And when you shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food…
The explanation of this peculiar regulation is to be found in a special application of the principle which rules throughout the law — that the firstfruit shall always be consecrated unto God. But in this case the application of the principle is modified by the familiar fact that the fruit of a young tree, for the first few years of its bearing, is apt to be imperfect; it is not yet sufficiently grown to yield its best possible product. Because of this, in those years it could not be given to the Lord, for He must never be served with any but the best of everything; and thus until the fruit should reach its best, so as to be worthy of presentation of the Lord, the Israelite was meanwhile debarred from using it. During these three years the trees are said to be "as uncircumcised"; i.e., they were to be regarded as in a condition analogous to that of the child who has not yet been consecrated, by the act of circumcision, to the Lord. In the fourth year, however, the trees were regarded as having now so grown as to yield fruit in perfection; hence the principle of the consecration of the firstfruit now applies, and all the fourth year's product is given to the Lord, as an offering of thankful .praise to Him whose power in nature is the secret of all growth, fruitfulness, and increase. The moral teaching of this law is very plain. It teaches, as in all analogous cases, that God is always to be served before ourselves; and that not grudgingly, as if an irksome tax were to be paid to the Majesty of Heaven, but in the spirit of thanksgiving and praise to Him, as the Giver of "every good and perfect gift." It further instructs us, in this particular instance, that the people of God are to recognise this as being true even of all those good things which come to us under the forms of products of nature.
(S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.