Four instances of the return of God's favour we have in this chapter.
The orders he gives to Moses to come up to the mount the next
morning, and bring two tables of stone with him, ver. 1 - 4.
His meeting him there, and the proclamation of his name, ver. 6 - 9.
The instructions he gave him there, and his converse with him
forty days, ver. 10 - 28.
The honour he put upon him when he sent him down with his face
shining, ver. 29 - 35.
In all which God dealt with Moses as a mediator between him and
Israel, and a type of the great Mediator.
1: Moses must prepare for the renewing of the tables. Before God
himself provided the tables, and wrote on them; now Moses must hew
him out the tables, and God would only write upon them. When God
was reconciled to them, he ordered the tables to be renewed, and wrote
his law in them, which plainly intimates to us, that even under the gospel
(of which the intercession of Moses was typical) the moral law should
continue to oblige believers. Though Christ has redeemed us from the
curse of the law, yet not from the command of it, but still we are
under the law to Christ. When our Saviour in his sermon on the
mount expounded the moral law, and vindicated it from the corrupt
glosses with which the scribes and Pharisees had broken it, he did in
effect renew the tables, and make them like the first; that is, reduce
the law to its primitive sense and intention.
5: The Lord descended - By some sensible token of his presence, and
manifestation of his glory. He descended in the cloud - Probably that
pillar of cloud which had hitherto gone before Israel, and had the day
before met Moses at the door of the tabernacle.
6: And the Lord passed by before him - Fixed views of God are
reserved for the future state; the best we have in this world are
transient. And proclaimed the name of the Lord - By which he would
make himself known. He had made himself known to Moses in the glory of
his self - existence, and self - sufficiency, when he proclaimed that name,
I am that I am; now he makes himself known in the glory of his grace
and goodness, and all - sufficiency to us. The proclaiming of it notes
the universal extent of God's mercy; he is not only good to Israel, but
good to all. The God with whom we have to do is a great God. He is
Jehovah, the Lord, that hath his being of himself, and is the fountain
of all being; Jehovah - El, the Lord, the strong God, a God of
almighty power himself, and the original of all power. This is prefixed
before the display of his mercy, to teach us to think and to speak even of
God's goodness with a holy awe, and to encourage us to depend upon these
mercies. He is a good God. His greatness and goodness illustrate each
other. That his greatness may not make us afraid, we are told how good he
is; and that we may not presume upon his goodness, we are told how great he
is. Many words are here heaped up to acquaint us with, and convince us of
1st, He is merciful, This speaks his pity, and tender
companion, like that of a father to his children. This is put first,
because it is the first wheel in all the instances of God's good - will to
2ndly, He is gracious. This speaks both freeness, and kindness: it
speaks him not only to have a compassion to his creatures, but a complacency
in them, and in doing good to them; and this of his own good - will, not for
the sake of any thing in them.
3dly, He is long - suffering. This is a branch of God's goodness
which our wickedness gives occasion for. He is long - suffering, that
is, he is slow to anger, and delays the executions of his justice, he
waits to be gracious, and lengthens out the offers of his mercy.
4thly, He is abundant in goodness and truth. This speaks
plentiful goodness; it abounds above our deserts, above our
conception. The springs of mercy are always full, the streams of mercy
always flowing; there is mercy enough in God, enough for all, enough for
each, enough for ever. It speaks promised goodness, goodness and
truth put together, goodness engaged by promise.
5thly, He keepeth mercy for thousands.
Mercy extended to thousands of persons. When he gives to some,
still he keeps for others, and is never exhausted:
Mercy entailed upon thousands of generations, even to those upon
whom the ends of the world are come; nay, the line of it is drawn parallel
with that of eternity itself.
6thly, He forgiveth iniquity, transgression and sin - Pardoning mercy
is instanced in, because in that divine grace is most magnified, and because
that it is that opens the door to all other gifts of grace. He forgives
offences of all sorts, iniquity, transgression and sin, multiplies
his pardons, and with him is plenteous redemption. He is a just and
1st, He will by no means clear the guilty. He will not clear
the impenitently guilty, those that go on still in their trespasses;
he will not clear the guilty without satisfaction to his justice.
2dly, He visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children
- Especially for the punishment of idolaters. Yet he keepeth not his
anger for ever, but visits to the third and fourth generation only,
while he keeps mercy for thousands - This is God's name for ever, and this
is his memorial unto all generations.
8: And Moses made haste, and bowed his head - Thus he expressed his
humble reverence and adoration of God's glory, together with his joy in
this discovery God had made of himself, and his thankfulness for it. Then
likewise he expressed his holy submission to the will of God made known in
this declaration, subscribing to his justice as well as mercy, and putting
himself and his people Israel under the government of such a God as
Jehovah had now proclaimed himself to be. Let this God be our God for
ever and ever!
