Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Deuteronomy
Book: Deuteronomy
Chapter: 4

Earnest exhortations to obedience, and dissuasives from
Idolatry. (1-23) Warnings against disobedience, and promises of
Mercy. (24-40) Cities of Refuge appointed. (41-49)

1-23 The power and Love of God to Israel are here made the
ground and reason of a number of cautions and serious warnings;
and although there is much reference to their national Covenant,
yet all may be applied to those who live under the Gospel. What
are laws made for but to be observed and obeyed? Our obedience
as individuals cannot merit Salvation; but it is the only
evidence that we are partakers of the Gift of God, which is
eternal Life through Jesus Christ. Considering how many
temptations we are compassed with, and what corrupt desires we
have in our bosoms, we have great need to keep our hearts with
all diligence. Those cannot walk aright, who walk carelessly.
Moses charges particularly to take heed of the Sin of Idolatry.
He shows how weak the Temptation would be to those who thought
aright; for these pretended gods, the Sun, Moon, and Stars, were
only blessings which the Lord their God had imparted to all
nations. It is absurd to Worship them; shall we serve those that
were made to serve us? Take heed lest ye forget the Covenant of
the Lord your God. We must take heed lest at any time we forget
our religion. Care, caution, and watchfulness, are Helps against
a bad memory.

24-40 Moses urged the greatness, Glory, and Goodness of God.
Did we consider what a God he is with whom we have to do, we
should surely make Conscience of our duty to him, and not dare
to Sin against him. Shall we forsake a merciful God, who will
never forsake us, if we are Faithful unto him? Whither can we
go? Let us be held to our duty By the bonds of Love, and
prevailed with By the mercies of God to cleave to him. Moses
urged God's authority over them, and their obligations to him.
In keeping God's Commandments they would act wisely for
themselves. The fear of the Lord, that is Wisdom. Those who
enjoy the benefit of Divine Light and laws, ought to support
their character for Wisdom and honour, that God may be glorified
thereby. Those who Call upon God, shall certainly find him
within Call, ready to give an answer of peace to every Prayer of
Faith. All these statutes and judgments of the Divine Law are
just and righteous, above the statutes and judgments of any of
the nations. What they saw at Mount Sinai, gave an Earnest of
the Day of Judgment, in which the Lord Jesus shall be revealed
in flaming Fire. They must also remember what they heard at
Mount Sinai. God manifests himself in the Works of the Creation,
without speech or language, yet their voice is heard, Ps
19:1,3; but to Israel he made himself known By speech and
language, condescending to their weakness. The rise of this
nation was quite different from the origin of all other nations.
See the reasons of free Grace; we are not beloved for our own
sakes, but for Christ's sake. Moses urged the certain benefit
and advantage of obedience. This argument he had begun with,
ver. 1, That ye may live, and go in and possess the land; and
this he concludes with, ver. 40, That it may go Well with
thee, and with thy children after thee. He reminds them that
their prosperity would depend upon their Piety. Apostasy from
God would undoubtedly be the ruin of their nation. He foresees
their revolt from God to idols. Those, and those only, shall
find God to their comfort, who seek him with all their Heart.
Afflictions engage and quicken us to seek God; and, By the Grace
of God working with them, many are thus brought back to their
right mind. When these things are come upon thee, turn to the
Lord thy God, for thou seest what comes of turning from him. Let
all the arguments be laid together, and then say, if religion
has not reason On its side. None cast off the government of
their God, but those who first abandon the understanding of a

41-49 Here is the introduction to another discourse, or sermon,
Moses preached to Israel, which we have in the following
chapters. He sets the Law before them, as the rule they were to
work By, the way they were to walk in. He sets it before them,
as the Glass in which they were to see their natural Face, that,
looking into this perfect Law of liberty, they might continue
therein. These are the laws, given when Israel was newly come
out of Egypt; and they were now repeated. Moses gave these laws
in charge, while they encamped over against Beth-Peor, an Idol
place of the Moabites. Their present triumphs were a powerful
argument for obedience. And we should understand our own
situation as sinners, and the nature of that gracious Covenant
to which we are invited. Therein greater things are shown to us
than ever Israel saw from Mount Sinai; greater mercies are given
to us than they experienced in the Wilderness, or in Canaan. One
speaks to us, who is of infinitely greater dignity than Moses;
who bare our sins upon the Cross; and pleads with us By His
dying Love.