Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 5: Harmony of the Law, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
1. And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
1. Et erit, si audiendo audieris vocem Jehovae Dei tui, ut custodias ad faciendum omnia praecepta ejus quae ego paecipio tibi hodie: tunc constituet to Jehova Deus tuus superiorem onmibus gentibus terrae.
2. And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.
2. Et venient super to omnes benedictiones istae, apprehendentque te, si modo obedieris voci Jehovae Dei tui.
3. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
3. Benedictus eris in urbe ipsa, et benedictus eris in agro.
4. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
4. Benedictus fructus ventris tui, et fructus terrae tuae, et fructus jumenti tui, foetus boum tuorum et greges ovium tuarum.
5. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
5. Benedictum canistrum tuum, et conspersio tua.
6. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
6. Benedictus eris in tuo ingressu, et benedictus eris in egressu tuo.
7. The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.
7. Dabit Jehova hostes trios qui insurrexerint in te, percussos coram te, per viam unam egredientur ad te, et per septem vias fugient coram te.
8. The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
8. Mandabit Jehova tecum benedictionem in horreis tuis, et in omni ad quod miseris manum tuam: et benedicet tibi in terra quam Jehova Deus tuus dat tibi.
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.
9. Statuet te Jehova sibi in populum sanctum, quemadmodum juravit tibi, quum custodieris praecepta Jehovae Dei tui, et ambulaveris in viis ejus.
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.
10. Tunc intelligent omnes populi quod nomen Jehovae invocatum sit super te, et timebunt sibi a te.
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.
11. Et abundare faciet to Jehova in bonum fructu ventris tui, et fructu jumenti tui, et fructu terrae tuae, super terram quam juravit Jehova patribus tuis se daturum tibi.
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.
12. Aperiet Jehova tibi thesaurum suum optimum, coelum, ut det pluviam terrae tuae in tempore suo, et benedicat omni operi marius tuae, et mutuabis gentibus multis, tu vero non accipies mutuum.
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:
13. Ponetque te Jehova in caput, et non in candam, erisque duntaxat sursum, et non deorsum: quando obedieris praeceptis Jehovae Dei tui, quae ego praecipio tibi hodie ut custodias et facias.
14. And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
14. Neque recesseris ab omnibus verbis quae ego praecipio vobis hodie, ad dextram aut ad sinistram, eundo post deos alienos ut colatis eos.
1. And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken. He teaches the same thing as before in different words; but the diversity of expression, as well as the repetition, tends to its confirmation. First, God says that He would deal with them so bountifully that they should excel all other nations; for this is the meaning of the words, that they should be illustrious above all the rest of the world on account of the special blessings of God. He afterwards enumerates the blessings which shall never depart from them, if they persevere in the service of God; and here it must be observed that they are reminded, not only in how many ways God is bountiful towards His servants, but also to how many necessities they are exposed, which require His direct and constant aid; for if we are blessed in the city and in the field, we can no more move a foot than stand still, except by His blessing. Such also is the tendency of the whole list, that a scarcity of all things impends over us at every moment, unless God should continually succor us by remedies sent down from heaven, and that every good thing can only come from that one source.
9. The Lord shall establish thee a holy people unto himself. This refers indeed to earthly blessings, as if Moses said, that by them would be manifested God’s love towards His chosen people; still it rises higher, so that the Israelites, led on by degrees, should learn to embrace God alone, and to trust in Him according to the covenant which He had made with Abraham, “I am thy exceeding great reward.” (Ge 15:1.) For the children of Abraham were set apart and chosen to be a holy people, not only in order that, being well fed, and with a full belly, they should aspire to nothing but earthly things, but that they might be confidently assured that they would be blessed in death as well as life. Although their adoption was gratuitous, still, inasmuch as they were called unto purity, it is not without reason that God promises that what He had spoken should be sure, if by keeping the Law the Israelites themselves should continue in the covenant; as much as to say, that their sanctification 215 should be firm and perpetual if they walked in the commandments of the Law. When He adds that it should be manifest “to 216 all people of the earth that the name of God was called upon them,” it is equivalent to saying, that it should be known that they were under God’s defense and patronage, and that thus they should always be safe and secure in His protection.
12. The Lord shall open to thee his good treasure. He again repeats, that the goodness of God shines forth in many ways in the life of men, since He not only supplies the bread that they eat, but that the rain which descends from heaven waters the earth; and that thus He produces whatever is required for food from His plenteous store-house or treasure. Let us learn, therefore, both above and beneath, as well in the temperature of the atmosphere, in the quickening heat of the sun, in the rain, and in other means, as in the fertility of the earth, to contemplate the manifold riches which God brings forth from His treasures. And when He declares that He will bless the work of our hands, hence, too, let us learn that we can attain nothing by our industry and hardest labors, except in so far as God vouchsafes us good success; and that all our efforts without His secret blessing are mere useless fatigue. For the figure which Paul uses in reference to the spiritual culture of the Church, is taken from nature itself:
“Neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” (1Co 3:7.)
