Moses, having mentioned the great plenty they would find in the land of Canaan, finds it necessary to caution them against the abuse of that plenty, which was a sin they would be the more prone to new that they came into the vineyard of the Lord, immediately out of a barren desert.
I. He directs them to the duty of a prosperous condition, Deut. 8:10. They are allowed to eat even to fulness, not to surfeiting no excess; but let them always remember their benefactor, the founder of their feast, and never fail to give thanks after meat: Then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God. 1. They must take heed of eating or drinking so much as to indispose themselves for this duty of blessing God, rather aiming to serve God therein with so much the more cheerfulness and enlargement. 2. They must not have any fellowship with those that, when they had eaten and were full, blessed false gods, as the Israelites themselves had done in their worship of the golden calf, Exod. 32:6. 3. Whatever they had the comfort of God must have the glory of. As our Saviour has taught us to bless before we eat (Matt. 14:19, 20), so we are here taught to bless after meat. That is our Hosannah—God bless; this is our Hallelujah—Blessed be God. In every thing we must give thanks. From this law the religious Jews took up a laudable usage of blessing God, not only at their solemn meals, but upon other occasions; if they drank a cup of wine they lifted up their hands and said, Blessed be he that created the fruit of the vine to make glad the heart. If they did but smell at a flower, they said, Blessed be he that made this flower sweet. 4. When they gave thanks for the fruits of the land they must give thanks for the fruits of the land itself, which was given them by promise From all our comfortable enjoyments we must take occasion to thank God for our comfortable settlements; and I know not but we of this nation have as much reason as they had to give thanks for a good land.
II. He arms them against the temptations of a prosperous condition, and charges them to stand upon their guard against them: “When thou art settled in goodly houses of thy own building,” Deut. 8:12 (for though God gave them houses which they builded not, Deut. 6:10; these would not serve them, they must have larger and finer),—“and when thou hast grown rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold (Deut. 8:13), as Abraham (Gen. 13:2),—when all thou hast is multiplied,” 1. “Then take heed of pride. Beware lest then thy heart be lifted up,” Deut. 8:14. When the estate rises, the mind is apt to rise with it, in self-conceit, self-complacency, and self-confidence. Let us therefore strive to keep the spirit low in a high condition; humility is both the ease and the ornament of prosperity. Take heed of saying, so much as in thy heart, that proud word, My power, even the might of my hand, hath gotten me this wealth, Deut. 8:17. Note, We must never take the praise of our prosperity to ourselves, nor attribute it to our ingenuity or industry; for bread is not always to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, Eccl. 9:11. It is spiritual idolatry thus to sacrifice to our own net, Hab. 1:16. 2. “Then take heed of forgetting God.” This follows upon the lifting up on the heart; for it is through the pride of the countenance that the wicked seek not after God, Ps. 10:4. Those that admire themselves despise God. (1.) “Forget not thy duty to God.” Deut. 8:11. We forget God if we keep not his commandments; we forget his authority over us, and our obligations to him and expectations from him, if we are not obedient to his laws. When men grow rich they are tempted to think religion a needless thing. They are happy without it, think it a thing below them and too hard upon them. Their dignity forbids them to stoop, and their liberty forbids them to serve. But we are basely ungrateful if the better God is to us the worse we are to him. (2.) “Forget not God’s former dealings with thee. Thy deliverance out of Egypt, Deut. 8:14. The provision he made for thee in the wilderness, that great and terrible wilderness.” They must never forget the impressions which the horror of that wilderness made upon them; see Jer. 2:6; where it is called the very shadow of death. There God preserved them from being destroyed by the fiery serpents and scorpions, though sometimes he made use of them for their correction: there he kept them from perishing for want of water, following them with water out of a rock of flint (Deut. 8:15), out of which (says bishop Patrick) one would rather have expected fire than water. There he fed them with manna, of which before (Deut. 8:3), taking care to keep them alive, that he might do them good at their latter end, Deut. 8:16. Note, God reserves the best till the last for his Israel. However he may seem to deal hardly with them by the way, he will not fail to do them good at their latter end. (3.) “Forget not God’s hand in thy present prosperity, Deut. 8:18. Remember it is he that giveth thee wealth; for he giveth thee power to get wealth.” See here how God’s giving and our getting are reconciled, and apply it to spiritual wealth. It is our duty to get wisdom, and above all our gettings to get understanding; and yet it is God’s grace that gives wisdom, and when we have got it we must not say, It was the might of our hand that got it, but must own it was God that gave us power to get it, and therefore to him we must give the praise and consecrate the use of it. The blessing of the Lord on the hand of the diligent makes rich both for this world and for the other. He giveth thee power to get wealth, not so much to gratify thee, and make thee easy, as that he may establish his covenant. All God’s gifts are in pursuance of his promises.
III. He repeats the fair warning he had often given them of the fatal consequences of their apostasy from God, Deut. 8:19, 20. Observe, 1. How he describes the sin; it is forgetting God, and then worshipping other gods. What wickedness will not those fall into that keep thoughts of God out of their minds? And, when once the affections are displaced from God, they will soon be misplaced upon lying vanities. 2. How he denounces wrath and ruin against them for it: “If you do so, you shall surely perish, and the power and might of your hands, which you are so proud of, cannot help you. Nay, you shall perish as the nations that are driven out before you. God will make no more account of you, notwithstanding his covenant with you and your relation to him, than he does of them, if you will not be obedient and faithful to him.” Those that follow others in sin will certainly follow them to destruction. If we do as sinners do, we must expect to fare as sinners fare.