Harmony Of The Law Volume 4 by Jean Calvin
Rise ye up, take your journey. I have lately said
that the order is here inverted, for what soon after follows, |And I sent messengers out of the wilderness,| etc., ver.26, Moses, in my opinion, has inserted by way of parenthesis: it will, therefore, be suitably rendered in the pluperfect tense, |But I had sent,| etc. Thus there will be no ambiguity in the sense that, when the messengers had returned without effecting their purpose, God sustained the weariness of the people by this consolation, as though he had said, Sihon has not, with impunity, repudiated the peace offered to him, since it will now be permitted you to assail him in lawful war. And assuredly this signal for the expedition to advance depends on the declaration which is subjoined in ver.30, as we may readily gather from the context; for Moses there repeats what we here read respecting their passage in somewhat different words; and again does God testify that He has given Sihon into the hands of the people, and exhorts Moses to go down boldly to the battle. Moreover, the cause is there specified why (Sihon) had been so arrogant and contemptuous in his rejection of the embassy, viz., because God had |hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate.| From whence again it appears how poor is the sophistry of those who imagine that God idly regards from heaven what men are about to do. They dare not, indeed, despoil Him of foreknowledge; but what can be more absurd than that He foreknows nothing except what men please? But Scripture, as we see, has not placed God in a watch-tower, from which He may behold at a distance what things are about to be; but teaches that He is the director (moderatorem) of all things; and that He subjects to His will, not only the events of things, but the designs and affections of men also. As, therefore, we have before seen how the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, so now Moses ascribes to God the obstinacy of king Sihon. How base a subterfuge is the exception which some make as to His permission, sufficiently appears from the end which Moses points out. For why did God harden the heart of Sihon? thalt |He might deliver him into the hand| of His people to be slain; because He willed that he should perish, and had destined his land for the Israelites. If God only permitted Sihon to grow hardened, this decree was either nought, or mutable, and evanescent, since it depended on the changeable will of man. Putting aside, then, all childish trifling, we must conclude that God by His secret inspiration moves, forms, governs, and draws men's hearts, so that even by the wicked He executes whatever He has decreed. At the same time it is to be observed that the wicked are not impelled to hardness of heart by extrinsic force, but that they voluntarily harden themselves; so that in this same hardness of heart God may be seen to be a just judge, however incomprehensible His counsel may be, and however the impiety of men may betray itself, who are their own instigators, and the authors of their own sin. Emphatically does Moses inculcate the same thing twice over, viz., that the spirt of Sihon was hardened by God, and his heart made obstinate, in order that God's paternal favor towards His chosen people might be more conspicuous; because from the obstinacy of the blinded king He afforded them a just cause for war, and an opportunity for victory.