9: And he said, I pray thee go among us - For thy presence is all to
our safety and success. And pardon our iniquity and our sin - Else we
cannot expect thee to go among us. And take us for thine inheritance
- Which thou wilt have a particular eye to, and concern for. These things
God had already promised Moses; and yet he prays for them, not as
doubting the sincerity of God's grants, but as one solicitous for the
ratification of them. But it is a strange plea he urges, for it is a
stiff - necked people - God had given this as a reason why he would not go
along with them, (Ex 33:3).
Yea, saith Moses, the rather go along with us; for the worse they are,
the more need they have of thy presence. Moses sees them so
stiff - necked, that he has neither patience nor power enough to deal with
them; therefore, Lord, do thou go among us; else they will never be kept
in awe; thou wilt spare, and bear with them, for thou art God and not
10: Behold I make a covenant - When the covenant was broke, it was
Israel that broke it; now it comes to be renewed, it is God that makes
it. If there be quarrels, we must bear all the blame; if there be peace,
God must have all the glory. Before all thy people I will do marvels
- Such as the drying up of Jordan, the standing still of the sun.
Marvels indeed, for they were without precedent, such as have not been
done in all the earth; the people shall see, and own the work of the
Lord; and they were the terror of their enemies: it is a terrible
thing that I will do.
11: Observe that which I command thee - We cannot expect the benefit
of the promises, unless we make conscience of the precepts. The two great
Thou shalt worship no other gods - A good reason is annexed; for
the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God - As tender in the
matters of his worship as the husband is of the honour of the marriage - bed.
Thou shalt make thee no molten gods - Thou shalt not worship the true
God by images. This was the sin they had lately fallen into, which
therefore they are particularly cautioned against. That they might not be
tempted to worship other gods, they must not join in affinity or
friendship with those that did.
12: Take heed to thyself - It is a sin thou art prone to, and that
will easily beset thee; carefully abstain from all advances towards it,
make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land - If God in kindness to
them drove out the Canaanites, they ought in duty to God not to harbour
them: If they espoused their children they would be in danger of espousing
their gods. That they might not be tempted to make molten gods, they
must utterly destroy those they found, and all that belonged to them, the
altars and groves, lest, if they were left standing, they should be brought
in process of time either to use them, or to take pattern by them.
21: Here is a repetition of several appointments made before,
especially relating to their solemn feasts: when they had made the calf they
proclaimed a feast in honour of it; now, that they might never do so again,
they are here charged with the observance of the feasts which God had
instituted. Thou shalt rest, even in earing - time and in harvest - The
most busy times of the year. All wordly business must give way to that holy
rest: harvest - work will prosper the better for the religious observation of
the sabbath - day in harvest - time. Hereby we must shew that we prefer our
communion with God, before either the business or the joy of harvest.
23: Thrice in the year shall all the men - children appear - But it
might be suggested, when all the males slain every part were gone up to
worship in the place that God should chuse, the country would he left
exposed to the insults of their neighbours; and what would become of the
poor women and children? Trust God with them.
24: Neither shalt any man desire thy land - Not only they shall not
invade it, but they shall not so much as think of invading it. What a
standing Miracle was this, for so many Generations?
29: The skin of his face shone - This time of his being in the mount
he heard only the same he had heard before. But he saw more of the
glory of God, which having with open face beheld, he was in some measure
changed into the same image. This was a great honour done to Moses,
that the people might never again question his mission, or think or speak
slightly of him. He carried his credentials in his very countenance, some
think as long as he lived, he retained some remainders of this glory, which
perhaps contributed to the vigour of his old age; that eye could not wax
dim which had seen God, nor that face wrinkle which had shone with his
30: And Aaron and the children of Israel saw it, and were afraid - It
not only dazzled their eyes, but struck such an awe upon them as obliged
them to retire. Probably they doubted whether it was a token of God's
favour, or of his displeasure.
33: And Moses put a veil upon his face - This veil signified the
darkness of that dispensation; the ceremonial institutions had in them much
of Christ and the gospel, but a veil was drawn over it, so that the children
of Israel could not distinctly and steadfastly see those good things
to come which the law had a shadow of. It was beauty veiled, gold in
the mine, a pearl in the shell; but thanks be to God, by the gospel, the
veil is taken away from off the old testament; yet still it remains upon the
hearts of those who shut their eyes against the light.
34: When he went before the Lord, he put off the veil - Every
veil must be thrown aside when we go to present ourselves unto the Lord.
This signified also, as it is explained, (2Co 3:16), that when a soul
turns to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away, that with open face
it may behold his glory.