Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
God's covenant with the people in Horeb, Deu 5:1-4. Moses the mediator of it, Deu 5:5. A repetition of the ten commandments, vv. 6-21; which God wrote on two tables of stone, Deu 5:22. The people are filled with dread at the terrible majesty of God, Deu 5:23-26; and beseech Moses to be their mediator, Deu 5:27. The Lord admits of their request, Deu 5:28; and deplores their ungodliness, Deu 5:29. They are exhorted to obedience, that they may be preserved in the possession of the promised land, Deu 5:30-33.
And Moses called all Israel, and said - Hear, etc. -
1. God speaks to the people.
2. The people are called to hear what God speaks.
3. To learn what they heard, that they may be thoroughly instructed in the will of God.
4. To keep God's testimonies ever in mind, and to treasure them up in a believing and upright heart.
5. That they might do them - obey the whole will of God, taking his word for the invariable rule of their conduct. Should not all these points be kept in view by every Christian assembly?
The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers (only) but with us (also).
I am the Lord thy God - See these commandments explained in the notes on Exodus 20 (note).
And remember that thou wast a servant - In this and the latter clause of the preceding verse Moses adds another reason why one day in seven should be sanctified, viz., that the servants might rest, and this is urged upon them on the consideration of their having been servants in the land of Egypt. We see therefore that God had three grand ends in view by appointing a Sabbath.
1. To commemorate the creation.
2. To give a due proportion of rest to man and beast. When in Egypt they had no rest; their cruel task-masters caused them to labor without intermission; now God had given rest, and as he had showed them mercy, he teaches them to show mercy to their servants: Remember that thou wast a servant.
3. To afford peculiar spiritual advantages to the soul, that it might be kept in remembrance of the rest which remains at the right hand of God.
Therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day - Here is a variation in the manner of expression, Sabbath day for seventh, owing, it is supposed, to a change of the day at the exodus from Sunday to Saturday, effected upon the gathering of the manna, Exo 16:23. The Sabbath now became a twofold memorial of the deliverance, as well as of the creation; and this accounts for the new reason assigned for its observance: "Therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day." See Dr. A. Bayley's Hebr. and Eng. Bible, and see the note on Exo 16:23.
His field - This clause is not in the tenth commandment as it stands in Exo 20:17.
And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice - See the notes on Exo 20:18, etc.
O that there were such a heart in them - Or rather, מי יתן והיה לבבם זה mi yitten vehayah lebabam zeh, Who will give such a heart to them, that they may fear, etc. They refuse to receive such a heart from me; who then can supply it? If they had not been such perfectly free agents as could either use or abuse their liberty, could God have made the complaint or expressed the earnest desire we find in this verse? He made the human will free; and in spite of all the influence of sin and Satan, he preserves its liberty. Had man no free will, he could neither be punished nor rewarded, because a mere machine, and consequently no more accountable for his actions than the fire for its consuming quality, or the stone for its gravity; the one having burned the house of the righteous, the other having crushed the innocent to death. See the note on Deu 29:4.
Ye shall observe to do - He who marks not the word of God is never likely to fulfill the will of God.
Ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left - The way of truth and righteousness is a right line; a man must walk straight forward who wishes to go to glory; no crooked or devious path ever led to God or happiness.
Ye shall walk in all the ways, etc. - God never gave a commandment to man which he did not design that he should obey. He who selects from the Divine testimonies such precepts as he feels but little inclination to transgress, and lives in the breach of others, sins against the grand legislative authority of God, and shall be treated as a rebel.
That ye may live - תחיון ticheyun, that ye may enjoy life, (for the paragogic nun, at the end of the word, deepens the sense), that it may be well with you ותוב לכם vetob lachem, and good shall be to you - God will prosper you in all things essential to the welfare of your bodies, and the salvation of your souls.
That ye may prolong your days in the land - That ye may arrive at a good old age, and grow more and more meet for the inheritance among the saints in light.
On this very important verse we may remark, a long life is a great blessing, if a man live to God, because it is in life, and in life alone, that a preparation for eternal glory may be acquired. Those who wish to die soon, have never yet learned to live, and know not the value of life or time. Many have a vain hope that they shall get either in death, or in the other world, a preparation for glory. This is a fatal error. Here, alone, we may acquaint ourselves with God, and receive that holiness without which none can see him. Reader, be thankful to him that thou art still in a state of probation; and pray that thou mayest live for eternity.