the Hebrews. One law shall prevail for all. If we have not been overwhelmed in one disaster, we may be overtaken suddenly by another minister of justice. Sin shall bear its own proper fruit. Every nation and every individual shall "go to his own place." From the summit of earthly magnificence to the lowest pit of misery, there is often a single step. "I saw," says Bunyan, "that there was a way to hell, even from the gate of the celestial city." "Be not highminded, but fear." Riches make a slippery descent to ruin. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;