3. Because I will publish the name of the Lord. He signifies by these words that, if there were any spark of piety in the Israelites, it must be manifested by their welcoming this address, wherein the majesty of God shines forth. The first clause of the verse, therefore, stands last in order, since it is an assignment of a reason for the other. For when he exhorts them that they should ascribe to God the glory He deserves, he inculcates upon them obedience and attention, as if he had said that, unless they reverently submit themselves to his teaching, God would be defrauded of this due honor; and this he confirms by adding as a reason that he will sincerely and faithfully publish the name of God. For the word invokef250 is not used here as in many other passages, but is equivalent to making a profession of God. Moses, then, declares himself to be His proclaimer, in order that, under cover of His most Holy name, he may awaken attention to his words.
4. … His work is perfect. Those who take these expressions generally, and without particular reference to this passage, not only obscure their meaning, but also lessen the force of the doctrine they contain. Let us, then, understand that the perfection of God’s works, the rectitude of His ways, etc., are contrasted with the rebellion of the people; for if there were anything f251 in God’s works imperfect and in arranged, if His mode of dealing were deficient in rectitude, if His truth were doubtful; if, in a word, there were anything wanting, then there would have been a natural excuse why the people should have sought for something better than they found in Him, since the desire of obtaining that which is best is deserving of no reprehension. Lest, then, the Israelites should offer any such pretext, Moses anticipates them. Before he begins to treat of the wicked ingratitude of the people, he lays down this principle, that they were not induced to transfer their affections elsewhere by any deficiency in God. The general statement is indeed true in itself, and may be applied to various purposes; but we must consider what the object of Moses here is, namely, to remove from the people every pretext for their impious and perfidious rebellion, and this in order that their amazing folly may be more apparent, when they forsake the fountain of living waters, and hew them out cisterns with holes in them, as God himself complains in <240213>Jeremiah 2:13. We perceive therefore, that every honorable distinction which is here attributed to God, brands the people with a corresponding mark of ignominy, in that they had knowingly and voluntarily deprived themselves of the plenitude of all good things, which might have been enjoyed by them had they not alienated themselves from God.
God’s work is spoken of, not only with reference to the creation of the world, but to the whole course of His providence; as if it were said that nothing could be discovered in God’s works which could be found fault with.
Now this perfection is not perceptible in every individual thing, for even vermin are God’s creatures; and amongst men some are blind, some lame, some deaf, and others mutilated in one of their members; and many fruits also never arrive at maturity. Yet we plainly see that it is foolish and misplaced to bring forward such questions as these as objections to the perfection of God, here celebrated by Moses, inasmuch as the very defects and blemishes of our bodies tend to this object, that God’s glory may be made manifest. (<430903>John 9:3.)
The next statement, that all his ways are right,f252conveys a similar truth; for it is well known that the word fpçm, mishphat, is used for rectitude, and works and ways are synonymous.
The latter part of the verse is a confirmation of the former part, since Moses signifies in both that all who censure God may be clearly convicted of petulant impiety, since supreme justice shines forth in all His acts.
The words I have rendered, “Godis truth,” others construe with the genitive case, “aGod of truth.” Either is true, and agreeable to the usage of Scripture; but the apposition is more emphatic, which declares that God is not only true, but the Truth itself. At any rate, this applies to the persons who pay entire allegiance to the word of God, for their expectations shall never be frustrated. Thus the people are indirectly reproved for their unbelief, in that they deserted God, whose faithfulness was not only tried and proved, but who is the very fountain of truth.
Although what follows, that there is no iniquity in God, seems to some to have but little force, it is nevertheless of great importance; for we well know how often men are so absurd in their subterfuges, as in a manner to arraign God instead of themselves; and although they do not dare to accuse Him openly, still they do not hesitate to acquit themselves, and thus to cast direct obloquy upon Him. Elsewhere, therefore, God inquires by His Prophet, “what iniquity the people had found in Him?” (<240205>Jeremiah 2:5,) and in another place expostulates with them, because He was loaded with their hatred and abuse, as if He dealt unjustly with such sinners. (<261802>Ezekiel 18:2,5.) When, therefore, He vindicates Himself from such calumnies, it follows that no blame attaches itself to Him, but that the wickedness of those who turn away from Him is abundantly condemned.
