If you be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land:…
Comp. Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people." The prophet is picturing the corrupt state of the metropolis, and contrasting its present moral degradation with the high and honorable character which it had formerly sustained. The following points may be illustrated, and the lessons of them enforced.
I. UNRIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE LEADERS IS THE CURSE OF A BAD EXAMPLE. Illustrate by the mischievous influence of a corrupt court and aristocracy, and by the discontent produced by corruptions of the fountains of justice.
II. UNRIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE PEOPLE ENFEEBLES THE NATIONAL LIFE. Illustrate by the effect of prevalent sensuality on the morale of soldiers. The moral degradation of France was the secret of her weakness when struggling against Germany. A nation's manhood sinks under the power of self-indulgence and sin. This was strikingly illustrated again and again in the history of God's people Israel. When they were idolatrous and immoral they were weak before their foes. Virtue is strength.
III. UNRIGHTEOUSNESS PREPARES THE WAY FOR NATIONAL EVILS. Both for such as are internal and for such as are external. Family life, society, religion, all are affected. Ordinary checks are removed. The sense of common weal no longer binds men together to seek national interests. And the "enemy coming in like a flood" finds no "standard of the Lord lifted up against them." Illustrate by the iniquities wrought by and encouraged by Hophni and Phinebas, and the consequent despising of Jehovah's worship, and inability to stand before the nation's foes. Nobody from outside can really hurt a nation. Nations hurt themselves by permitting vice and iniquity to run riot. Show what are the features of modern city sins, country sins, national iniquities. These are our peril, our woe, our curse. Against these every servant of the Lord must strive and plead and fight. Nations can build national life securely on no other foundation than this - morality, righteousness, the clean heart, and the clean hand. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: