Verses 1–13

Here is, I. The inculcating of those precepts of the law which were of the greatest consequence, and by which were of the greatest consequence, and by which especially their obedience would be tried, Lev. 26:1, 2. They are the abstract of the second and fourth commandments, which, as they are by much the largest in the decalogue, so they are most frequently insisted on in other parts of the law. As, when a master has given many things in charge to his servant, he concludes with the repetition of those things which were of the greatest importance, and which the servant was most in danger of neglecting, bidding him, whatever he did, be sure to remember those, so here God by Moses, after many precepts, closes all with a special charge to observe these two great commandments. 1. “Be sure you never worship images, nor ever make any sort of images or pictures for a religious use,” Lev. 26:1. No sin was more provoking to God than this, and yet there was none that they were more addicted to, and which afterwards proved of more pernicious consequence to them. Next to God’s being, unity, and universal influence, it is necessary that we know and believe that he is an infinite Spirit; and therefore to represent him by an image in the making of it, to confine him to an image in the consecrating of it, and to worship him by an image in bowing down to it, changes his truth into a lie and his glory into shame, as much as any thing. 2. “Be sure you keep up a great veneration for sabbaths and religious assemblies,” Lev. 26:2. As nothing tends more to corrupt religion than the use of images in devotion, so nothing contributes more to the support of it than keeping the sabbaths and reverencing the sanctuary. These make up very much of the instrumental part of religion, by which the essentials of it are kept up. Therefore we find in the prophets that, next to the sin of idolatry, there is no sin for which the Jews are more frequently reproved and threatened than the profanation of the sabbath day.

II. Great encouragements given them to live in constant obedience to all God’s commandments, largely and strongly assuring them that if they did so they should be a happy people, and should be blessed with all the good things they could desire. Human governments enforce their laws with penalties to be inflicted for the breach of them; but God will be known as the rewarder of those that seek and serve him. Let us take a view of these great and precious promises, which, though they relate chiefly to the life which now is, and to the public national concerns of that people, were typical of the spiritual blessings entailed by the covenant of grace upon all believers through Christ. 1. Plenty and abundance of the fruits of the earth. They should have seasonable rain, neither too little nor too much, but what was requisite for their land, which was watered with the dew of heaven (Deut. 11:10, 11), that it might yield its increase, Lev. 26:4. The dependence which the fruitfulness of the earth beneath has upon the influences of heaven above is a sensible intimation to us that every good and perfect gift must be expected from above, from the Father of lights. It is promised that the earth should produce its fruits in such great abundance that they would be kept in full employment, during both the harvest and the vintage, to gather it in, Lev. 26:5. Before they had reaped their corn and threshed it, the vintage would be ready; and, before they had finished their vintage, it would be high time to begin their sowing. Long harvests are often with us the consequences of bad weather, but with them they should be the effects of a great increase. This signified the abundance of grace which should be poured out in gospel times, when the ploughman should overtake the reaper (Amos 9:13), and a great harvest of souls should be gathered in to Christ. The plenty should be so great that they should bring forth the old to be given away to the poor because of the new, to make room for it in their barns, which yet they would not pull down to build greater, as that rich fool (Luke 12:18), for God gave them this abundance to be laid out, not be hoarded up from one year to another. He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him, Prov. 11:26. That promise (Mal. 3:10), I will pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it, explains this, Lev. 26:10. And that which crowns this blessing of plenty is (Lev. 26:5), You shall eat your bread to the full, which intimates that they should have, not only abundance, but content and satisfaction in it. They should have enough, and should know when they had enough. Thus the meek shall eat and be satisfied, Ps. 22:26. 2. Peace under the divine protection; “You shall dwell in your land safely (Lev. 26:5); both really save, and safe in your own apprehensions; you shall lie down to rest in the power and promise of God, and not only none shall hurt you, but none shall so much as make you afraid,” Lev. 26:6. See Ps. 4:8. They should not be infested with wild beasts, these should be rid out of the land, or, as it is promised (Job 5:23), should be at peace with them. Nor should they be terrified with the alarms of war: Neither shall the sword go through your land. This holy security is promised to all the faithful, Ps. 91:1-16 Those must needs dwell in safety that dwell in God, Job 9:18, 19. 3. Victory and success in their wars abroad, while they had peace and tranquility at home, Lev. 26:7, 8. They are assured that the hand of God should so signally appear with them in their conquests that no disproportion of numbers should make against them: Five of you shall have courage to attack, and strength to chase and defeat, a hundred, as Jonathan did (1 Sam. 14:12), experiencing the truth of his own maxim (Lev. 26:6), that it is all one with the Lord to save by many or by few. 4. The increase of their people: I will make you fruitful and multiply you, Lev. 26:9. Thus the promise made to Abraham must be fulfilled, that his seed should be as the dust of the earth; and much more numerous they would have been if they had by their sin cut themselves short. It is promised to the gospel church that it shall be fruitful, John 15:16. 5. The favour of God, which is the fountain of all good: I will have respect unto you, Lev. 26:9. If the eye of our faith be unto God, the eye of his favour will be unto us. More is implied than is expressed in that promise, My soul shall not abhor you (Lev. 26:11), as there is in that threatening, My soul shall have no pleasure in him, Heb. 10:38. Though there was that among them which might justly have alienated him from them, yet, if they would closely adhere to his institutions, he would not abhor them. 6. Tokens of his presence in and by his ordinances: I will set my tabernacle among you, Lev. 26:11. It was their honour and advantage that God’s tabernacle was lately erected among them; but here he lets them know that the continuance and establishment of it depended upon their good behaviour. The tabernacle that was now set should be settled if they would be obedient, else not. Note, The way to have God’s ordinances fixed among us, as a nail in a sure place, is to cleave closely to the institution of them. It is added (Lev. 26:12), “I will walk among you, with delight and satisfaction, as a man in his garden; I will keep up communion with you as a man walking with his friend.” This seems to be alluded to, Rev. 2:1; where Christ is said to walk in the midst of the golden candlesticks. 7. The grace of the covenant, as the fountain and foundation, the sweetness and security, of all these blessings: I will establish my covenant with you, Lev. 26:9. Let them perform their part of the covenant, and God would not fail to perform his. All covenant-blessings are summed up in the covenant-relation (Lev. 26:12): I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and they are all grounded upon their redemption: I am your God, because I brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, Lev. 26:13. Having purchased them, he would own them, and never cast them off till they cast him off. He broke their yoke, and made them go upright, that is, their deliverance out of Egypt put them in a state both of ease and honour, that, being delivered out of the hands of their enemies, they might serve God without fear, each walking in his uprightness. When Israel rejected Christ, and was therefore rejected by him, their back is said to be bowed down always under the burden of their guilt, which was heavier than that of their bondage in Egypt, Rom. 11:10.