Mercies promised to the repentant. (Verse 1-10.)
The commandment manifest. (Verse 11-14.)
Death and life set before them. (Verse 15-20.)
1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
Dispersion for disobedience (cf. Deuteronomy 28:63-68).
2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
Future repentance while in dispersion (Isaiah 55:6,7; Jeremiah 29:13; Joel 2:12,13)
3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
This must refer to a more extensive captivity than that which they suffered in Babylon.
4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
[Matt 24:29-31, 1st Thess 4:16, 17]
This verse forms the foundation of the future promise of God to gather ALL of the Jews that have been scattered around the world back to Israel at the end of the tribulation period.
5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
As this promise refers to a return from a captivity in which they had been scattered among all nations, consequently it is not the Babylonian captivity which is intended and the repossession of their land must be different from that which was consequent on their return from Babylon
6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
National conversion. This promise remains yet to be fulfilled. Their heart, as a people, has never yet been circumcised nor have the various promises in this chapter been every yet fulfilled. The law made no provision for the circumcision of the heart, which implies the remission of sins and purification of the soul from all unrighteousness. And, as circumcision itself was only a sign of spiritual good, consequently the promise here refers to the days of the Messiah and to this all the prophets and all the apostles give witness (Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11,12). These promises cannot be fulfilled to the Jews but in their acceptance of the Messiah (Amos 9:9-15; Romans 11:26,27
7 And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
8 And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.
following this regathering, we find the promise of the future salvation of all Israel
9 And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:
The future of Israel and Israel’s enemies. Should we pray for them? (Psalm 122:6)
10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
thus we find the promised availability of God’s words; the average Christian does not have to be educated in Greek or Hebrew to understand God’s words – all that is needed is salvation, literacy and the guidance of God’s Spirit!
15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
“God…is thy life”
The final warning. “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you (to comprehend or perform) neither is it far off” (verse 11). “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me (Moses) from among you, from your brothers – it is to him you shall listen… I (God) will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all I command him” (Deuteronomy 18:15,18). Note Micah 5:2 – He is to be born in Bethlehem of Judea. Note how Paul interprets this passage (especially verses 12-14) in Romans 10:1-9. “Life and good” (verse 15) present future blessings and “death and evil” present future miseries. Were there no such thing as free will in man these sayings could not be reconciled with sincerity. God has made the human will free. Hence man is responsible for his actions because they are his. Hence he can be rewarded and he can
be punished. Without love there can be no obedience (verse 20). Without obedience love is fruitless and dead. “Holding fast to Him” – temporary love and obedience will ultimately fail.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-10 – In this chapter is a plain intimation of the mercy God has in store for Israel in the latter days. This passage refers to the prophetic warnings of the last two chapters, which have been mainly fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and in their dispersion to the present day; and there can be no doubt that the prophetic promise contained in these verses yet remain to come to pass. The Jewish nation shall in some future period, perhaps not very distant, be converted to the faith of Christ; and, many think, again settled in the land of Canaan. The language here used is in a great measure absolute promises; not merely a conditional engagement, but declaring an event assuredly to take place. For the Lord himself here engages to “circumcise their hearts;” and when regenerating grace has removed corrupt nature, and Divine love has supplanted the love of sin, they certainly will reflect, repent, return to God, and obey him; and he will rejoice in doing them good. The change that will be wrought upon them will not be only outward, or consisting in mere opinions; it will reach to their souls. It will produce in them an utter hatred of all sin, and a fervent love to God, as their reconciled God in Christ Jesus; they will love him with all their hearts, and with all their soul. They are very far from this state of mind at present, but so were the murderers of the Lord Jesus, on the day of Pentecost; who yet in one hour were converted unto God. So shall it be in the day of God’s power; a nation shall be born in a day; the Lord will hasten it in his time. As a conditional promise this passage belongs to all persons and all people, not to Israel only; it assures us that the greatest sinners, if they repent and are converted, shall have their sins pardoned, and be restored to God’s favour.
Verse 11-14 – The law is not too high for thee. It is not only known afar off; it is not confined to men of learning. It is written in thy books, made plain, so that he who runs may read it. It is in thy mouth, in the tongue commonly used by thee, in which thou mayest hear it read, and talk of it among thy children. It is delivered so that it is level to the understanding of the meanest. This is especially true of the gospel of Christ, to which the apostle applies it. But the word is nigh us, and Christ in that word; so that if we believe with the heart, that the promises of the Messiah are fulfilled in our Lord Jesus, and confess them with our mouth, we then have Christ with us.
Verse 15-20 – What could be said more moving, and more likely to make deep and lasting impressions? Every man wishes to obtain life and good, and to escape death and evil; he desires happiness, and dreads misery. So great is the compassion of the Lord, that he has favoured men, by his word, with such a knowledge of good and evil as will make them for ever happy, if it be not their own fault. Let us hear the sum of the whole matter. If they and theirs would love God, and serve him, they should live and be happy. If they or theirs should turn from God, desert his service, and worship other gods, that would certainly be their ruin. There never was, since the fall of man, more than one way to heaven; which is marked out in both Testaments, though not with equal clearness. Moses meant that same way of acceptance, which Paul more plainly described; and Paul’s words mean the same obedience, on which Moses more fully treated. In both Testaments the good and right way is brought near, and plainly revealed to us.