A Solemn Charge

Deuteronomy 4:1-9

"Thy words rule men a statute ne'er have ruled,
Not penalty but conscience gives them power;
Men find out soon or late themselves befooled,
And bruised and broken seek Thy Spirit's dower.
How have Thy words up-flamed as into swords,
How have they gone straight to the world's great heart,
How freedom thence has fetched her battle words,
How Thy word-pictures glorified all art. "

"O Israel, thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deuteronomy 4:1-2). This is a very clear evidence of inspiration. The statutes and judgments taught by Moses were the authoritative words of God. As Newberry points out, the I's of Moses here are emphatic in the Hebrew. He speaks in God's stead. This Paul declares in writing to the Hebrews (chap. Deuteronomy 1:1). This solemn charge to keep the words of God comes loudly and urgently upon us to-day. Several reasons are given for this.

I. Because they are Powerful. They-

1. Bring Life. "Do them, that ye may live" (Deuteronomy 4:1). Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life, begotten by the incorruptible Word of God.

2. Secure an Inheritance. "That ye may go in and possess. " It is by laying hold of His promise that the soul enters into the possession of the inheritance provided and offered. "Thy Word was found, and I did eat it, and it became the joy and rejoicing of my heart. " The hungry one must eat to be satisfied.

II. Because they are Perfect (Deuteronomy 4:2). Nothing is to be-

1. Added. "Ye shall not add unto the Word. " The Law (Word) of the Lord is perfect. It is finished. We can no more add to the revelation of God than we can add to the finished work of Christ or the work of Creation, although man in his pride makes many attempts. We presume to add to the grace of God when we go about seeking to establish our own righteousness. "Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar, for every word of God is pure" (Pro 30:5-6).

2. Diminished. "Neither shall ye diminish aught from it. " "If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life" (Rev 22:19). The Scriptures of truth cannot be broken, so that no repair is ever needed. To add or to diminish is only to mar the perfect Man of our counsel.

III. Because they are Precious (Deuteronomy 4:4-9). Precious because they are-

1. Unfailing. "Ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day. " Joshua and Caleb did trust the Word of the Lord, and they were living witnesses to His unfailing faithfulness (Num 26:65). The living Christ is the eternal Word. He will not fail thee; be not faithless.

2. Enlightening. "Keep them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations. " "The Word of the Lord makes wise the simple" (Psa 19:7). Apart from it, Israel would sink down to the level of the heathen nations around them. If His Word does not abide in us we, too, will fall back into a savourless state, good for nothing, or like a fruitless branch.

3. Comforting. "What nation is there so great who hath God so nigh unto them?" etc. (Deuteronomy 4:7). Israel as a redeemed people were distinguished for the nearness to which God came to them. This nearness was only enjoyed when they walked in obedience to His Word (2Sa 7:23). "The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon Him in truth" (Psa 145:18). All who have believed are made nigh through the blood of Christ. His nearness is the distinguishing mark of all who live in the power of the Spirit of truth. The more we are like Christ, the more near will He be.

4. Ennobling. "What nation is there so great that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law?" (Deuteronomy 4:8). What soul is there so great that hath the words of the living God dwelling richly within? His words are more to be desired than gold Moreover, in keeping of them there is great reward (Psa 19:9-11). They do no iniquity that walk in His ways (Psa 119:3). The incorruptible Word in the heart will beautify the whole character as the seed in the earth when it springs up beautifies the whole field with a comeliness not its own, yet not separate from it.

5. Enduring. "Take to thyself and teach them to thy sons, and thy sons' sons" (Deuteronomy 4:9). The words of God are enduring for us, and will be as effectual to our believing children and our children's children. Timothy knew the Scripture from his youth, and we need not wonder at it, when love for the Word of God dwelt in Eunice his mother and in Lois his grandmother (2Ti 1:5). The Word of the Lord endureth for ever. It has an enduring purity, suitability, influence, and faithfulness. "He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life" (Joh 5:24). Believest thou this?

"A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never failing Word to trust
That lifts me to the sky. "


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