he plague of locusts threatened, Pharaoh, moved by his
servants, inclines to let the Israelites go. (1-11) The plague
of locusts. (12-20) The plague of thick darkness. (21-29)
Verses 1-11: The plagues of Egypt show the sinfulness of sin. They warn
the children of men not to strive with their Maker. Pharaoh had
pretended to humble himself; but no account was made of it, for
he was not sincere therein. The plague of locusts is threatened.
This should be much worse than any of that kind which had ever
been known. Pharaoh's attendants persuade him to come to terms
with Moses. Hereupon Pharaoh will allow the men to go, falsely
pretending that this was all they desired. He swears that they
shall not remove their little ones. Satan does all he can to
hinder those that serve God themselves, from bringing their
children to serve him. He is a sworn enemy to early piety.
Whatever would put us from engaging our children in God's
service, we have reason to suspect Satan in it. Nor should the
young forget that the Lord's counsel is, Remember thy Creator in
the days of thy youth; but Satan's counsel is, to keep children
in a state of slavery to sin and to the world. Mark that the
great foe of man wishes to retain him by the ties of affection,
as Pharaoh would have taken hostages from the Israelites for
their return, by holding their wives and children in captivity.
Satan is willing to share our duty and our service with the
Saviour, because the Saviour will not accept those terms.
Verses 12-20: God bids Moses stretch out his hand; locusts came at the
call. An army might more easily have been resisted than this
host of insects. Who then is able to stand before the great God?
They covered the face of the earth, and ate up the fruit of it.
Herbs grow for the service of man; yet when God pleases, insects
shall plunder him, and eat the bread out of his mouth. Let our
labour be, not for the habitation and meat thus exposed, but for
those which endure to eternal life. Pharaoh employs Moses and
Aaron to pray for him. There are those, who, in distress, seek
the help of other people's prayers, but have no mind to pray for
themselves. They show thereby that they have no true love to
God, nor any delight in communion with him. Pharaoh desires only
that this death might be taken away, not this sin. He wishes to
get rid of the plague of locusts, not the plague of a hard
heart, which was more dangerous. An east wind brought the
locusts, a west wind carries them off. Whatever point the wind
is in, it is fulfilling God's word, and turns by his counsel.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, as to us; but not so as it
respects God. It was also an argument for their repentance; for
by this it appeared that God is ready to forgive, and swift to
show mercy. If he does this upon the outward tokens of
humiliation, what will he do if we are sincere! Oh that this
goodness of God might lead us to repentance! Pharaoh returned to
his resolution again, not to let the people go. Those who have
often baffled their convictions, are justly given up to the
lusts of their hearts.
Verses 21-29: The plague of darkness brought upon Egypt was a dreadful
plague. It was darkness which might be felt, so thick were the
fogs. It astonished and terrified. It continued three days; six
nights in one; so long the most lightsome palaces were dungeons.
Now Pharaoh had time to consider, if he would have improved it.
Spiritual darkness is spiritual bondage; while Satan blinds
men's eyes that they see not, he binds their hands and feet,
that they work not for God, nor move toward heaven. They sit in
darkness. It was righteous with God thus to punish. The
blindness of their minds brought upon them this darkness of the
air; never was mind so blinded as Pharaoh's, never was air so
darkened as Egypt. Let us dread the consequences of sin; if
three days of darkness were so dreadful, what will everlasting
darkness be? The children of Israel, at the same time, had light
in their dwellings. We must not think we share in common mercies
as a matter of course, and therefore that we owe no thanks to
God for them. It shows the particular favour he bears to his
people. Wherever there is an Israelite indeed, though in this
dark world, there is light, there is a child of light. When God
made this difference between the Israelites and the Egyptians,
who would not have preferred the poor cottage of an Israelite to
the fine palace of an Egyptian? There is a real difference
between the house of the wicked, which is under a curse, and the
habitation of the just, which is blessed. Pharaoh renewed the
treaty with Moses and Aaron, and consented they should take
their little ones, but would have their cattle left. It is
common for sinners to bargain with God Almighty; thus they try
to mock him, but they deceive themselves. The terms of
reconciliation with God are so fixed, that though men dispute
them ever so long, they cannot possibly alter them, or bring
them lower. We must come to the demand of God's will; we cannot
expect he should condescend to the terms our lusts would make.
With ourselves and our children, we must devote all our worldly
possessions to the service of God; we know not what use he will
make of any part of what we have. Pharaoh broke off the
conference abruptly, and resolved to treat no more. Had he
forgotten how often he had sent for Moses to ease him of his
plagues? and must he now be bid to come no more? Vain malice! to
threaten him with death, who was armed with such power! What
will not hardness of heart, and contempt of God's word and
commandments, bring men to! After this, Moses came no more till
he was sent for. When men drive God's word from them, he justly
gives them up to their own delusions.