Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 28

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Deuteronomy 28)

Verse 2

[2] And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.

Overtake thee — Those blessings which others greedily follow after, and never overtake, shall follow after thee, and shall be thrown into thy lap by special kindness.

Verse 3

[3] Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.

In the city, and in the field — Whether they were husbandmen or tradesmen, whether in the town or country, they should be preserved from the dangers of both, and have the comforts of both. How constantly must we depend upon God, both for the continuance and comfort of life! We need him at every turn: we cannot be safe, if he withdraw his protection, nor easy, if he suspends his savour: but if he bless us, go where we will, 'tis well with us.

Verse 5

[5] Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.

Store — Store-house, it shall always be well replenished and the provision thou hast there shall be preserved for thy use and service.

Verse 6

[6] Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

Comest in — That is, in all thy affairs and administrations.

Verse 9

[9] The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways.

Establish thee — Shall confirm his covenant with thee, by which he separated thee to himself as an holy and peculiar people.

Verse 10

[10] And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee.

Of the Lord — That you are in truth his people and children: A most excellent and glorious people, under the peculiar care and countenance of the great God.

Verse 11

[11] And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee.

The same things which were said before are repeated, to shew that God would repeat and multiply his blessings upon them.

Verse 12

[12] The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.

His treasure — The heaven or the air, which is God's storehouse, where he treasures up rain or wind for man's use.

Verse 13

[13] And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:

The head — The chief of all people in power, or at least in dignity and privileges; so that even they that are not under thine authority shall reverence thy greatness and excellency. So it was in David's and Solomon's time, and so it should have been much oftner and much more, if they had performed the conditions.

Verse 15

[15] But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:

Overtake thee — So that thou shalt not be able to escape them, as thou shalt vainly hope and endeavour to do. There is no running from God, but by running to him; no flying from his justice, but by flying to his mercy.

Verse 20

[20] The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.

Vexation — This seems chiefly to concern the mind, arising from the disappointment of hopes and the presages of its approaching miseries.

Rebuke — Namely, from God, not so much in words as by his actions, by cross providences, by sharp and sore afflictions.

Verse 23

[23] And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.

Brass — Like brass, hard and dry, and shut up from giving rain.

Iron — Hard and chapt and barren.

Verse 24

[24] The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

Dust — Either thy rain shall be as unprofitable to thy ground and seed as if it were only so much dust. Or instead of rain shall come nothing but dust from heaven, which being raised and carried up by the wind in great abundance, returns, and falls upon the earth as it were in clouds or showers.

Verse 27

[27] The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.

The botch of Egypt — Such boils and blains as the Egyptians were plagued with, spreading from head to foot: The emerodes - Or piles.

Verse 28

[28] The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:

Blindness — Of mind, so that they shall not know what to do: Astonishment - They shall be filled with wonder and horror because of the strangeness and soreness of their calamities.

Verse 29

[29] And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.

Grope at noon day — In the most clear and evident matters thou shalt grossly mistake.

Thy ways — Thy counsels and enterprizes shall be frustrated and turn to thy destruction.

Verse 32

[32] Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.

Unto another people — By those who have conquered them, and taken them captives, who shall give or sell them to other persons.

Fail — Or, be consumed, partly with grief and plentiful tears; and partly with earnest desire, and vain and long expectation of their return.

No might — No power to rescue, nor money to ransom them.

Verse 33

[33] The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:

Which thou knowest not — Which shall come from a far country, which thou didst not at all expect or fear, and therefore will be the more dreadful when they come; a nation whose language thou understandest not, and therefore canst not plead with them for mercy, nor expect any favour from them.

Verse 34

[34] So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

Thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes — Quite put out of the possession of their own souls; quite bereaved of all comfort and hope, and abandoned to utter despair. They that walk by sight, and not by faith, are in danger of losing reason itself, when all about them looks frightful; and their condition is bad indeed, who are mad for the sight of their eyes.

Verse 36

[36] The LORD shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.

Thy king — The calamity shall be both universal, which even thy king shall not be able to avoid, much less the subjects, who have far less advantage and opportunity for escape; and irrecoverable, because he who should protect or rescue them is lost with them, Lamentations 4:10.

