Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
deu 32:1O heavens, O earth - You lifeless and senseless creatures, which he calls upon partly to accuse the stupidity of Israel, that were more dull of hearing than these: and partly as witnesses of the truth of his sayings and the justice of God's proceedings against them.
deu 32:2As the rain - Look what effect rain and dew have upon herbs and grass which they make fresh and fragrant and growing, the same effect may my discourse have upon your hearts, that is, to make them soft and pliable and fruitful.
deu 32:3The name of the Lord - His glorious excellencies and righteous actions, by which he hath made himself known as a man is known by his name, and by which it will appear both that there is no blame to be laid upon him whatsoever befals you, and that it is gross madness to forsake such a God for dumb idols. Ascribe ye - As I am about to publish the majesty and glory of God, so do you also acknowledge it.
deu 32:4A rock - As for the stability of his nature, and invincibleness of his power, so also for his fixedness and immutability in his counsels and promises and ways; so that is there shall be a sad change in your affairs, remember that this proceeds from yourselves and from the change of your ways towards God, and not from God, in whom there is no variableness or shadow of change, Jam 1:17. His work - All his works and actions are unblameable, perfect, wise and righteous. His ways - All his administrations in the world and particularly with you are managed with wisdom and justice. A God of truth - Constant to his promises: you cannot accuse him of any unfaithfulness to this day.
deu 32:5They - The Israelites. Their spot - The wickedness with which they are stained, is not of his children - Plainly shews they are not his children, but the devil's. God's children have no such spot. Indeed this text does not affirm, they have any spot at all. Perverse - Froward and untractable: Crooked - Irregular and disorderly.
deu 32:6O foolish people and unwise! - Fools and double fools! Fools indeed, to disoblige one, on whom you so entirely depend! Who hath bewitched you! To forsake your own mercies for lying vanities! Bought thee - That hath redeemed thee from Egyptian bondage. Made thee - Not only in a general by creation, but in a peculiar manner by making thee his peculiar people. Established - That is, renewed and confirmed his favour to thee, and not taken it away, which thou hast often provoked him to do.
deu 32:7The days of old - The events of ancient days or former ages, and thou wilt find that I had a respect unto thee not only in Abraham's time, but long before it.
deu 32:8Their inheritance - When God by his providence allotted the several parts of the world to several people, which was done Gen. 10:1-32, Gen 11:1-9. When he separated - Divided them in their languages and habitations according to their families. He set the bounds - That is, he disposed of the several lands and limits of the people so as to reserve a sufficient place for the great numbers of the people of Israel. And therefore he so guided the hearts of several people, that the posterity of Canaan, which was accursed of God, and devoted to ruin, should be seated in that country which God intended for the children of Israel, that so when their iniquities were ripe, they might be rooted out, and the Israelites come in their stead.
deu 32:9His people - It is no wonder God had so great a regard to this people, for he chose them out of all mankind to be his peculiar portion.
deu 32:10He found him - Not by chance, but as it were looking out and seeking for him. He did indeed manifest himself to him in Egypt, but it was in the wilderness at Sinai, God found him in an eminent manner, and revealed his will to him, and entered into covenant with him, and imparted himself and his grace and blessing to him. By this word he also signifies both their lost condition in themselves, and that their recovery was not from themselves, but only from God who sought and found them out by his grace. In the waste howling wilderness - In a place destitute of all the necessaries and comforts of life, which also was a type of that desolate and comfortless condition in which all men are before the grace of God finds them out; where instead of the voices of men, is nothing heard but the howlings and yellings of ravenous birds and beasts. He led them - He conducted them frons place to place by his cloudy pillar and providence. Or, he compassed him about, by his provident care, watching over him and preserving him on every side. As the apple of his eye - As men use to keep the apple of their eye, that is, with singular care and diligence, this being as a most tender, so a most useful part.
deu 32:11Her nest - Her young ones in the nest; which she by her cry and motion provoketh to fly. Her wings - As preparing herself to fly. On her wings - Or, as on her wings, that is, gently, and tenderly and safely too, as if she carried them not in her claws for fear of hurting them, but upon her wings. Some say, the eagle doth usually carry her young ones upon her wings.
