Here is, I. A caution given that no man should make such a jest of sanctifying things to the Lord as to sanctify any firstling to him, for that was his already by the law, Lev. 27:26. Though the matter of a general vow be that which we were before obliged to, as of our sacramental covenant, yet a singular vow should be of that which we were not, in such circumstances and proportions, antecedently bound to. The law concerning the firstlings of unclean beasts (Lev. 27:27) is the same with that before, Lev. 27:11, 12.
II. Things or persons devoted are here distinguished from things or persons that were only sanctified. 1. Devoted things were most holy to the Lord, and could neither revert nor be alienated, Lev. 27:28. They were of the same nature with those sacrifices which were called most holy, which none might touch but only the priests themselves. The difference between these and other sanctified things arose from the different expression of the vow. If a man dedicated any thing to God, binding himself with a solemn curse never to alienate it to any other purpose, then it was a thing devoted. 2. Devoted persons were to be put to death, Lev. 27:29. Not that it was in the power of any parent or master thus to devote a child or a servant to death; but it must be meant of the public enemies of Israel, who, either by the appointment of God or by the sentence of the congregation, were devoted, as the seven nations with which they must make no league. The city of Jericho in particular was thus devoted, Josh. 6:17. The inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead were put to death for violating the curse pronounced upon those who came not up to Mizpeh, Jdg. 21:9, 10. Some think it was for want of being rightly informed of the true intent and meaning of this law that Jephtha sacrificed his daughter as one devoted, who might not be redeemed.
III. A law concerning tithes, which were paid for the service of God before the law, as appears by Abraham’s payment of them, (Gen. 14:20), and Jacob’s promise of them, Gen. 28:22. It is here appointed, 1. That they should pay tithe of all their increase, their corn, trees, and cattle, Lev. 27:30, 32. Whatsoever productions they had the benefit of God must be honoured with the tithe of, if it were titheable. Thus they acknowledged God to be the owner of their land, the giver of its fruits, and themselves to be his tenants, and dependents upon him. Thus they gave him thanks for the plenty they enjoyed, and supplicated his favour in the continuance of it. And we are taught in general to honour the Lord with our substance (Prov. 3:9), and in particular to support and maintain his ministers, and to be ready to communicate to them, Gal. 6:6; 1 Cor. 9:11. And how this may be done in a fitter and more equal proportion than that of the tenth, which God himself appointed of old, I cannot see. 2. That which was once marked for tithe should not be altered, no, not for a better (Lev. 27:33), for Providence directed the rod that marked it. God would accept it though it were not the best, and they must not grudge it though it were, for it was what passed under the rod. 3. That it should not be redeemed, unless the owner would give a fifth part more for its ransom, Lev. 27:31. If men had the curiosity to prefer what was marked for tithe before any other part of their increase, it was fit that they should pay for their curiosity.
IV. The Lev. 27:34 seems to have reference to this whole book of which it is the conclusion: These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses, for the children of Israel. Many of these commandments are moral, and of perpetual obligation; others of them, which were ceremonial and peculiar to the Jewish economy, have notwithstanding a spiritual significancy, and are instructive to us who are furnished with a key to let us into the mysteries contained in them; for unto us, by those institutions, is the gospel preached as well as unto them, Heb. 4:2. Upon the whole matter, we may see cause to bless God that we have not come to mount Sinai, Heb. 12:18. 1. That we are not under the dark shadows of the law, but enjoy the clear light of the gospel, which shows us Christ the end of the law for righteousness, Rom. 10:4. The doctrine of our reconciliation to God by a Mediator is not clouded with the smoke of burning sacrifices, but cleared by the knowledge of Christ and him crucified. 2. That we are not under the heavy yoke of the law, and the carnal ordinances of it (as the apostle calls them, Heb. 9:10), imposed till the time of reformation, a yoke which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear (Acts 15:10), but under the sweet and easy institutions of the gospel, which pronounces those the true worshippers that worship the Father in spirit and truth, by Christ only, and in his name, who is our priest, temple, altar, sacrifice, purification, and all. Let us not therefore think that because we are not tied to the ceremonial cleansings, feasts, and oblations, a little care, time, and expense, will serve to honour God with. No, but rather have our hearts more enlarge with free-will offerings to his praise, more inflamed with holy love and joy, and more engaged in seriousness of thought and sincerity of intention. Having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near with a true heart, and full assurance of faith, worshipping God with so much the more cheerfulness and humble confidence, still saying, Blessed be God for Jesus Christ!