Thursday, March 18, 2010


Deuteronomy 1-4

The book of Deuteronomy follows Numbers, and opens with the Israelites camped on the east side of the Jordan. Moses "spoke to all Israel in the desert" and for the first three chapters, he reviews with them the events which have followed the Exodus, as they have wandered the desert. In chapter one, he talks about the command to leave Horeb (Num 10), the appointment of leaders among the Israelites to help Moses (Num 11), the spying excursion into Canaan (Num 13) and the rebellion when the people would not go into the promised land (Num 14). Chapter two talks of how they wandered in the desert for thirty-eight years while "that entire generation of fighting men [who rebelled and refused to take the promised land] had perished from the camp," and how they defeated Sihon, the King of Heshbon (Num 21). Chapter three covers the defeat of Og, King of Bashan (Num 21), the division of the land on the east side of the Jordan (Num 32), and of Moses being forbidden to cross the Jordan (Num 20, 27).

Chapter four begins a restatement of the law, starting with admonitions to be obedient to the law of the Lord as he has given it to them. "Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb...He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow." Idolatry is forbidden, and if the Israelites "become corrupt and make any kind of will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess." The Lord is God - "acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other." After setting aside three sanctuary cities east of the Jordan, Moses reiterated the "stipulations, decrees and laws Moses gave them when they came out of Egypt."

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • "These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the desert..." If I remember correctly (and I'll know for sure in a week and a half), those opening words are an excellent summary of the book.
  • The first few chapters are a summary of the things that have happened to the Israelites since they came out of Egypt. No new law is handed down, no new events take place.
  • The ways of the LORD are not our ways, and we cannot see all that he sees. How can God allow bad things to happen to good people? "The LORD took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance...From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you..." There are no easy answers, and sometimes even the true answers are not comforting.

Psalms 38

The psalmist prays for comfort and help, struggling under a load of guilt. Many of the psalms are martial in nature, with afflictions caused by worldly enemies. This one is penitent, recognizing the wrath which sin has earned.

Psalm 38
A psalm of David. A petition.
1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.

2 For your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down upon me.

3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
my bones have no soundness because of my sin.

4 My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.

5 My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly.

6 I am bowed down and brought very low;
all day long I go about mourning.

7 My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.

8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart.

9 All my longings lie open before you, O Lord;
my sighing is not hidden from you.

10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
even the light has gone from my eyes.

11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away.

12 Those who seek my life set their traps,
those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
all day long they plot deception.

13 I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear,
like a mute, who cannot open his mouth;

14 I have become like a man who does not hear,
whose mouth can offer no reply.

15 I wait for you, O LORD;
you will answer, O Lord my God.

16 For I said, "Do not let them gloat
or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips."

17 For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.

18 I confess my iniquity;
I am troubled by my sin.

19 Many are those who are my vigorous enemies;
those who hate me without reason are numerous.

20 Those who repay my good with evil
slander me when I pursue what is good.

21 O LORD, do not forsake me;
be not far from me, O my God.

22 Come quickly to help me,
O Lord my Savior.

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