Verse 31. "The people believed" - They credited the account given of the Divine appointment of Moses and Aaron to be their deliverers out of their bondage, the miracles wrought on the occasion confirming the testimony delivered by Aaron.
"They bowed their heads and worshipped." - See a similar act mentioned, and in the same words, Gen. xxiv. 26. The bowing the head, &c., here, may probably refer to the eastern custom of bowing the head down to the knees, then kneeling down and touching the earth with the forehead. This was a very painful posture and the most humble in which the body could possibly be placed. Those who pretend to worship God, either by prayer or thanksgiving, and keep themselves during the performance of those solemn acts in a state of perfect ease, either carelessly standing or stupidly sitting, surely cannot have a due sense of the majesty of God, and their own sinfulness and unworthiness. Let the feelings of the body put the soul in remembrance of its sin against God. Let a man put himself in such a position (kneeling for instance) as it is generally acknowledged a criminal should assume, when coming to his sovereign and judge to bewail his sins, and solicit forgiveness.
The Jewish custom, as we learn from Rabbi Maymon, was to bend the body so that every joint of the backbone became incurvated, and the head was bent towards the knees, so that the body resembled a bow; and prostration implied laying the body flat upon the earth, the arms and legs extended to the uttermost, the mouth and forehead touching the ground. In Matt. viii. 2 the leper is said to worship our Lord, prosekunei autw? but in Luke v. 12 he is said to have fallen on his face, peswn epi proswpon. These two accounts show that he first kneeled down, probably putting his face down to his knees, and touching the earth with his forehead; and then prostrated himself, his legs and arms being both extended. See on "Gen. xvii. 3.
THE backwardness of Moses to receive and execute the commission to deliver the children of Israel, has something very instructive in it. He felt the importance of the charge, his own insufficiency, and the awful responsibility under which he should be laid if he received it. Who then can blame him for hesitating? If he miscarried (and how difficult in such a case not to miscarry!) he must account to a jealous God, whose justice required him to punish every delinquency. What should ministers of the Gospel feel on such subjects? Is not their charge more important and more awful than that of Moses? How few consider this! It is respectable, it is honourable, to be in the Gospel ministry, but who is sufficient to guide and feed the flock of God? If through the pastor's unfitness or neglect any soul should go astray, or perish through want of proper spiritual nourishment, or through not getting his portion in due season, in what a dreadful state is the pastor! That soul, says God, shall die in his iniquities, but his blood will I require at the watchman's hands! Were these things only considered by those who are candidates for the Gospel ministry, who could be found to undertake it? We should then indeed have the utmost occasion to pray the Lord of the harvest, ekballein, to THRUST OUT labourers into the harvest, as no one, duly considering those things would go, unless thrust out by God himself. O ye ministers of the sanctuary! tremble for your own souls, and the souls of those committed to your care, and go not into this work unless God go with you. Without his presence, unction, and approbation, ye can do nothing.