Book of Deuteronomy Chapter Thirty-Two Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
The Song Of Moses
Verses 1-4: "Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. 2 Let my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distill as the dew, as the droplets on the fresh grass and as the showers on the herb.3 For I proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God!4 The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He." Jesus gave us a model prayer in Matthew 6:5-13, beginning with, "Pray, then, in this way:" starting with praise to God as we should, and like Moses did in this chapter in Deuteronomy. Those who give their hearts and lives to the Lord receive gifts of service to the Lord and through Him, gifts to be shared with others. When Moses said, "Let my teaching drop as the rain..." he recognized that the true Teacher is our Lord, and we humans who teach are actually vessels containing the Holy Spirit; people willing to have the good things of God poured out through them. As this chapter unfolds, note that Moses was not only a leader and teacher, he was also a prophet, revealing God in His greatness, perfection, justice, faithfulness and righteousness to the nation and to the world. The Lord is our "Rock...upright is He."
Verses 5-6: "They have acted corruptly toward Him,they are not His children, because of their defect; but are a perverse and crooked generation.6 Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people?
Is not He your Father who has bought you?
He has made you and established you." These verses are a prophetic look at the people chosen by God. (Shhh—Humanity is not perfect). Note carefully that just as God knew them, He also utterly knows you and me. You might fool others and even yourself, but He is not fooled, nor are His expectations of us unreasonable. EVERYTHING you and I have and are is God's creation, and we owe Him everything in return.
Verses 7-9: "Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations.
Ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you.8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of Israel.9 For the Lord’s portion is His people;
Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance." God CHOSE Israel, and His choice continues until this day, for all time and throughout eternity. This was a people and it was to be a place where God REVEALED Himself, and He would do it through this nation. The Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ, would emerge through Israel as the Savior of the world. Israel was to be like a setting of black velvet displaying a priceless diamond, revealing Jesus Christ, "the light of the world" (John 8:12). Israel would lose their way, as does everybody in one way or another, and when they did, they were to look to the elders, who were supposed to remember these Scriptures, using them to bring the nation back to the Lord.
Verses 10-14: "He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness;
He encircled him, He cared for him,
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.11 Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.12 The Lord alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him.13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he ate the produce of the field; and He made him suck honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock,14 Curds of cows, and milk of the flock, with fat of lambs, and rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the finest of the wheat—and of the blood of grapes you drank wine.15 But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked—you are grown fat, thick, and sleek—then he forsook God who made him, and scorned the Rock of his salvation." God has BLESSED Israel; raised them up from nothing... protected them. And yes, He has also disciplined that people. As revealed in places like Proverbs 3:12, "My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord, or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves, He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom he delights." When we place our faith in the Lord, He will bless us in many unexpected and delightful ways. Additionally, He knows our every bad tendency, and along with the blessings will come problems that are designed to heal our waywardness. Israel is the example of what happens to all, events carefully tailored for each nation, all organizations, every individual.
Verses 16-19: "They made Him jealous with strange gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger.17 They sacrificed to demons who were not God, to gods whom they have not known, new gods who came lately,
whom your fathers did not dread.18 You neglected the Rock who begot you, and forgot the God who gave you birth.19 The Lord saw this, and spurned them because of the provocation of His sons and daughters." This Song Of Moses, which he was presenting to the nation, was not only a way of 1) teaching them, and 2) revealing their deficiencies, but 3) it also was a prophesy of what would come. Yes, these words also spoke of the past, but it's interesting how God will often portray a future event in the past tense, a reminder that God is not in time like we are. What will happen to us in the future and to our people, if the Lord delays His return, is already occurring from His perspective because He is God and is not in any way limited in time and space like we are.
Verses 20-25: "Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness.21 They have made Me jealous with what is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,22 For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.23 I will heap misfortunes on them; I will use My arrows on them.24 They will be wasted by famine, and consumed by plague and bitter destruction; and the teeth of beasts I will send upon them, with the venom of crawling things of the dust.25 Outside the sword will bereave, And inside terror—both young man and virgin,
the nursling with the man of gray hair." Society assigns roles to its people. And we assign roles to ourselves. We judge others (and note that we all judge others); we judge them in relation to our interpretation of certain human rules, and secretly, down inside, we all too often have judged them just because we don't like their appearance. Since we are an unfair people, we judge ourselves in a similar manner. We can always find those we think are less nice than we are, or if we are not nice at all, our judgment may be based on who is less EFFECTIVE than we think we are. God is perfect in all ways, including love. Since His intention is to love us without limit, He brings judgment into our lives in order to save us from ourselves. He did that with Israel and He is doing it with everybody else. "How could this happen to me?" is answered by: He is saving me from myself. And you might ask, in relation to Verse 20, "Why can't we see God?" It's in great part because our sinful natures have blinded us to His Presence.
