DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 26.
Prayers Offered with First-Fruits and Tithes.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING ó V.1. And it shall be when thou art come in unto the land which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein, v.2. that thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, Ex. 23, 19; 34, 26, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the Lord, thy God, giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, one woven, usually of willow-withes, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord, thy God, shall choose to place His name there. This offering was a part of the first-fruits of the land as they were deposited in the Sanctuary of Jehovah for the purpose here outlined. V.3, And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, the officiating priest, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the Lord, thy God, that I am come unto the country which the Lord sware unto our fathers for to give us. The confession was made by the bringing of the first-fruits, for the contents of the basket were the actual proof of Israelís having taken possession of the land and enjoying its increase. V.4. And the priests shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the Lord, thy God, before the altar of burnt offering, as a gift of thanksgiving to Jehovah. To the symbolic act and confession there was now added a comprehensive prayer of thanksgiving. V.5. And thou shalt speak and say before the Lord, thy God, A Syrian, ready to perish, an Aramean wandering about, was my father, a reference to Jacobís journey to Mesopotamia and to his subsequent wanderings in the Land of Promise, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, as the ancestor of the twelve tribes, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous, Ex. 1, 7. 9; v.6. and the Egyptians evil entreated us, by an unendurable oppression, Ex. 1, 11. 12, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage; v.7. and when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression, Ex. 2, 23; 4, 31; v.8. and the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, Ex. 12, 37. 51, and with great terribleness, in sending terror upon the Egyptians by the great wonders and plagues which Moses performed, and with signs, and with wonders; v.9. and He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. V.10. And now, behold, I have brought the first-fruits of the land which thou, O Lord, hast given me. And thou shalt set it, the basket, before the Lord, thy God, for this prayer ended the formal ceremony, and worship before the Lord, thy God, bow down before Him in adoration; v.11. and thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord, thy God, hath given unto thee and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you, chap. 12, 7. 12. 18; 16, 11. 14; 18, 4. Solemn, grateful festal joy was to reign in the hearts of the Israelites upon this occasion and be evident in their entire behavior. Every prayer of thanksgiving includes a declaration of Godís goodness, a recital of His mercies.
THE CONFESSION AND PRAYER WITH TITHES. ó V.12. When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, the reference here being to the triennial charity tithe, chap. 14, 28. 29, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow that they may eat within thy gates and be filled, have all they need to sustain their lives, v.13. then thou shalt say before the Lord, thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things, those devoted to the Lord by His command, out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all Thy commandments which Thou hast commanded me; I have not transgressed Thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them, the very fact that this confession was required served as an inducement to keep the regulation concerning tithes; v.14. I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, namely, while engaged in mourning for some dead person, for during that time the Israelite was Levitically unclean, neither have I taken away aught thereof for any unclean use, nor given aught thereof for the dead, namely, by sending it to some friendís house of mourning, for the use of the mourners, for the house where a dead person lay was regarded as unclean, and hence nothing consecrated to the Lord was permitted to enter; but I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord, my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me. V.15. Look down from Thy holy habitation, from heaven, which was looked upon as the throne of Jehovah, Is. 63, 15; Zech. 2, 13, and bless Thy people Israel, and the land which Thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey. The believing Israelite included his entire nation in his prayer, just as the Lord taught us Christians to do in the prayer which He Himself formulated.
KEEPING THE COVENANT. ó V.16. This day the Lord, thy God, hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments; thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart and with all thy soul, the hearing and accepting of the Law on the part of Israel being equivalent to the declaration of loyalty to Jehovah in word and deed. V.17. Thou hast avouched, said of causing the other party of a contract to say, to make a declaration regarding some intention, the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in His ways, and to keep His statutes and His commandments and His judgments, both the precepts of the covenant and the obligations toward God and men as they flowed from the Moral Law, and to hearken, unto His voice; v.18. and the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, the people of His possession, Ex. 19, 5. 6, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all His commandments; v.19. and to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, for He is the Creator of all people, in praise and in name and in honor, for all men witnessing the deeds of the Lord toward His chosen people would be constrained to magnify Jehovah as the supreme, the only God; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord, thy God, as He hath spoken; for that was the aim and the purpose of the Lord in all His dealing with His people. This end and aim of the divine will is still being realized in His Church, His believers, whom He intends to exalt to bliss ineffable in heaven, Eph. 1, 4.