Deuteronomy 13

1 If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises amongst you, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, “Let us go after other gods” (which you have not known) “and let us serve them”; 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet, or to that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the LORD your God, fear him, keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and you shall serve him, and cling to him. 5 That prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, because he has spoken rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to draw you aside out of the way which the LORD your God commanded you to walk in. So you shall remove the evil from amongst you. 6 If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend, who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” which you have not known, you, nor your fathers; 7 of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near to you, or far off from you, from the one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth; 8 you shall not consent to him, nor listen to him; neither shall your eye pity him, neither shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him; 9 but you shall surely kill him. Your hand shall be first on him to put him to death, and afterwards the hands of all the people. 10 You shall stone him to death with stones, because he has sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 11 All Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall not do any more wickedness like this amongst you. 12 If you shall hear about one of your cities, which the LORD your God gives you to dwell there, that 13 certain base fellows have gone out from amongst you, and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” which you have not known; 14 then you shall inquire, and make search, and ask diligently. Behold, if it is true, and the thing certain, that such abomination was done amongst you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, with all that is therein and its livestock, with the edge of the sword. 16 You shall gather all its plunder into the middle of its street, and shall burn with fire the city, and all every bit of its plunder, to the LORD your God. It shall be a heap forever. It shall not be built again. 17 Nothing of the devoted thing shall cling to your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and show you mercy, and have compassion on you, and multiply you, as he has sworn to your fathers; 18 when you listen to the LORD your God’s voice, to keep all his commandments which I command you today, to do that which is right in the LORD your God’s eyes.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–5

Moses had cautioned against the peril that might arise from the Canaanites. Here he cautions against the rise of idolatry among themselves. It is needful for us to be well acquainted with the truths and precepts of the Bible; for we may expect to be proved by temptations of evil under the appearance of good, of error in the guise of truth; nor can any thing rightly oppose such temptations, but the plain, express testimony of God’s word to the contrary. And it would be a proof of sincere affection for God, that, notwithstanding specious pretences, they should not be wrought upon the forsake God, and follow other gods to serve them.

Verses 6–11

It is the policy of Satan to try to lead us to evil by those whom we love, whom we least suspect of any ill design, and whom we are desirous to please, and apt to conform to. The enticement here is supposed to come from a brother or child, who are near by nature; from a wife or friend, who are near by choice, and are to us as our souls. But it is our duty to prefer God and religion, before the nearest and dearest friends we have in the world. We must not, to please our friends, break God’s law. Thou shalt not consent to him, nor go with him, not for company, or curiosity, not to gain his affections. It is a general rule, If sinners entice thee, consent thou not, Pr 1:10. And we must not hinder the course of God’s justice.

Verses 12–18

Here is the case of a city revolting from the God of Israel, and serving other gods. The crime is supposed to be committed by one of the cities of Israel. Even when they were ordered to preserve their religion by force, yet they were not allowed to bring others to it by fire and sword. Spiritual judgments under the Christian dispensation are more terrible than the execution of criminals; we have not less cause than the Israelites had, to fear the Divine wrath. Let us then fear the spiritual idolatry of covetousness, and the love of worldly pleasure; and be careful not to countenance them in our families, by our example or by the education of our children. May the Lord write his law and truth in our hearts, there set up his throne, and shed abroad his love!

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