deu 32:12Did lead them - When they were shut up in Egypt as in their nest whence they durst not venture to fly nor stir, he taught and encouraged and enabled them to fly out from that bondage, he dealt tenderly with them, bearing with their infirmities, keeping them from all harms. With him - To assist him at that work or to deliver them. The more unworthy they in giving to idols a share in that worship which they owe to God only.
deu 32:13The high places - To conquer their strongest holds, which often are in the mountains, and their cities fenced with walls of greatest height and strength. To ride upon, in scripture phrase, is to subdue or conquer. Out of the rock - This being a land flowing with honey, where the bees made honey in the holes of rocks, or in the trees that grew upon or among the rocks. Out of the flinty rocks - The olive - trees grow and bear most fruit in rocky or hilly places.
deu 32:14Fat of lambs - For though the fat wherewith the inward parts were covered was not to be eaten by them, but offered to God, yet that fat which was mixed with the flesh they might eat, as the Jewish doctors note. Basham - A place famous for excellent cattle. Fat of kidneys of wheat - With the finest of the grains of wheat; compared to kidneys for their shape and largeness.
deu 32:15Jeshurun - Israel whom he calls right or upright, (as the word signifies) partly by way of instruction to mind them what they professed and ought to be; and partly by way of exprobration, to shew them what a shame it was to degenerate so much from their name and profession. Kicked - As well fed cattle use to do: he grew insolent and rebellious against God and against his word and spirit.
deu 32:16To jealousy - To anger and fury, for jealousy is the rage of a man. And withall it implies the ground of his anger, their falseness to God whom they had accepted as their husband, and their spiritual whoredom with other gods.
deu 32:17Unto devils - Unto idols, which the devils brought into the world in opposition to God, in and by which the devils often manifested themselves to men, and gave them answers, and received their worship. The Gentiles pretended to worship God in those idols, and the devils which inspired them, deluded the nations with pretences that they were a sort of lower gods. Moses takes off this mark, and shews the Israelites that these pretended gods were really devils, and therefore that it was the height of madness to honour or worship them. Not to God - For God utterly rejected those sacrifices which they offered to him together with idols. They knew not - Or, who never knew them, that is, never shewed any kindness to them, or did them any good: New gods - Not simply or absolutely, for some of these had been worshipped for many generations, but comparatively to the true God, who is the ancient of days, Deu 7:9, and who was worshipped from the beginning of the world. Feared not - Served not, worshipped not.
deu 32:18Of the rock - Of God, one of whose titles this is, or of Christ, who is called the rock, Co1 10:4, whom the Israelites tempted.
deu 32:19His sons and daughters - Such they were by calling and profession.
deu 32:20I will see - I will make them and others see, what the fruit of such actions shall be. No faith - No fidelity: perfidious, that have broken their covenant so solemnly made with me.
deu 32:21I will move them to jealousy with those that are not a people - With the Heathen nations, who are none of my people, who scarce deserve the name of a people, as being without the knowledge and fear of God, which is the foundation of all true policy and government, and many of them destitute of all government, laws and order. And yet these people I will take in your stead, receive them and reject you; which, when it came to pass how desperately did it provoke the Jews to jealousy? A foolish nation - So the Gentiles were both in the opinion of the Jews and in truth and reality, notwithstanding all their pretences to wisdom, there being nothing more foolish or brutish than the worship of idols.
deu 32:22A fire is kindled - Great and grievous judgments shall be inflicted, which often come under the name of fire. Are they proud of their plenty? It shall burn up the increase of the earth. Are they confident of their strength? It shall destroy the very foundations of the mountains. It shall burn unto the lowest hell: it shall bring them to the very depth of misery in this world, which yet will he but a faint resemblance of their endless misery in the next.
deu 32:23Spend mine arrows - Even empty my quiver, and send upon them all my plagues, which, like arrows shot by a skilful and strong hand, shall speedily reach and certainly hit and mortally wound them.
deu 32:24With hunger - With famine, which burns and parches the inward parts, and make the face black as a coal, Lam 4:8. Burning heat - From fevers or carbuncles, or other inflaming distempers.
deu 32:27The wrath - Their rage against me, as it is expressed, Isa 37:28-29, their furious reproaches against my name, as if I were cruel to my people or unable to deliver them. The fear hereof is ascribed to God after the manner of men. Strangely - Insolenty and arrogantly above what they used to do.