God would not, indeed, have 217 us lie idle, and therefore He requires the labor of our hands, but He would have the fruit of our labors attributed to Himself.
After having spoken of the whole Law, and forbidden that they should turn aside to the right or the left, He adverts to the principal point, i.e., that they should not revolt to strange gods. Wherefore, the sum comes to this, that, in order that God may continue to shew us the favor which He has begun towards us, we ought on our sides to be altogether submissive to His rule. This indeed He demands of us by His word, and enables us to perform it by the power of His Spirit; not, it is true, fully to do our duty, but to strive to reach the goal; and, whereas we are far from attaining perfection, His indulgence supplies what is wanting in us.
Here, however, a difficult question arises, — If all prosperity proceeds from the peculiar blessing which God vouchsafes to His servants, whence is it that many of His despisers have children, easy and happy circumstances, abundance of the fruits of fire earth, enjoyment and luxury, honors and power? I answer, that the happy condition of life, which He assigns to His servants, does not prevent Him from diffusing His bounty promiscuously over the whole human race. He is truly called in Ps 36:6, the preserver of “man and beast.” It is said elsewhere, 218 that His mercy is extended over all His creatures, (Ps 145:17;) and justly does Christ exalt His unbounded goodness, in that “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.” (Mt 5:45.) But equally true is the exclamation of the Prophet;
“Oh, how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up
for them that fear thee!” (Ps 31:19.)
For since all without exception enjoy all the supports of life, God’s goodness, which thus contends with the wickedness of men, shines forth universally even towards the ungodly, so that He does not cease to cherish and preserve those whom He has created, although they be unworthy. He therefore does good to the ungodly, because He is their Creator; besides, in order to keep the minds of believers in suspense in expectation of the final judgment, He now suffers many things to be confusedly mixed together, and hides His judgment in the darkness of night, as it were, or at least under clouds; whilst He also so tempers His patience towards the reprobate, as that, in this confusion of which I have spoken, some signs of His anger and favor are manifested. Thus, although the government of the world is not yet reduced to a perfect rule, still God shews by it that He is both the avenger of sins and the rewarder of righteousness, and some sparks are seen through the darkness; whilst the faithful, although they do not attain to the full enjoyment of the blessing promised them, nevertheless taste of it as far as is expedient. But to the ungodly, although they abound with all sorts of good things, not a single drop of God’s goodness is dispensed; for unless a sense of God’s paternal favor is awakened by His blessing, the blessing itself ceases to exist; nay, the more they gorge themselves, they attain to a deadly fatness; and God purposely lifts them up, that He may cast them down more heavily from their high estate. In a word, they are fed, as the Prophet says, 219 “unto the day of slaughter.”
It must be concluded, therefore, that the blessings which God here promises to His servants are seasoned by Him with spiritual salt, lest they should be tasteless; whilst the reprobate, who are destitute of a sense of His grace, are also deprived altogether of all His blessings. There still, however, remains a difficulty, because the felicity here spoken of does not always, nor equally fall to the lot of God’s servants; nay, even under the Law they were sharply tried by many troubles and adversities. I answer, that since none, not even the most holy, was ever a perfect keeper of the Law, since none was ever free from all transgression, it is no cause of surprise that they only partially enjoyed the promised blessings; inasmuch as they were not fit recipients (capaces) of their fullness; and, if it sometimes happens that they are chastised more severely than the ungodly, neither in this is there any absurdity, since God usually begins His judgment at His own house. (Isa 10:12; 1Pe 4:17.) Still, even in this confusion we see what the Prophet teaches, that the righteous are never forsaken, (Ps 37:25,) and that they are like green and fruitful olive-trees in the courts of the Lord, (Ps 52:8,) whilst the ungodly, although for a season they may be exalted like cedars of Lebanon, yet are plucked up in a moment by the roots, so that no trace of them remains.
“Leur election.” — Fr.
“And all the people of the earth shall see that those are called by the name of the Lord.” — A.V. “And all peoples of the earth shall see that the name of Jehovah is called upon thee,” i.e., “thou art called by his name.” — Ainsworth.
“Que nous demeurions assis, et lesjambes croissees comme des faineans;” that we should remain seated, with our legs crossed, like do-nothings. — Fr.
See margin A.V., “Merciful, or bountiful in all his works.”
No reference is here given in the original. The allusion might be to Jer 12:3, or Jer 51:40.