Beware that you forget not the LORD your God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes…
Here we have Moses' answer to the first great question in politics — What makes a nation prosperous? To that wise men have already answered, as Moses answered, "Good government; government according to the laws of God." But the multitude, who are not wise men, give a different answer. They say, "What makes a nation prosperous is its wealth. If Britain be only rich, then she must be safe and right."
I. MOSES DOES NOT DENY THAT WEALTH IS A GOOD THING. He takes for granted that they will grow rich; but he warns them that their riches, like all other earthly things, may be a curse or a blessing to them. Nay, that they are not good in them. selves, but mere tools which may be used for good or for evil.
II. AND HEREIN HE SHOWS HIS KNOWLEDGE OF THE HUMAN HEART; for it is a certain fact that whenever any nation has prospered, then they have, as Moses warned the Jews, forgotten the Lord their God, and said, "My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth." And it is true, also, that whenever any nation has begun to say that, they have fallen into confusion and misery, and sometimes into utter ruin, till they repented and remembered the Lord their God, and found out that the strength of a nation did not consist in riches, but in virtue. For it is He that giveth the power to get wealth. He gives it in two ways. First, God gives the raw material; secondly, He gives the wit to use it. This, then, was what Moses commanded — to remember that they owed all to God. What they had, they had of God's free gift. What they were, they were by God's free grace. Therefore they were not to boast of themselves, their numbers, their wealth, their armies, their fair and fertile land. They were to make their boast of God and of God's goodness. This they were to remember, because it was true. And this we are to remember, because it is more or less true of us. God has made of us a great nation; God has discovered to us the immense riches of this land. It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.
III. YOU WILL SEE THAT MOSES WARNS THEM THAT IF THEY FORGOT GOD THE LORD, WHO BROUGHT THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, THEY WOULD GO AFTER OTHER GODS. He cannot part the two things. If they forget that God brought them out of Egypt, they will turn to idolatry, and so end in ruin. And so shall we. If we forget that God is the living God, who brought our forefathers into this land, who has revealed to us the wealth of it step by step as we needed it, who is helping and blessing us now, every day, and all the year round — then we shall begin worshipping other gods, worshipping the so-called laws of nature, instead of God who made the laws, and so honouring the creature above the Creator; or else we shall worship the pomps and vanities of this world — pride and power, money and pleasure — and say in our hearts, "These are our only gods which can help us, these must we obey." Which if we do, this land of England will come to ruin and shame, as surely as did the land of Israel in old time.
(C. Kingsley, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: