Bible Book List
Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 8–17
Verses 8–17

Still Moses urges the same subject, as loth to conclude till he had gained his point. “If thou wilt enter into life, if thou wilt enter into Canaan, a type of that life, and find it a good land indeed to thee, keep the commandments: Keep all the commandments which I command you this day; love God, and serve him with all your heart.”

I. Because this was the way to get and keep possession of the promised land. 1. It was the way to get possession (Deut. 11:8): That you may be strong for war, and so go in and possess it. So little did they know either of hardship or hazard in the wars of Canaan that he does not say they should go in and fight for it; no, they had nothing in effect to do but go in and possess it. He does not go about to teach them the art of war, how to draw the bow, and use the sword, and keep ranks, that they might be strong, and go in and possess the land; no, but let them keep God’s commandments, and their religion, while they are true to it, will be their strength, and secure their success. (2.) It was the way to keep possession (Deut. 11:9): That you may prolong your days in this land that your eye is upon. Sin tends to the shortening of the days of particular persons and to the shortening of the days of a people’s prosperity; but obedience will be a lengthening out of their tranquillity.

II. Because the land of Canaan, into which they were going, had a more sensible dependence upon the blessing of heaven than the land of Egypt had, Deut. 11:10-12. Egypt was a country fruitful enough, but it was all flat, and was watered, not as other countries with rain (it is said of Egypt, Zech. 14:18; that it has no rain), but by the overflowing of the river Nile at a certain season of the year, to the improving of which there was necessary a great deal of the art and labour of the husbandman, so that in Egypt a man must bestow as much cost and pains upon a field as upon a garden of herbs. And this made them the more apt to imagine that the power of their own hands got them this wealth. But the land of Canaan was an uneven country, a land of hills and valleys, which not only gave a more pleasing prospect to the eye, but yielded a greater variety of soils for the several purposes of the husbandman. It was a land that had no great rivers in it, except Jordan, but drank water of the rain of heaven, and so, 1. Saved them a great deal of labour. While the Egyptians were ditching and guttering in the fields, up to the knees in mud, to bring water to their land, which otherwise would soon become like the heath in the wilderness, the Israelites could sit in their houses, warm and easy, and leave it to God to water their land with the former and the latter rain, which is called the river of God (Ps. 65:9), perhaps in allusion to, and contempt of, the river of Egypt, which that nation was so proud of. Note, The better God has provided, by our outward condition, for our ease and convenience, the more we should abound in his service: the less we have to do for our bodies the more we should do for God and our souls. 2. So he directed them to look upwards to God, who giveth us rain form heaven and fruitful seasons (Acts 14:17), and promised to be himself as the dew unto Israel, Hos. 14:5. Note, (1.) Mercies bring with them the greatest comfort and sweetness when we see them coming from heaven, the immediate gifts of divine Providence. (2.) The closer dependence we have upon God the more cheerful we should be in our obedience to him. See how Moses here magnifies the land of Canaan above all other lands, that the eyes of God were always upon it, that is, they should be so, to see that nothing was wanting, while they kept close to God and duty; its fruitfulness should be not so much the happy effect of its soil as the immediate fruit of the divine blessing; this may be inferred from its present state, for it is said to be at this day, now that God has departed from it, as barren a spot of ground as perhaps any under heaven. Call it not Naomi: call it Marah.

III. Because God would certainly bless them with an abundance of all good things if they would love him and serve him (Deut. 11:13-15): I will give you the rain of your land in due season, so that they should neither want it when the ground called for it nor have it in excess; but they should have the former rain, which fell at seed-time, and the latter rain, which fell before the harvest, Amos 4:7. This represented all the seasonable blessings which God would bestow upon them, especially spiritual comforts, which should come as the latter and former, rain, Hos. 6:3. And the earth thus watered produced, 1. Fruits for the service of man, corn and wine, and oil, Ps. 104:13-15. 2. Grass for the cattle, that they also might be serviceable to man, that he might eat of them and be full, Deut. 11:15. Godliness hath here the promise of the life that now is; but the favour of God shall put gladness into the heart, more than the increase of corn, and wine, and oil will.

IV. Because their revolt from God to idols. would certainly be their ruin: Take heed that your hearts be not deceived, Deut. 11:16, 17. All that forsake God to set their affection upon, or pay their devotion to, any creature, will find themselves wretchedly deceived to their own destruction; and this will aggravate it that it was purely for want of taking heed. A little care would have prevented their being imposed upon by the great deceiver. To awaken them to take heed, Moses here tells them plainly that if they should turn aside to other gods, 1. They would provoke the wrath of God against them; and who knows the power of that anger? 2. Good things would be turned away from them; the heaven would withhold its rain, and then of course the earth would not yield its fruit. 3. Evil things would come upon them; they would perish quickly form off this good land. And the better the land was the more grievous it would be to perish from it. The goodness of the land would not be their security, when the badness of the inhabitants had made them ripe for ruin.