Verse 7. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar. We have had mention of the ark and the shekinah, and now of the fiery cloudy pillar, which was another visible token of the presence of God in the midst of Israel. Responses came to Moses and Aaron out of that glorious overshadowing cloud, and though Samuel saw it not, yet to him also came the mystic voice which was wont to thunder forth from that divine canopy. Men have had converse with God, let men therefore speak to God in return. He has told us things to come, let us in return confess the sins which are past; he has revealed his mind to us, let us then pour out our hearts before him.
They kept his testimonies. When others turned aside they were faithful; in their hearts they laid up his word, and in their lives they obeyed it. When he spake to them they observed his will, and therefore when they spake to him he yielded to their desires. This keeping of the divine testimonies is a virtue all too rare in these our days; men run after their own views and opinions, and make light of the truth of God; hence it is that they fail in prayer, and scoffers have even dared to say that prayer avails not at all. May the good Lord bring back his people to reverence his word, and then will he also have respect unto the voice of their cry.
And the ordinance that he gave them. His practical precept they observed as well as his doctrinal instruction. Ordinances are not to be trifled with, or testimonies will also be despised; and the converse is also true, a light estimate of inspired dogma is sure to end in neglect of moral virtues. To Moses, Aaron, and Samuel special and personal charges were committed, and they were all true to their trust, for they stood in awe of the Lord, their God, and worshipped him with their whole souls. They were very different men, and had each one a work to do peculiar to himself, yet because each was a man of prayer they were all preserved in their integrity, fulfilled their office, and blessed their generation. Lord, teach us like Moses to hold up our hands in prayer and conquer Amalek, like Aaron to wave the censer between the living and the dead till the plague is stayed, and like Samuel to say to a guilty people, "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you;" if thou wilt make us mighty with thee in prayer, we shall also be kept faithful before thee in the service which thou hast laid upon us.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 7. They kept his testimonies. For this reason they were so promptly heard, even as the Lord himself says, "If a man love me he will keep my words," and again, "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you." And the ordinance that he gave them. They not only observed the precepts which bind men in general, but the peculiar obligation of governing, directing, and teaching the people committed to them. Bellarmine.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 7. (first clause). The revelation of the cloud, or what God foreshadowed to Israel in the cloudy pillar.
- That God was willing to commune with man.
- That sinful man could not see God and live.
- That God should become incarnate, veiled in flesh as in the cloud.
- That he should be their shelter, protector, guide.
- That God manifest in the flesh should lead them to the Promised Land -- Heaven. C. D.