3. If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
3. Si in decretis meis ambulaveritis, et praecepta mea servaveritis, et feceritis ea:
4. Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
4. Dabo pluvias vestras tempore suo, dabitque terra fructum suum, et arbores agrorum dabunt fructum suum.
5. And your thrashing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing-time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
5. Apprehendetque vobis tritura vindemiam, et vindemia apprehendet sementem: comedetisque panem vestrum ad saturitatem, et habitabitis confidenter in terra vestra.
6. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid; and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
6. Dabo namque pacem in terra, et dormietis, neque erit exterrens: auferamque bestias malas e terra, et gladius non transibit per terram vestram.
7. And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
7. Et persequemini inimicos vestros, cadentque coram vobis gladio.
8. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
8. Persequentur quinque ex vobis centum, et centum ex vobis decem millia persequentur: et corruent inimici vestri coram vobis gladio.
9. For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
9. Vertam enim me ad vos, et crescere faciam vos, atque multiplicabo vos, stabiliamque pactum meum vobiscum.
10. And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.
10. Et comedetis vetus inveteratum, et vetus propter novum educetis.
11. And I will set my tabernacle among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.
11. Et ponam tabernaculum in medio vestri, neque abominabitur vos anima mea.
12. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
12. Ambulabo autem in medio vestri, eroque vobis in Deum, et vos eritis mihi in populum.
13. I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bond-men; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.
13. Ego Jehova Deus vester qui eduxi vos de terra Aegypti, ne essetis illis servi: et confregi lora jugi vestri, et incedere feci vos erecta facie.
3. If ye walk in my statutes. We have now to deal with two remarkable passages, in which he professedly treats of the rewards which the servants of God may expect, and of the punishments which await the transgressors. I have indeed already observed, that whatever God promises us on the condition of our walking in His commandments would be ineffectual if He should be extreme in examining our works. Hence it arises that we must renounce all the compacts of the Law, if we desire to obtain favor with God. But since, however defective the works of believers may be, they are nevertheless pleasing to God through the intervention of pardon, hence also the efficacy of the promises depends, viz., when the strict condition of the law is moderated. Whilst, therefore, they reach forward and strive, reward is given to their efforts although imperfect, exactly as if they had fully discharged their duty; for, since their deficiencies are put out of sight by faith, God honors with the title of reward what He gratuitously bestows upon them. Consequently, |to walk in the commandments of God,| is not precisely equivalent to performing whatever the Law demands; but in this expression is included the indulgence with which God regards His children and pardons their faults. The promise, therefore, is not without fruit as respects believers, whilst they endeavor to consecrate themselves to God, although they are still far from perfection; according to the teaching of the Prophet, |I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him,| (Malachi 3:17;) as much as to say, that their obedience would not be acceptable to Him because it was deserving, but because He visits it with His paternal favor. Whence it appears how foolish is the pride of those who imagine that they make God their debtor, as if according to His agreement.
The restriction of the recompense, which is here mentioned, to this earthly and transitory life, is a part of the elementary instruction of the Law; for, just as the spiritual grace of God was represented to the ancient people by shadows and images, so also the same principle applied also both to rewards and punishments. Reconciliation with God was represented to them by the blood of cattle; there were various forms of expiation, but all outward and visible, because their substance had not yet appeared in Christ. For the same reason, therefore, because so clear and familiar an acquaintance with eternal life, and the final resurrection, had not yet been attained by the Fathers, as now shines forth in the Gospel, God for the most part shewed forth by external proofs that He was favorably disposed to His people or offended with them. Because now-a-days God does not openly take vengeance on sins as of old, fanatics infer that He has almost changed His nature; nay, on this pretense, the Manicheans imagined that the God of Israel was different from ours. But this error springs from gross and disgraceful ignorance; for, by not distinguishing His different modes of dealing, they do not hesitate impiously to cut God Himself in two. The earth does not now cleave asunder to swallow up the rebellious: God does not now thunder from heaven as against Sodom: He does not now send fire upon wicked cities as He did in the Israelitish camp: fiery serpents are not sent forth to inflict deadly bites: in a word, such manifest instances of punishment are not daily presented before our eyes to make God terrible to us; and for this reason, because the voice of the Gospel sounds much more clearly in our ears, like the sound of a trumpet, whereby we are summoned to the heavenly tribunal of Christ. Let us then learn to tremble at that sentence, which banishes all the wicked from the kingdom of God. So, on the other hand, God does not appear, as of old, as the rewarder of His people by earthly blessings; and this because we |are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God;| because it becomes us to be conformed to our Head, and through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of heaven. Thus, the greater are the adversities that oppress us, the more cheerfully it behooves us to lift up our heads, until Christ shall gather us into the fellowship of His glory, and to pursue the course of our calling for the hope which is set before us in heaven; in a word,
|denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ.| (Titus 2:12, 13.)
I admit, indeed, the truth of what Paul teaches, that |godliness| even now has |the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come,| (1 Timothy 4:8;) and assuredly believers already taste on earth of that blessedness which they shall hereafter enjoy in its fullness. God also inflicts His judgments on the ungodly in order to remind us of the last judgment; but still the distinction to which I have adverted is obvious, that since God has opened to us the heavenly life in the Gospel, He now calls us directly to it, whereas He led the Fathers to it as it were by steps. For this reason Paul elsewhere teaches, that believers are afflicted in this world as
|a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that they may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which they also suffer, seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense,| etc. (2 Thessalonians 1:5, 6.)
