According unto the days that ye abode there - They had been a long time at this place, see Numbers 13:27; Numbers 20:1, Numbers 20:14, Numbers 20:21. And some think that the words mean, "Ye abode as long at Kadesh, when you came to it the second time, as ye did at the first." Or, according to others, "While ye were in that part of the desert, ye encamped at Kadesh." As one grand object of the law of God was to instruct the people in those things which were calculated to promote their peace and insure their prosperity; and as they were apt to lose sight of their spiritual interests, without a due attention to which their secular interest could not be promoted; Moses, not only in this chapter, but through the whole book, calls upon them to recollect their former miserable situation, in which they held neither life nor property but at the will of a merciless tyrant, and the great kindness and power of God manifested in their deliverance from a bondage that was as degrading as it was oppressive. These things properly remembered would lead them to prize their blessings, and duly appreciate the mercy of their Maker.
But it was not only this general display of God's kindness, in the grand act of their deliverance from Egypt, that he wished them to keep constantly in view, but also that gracious providence which was manifested in every step they took; which directed all their movements, provided for all their wants, continually showing what they should do, how they should do it, and also the most proper time and place for every act, whether religious or civil. By bringing before them in one point of view the history of almost forty years, in which the strangest and most stupendous occurrences had taken place that had ever been exhibited to the world, he took the readiest way to impress their minds, not only with their deep obligation to God, but also to show them that they were a people on whom their Maker had set his heart to do them good, and that if they feared him they should lack nothing that was good. He lays out also before them a history of their miscarriages and rebellion, and the privations and evils they had suffered in consequence, that this might act as a continual warning, and thus become, in the hands of God, a preventive of crimes.
If every Christian were thus to call his past life into review, he would see equal proofs of God's gracious regards to his body and soul; equal proofs of eternal mercy in providing for his deliverance from the galling yoke and oppressive tyranny of sin, as the Israelites had in their deliverance from Egypt; and equal displays of a most gracious providence, that had also been his incessant companion through all the changes and chances of this mortal life, guiding him by its counsel, that he might be at last received into glory. O reader, remember what God has done for thee during thy forty, fifty, etc., years! He has nourished, fed, clothed, protected, and saved thee. How often and how powerfully has his Spirit striven with thee! How often and how impressively thou hast heard his voice in his Gospel and in his providences! Remember the good resolutions thou hast made, the ingratitude and disobedience that have marked thy life; how his vows are still upon thee, and how his mercy still spares thee! And wilt thou live so as to perish for ever? God forbid! He still waits to be gracious, and rejoices over thee to do thee good. Learn from what is before thee how thou shouldst fear, love, believe in, and obey thy God. The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world, is still before the throne; and whosoever cometh unto God through him shall in nowise be cast out. He who believes these things with an upright heart will soon be enabled to live a sanctified life.