Deuteronomy 7:9

Discussion in 'Exegetical Forum' started by Rutherglen1794, Nov 29, 2018.

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  1. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore


    Please help me understand the condition contained within Deut. 7:9: with those who love Him and keep His commandments.
  2. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Sophomore

    Many of these kinds of passages have traditionally been understood as being evangelical in nature (rather than legal). Obedience is required—but in this and many other similar passages, it's gospel obedience (not legal) that God is commanding. That is, God is requiring of Israel to prove through their obedience to the Lord that they have actually embraced His covenant from the heart by faith.

    This is especially clear in this verse, Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” The passage tells us, in effect, that God blesses those who keep His commandments; but Calvin clarifies that “this indicates what kind of servants they are who have undertaken his covenant in good faith rather than expresses the reason why the Lord benefits them.” In other words, this passage isn't describing the cause of entering into God's blessing, but rather the characteristics of those who have entered into it. It's not saying our obedience is the means of salvation—it's saying our obedience is the mark of salvation. This passage isn't describing how to gain God's favor, but rather who it is that has gained it.

    We can understand many similar passages in the Law in the same way. And not only passages in the Law, but many other passages of Scripture. This is how we can understand the Beatitudes: When Jesus pronounces blessing on the poor in spirit, the gentle, and the pure in heart, He's not telling us how to enter into God's blessing, but who it is that has entered into it; He's not describing the means of obtaining God's favor, but the characteristics of those who have obtained it.

    This is also how we can understand what Jesus meant when He said in John 5:29 that “those who did the good deeds [will arise] to a resurrection of life”; or when He told the crowds in Luke 11:28, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” Why are they blessed? Not because they can earn God's blessing by doing what He says—but rather because in doing what God says they show themselves to be the recipients of God's blessing by faith. This is what David was saying when he wrote in Psalm 103:17-18, “But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them.” David isn't saying that our obedience is the basis of our good standing with God, he's saying that it's the proof; he's not limiting the amount of God's grace, but simply qualifying who are the ones that have obtained it. This is also how we can understand passages in the New Testament epistles, such as Romans 8:13, where Paul writes: “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Here too, Paul isn't describing how to enter into life, but who are those that will enter into it; he's not speaking of the means of obtaining eternal life, but rather the marks of all those who will one day inherit it.
  3. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    "Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God. The verb (220) might have been as properly translated in the future tense; and, if this be preferred, an experimental knowledge, as it is called, is referred to, as if he had said that God would practically manifest how faithful a rewarder He is of His servants. But if the other reading is rather approved, Moses exhorts the people to be assured that God sits in heaven as the Judge of men, so that they may be both alarmed by the fear of His vengeance, and also attracted by the hope of reward. This declaration, however, (221) was appended to the Second Commandment, and there expounded; for since it is comprehended in the Decalogue, it was not right to separate it from thence; but since it is now repeated in confirmation of the whole Law, it is fitly inserted in this place. It will not be amiss, nevertheless, slightly to advert to what I there more fully explained. The promise stands first, because God chooses rather to invite His people by kindness than to compel them to obedience from terror. The word mercy is coupled with the covenant, that we may know that the reward which believers must expect, does not depend on the merit of their works, since they have need of God’s mercy. We may, however, thus resolve the phrase — keeping the covenant of mercy — or the covenant founded on mercy — or the mercy which He covenanted.

    When it is required of believers that they should love God before they keep His Commandments, we are thus taught that the source and cause of obedience is the love wherewith we embrace God as our Father. With respect to the “thousand generations,” it is better that we should refer to the Second Commandment, because it is a point which cannot be hurried over in a few words."

    Matthew Henry:
    "The tenour of the covenant into which they were taken it was in short this, That as they were to God so God would be to them. They should certainly find him, (1.) Kind to his friends, Deuteronomy 7:9. "The Lord thy God is not like the gods of the nations, the creatures of fancy, subjects fit enough for loose poetry, but no proper objects of serious devotion no, he is God, God indeed, God alone, the faithful God, able and ready not only to fulfil his own promises, but to answer all the just expectations of his worshippers, and he will certainly keep covenant and mercy," that is, "show mercy according to covenant, to those that love him and keep his commandments" (and in vain do we pretend to love him if we do not make conscience of his commandments) "and this" (as is here added for the explication of the promise in the second commandment) "not only to thousands of persons, but to thousands of generations--so inexhaustible is the fountain, so constant are the streams!" (2.) Just to his enemies: He repays those that hate him, Deuteronomy 7:10. Note, [1.] Wilful sinners are haters of God for the carnal mind is enmity against him. Idolaters are so in a special manner, for they are in league with his rivals. [2.] Those that hate God cannot hurt him, but certainly ruin themselves. He will repay them to their face, in defiance of them and all their impotent malice. His arrows are said to be made ready against the face of them, Psalms 21:12. Or, He will bring those judgments upon them which shall appear to themselves to be the just punishment of their idolatry. Compare Job 21:9, He rewardeth him, and he shall know it. Though vengeance seem to be slow, yet it is not slack. The wicked and sinner shall be recompensed in the earth, Proverbs 11:31. I cannot pass the gloss of the Jerusalem Targum upon this place, because it speaks the faith of the Jewish church concerning a future state: He recompenses to those that hate him the reward of their good works in this world, that he may destroy them in the world to come."
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