Verses 12–26

Here, I. The caution against idolatry is repeated, and against communion with idolaters: “Thou shalt consume the people, and not serve their gods.” Deut. 7:16. We are in danger of having fellowship with the works of darkness if we take pleasure in fellowship with those that do those works. Here is also a repetition of the charge to destroy the images, Deut. 7:25, 26. The idols which the heathen had worshipped were an abomination to God, and therefore must be so to them: all that truly love God hat what he hates. Observe how this is urged upon them: Thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; such a holy indignation as this must we conceive against sin, that abominable thing which the Lord hates. They must not retain the images to gratify their covetousness: Thou shalt not desire the silver nor gold that is on them, nor think it a pity to have that destroyed. Achan paid dearly for converting that to his own use which was an anathema. Nor must they retain them to gratify their curiosity: “Neither shalt thou bring it into thy house, to be hung up as an ornament, or preserved as a monument of antiquity. No, to the fire with it, that is the fittest place for it.” Two reasons are given for this caution:—1. Lest thou be snared therein (Deut. 7:25), that is, “Lest thou be drawn, ere thou art aware, to like it and love it, to fancy it and pay respect to it” 2. Lest thou be a cursed thing like it, Deut. 7:26. Those that make images are said to be like the, stupid and senseless; here they are said to be in a worse sense like them, accursed of God and devoted to destruction. Compare these two reasons together, and observe that whatever brings us into a snare brings us under a curse.

II. The promise of God’s favour to them, if they would be obedient, is enlarged upon with a most affecting copiousness and fluency of expression, which intimates how much it is both God’s desire and our own interest that we be religious. All possible assurance is here given them,

1. That, if they would sincerely endeavour to do their part of the covenant, God would certainly perform his part. He shall keep the mercy which he swore to thy fathers, Deut. 7:12. Let us be constant in our duty, and we cannot question the constancy of God’s mercy.

2. That if they would love God and serve him, and devote themselves and theirs to him, he would love them, and bless them, and multiply them greatly, Deut. 7:13, 14. What could they desire more to make them happy? (1.) “He will love thee.” He began in love to us (1 John 4:10), and, if we return his love in filial duty, then, and then only, we may expect the continuance of it, John 14:21. (2.) “He will bless thee with the tokens of his love above all people.” If they would distinguish themselves from their neighbours by singular services, God would dignify them above their neighbours by singular blessings. (3.) “He will multiply thee.” Increase was the ancient blessing for the peopling of the world, once and again (Gen. 1:28; 9:1), and here for the peopling of Canaan, that little world by itself. The increase both of their families and of their stock is promised: they should neither have estates without heirs nor heirs without estates, but should have the complete satisfaction of having many children and plentiful provisions and portions for them.

3. That, if they would keep themselves pure from the idolatries of Egypt, God would keep them clear form the diseases of Egypt, Deut. 7:15. It seems to refer not only to those plagues of Egypt by the force of which they were delivered, but to some other epidemical country disease (as we call it), which they remembered the prevalency of among the Egyptians, and by which God had chastised them for their national sins. Diseases are God’s servants; they go where he sends them, and do what he bids them. It is therefore good for the health of our bodies to mortify the sin of our souls.

4. That, if they would cut off the devoted nations, they should cut them off, and none should be able to stand before them. Their duty in this matter would itself be their advantage: Thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee—this is the precept (Deut. 7:16); and the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them—this is the promise, Deut. 7:23. Thus we are commanded not to let sin reign, not to indulge ourselves in it nor give countenance to it, but to hate it and strive against it; and then God has promised that sin shall not have dominion over us (Rom. 6:12, 14), but that we shall be more than conquerors over it. The difficulty and doubtfulness of the conquest of Canaan having been a stone of stumbling to their fathers, Moses here animates them against those things which were most likely to discourage them, bidding them not to be afraid of them, Deut. 7:18; and again, Deut. 7:21. (1.) Let them not be disheartened by the number and strength of their enemies: Say not, They are more than I, how can I dispossess them? Deut. 7:17. We are apt to think that the most numerous must needs be victorious: but, to fortify Israel against this temptation, Moses reminds them of the destruction of Pharaoh and all the power of Egypt, Deut. 7:18, 19. They had seen the great temptations, or miracles (so the Chaldee reads it), the signs and wonders, wherewith God had brought them out of Egypt, in order to his bringing them into Canaan, and thence might easily infer that God could dispossess the Canaanites (who, though formidable enough, had not such advantages against Israel as the Egyptians had; he that had done the greater could do the less), and that he would dispossess them, otherwise his bringing Israel out of Egypt had been no kindness to them. He that begun would finish. Thou shalt therefore well remember this, Deut. 7:18. The word and works of God are well remembered when they are improved as helps to our faith and obedience. That is well laid up which is ready to us when we have occasion to use it. (2.) Let them not be disheartened by the weakness and deficiency of their own forces; for God will send them in auxiliary troops of hornets, or wasps, as some read it (Deut. 7:20), probably larger than ordinary, which would so terrify and molest their enemies (and perhaps be the death of many to them) that their most numerous armies would become an easy prey to Israel. God plagued the Egyptians with flies, but the Canaanites with hornets. Those who take not warning by less judgments on others may expect greater on themselves. But the great encouragement of Israel was that they had God among them, a mighty God and terrible, Deut. 7:21. And if God be for us, if God be with us, we need not fear the power of any creature against us. (3.) Let them not be disheartened by the slow progress of their arms, nor think that the Canaanites would never be subdued if they were not expelled the first year; no, they must be put out by little and little, and not all at once, Deut. 7:22. Note, We must not think that, because the deliverance of the church and the destruction of its enemies are not effected immediately, therefore they will never be effected. God will do his own work in his own method and time, and we may be sure that they are always the best. Thus corruption is driven out of the hearts of believers by little and little. The work of sanctification is carried on gradually; but that judgment will at length be brought forth into a complete victory. The reason here given (as before, Exod. 23:29, 30) is, Lest the beast of the field increase upon thee. The earth God has given to the children of men; and therefore there shall rather be a remainder of Canaanites to keep possession till Israel become numerous enough to replenish it than that it should be a habitation of dragons, and a court for the wild beasts of the desert, Isa. 34:13, 14. Yet God could have prevented this mischief from the beasts, Lev. 26:6. But pride and security, and other sins that are the common effects of a settled prosperity, were enemies more dangerous than the beasts of the field, and these would be apt to increase upon them. See Jdg. 3:1, 4.