5. They have corrupted themselves. Moses now inveighs unhesitatingly against the perfidy of the people, and gives loose to the most unmeasured upbraidings; for if God be just and true, then it was plain enough that the Israelites were a depraved and perverse nation. This perverse nation, he says, has corrupted itself towards Him, namely Him, whom he has just lauded for His perfect justice and faithfulness; and he accuses them of having basely prostituted to every sort of sin the chastity which they had promised to God. There is no doubt but that they were sorely wounded by these epithets, and would have been transported with rage, had they not seen that God’s incomparable servant, when he had now been called upon to die by God’s command, spoke as it were from heaven. The voice, therefore, of the dying man restrained their pride, so that they did not now dare to oppose him as a mortal; and afterwards, when the condemnation had been assented to by public authority, and by general accord, they were less at liberty to vent their madness against it. He introduces, by way of anticipation, the statement that they were not His children; for else they might obviously have made the objection that the sacred race of Abraham, which God had adopted, should be dealt with less reproachfully. Moses, therefore, declares that they are not children, because they are a perverse nation. For although their adoption always stood firm, still its efficacy was restricted to the elect part of them, so that God, without breaking His covenant, might reject the general body. But to explain the matter more clearly, it must be borne in mind that the Spirit, on different grounds, at one time assigns the name of God’s children to hypocrites, at another takes it away; for sometimes it is an aggravation of their criminality, when they are called the children of Abraham and Jacob as well as of God, an instance of which will soon occur. Here, however, in order that they may cease to glory without cause, they are said not to be children, because they are degenerate, and therefore disinherited by God, so as no longer to retain their honorable position. In this sense Moses declares that they are not children, as having cast off God from being their Father. It is added this was done with their spot (or disgrace; f253 ) unless it be thought preferable to take it that. they were corrupted by their spots, or by their sins, to which I willingly assent; although I do not reject the other sense, namely, that their alienation from God had rendered them ignominious, or that they had contracted the stain of disgrace by their faithlessness.
6. Do ye thus requite the Lord. In order to expose the ingratitude of the people to greater infamy, he now begins to commemorate the benefits whereby God had laid them under obligation to Himself: for the more liberally God deals with us, the more earnest ought to be the piety awakened in our hearts; nay, His goodness, as soon as we have tasted of it, ought to draw us at once to Him. Now God, although he has been always bountiful towards the whole human race,had, in a peculiar manner showered down an immense abundance of His bounty upon that people; this, then, Moses alleges, and shows how basely ungrateful they had been. He first expostulates with them interrogatively, asking them whether this was a fitting return for God’s especial blessings; and then proceeds to enumerate them. He inquires of them, then, whether God was not their father, from the time when He had honored them with the distinction of His adoption: and under this single head he comprehends many things, because from this source proceeded whatever blessings God had conferred upon them. Not, however, to examine every point with the accuracy it deserves, what more binding obligation could be imagined than that God should have chosen one nation for Himself out of the whole world, whose father He should be by special privilege? For, although all human beings, since they were created in the image of God, are sometimes called His children, still to be accounted His children was the special privilege of the sons of Abraham. And, in order to prove that this was not a natural, but an acquired dignity, Moses immediately afterwards explains in what way God was their Father: viz., that he purchased, made, and prepared them. The foundation and origin, then, was the gratuitous good pleasure of God, when He took them to be His own peculiar people. Elsewhere, indeed, His second purchase of them is mentioned, when He redeemed them from Egypt; here, however, Moses goes back farther, viz., to the covenant made with Abraham, whereby they were separated from other nations, as will presently more clearly appear. I reject, as not in harmony with the context, the translation which some give of the word, hnq, kanah, i.e., to possess.f254
In the same sense it is added, that they were made by God: which does not. refer to the general creation, but only to the privilege of adoption, whereby they became God’s new work, and in which another form was imparted to them; in which sense also He is called their framer, or Maker. Elsewhere, also, when the Prophet says,
“Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves,” (<19A003>Psalm 100:3,)
he undoubtedly magnifies that special prerogative, whereby God had distinguished the sons of Abraham above all other races. For, since the fall of Adam had brought disgrace upon all his posterity, God restores those, whom He separates as His own, so that their condition may be better than that of all other nations. At the same time it must be remarked, that this grace of renewal is effaced in many who have afterwards profaned it. Consequently the Church is called God’s work and creation, in two senses, i.e.,generally with respect to its outward calling, and specially with respect to spiritual regeneration, as far as regards the elect; for the covenant of grace is common to hypocrites and true believers. On this ground all whom God gathers into His Church, are indiscriminately said to be renewed and regenerated: but the internal renovation belongs to believers only; whom Paul, therefore, calls God’s “workmanship, created unto good works, which God hath prepared,”etc. (<490210>Ephesians 2:10.) The same is the tendency of the third word, which may, however, be taken for to “establish;” f255 although I have preferred to follow the more received sense, viz, that God had prepared His people, as the artificer fashions and fits his work.