The following commentary covers Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4.
us examine a little more closely these chapters, which
shew the pains the Spirit took, to set before the eyes of
the people all the motives which could induce them to
walk faithfully in the career which now lay before them.
Moses recalls the
patience and goodness of God in the wilderness journey
He begins with the
narrative of what had occurred since the sojourn of the
children of Israel at Sinai; and Moses reminds them of
the commandment to leave that place and to go to the
mount of the Amorites,  to go up and possess the land. They get
there, and, discouraged by the spies, they will not go
up; then, trying to do so without God, they are smitten
before their enemies. Passing by the borders of Esau and
Moab, God gives them the land of Sihon and of Og.
We learn too here that,
though sanctioned by God, the sending the spies was the
effect of unbelief among the peoplean instructive
lesson. God may allow, and so far sanction a course, wise
humanly, in His waysHis government, which yet bears
the fruit of the unbelief which is at the root of it.
In a word, Moses recalls
to them, in general, what had taken place in the journey
which led to their entrance into the land of which they
are to take possessionthe patience and the goodness
The majesty of God
and His Word, and the privilege enjoyed at Horeb
In reminding them of
Horeb, he insists on the privilege they had enjoyed in
nearness to God, who Himself had spoken to them out of
the midst of the fire, when they saw no similitude; on
the authority of the wordits majestyexcluding
thus all thought of idolatry. He shews them that all that
were of full age had perished, as a consequence of their
unbelief; that he himself could not enter into that good
land; that God is a jealous God, a consuming fire; and
that, if they made any graven image, they would utterly
perish from off the land they were about to enter, and
would be scattered amongst the nations andleft to
serve the gods they had loved; that, nevertheless, they
should find God if they sought Him with all their heart,
for He is a merciful God, who would not forsake them;
that if Sinai had been the brightness of His majesty, it
was also true that such a God of majesty had never
vouchsafed to come so near to a people, elect and chosen
for their fathers' sakes. Such is the basis of the
government of this people.
Three cities of
refuge on this side Jordan
Moses sets apart three
cities of refuge, as a token of possession, on the part
of God, of what was on this side Jordan. These four
chapters are introductory.
 It is interesting
to put together the second and third verses. For an
eleven days' journey Israel took forty years. Alas! how
often is it thus with us, owing to our unfaithfulness.