Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Numbers
Book: Numbers
Chapter: 9

Of the Passover. (1-14) The removals of the Israelites.

1-14 God gave particular orders for the keeping of this
Passover, and, for aught that appears, after this, they kept No
Passover till they came to Canaan, Jos 5:10. It early showed
that the ceremonial institutions were not to continue always, as
So soon after they were appointed, some were suffered to sleep
for many years. But the ordinance of the Lord's Supper was not
thus set aside in the first days of the Christian Church,
although those were days of greater difficulty and distress than
Israel knew in the Wilderness; nay, in the times of Persecution,
the Lord's Supper was celebrated more frequently than afterward.
Israelites in the Wilderness could not forget the deliverance
out of Egypt. There was danger of this when they came to Canaan.
Instructions were given concerning those who were ceremonially
unclean, when they were to eat the Passover. Those whose minds
and consciences are defiled By Sin, are unfit for Communion with
God, and cannot partake with comfort of the Gospel Passover,
till they are cleansed By true Repentance and Faith. Observe
with what trouble and concern these men complained that they
were kept back from Offering to the Lord. It should be a trouble
to us, when By any occasion we are kept back from the
solemnities of a Sabbath or a sacrament. Observe the
deliberation of Moses in resolving this case. Ministers must ask
counsel of God's mouth, not determine according to their own
fancy or Affection, but according to the Word of God to the best
of their knowledge. And if, in difficult cases, time is taken to
spread the matter before God By humble, believing Prayer, the
Holy Spirit assuredly will direct in the good and right way. God
gave directions in this case, and in other similar cases,
explanatory of the Law of the Passover. As those who, against
their minds, are forced to absent themselves from God's
ordinances, may expect the favours of God's Grace under their
affliction, So those who, of choice, absent themselves, may
expect God's wrath for their Sin. Be not deceived: God is not

15-23 This Cloud was appointed to be the visible sign and
symbol of God's presence with Israel. Thus we are taught to see
God always near us, both night and Day. As long as the Cloud
rested On the Tabernacle, So long they continued in the same
place. There is No time lost, while we are waiting God's time.
When the Cloud was taken up, they removed, however comfortably
they were encamped. We are kept at uncertainty concerning the
time of our putting off the earthly House of this Tabernacle,
that we may be always ready to remove at the command of the
Lord. It is very safe and pleasant going when we see God before
us, and resting where he appoints us to Rest. The leading of
this Cloud is spoken of as signifying the guidance of the
blessed Spirit. We are not now to expect such tokens of the
Divine presence and guidance; but the promise is sure to all
God's spiritual Israel, that he will guide them By his counsel.

Ps 73:24, even unto Death, Ps 48:14. All the children of God
shall be led By the Spirit of God, Ro 8:14. He will direct the
paths of those who in all their ways acknowledge him, Pr 3:6.
At the commandment of the Lord, our hearts should always move
and Rest, saying, Father, thy will be done; dispose of me and
Mine as thou pleasest. What thou wilt, and where thou wilt; only
let me be thine, and always in the way of my duty. In applying
general precepts to particular circumstances, there should be
good counsel and fervent Prayer. When any undertaking is
evidently wrong, or doubtfully right, and yet the mind leans
that way, in such a case "the moving of the Cloud," as men
sometimes miscall it, is generally No more than a Temptation
Satan is permitted to propose; and men fancy they are following
the Lord, when they are following their own wayward
inclinations. The record of his Mercy will conduct us with
unerring Truth, through Christ, to Everlasting peace. Follow the
Pillar of the Cloud and of Fire. Lay the Bible to Heart, and
receive with Meekness the ingrafted Word, which is able to save
your souls.