Verses 30–37

Here is, I. A law for the preserving of the honour of the time and place appropriated to the service of God, Lev. 19:30. This would be a means to secure them both from the idolatries and superstitions of the heathen and from all immoralities in conversation. 1. Sabbaths must be religiously observed, and not those times mentioned (Lev. 19:26) to which the heathen had a superstitious regard. 2. The sanctuary must be reverenced: great care must be taken to approach the tabernacle with that purity and preparation which the law required, and to attend there with that humility, decency, and closeness of application which became them in the immediate presence of such an awful majesty. Though now there is no place holy by divine institution, as the tabernacle and temple then were, yet this law obliges us to respect the solemn assemblies of Christians for religious worship, as being held under a promise of Christ’s special presence in them, and to carry ourselves with a due decorum while in those assemblies we attend the administration of holy ordinances, Eccl. 5:1.

II. A caution against all communion with witches, and those that were in league with familiar spirits: “Regard them not, seek not after them, be not in fear of any evil from them nor in hopes of any good from them. Regard not their threatenings, or promises, or predictions; seek not to them for discovery or advice, for, if you do, you are defiled by it, and rendered abominable both to God and your own consciences.” This was the sin that completed Saul’s wickedness, for which he was rejected of God, 1 Chron. 10:13.

III. A charge to young people to show respect to the aged: Thou shall rise up before the hoary head, Lev. 19:32. Age is honourable, and he that is the Ancient of days requires that honour be paid to it. The hoary head is a crown of glory. Those whom God has honoured with the common blessing of long life we ought to honour with the distinguishing expressions of civility; and those who in age are wise and good are worthy of double honour: more respect is owing to such old men than merely to rise up before them; their credit and comfort must be carefully consulted, their experience and observations improved, and their counsels asked and hearkened to, Job 32:6, 7. Some, by the old man whose face or presence is to be honoured, understand the elder in office, as by the hoary head the elder in age; both ought to be respected as fathers, and in the fear of God, who has put some of his honour upon both. Note, Religion teaches good manners, and obliges us to give honour to those to whom honour is due. It is an instance of great degeneracy and disorder in a land when the child behaves himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable, Isa. 3:5; Job 30:1, 12. It becomes the aged to receive this honour, and the younger to give it; for it is the ornament as well as duty of their youth to order themselves lowly and reverently to all their betters.

IV. A charge to the Israelites to be very tender of strangers, Lev. 19:33, 34. Both the law of God and his providence had vastly dignified Israel above any other people, yet they must not therefore think themselves authorized to trample upon all mankind but those of their own nation, and to insult them at their pleasure; no, “Thou shall not vex a stranger, but love him as thyself, and as one of thy own people.” It is supposed that this stranger was not an idolater, but a worshipper of the God of Israel, though not circumcised, a proselyte of the gate at least, though not a proselyte of righteousness: if such a one sojourned among them, they must not vex him, nor oppress, nor over-reach him in a bargain, taking advantage of his ignorance of their laws and customs; they must reckon it as great a sin to cheat a stranger as to cheat an Israelite; “nay” (say the Jewish doctors) “they must not so much as upbraid him with his being a stranger, and his having been formerly an idolater.” Strangers are God’s particular care, as the widow and the fatherless are, because it is his honour to help the helpless, Ps. 146:9. It is therefore at our peril if we do them any wrong, or put any hardships upon them. Strangers shall be welcome to God’s grace, and therefore we should do what we can to invite them to it, and to recommend religion to their good opinion. It argues a generous disposition, and a pious regard to God, as a common Father, to be kind to strangers; for those of different countries, customs, and languages, are all made of one blood. But here is a reason added peculiar to the Jews: “For you were strangers in the land of Egypt. God then favoured you, therefore do you now favour the strangers, and do to them as you then wished to be done to. You were strangers, and yet are now thus highly advanced; therefore you know not what these strangers may come to, whom you are apt to despise.”

V. Justice in weights and measures is here commanded. That there should be no cheat in them, Lev. 19:35. That they should be very exact, Lev. 19:36. In weighing and measuring, we pretend a design to give all those their own whom we deal with; but, if the weights and measures be false, it is like a corruption in judgment, it cheats under colour of justice; and thus to deceive a man to his damage is worse than picking his pocket or robbing him on the highway. He that sells is bound to give the full of the commodity, and he that buys the full of the price agreed upon, which cannot be done without just balances, weights, and measures. Let no man go beyond or defraud his brother, for, though it be hidden from man, it will be found that God is the avenger of all such.

VI. The chapter concludes with a general command (Lev. 19:37): You shall observe all my statutes, and do them. Note, 1. We are not likely to do God’s statutes, unless we observe them with great care and consideration. 2. Yet it is not enough barely to observe God’s precepts, but we must make conscience of obeying them. What will it avail us to be critical in our notions, if we be not conscientious in our conversations? 3. An upright heart has respect to all God’s commandments, Ps. 119:6. Though in many instances the hand fails in doing what should be done, yet the eye observes all God’s statutes. We are not allowed to pick and choose our duty, but must aim at standing complete in all the will of God.