Deuteronomy 8:1. All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.
Observe, dear friends, that the Lord demands of his people universal obedience to his commands: “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do.” Christians, although they are not under the law, are under the sweet constraints of love; and that love incites them to complete obedience, so that they desire to leave undone nothing which the Lord commands. And this obedience is to be careful as well as complete: “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do;” not only do them, but do them with care. When the commandment applies to a certain duty, obey it in full, both in the letter and in the spirit, for there are numerous and weighty blessings attached to obedience, — not of merit, but of grace. If we walk carefully in the fear of God, we shall find that in keeping his commandments there is great reward.
Deuteronomy 8:2. And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
It is well to have a good memory, and that is the best memory which remembers what is best worth remembering. There are many things which we would gladly forget, yet we find it hard to forget them; they often rise up at most inappropriate times, and we loathe ourselves to think that we should ever recollect them at all. But, whatever we forget, we ought always to remember what God has done for us. This should excite our gratitude, create deep humility, and foster our faith both for the present and the future: “Thou shalt remember all the way which Jehovah thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness” If forty years of the Lord’s leading should make some of us bless his holy name, what ought you to do, my brethren, who, perhaps, are getting near the fourscore years? What praise and gratitude should be rendered by you to him who has led you all your life long! See what God intends to accomplish by our wilderness experience. It is, first, to “humble” us. Has it had that effect? Then it is to “prove” us. Ah, I am afraid it has had that result, and has proved what poor wretched creatures we are! That has been proved in our experience again and again. It is, also that it may be known what is in our heart, whether we will keep God’s commandments, or not.
Deuteronomy 8:3. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, —
What a wonderful sequence there is in these short sentences! “He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger,” and one would think that the next sentence would be, “and allowed thee to starve.” No; it is, “and fed thee with manna.” They had the better appetite for the manna, and were the more ready to see the hand of God in sending the manna, because of that humbling and hunger which God had previously suffered them to endure. “Fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not.” The very name by which they called it was, “Manna,” or, “What is this?” “for they wist not what it was.” “And fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not.”
Deuteronomy 8:3. Neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
God can make us live on bread, if it be sanctified by the Word of God and prayer; he does make our souls to live upon his Word. He could, if so it pleased him, make our bodies live by that Word without any outward sustenance whatever.
Deuteronomy 8:4. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.
What a wonderful experience the Israelites had in the wilderness! They were always fed, though in a waste howling wilderness, dry and barren. They always had water following them from that stream which flowed out of the flinty rock, from Which you might sooner have expected to strike fire than to obtain water. And as for their garments, they did not wear out. They had no shops to go to, and they were unable to make new clothes in the wilderness, on account of their frequent moving to and fro; yet were they always clad; and, though they were a host of weary pilgrims, marching backwards and forwards for forty years, yet their feet did not swell. Oh, what a mercy that was! “He keepeth the feet of his saints.” Has it not been so with you also, dear friends? You have said, “What shall I do if I live so long, and if I have to bear so many troubles, and make so many marches through the very valley of the shadow of death?” What will you do? Why, you will do as you have done! Trust in God, and go on. You shall be fed, and you shall be upheld even unto the end.
Deuteronomy 8:5. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, —
Note that we are not only to remember God’s dealings with us, but we are to consider them, to ponder them, to weigh them. “Consider in thine heart,” —
Deuteronomy 8:5. That, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.
Do I speak to anyone who is just now under the rod? “Consider in thine heart” then, that God is dealing with you as a father deals with his sons, “for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” How would you like to be dealt with? Would you rather be without the rod? Then remember that “if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” Do you wish to be treated so? I am sure you do not; you wish to have the children’s portion; so you say, “Deal with me, Lord, as thou art wont to do with those that fear thy name. We are willing to have the rod of the covenant for the sake of the covenant to which it belongs.
Deuteronomy 8:6-8. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
This also is the experience of the child of God; in one sense, in heaven; but in another, and perhaps a truer sense, even here below. “We which have believed do enter into rest.” By faith, we take possession of the promised land; and when a Christian gets out of the wilderness experience of doubting and fearing, and comes into the Canaan experience of a simple faith and a fully assured trust, then he comes “into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;” for God gives to his people not only all they need, but something more. He gives them, not only necessaries, but also luxuries, delights, and joys.
Deuteronomy 8:9. A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it;
When you live in communion with God, and he brings you into the full enjoyment of the covenant blessings, then there is no scarceness with you, there is no lack of anything.
Deuteronomy 8:9. A land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
Or, copper. Silver and gold they had none; but then the princes of Sheba and Seba were to offer them gifts, and bring them their gold and their silver. But if they had nothing for show, they had plenty for use, for iron is a great deal more useful metal than gold; and the copper, which they hardened into brass, was of much more service to them than silver would have been. God will furnish you, dear brother, with all the weapons you need for the Holy War; there may be no gold and silver ornaments for your pride, but there shall be iron instruments to help you in your conflict with your adversaries.
Deuteronomy 8:10. When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.
God permits his people to eat, and to be full; but, when they are so, they must take care that they do not become proud, and that they do not begin to ascribe their profiting to themselves.
Deuteronomy 8:11. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
Whenever we see the word “Beware” in the Bible, we may be sure that there is something to beware of. The point here to note is, that our times of prosperity are times of danger. I remember that Mr. Whitefield once asked the prayers of the congregation “for a young gentleman in very dangerous circumstances,” for he had just come into a fortune of ₤5,000. Then is the time when prayer is needed even more than in seasons of depression and of loss.
Deuteronomy 8:12-16. Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
Why do we get these passages repeated? Surely it is because we have such slippery memories, and the Lord has to tell his children the same thing over and over again: “precept upon precept: line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little;” because we so soon forget.
Deuteronomy 8:17-20. And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish;
“If you sin as they do, you shall fare as they do.”
Deuteronomy 8:20. Because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.