Israel Reminded of the Covenant.
B. C. 1451.
16 This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. 17 Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice: 18 And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; 19 And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.
Two things Moses here urges to enforce all these precepts:–
1. That they were the commands of God, v. 16. They were not the dictates of his own wisdom, nor were they enacted by any authority of his own, but infinite wisdom framed them, and the power of the King of kings made them binding to them: “The Lord thy God commands thee, therefore thou art bound in duty and gratitude to obey him, and it is at thy peril if thou disobey. They are his laws, therefore thou shalt do them, for to that end were they given thee: do them and not dispute them, do them and not draw back from them; do them not carelessly and hypocritically, but with thy heart and soul, thy whole heart and thy whole soul.”
2. That their covenant with God obliged them to keep these commands. He insists not only upon God’s sovereignty over them, but his propriety in them, and the relation wherein they stood to him. The covenant is mutual, and it binds to obedience both ways.
(1.) That we may perform our part of the covenant, and answer the intentions of that (v. 17): “Thou hast avouched and solemnly owned and confessed the Lord Jehovah to be thy God, thy Prince and Ruler. As he is so by an incontestable right, so he is by thy own consent.” They did this implicitly by their attendance on his word, had done it expressly (Exod. 24.), and were now to do it again before they parted, ch. 29:1. Now this obliges us, in fidelity to our word, as well as in duty to our Sovereign, to keep his statutes and his commandments. We really forswear ourselves, and perfidiously violate the most sacred engagements, if, when we have taken the Lord to be our God, we do not make conscience of obeying his commands.
(2.) That God’s part of the covenant also may be made good, and the intentions of that answered (v. 18, 19): The Lord has avouched, not only taken, but publicly owned thee to be his segullah, his peculiar people, as he has promised thee, that is, according to the true intent and meaning of the promise. Now their obedience was not only the condition of this favour, and of the continuance of it (if they were not obedient, God would disown them, and cast them off), but it was also the principal design of this favour. “He has avouched thee on purpose that thou shouldest keep his commandments, that thou mightest have both the best directions and the best encouragements in religion.” Thus we are elected to obedience (1 Pet. 1: 2), chosen that we should be holy (Eph.1: 4), purified, a peculiar people, that we might not only do good works, but be zealous in them, Tit. 2:14. Two things God is here said to design in avouching them to be his peculiar people (v. 19), to make them high, and, in order to that, to make them holy; for holiness is true honour, and the only way to everlasting honour.
[1.] To make them high above all nations. The greatest honour we are capable of in this world is to be taken into covenant with God, and to live in his service. They should be,
Secondly, High in name, which, some think, denotes the continuance and perpetuity of that praise, a name that shall not be cut off. Thirdly, High in honour, that is, in all the advantages of wealth and power, which would make them great above their neighbours. See Jer. 13:11.
[2.] That they might be a holy people, separated for God, devoted to him, and employed continually in his service. This God aimed at in taking them to be his people; so that, if they did not keep his commandments, they received all this grace in vain.
– Matthew Henry Commentary