Confession in offering the first-fruits. (1-11) The prayer after disposal of the third year's tithe. (12-15) The covenant between God and the people. (16-19)
Verses 1-11 When God has made good his promises to us, he expects we should own it to the honour of his faithfulness. And our creature comforts are doubly sweet, when we see them flowing from the fountain of the promise. The person who offered his first-fruits, must remember and own the mean origin of that nation, of which he was a member. A Syrian ready to perish was my father. Jacob is here called a Syrian. Their nation in its infancy sojourned in Egypt as strangers, they served there as slaves. They were a poor, despised, oppressed people in Egypt; and though become rich and great, had no reason to be proud, secure, or forgetful of God. He must thankfully acknowledge God's great goodness to Israel. The comfort we have in our own enjoyments, should lead us to be thankful for our share in public peace and plenty; and with present mercies we should bless the Lord for the former mercies we remember, and the further mercies we expect and hope for. He must offer his basket of first-fruits. Whatever good thing God gives us, it is his will that we make the most comfortable use we can of it, tracing the streams to the Fountain of all consolation.
Verses 12-15 How should the earth yield its increase, or, if it does, what comfort can we take in it, unless therewith our God gives us his blessing? All this represented the covenant relation between a reconciled God and every true believer, and the privileges and duties belonging to it. We must be watchful, and show that according to the covenant of grace in Christ Jesus, the Lord is our God, and we are his people, waiting in his appointed way for the performance of his gracious promises.
Verses 16-19 Moses here enforces the precepts. They are God's laws, therefore thou shalt do them, to that end were they given thee; do them, and dispute them not; do them, and draw not back; do them, not carelessly and hypocritically, but with thy heart and soul, thy whole heart and thy whole soul. We forswear ourselves, and break the most sacred engagement, if, when we have taken the Lord to be our God, we do not make conscience of obeying his ( 1 Peter. 1:2 ) should be holy, ( Ephesians 1:4 ) ; purified a peculiar people, that we might not only do good works, but be zealous in them, Tit. 2:14 . Holiness is true honour, and the only way to everlasting honour.
Deuteronomy 26:1-15 . THE CONFESSION OF HIM THAT OFFERS THE BASKET OF FIRST FRUITS.
2. Thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth--The Israelites in Canaan, being God's tenants-at-will, were required to give Him tribute in the form of first-fruits and tithes. No Israelite was at liberty to use any productions of his field until he had presented the required offerings. The tribute began to be exigible after the settlement in the promised land, and it was yearly repeated at one of the great feasts ( Leviticus 2:14 , 23:10 , 23:15 , Numbers 28:26 , Deuteronomy 16:9 ). Every master of a family carried it on his shoulders in a little basket of osier, peeled willow, or palm leaves, and brought it to the sanctuary.
5. thou shalt say . . . A Syrian ready to perish was my father--rather, "a wandering Syrian." The ancestors of the Hebrews were nomad shepherds, either Syrians by birth as Abraham, or by long residence as Jacob. When they were established as a nation in the possession of the promised land, they were indebted to God's unmerited goodness for their distinguished privileges, and in token of gratitude they brought this basket of first-fruits.
11. thou shalt rejoice--feasting with friends and the Levites, who were invited on such occasions to share in the cheerful festivities that followed oblations ( Deuteronomy 12:7 , 16:10-15 ).
12-15. When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year--Among the Hebrews there were two tithings. The first was appropriated to the Levites ( Numbers 18:21 ). The second, being the tenth of what remained, was brought to Jerusalem in kind; or it was converted into money, and the owner, on arriving in the capital, purchased sheep, bread, and oil ( Deuteronomy 14:22 Deuteronomy 14:23 ). This was done for two consecutive years. But this second tithing was eaten at home, and the third year distributed among the poor of the place ( Deuteronomy 14:28 Deuteronomy 14:29 ).
13. thou shalt say before the Lord thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house--This was a solemn declaration that nothing which should be devoted to the divine service had been secretly reserved for personal use.
14. I have not eaten thereof in my mourning--in a season of sorrow, which brought defilement on sacred things; under a pretense of poverty, and grudging to give any away to the poor.
neither . . . for any unclean use--that is, any common purpose, different from what God had appointed and which would have been a desecration of it.
nor given ought thereof for the dead--on any funeral service, or, to an idol, which is a dead thing.