Verses 26-29: "I would have said, 'I will cut them to pieces, I will remove the memory of them from men,'27 Had I not feared the provocation by the enemy, that their adversaries would misjudge, that they would say, 'Our hand is triumphant, and the Lord has not done all this.'28 For they are a nation lacking in counsel, and there is no understanding in them.29 Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future!" Israel would, in the future, stray so badly from God's intention for them that it would seem reasonable for Him to simply destroy them and start with somebody else. But He didn't because He loves them, and also: They are God's message to the world! We are all sinners, a danger to ourselves and to other people; selfish from birth. But there is an Antidote to the sickness of sin, and His Name is Jesus Christ. He would emerge from the nation Israel in the center of history, and when anybody, anywhere, any time, has faith in the Lord, we are saved because He paid the price—even for those who never even heard His Name. God has a Reputation, and His method of bringing understanding of His Goodness to the world has been wrought through the nation Israel, out of whom the Messiah emerged for us all. To undo His work would mean that those who should be saved would not be. Israel stands today because God loves us all.
Verses 30-35: "How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had given them up?31 Indeed their rock is not like our Rock, even our enemies themselves judge this.32 For their vine is from the vine of Sodom, and from the fields of Gomorrah;
their grapes are grapes of poison, their clusters, bitter.33 Their wine is the venom of serpents, and the deadly poison of cobras.34 Is it not laid up in store with Me, sealed up in My treasuries?35 Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them." There has been considerable confusion about battles and nations through the centuries: Whose side is the Lord on? Ours or theirs? In World War I, people prayed more than they do today, and there were many Axis soldiers on one side, praying for victory, and there were Allied soldiers on the other side, also praying for victory. Whose side was He on? The answer is: neither. We find Joshua, the new human leader of Israel, encountering an armed "man" who was likely an angel or the Lord Himself, and Joshua asked, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?" The interesting answer was, "No, rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord" (Joshua 5:13-15). In the battles of humanity, it is US who are to be on the side of God.
Verses 36-38: "For the Lord will vindicate His people, and will have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their strength is gone, and there is none remaining, bond or free.37 And He will say, ‘Where are their gods, the rock in which they sought refuge?38 Who ate the fat of their sacrifices,and drank the wine of their drink offering?
Let them rise up and help you, let them be your hiding place!" Idolatry can be gross, subtle, and somewhere in between. You were created by God, whether or not you admit it, and you are utterly His, though you may not recognize or know it. If you give your total allegiance to money, sex, power, drugs, some worthy-sounding cause, or anything more than Him, you are an idol worshiper, in violation of God's will for your life. The so-called "gods" of humanity will let us down when we most need help. That's why many at the end of life have "death-bed conversions." At last we see our own helplessness and our need of the Lord.
Verses 39-42: "See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me;
it is I who put to death and give life.
I have wounded and it is I who heal,
and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.40 Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, as I live forever,41 If I sharpen My flashing sword, and My hand takes hold on justice,
I will render vengeance on My adversaries, and I will repay those who hate Me.42 I will make My arrows drunk with blood, and My sword will devour flesh, with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired leaders of the enemy." The religious leaders in Israel at the time of Jesus' death, were well aware of these verses in Deuteronomy. When they came with their torches and weapons and would arrest Jesus, He, knowing precisely what they wanted, asked "Whom do you seek?" They answered "Jesus of Nazareth," and He responded, "I am He." When He said those words, His accusers "drew back and fell to the ground" (John 18:4-6). They were suddenly faced with the reality that He is God who gives death and life, the Healer who lives forever; the God of justice, vengeance and there is no escape from Him. But in their unbelief, they went ahead and killed Him anyway, and the question about Jesus is, in this Song Of Moses—What will YOU do with Him?
Verses 43-47: "Rejoice, O nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people. 44 Then Moses came and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he, with Joshua the son of Nun. 45 When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, 'Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. 47 For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.'" When we look at these words, whether or not we are of the people Israel, we can rejoice with them and for them because of this: When God said He would lead them and deliver them, He did. When He also said they would fall into sin, they did. When He said He would remember them, He did, and in saying He would rescue them even when they were scattered through many nations, He did that, too. This "is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life," no matter who you are. When Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), He is. Jesus also said, "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved" (John 19:9); which is the truth for you, for me, and for all who will call upon Him. Israel as a nation was to be given the land; those who believe in the Lord are given everlasting LIFE.
Verses 48-52: "The Lord spoke to Moses that very same day, saying, 49 'Go up to this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel for a possession. 50 Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people,51 because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel.52 For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel." Moses had a temper—he was human like the rest of us, and these verses refer to Numbers 20:7-13, where the man was told by God to "Speak to the rock," but instead, in his anger, he "struck the rock twice with his staff." God did cause the rock to produce water, but He was also displeased. The events recorded in the Old Testament were not only historical but also they are parables, designed to help us understand. We learn in 1 Corinthians 10:4 that "they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." In places like Hebrews 9:28, we find that "Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many." These verses in Deuteronomy were among the subtle and fascinating prophesies that the Lord would be born into Israel and then die for our sins. He did not need to die a second time, and we can simply "speak to the Rock" and be saved. The body of Moses died, but he is alive and with the Lord—forever (Matthew 17:1-4).
Father, let the Song of Moses ring in my joy-filled heart—forever. I do tend to stray and I do have a temper. I confess my sins and trust in You. I am Yours, Lord. I am Yours. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.