De 32:1-43. Moses' Song,
Which Sets Forth the Perfections of God.
1. Give ear, O ye heavens; … hear, O
earth—The magnificence of the exordium, the grandeur of the
theme, the frequent and sudden transitions, the elevated strain of the
sentiments and language, entitle this song to be ranked amongst the
noblest specimens of poetry to be found in the Scriptures.
2, 3. My doctrine shall drop,
&c.—The language may justly be taken as uttered in the form
of a wish or prayer, and the comparison of wholesome instruction to the
pure, gentle, and insinuating influence of rain or dew, is frequently
made by the sacred writers (Isa 5:6; 55:10, 11).
4. He is the Rock—a word expressive of
power and stability. The application of it in this passage is to
declare that God had been true to His covenant with their fathers and
them. Nothing that He had promised had failed; so that if their
national experience had been painfully checkered by severe and
protracted trials, notwithstanding the brightest promises, that result
was traceable to their own undutiful and perverse conduct; not to any
vacillation or unfaithfulness on the part of God (Jas 1:17), whose procedure was marked by justice
and judgment, whether they had been exalted to prosperity or plunged
into the depths of affliction.
5. They have corrupted themselves—that
is, the Israelites by their frequent lapses and their inveterate
attachment to idolatry.
their spot is not the spot of his
children—This is an allusion to the marks which idolaters
inscribe on their foreheads or their arms with paint or other
substances, in various colors and forms—straight, oval, or
circular, according to the favorite idol of their worship.
6. is not he thy father that hath bought
thee—or emancipated thee from Egyptian bondage.
and made thee—advanced the nation to
unprecedented and peculiar privileges.
8, 9. When the most High divided to the nations
their inheritance—In the division of the earth, which Noah is
believed to have made by divine direction (Ge
10:5; De 2:5-9; Ac 17:26, 27), Palestine was reserved by the wisdom
and goodness of Heaven for the possession of His peculiar people and
the display of the most stupendous wonders. The theater was small, but
admirably suited for the convenient observation of the human
race—at the junction of the two great continents of Asia and
Africa, and almost within sight of Europe. From this spot as from a
common center the report of God's wonderful works, the glad tidings of
salvation through the obedience and sufferings of His own eternal Son,
might be rapidly and easily wafted to every part of the globe.
he set the bounds of the people according to the
number of the children of Israel—Another rendering, which has
received the sanction of eminent scholars, has been proposed as
follows: "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance,
when He separated the sons of Adam and set the bounds of every people,
the children of Israel were few in numbers, when the Lord chose that
people and made Jacob His inheritance" (compare De
30:5; Ge 34:30; Ps 105:9-12).
10. found him in a desert land—took him
into a covenant relation at Sinai, or rather "sustained," "provided for
him" in a desert land.
a waste howling wilderness—a common
Oriental expression for a desert infested by wild beasts.
11. As an eagle … fluttereth over her
young—This beautiful and expressive metaphor is founded on
the extraordinary care and attachment which the female eagle cherishes
for her young. When her newly fledged progeny are sufficiently advanced
to soar in their native element, she, in their first attempts at
flying, supports them on the tip of her wing, encouraging, directing,
and aiding their feeble efforts to longer and sublimer flights. So did
God take the most tender and powerful care of His chosen people; He
carried them out of Egypt and led them through all the horrors of the
wilderness to the promised inheritance.
13, 14. He made him ride on the high places,
&c.—All these expressions seem to have peculiar reference to
their home in the trans-jordanic territory, that being the extent of
Palestine that they had seen at the time when Moses is represented as
uttering these words. "The high places" and "the fields" are specially
applicable to the tablelands of Gilead as are the allusions to the
herds and flocks, the honey of the wild bees which hive in the crevices
of the rocks, the oil from the olive as it grew singly or in small
clumps on the tops of hills where scarcely anything else would grow,
the finest wheat (Ps 81:16; 147:14), and the prolific vintage.
15. But Jeshurun waxed fat, and
kicked—This is a poetical name for Israel. The metaphor here
used is derived from a pampered animal, which, instead of being tame
and gentle, becomes mischievous and vicious, in consequence of good
living and kind treatment. So did the Israelites conduct themselves by
their various acts of rebellion, murmuring, and idolatrous
17. They sacrificed unto devils—(See on
21. those which are not a people—that
is, not favored with such great and peculiar privileges as the
Israelites (or, rather poor, despised heathens). The language points to
the future calling of the Gentiles.
23. I will spend mine arrows upon
them—War, famine, pestilence (Ps 77:17) are called in Scripture the arrows of
29. Oh, … that they would consider their
latter end—The terrible judgments, which, in the event of
their continued and incorrigible disobedience, would impart so awful a
character to the close of their national history.
32. vine of Sodom … grapes of
gall—This fruit, which the Arabs call "Lot's Sea Orange," is
of a bright yellow color and grows in clusters of three or four. When
mellow, it is tempting in appearance, but on being struck, explodes
like a puffball, consisting of skin and fiber only.
44-47. Moses … spake all the words of this
song in the ears, &c.—It has been beautifully styled "the
Song of the Dying Swan" [Lowth]. It was
designed to be a national anthem, which it should be the duty and care
of magistrates to make well known by frequent repetition, to animate
the people to right sentiments towards a steadfast adherence to His
48-51. Get thee up … and die … Because
ye trespassed … at Meribah—(See on Nu 20:13).
52. thou shalt see the land, but thou shalt not go
Notwithstanding so severe a disappointment, not a murmur of complaint
escapes his lips. He is not only resigned but acquiescing; and in the
near prospect of his death, he pours forth the feelings of his devout
heart in sublime strains and eloquent blessings.