Verse 7. And he led them forth by the right way. There are many wrong ways, but only one right one, and into this none can lead us but God himself. When the Lord is leader the way is sure to be right; we never need question that. Forth from the pathless mazes of the desert he conducted the lost ones; he found the way, made the way, and enabled them to walk along it, faint and hungry as they were.
That they might go to a city of habitation. The end was worthy of the way: he did not lead them from one desert to another, but he gave the wanderers an abode, the weary ones a place of rest. They found no city to dwell in, but he found one readily enough. What we can do and what God can do are two very different things. What a difference it made to them to leave their solitude for a city, their trackless path for well frequented streets, and their faintness of heart for the refreshment of a home! Far greater are the changes which divine love works in the condition of sinners when God answers their prayers and brings them to Jesus. Shall not the Lord be magnified for such special mercies? Can we who have enjoyed them sit down in ungrateful silence?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 7. He led them forth. Forth out of the world -- forth out of a profession -- forth out of a name to live -- forth out of every thing hateful in his holy and pure eyes. --J.C. Philpot.
Verse 7. And he led them forth by the right way, etc. Alexander translates this verse -- "And he led them in a straight course, to go to a city of habitation"; and adds, "No exact version can preserve or imitate the paronomasia arising from the etymological affinity of the first verb and noun, analogous to that between the English walk and to walk, though the Hebrew forms are only similar and not identical. The idea of physical rectitude or straightness necessarily suggests that of moral rectitude or honesty, commonly denoted by the Hebrew word."
Verse 7. A city of habitation. Not a city of inspection! Many -- (Eternal God, will it be any of this company?) -- will look in; and "there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, when they shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God, and they themselves shut out." Not a city of visitation. Christians shall not only enter, but abide. They shall go no more out -- it is "a city of habitation." This conveys the idea of repose. The Christian is now a traveller; then he will be a resident: he is now on the road; he will then be at home: "there remaineth a rest for the people of God." It reminds us of a social state. It is not a solitary condition; we shall partake of it with an innumerable company of angels, with all the saved from among men, with patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, our kindred in Christ. "These are fellow citizens of the saints, and of the household of God." It suggests magnificence. It is not a village, or a town, but a city of habitation. A city is the highest representation of civil community. There have been famous cities; but what are they all to this! -- William Jay.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 7. Divine grace stimulating our exertions. "He led them forth ... that they might go."