In short, let us no more wonder that the Israelites were only attracted and alarmed by temporal rewards and punishments, than that the land of Canaan was to them a symbol of their eternal inheritance, in which, nevertheless, they confessed themselves strangers and pilgrims; from whence the Apostle correctly concludes, that they desired a better country. (Genesis 47:9; Psalm 39:12; Hebrews 11:16.) And thus the wild absurdity of those is refuted, who suppose that the Fathers were contented with perishable felicity, as if God merely gorged them in a tavern. Still the distinction which I have noted remains, that God manifested Himself more fully as a Father and Judge by temporal blessings and punishments than since the promulgation of the Gospel.
4. Then I will give you rain in due season. He might in one word have promised great abundance of food, but, that His grace may be more illustrious, the instruments are mentioned which He employs for its supply. He might give us bread as He formerly rained down manna from heaven; but in order that the signs of His paternal solicitude may be constantly before us, after the seed is sown, the earth requires rain from heaven; and thus the order of the seasons is so regulated that every day may renew the memory of God's bounty. For this reason rain is mentioned, and the increase of the fruits of the earth; and the continued succession of thrashing, the vintage, and sowing-time, indicates a very abundant supply of corn and wine. For, if the harvest be small, there will not be much work to occupy the husbandman; and, if the vintage be light, hence also will arise an unsatisfactory period of leisure. But when God declares that from harvest to sowing-time they shall have constant employment, He bids them expect a fruitful year, as immediately follows, |ye shall eat your bread to the full.| And since no prosperity can be gratifying without peace, He says that they shall be quiet and free from all disturbance. And this must be carefully observed that, so unpalatable are all God's blessings without the seasoning of tranquillity, nothing is more wretched than inquietude. The sum is, that for the true servants of God not only is there food laid up with Him, but also its peaceful and pleasant enjoyment, since it is in His power and will to drive far from them all annoyances. Still these two things do not seem altogether consistent with each other, that there shall be none to make them afraid, and that they shall subdue their enemies, so that ten shall suffice to chase a hundred; for of what use would their military strength be if there were no enemies to trouble them? But if we may take the latter sentence disjunctively, there will be no absurdity, viz., if it should happen that war be brought against them, they should fight successfully. Still the easiest solution of this difficulty is, that it soon afterwards was necessary for them to contend with a great multitude of enemies, in order to obtain possession of the land. We gather from the accommodation by the Prophets of this peculiar blessing of a secure and tranquil life to the kingdom of Christ, that the promises, which from the nature of the Law were of none effect, are still useful for believers; for, when God has reconciled them to Himself, He also liberally bestows upon them what they have not deserved; and yet their obedience, such as it is, is also rewarded.
9. For I will have respect unto you God is said to |turn Himself| to the people, whom He undertakes to cherish and preserve; just as also when He forsakes those who have alienated themselves from Him, He is said to be turned away from them. Hence the common exhortation in the Prophets, |Be ye turned to me, and I will be turned to you;| whereby God reminds us that He has not promised in vain what we here read. Therefore the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, to confirm His covenant towards them by watching for their safety. Hence, too, we are also taught, that when we depart from God, His covenant is made void by our own fault; wherewith Jeremiah reproaches the Israelites. (Jeremiah 31:32.) In order, therefore, that God's covenant should remain firm and effectual, it is not only necessary that the Law should be engraven on our hearts, but also that He should add another grace, and not remember our iniquities. When He says, |Ye shall eat old store,| He again magnifies their abundance; for, whereas scarcity compels us to make immediate use of the new fruits, so it is a great sign of abundance to bring forth old wheat from the granary, and old wine from the cellar. The continuance of His bounty is represented in the end of the verse, where He says that there shall be no place for the new fruits, unless they empty their store-houses; because it might happen that, after a year of scarcity, all their storehouses should be empty, and there would be no new corn to succeed in place of the old.
11. And I will set my tabernacle among you. He alludes, indeed, to the visible sanctuary in which He was worshipped; still He would shew them that it should be effectually manifested, that He had not chosen His home amongst them in vain, inasmuch as He would exert His power by sure proofs to aid and preserve them. In a word, He signifies that the sanctuary would not be an empty sign of His presence, but that the reality should correspond with the sign; and this He further confirms in the next verse, where He says that He would |walk among| them. For as yet they had not arrived at their place of rest, and therefore had need of Him as their Leader, in order that their journey might be prosperous. Although He does not say in express terms that they should be spiritually blessed, still there is no doubt but that He lifts their thoughts above the world when He promises that He would be their God; for this expression, |I will be your God,| contains, as Christ interprets it, the hope of eternal immortality; because He is the fountain of life, and |not the God of the dead.| (Matthew 22:32.) The true and solid felicity, then, is now promised, which was typically represented. For this reason David, although he greatly magnifies the earthly blessings of God, yet, by the conclusion which he adds, demonstrates that he did not stop short with them;
|God's mercy (he says) shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, to length of days.| (Psalm 23:6.)
And elsewhere, when he had said that they are happy, to whom God abundantly supplies all things (needful, ) presently adds, as if in explanation,
|Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.| (Psalm 144:15.)
Finally, He recalls to their recollection that He had been their Deliverer, that they may assuredly gather from what was past, that the flow of His grace would be continuous, if only they themselves do run the course unto which He had called them.