Verses 12–20

Here is, I. The invasion of the land by the locusts—God’s great army, Joel 2:11. God bids Moses stretch out his hand (Exod. 10:12), to beckon them, as it wee (for they came at a call), and he stretched forth his rod, Exod. 10:13. Compare Exod. 9:22, 23. Moses ascribes it to the stretching out, not of his own hand, but the rod of God, the instituted sign of God’s presence with him. The locusts obey the summons, and fly upon the wings of the wind, the east wind, and caterpillars without number, as we are told, Ps. 105:34, 35. A formidable army of horse and foot might more easily have been resisted than this host of insects. Who then is able to stand before the great God?

II. The desolations they made in it (Exod. 10:15): They covered the face of the earth, and ate up the fruit of it. The earth God has given to the children of men; yet, when God pleases, he can disturb their possession and send locusts and caterpillars to force them out. Herbs grow for the service of man; yet, when God pleases, those contemptible insects shall not only be fellow-commoners with him, but shall plunder him, and eat the bread out of his mouth. Let our labour be, not for the habitation and meat which thus lie exposed, but for those which endure to eternal life, which cannot be thus invaded, nor thus corrupted.

III. Pharaoh’s admission, hereupon, Exod. 10:16, 17. He had driven Moses and Aaron from him (Exod. 10:11), telling them (it is likely) he would have no more to do with them. But now he calls for them again in all haste, and makes court to them with as much respect as before he had dismissed them with disdain. Note, The day will come when those who set at nought their counsellors, and despise all their reproofs, will be glad to make an interest in them and engage them to intercede on their behalf. The foolish virgins court the wise to give them of their oil; and see Ps. 141:6. 1. Pharaoh confesses his fault: I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. He now sees his own folly in the slights and affronts he had put on God and his ambassadors, and seems at least, to repent of it. When God convinces men of sin, and humbles them for it, their contempt of God’s ministers, and the word of the Lord in their mouths, will certainly come into the account, and lie heavily upon their consciences. Some think that when Pharaoh said, “The Lord your God,” he did in effect say, “The Lord shall not be my God.” Many treat with God as a potent enemy, whom they are willing not to be at war with, but care not for treating with him as their rightful prince, to whom they are willing to submit with loyal affection. True penitents lament sin as committed against God, even their own God, to whom they stand obliged. 2. He begs pardon, not of God, as penitents ought, but of Moses, which was more excusable in him, because, by a special commission, Moses was made a god to Pharaoh, and whosesoever sins he remitted they were forgiven; when he prays, Forgive this once, he, in effect, promises not to offend in like manner any more, yet seems loth to express that promise, nor does he say any thing particularly of letting the people go. Note, Counterfeit repentance commonly cheats men with general promises and is loth to covenant against particular sins. 3. He entreats Moses and Aaron to pray for him. There are those who, in distress, implore the help of other persons’ prayers, but have no mind to pray for themselves, showing thereby that they have no true love to God, nor any delight in communion with him. Pharaoh desires their prayers that this death only might be taken away, not this sin: he deprecates the plague of locusts, not the plague of a hard heart, which yet was much the more dangerous.

IV. The removal of the judgment, upon the prayer of Moses, Exod. 10:18, 19. This was, 1. As great an instance of the power of God as the judgment itself. An east wind brought the locusts, and now a west wind carried them off. Note, Whatever point of the compass the wind is in, it is fulfilling God’s word, and turns about by his counsel. The wind bloweth where it listeth, as it respects any control of ours; not so as it respects the control of God: he directeth it under the whole heaven. 2. It was as great a proof of the authority of Moses, and as firm a ratification of his commission and his interest in that God who both makes peace and creates evil, Isa. 45:7. Nay, hereby he not only commanded the respect, but recommended himself to the good affections of the Egyptians, inasmuch as, while the judgment came in obedience to his summons, the removal of it was in answer to his prayers. He never desired the woeful day, though he threatened it. His commission indeed ran against Egypt, but his intercession was for it, which was a good reason why they should love him, though they feared him. 3. It was also as strong an argument for their repentance as the judgment itself; for by this it appeared that God is ready to forgive, and swift to show mercy. If he turn away a particular judgment, as he did often from Pharaoh, or defer it, as in Ahab’s case, upon the profession of repentance and the outward tokens of humiliation, what will he do if we be sincere, and how welcome will true penitents be to him! O that this goodness of God might lead us to repentance!

V. Pharaoh’s return to his impious resolution again not to let the people go (Exod. 10:20), through the righteous hand of God upon him, hardening his heart, and confirming him in his obstinacy. Note, Those that have often baffled their convictions, and stood it out against them, forfeit the benefit of them, and are justly given up to those lusts of their own hearts which (how strong soever their convictions) prove too strong for them.