Wood and stone — So what formerly was their choice and delight now becomes their plague and misery. And this doubtless was the condition of many Israelites under the Assyrian and Balylonish captivities.

Verse 43

[43] The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.

Within thee — Within thy gates; who formerly honoured and served thee, and were some of them glad of the crumbs which fell from thy table.

Verse 45

[45] Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:

Moreover all these curses — It seems Moses has been hitherto foretelling their captivity in Babylon, by which even after their return, they were brought to the low condition mentioned, Deuteronomy 28:44. But in the following he foretells their last destruction by the Romans. And the present deplorable state of the Jewish nation, so exactly answers this prediction, that it is an incontestable proof of the truth of the prophecy, and consequently of the divine authority of the scriptures. And this destruction more dreadful than the former shews, that their sin in rejecting Christ, was more provoking to God than idolatry itself, and left them more under the power of Satan. For their captivity in Babylon cured them effectually of idolatry in seventy years. But under this last destruction, they continue above sixteen hundred years incurably averse to the Lord Jesus.

Verse 46

[46] And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.

They — These curses now mentioned.

A wonder — Signal and wonderful to all that hear of them. 'Tis amazing, a people so incorporated, should be so universally disperst! And that a people scattered in all nations, should not mix with any, but like Cain, be fugitives and vagabonds, and yet so marked as to be known.

Verse 54

[54] So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:

Evil — Unkind, envious, covetous to monopolize these dainty bits to themselves, and grudging that their dearest relations should have any part of them.

Verse 56

[56] The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,

Evil - Unmerciful: she will desire or design their destruction for her food.

Verse 57

[57] And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.

Her young one — Heb. after-birth: that which was loathsome to behold, will now be pleasant to eat; and together with it she shall eat the child which was wrapt up in it, and may be included in this expression.

Which she shall bear — Or, which she shall have born, that is, her more grown children.

She shall eat them — This was fulfilled more than once, to the perpetual reproach of the Jewish nation. Never was the like done either by Greek or Barbarian. See the fruit of being abandoned by God!

Verse 63

[63] And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.

To destroy you — His just indignation against you will be so great, that it will be a pleasure to him to take vengeance on you. For though he doth not delight in the death of a sinner in itself, yet he doth delight in glorifying his justice upon incorrigible sinners, seeing the exercise of all his attributes must needs please him, else he were not perfectly happy.

Verse 65

[65] And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:

Neither shall thy foot have rest — Ye shall have no settlement in the land whither you are banished, but there you shall be tossed about from place to place, and sold from person to person, or Cain - like, wander about.

Verse 66

[66] And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:

Thy life shall hang in doubt — Either because thou art in the hands of thy enemies that have power, and want no will, to destroy thee: or because of the terrors of thy own mind, and the guilt of thy conscience making thee to fear, even where no fear is.

Verse 68

[68] And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.

Into Egypt — Which was literally fulfilled under Titus, when multitudes of them were carried thither in ships, and sold for slaves. And this expression seems to mind them of that time when they went over the sea without ships, God miraculously drying up the sea before them, which now they would have occasion sadly to remember.

By the way — Or, to the way. And the way seems not to be meant here of the usual road-way from Canaan to Egypt, which was wholly by land, but to be put for the end of the way or journey, even the land of Egypt, for to this, and not to the road-way between Canaan and Egypt, agree the words here following, whereof I speak unto thee, thou shalt see it, (that is, Egypt) no more again.

No man shall buy you — Either because the number of your captives shall be so great, that the market shall be glutted with you; or because you shall be so loathsome and contemptible that men shall not be willing to have you for slaves. And this was the condition of the Jews after the destruction of Jerusalem, as Josephus the Jew hath left upon record. Let us all learn hence, to stand in awe and not to sin. I have heard of a wicked man (says Mr. Henry) who on reading these threatenings, was so enraged, that he tore the leaf out of his bible. But to what purpose is it, to deface a copy, while the original remains unchangeable? By which it is determined, that the wages of sin is death: yea, a death more dreadful than all that is here spoken!

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