deu 32:28Void of counsel - Their enemies are foolish people, and therefore make so false and foolish a judgment upon things.
deu 32:29They - Israel. Latter end - What their end will be, and that tho' God spare them long, yet at last judgment will certainly overtake them.
deu 32:30One - Israelite. Their rock - Their God, who was their refuge and defence. Sold them - Namely, for bond - slaves, had given themselves up into their enemies hands. Shut them up - As it were in the net which their enemies had laid for them.
deu 32:31Being judges - Who by their dear bought experience have been forced to acknowledge that our God was far stronger than they and their false gods together.
deu 32:32For - As if he had said, This is the reason why their rock hath shut them up. Their vine is of the vine of Sodom - The people of Israel, which I planted as a choice vine, are now degenerated and become like the vine of Sodom, their principles and practices are all corrupt and abominable. Bitter - Their fruits are loathsome to me, mischievous to others, and at last will be pernicious to themselves.
deu 32:34This - All their wickedness mentioned before. My long suffering towards them may make them think I have forgotten their sins, but I remember them punctually, they are sealed up as in a bag, Job 14:17, and as men seal up their treasures.
deu 32:35Their feet shall slide - They who now think they stand fast and unmoveable, shall fall into utter destruction. In due time - Though not so soon as some may expect, yet in that time when it shall be most proper, when they have filled up the measure of their sins. At hand - Heb. is near. So the scripture often speaks of those things which are at many hundred years distance, to signify, that though they may be afar off as to our measures of time, yet in God's account they are near, they are as near as may be, when the measure of their sins is once full, the judgment shall not be deferred.
deu 32:36For - Or, nevertheless, having spoken of the dreadful calamity which would come upon his people, he now turns his discourse into a more comfortable strain, and begins to shew that after God had sorely chastised his people, he would have mercy upon them and turn their captivity. Judge his people - Shall plead their cause, shall protect and deliver them. Repent - Of the evils he hath brought upon them. None shut up - Either in their strong cities or castles or other hiding places, or in the enemies hands or prisons, whence there might be some hope or possibility of redemption; and none left, as the poor and contemptible people are neglected and usually left by the conquerors in the conquered land, but all seem to be cut off and destroyed.
deu 32:37He shall say - The Lord, before he deliver his people, will first convince them of their former folly in forsaking him and following idols.
deu 32:38Which did eat - That is, to whom you offered sacrifices and oblations after the manner of the Gentiles. Help you - If they can.
deu 32:39See now - Learn by your own sad experience what vain and impotent things idols are. I am he - The only true, omnipotent and irresistible God.
deu 32:40I lift up my hand - I solemnly swear, that I will do what here follows. I live - As sure as I live.
deu 32:41If I whet my sword - If once I begin to prepare for war and for the execution of my sentence. Judgment - Of the instruments of judgment, of the weapons of war. A metaphor from warriors, that take their weapons into their hand, when they intend to fight.
deu 32:42Captives - Whom my sword hath sorely wounded, though not utterly killed. From the beginning - When once I begin to revenge myself and my people upon mine and their enemies, I will go on and make a full end.
deu 32:43Rejoice - He calls upon the nations to rejoice and bless God for his favours, and especially for the last wonderful deliverance which shall be given to the Jews, when they shall be converted to the gospel in the last days; which they have all reason to do, because of that singular advantage which all nations will have at that time and upon that occasion.
deu 32:44He and Hoshea - Or Joshua. Probably Moses spoke it to as many as could hear him, while Joshua in another assembly at the same time delivered it to as many as his voice would reach. Thus Joshua, as well as Moses, would be a witness against them, if ever they forsook God.
deu 32:47Not vain - It is not an unprofitable or contemptible work I advise you to, but well worthy of your most serious care.
deu 32:48That self - same day - Now he had finished his work, why should he desire to live a day longer? He had indeed formerly desired and prayed, that he might go over Jordan: but now he is entirely satisfied, and saith no more of that matter.
deu 32:49Nebo - A ridge or top of the mountains of Abarim.
deu 32:51Because ye trespassed - God reminds him of the sin he had committed long before. It is good for the holiest of men to die repenting, even of their early sins.
deu 32:52Yet thou shalt see the land - And see it as the earnest of that better country, which is only seen with the eye of faith. What is death to him who has a believing prospect and a steadfast hope of eternal life?