Deuteronomy 31

1 Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. 2 He said to them, “I am one hundred and twenty years old today. I can no more go out and come in. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ 3 The LORD your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua will go over before you, as the LORD has spoken. 4 The LORD will do to them as he did to Sihon and to Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land; whom he destroyed. 5 The LORD will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandment which I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or scared of them; for the LORD your God himself is who goes with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you.” 7 Moses called to Joshua, and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them; and you shall cause them to inherit it. 8 The LORD himself is who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged.” 9 Moses wrote this law, and delivered it to the priests the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the LORD’s covenant, and to all the elders of Israel. 10 Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, in the set time of the year of release, in the feast of tents, 11 when all Israel has come to appear before the LORD your God in the place which he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people, the men and the women and the little ones, and the foreigners who are within your gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law; 13 and that their children, who have not known, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land where you go over the Jordan to possess it.” 14 The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, your days approach that you must die. Call Joshua, and present yourselves in the Tent of Meeting, that I may commission him.” Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the Tent of Meeting. 15 The LORD appeared in the Tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood over the Tent’s door. 16 The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, you shall sleep with your fathers. This people will rise up, and play the prostitute after the strange gods of the land, where they go to be amongst them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. 17 Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall come on them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Haven’t these evils come on us because our God is not amongst us?’ 18 I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods. 19 “Now therefore write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. 20 For when I have brought them into the land which I swore to their fathers, flowing with milk and honey, and they have eaten and filled themselves, and grown fat; then they will turn to other gods, and serve them, and despise me, and break my covenant. 21 It will happen, when many evils and troubles have come on them, that this song will testify before them as a witness; for it will not be forgotten out of the mouths of their descendants; for I know their ways and what they are doing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.” 22 So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel. 23 He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and courageous; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land which I swore to them. I will be with you.” 24 When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, 25 Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the LORD’s covenant, saying, 26 “Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the LORD’s covenant your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. 27 For I know your rebellion, and your stiff neck. Behold, while I am yet alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the LORD. How much more after my death? 28 Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29 For I know that after my death you will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will happen to you in the latter days; because you will do that which is evil in the LORD’s sight, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.” 30 Moses spoke in the ears of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were finished.

(Previous Chapter)    •    (Next Chapter)

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

Verses 1–8

Moses assures Israel of the constant presence of God with them. This is applied by the apostle to all God’s spiritual Israel, to encourage their faith and hope; unto us is this gospel preached, as well as unto them; he will never fail thee, nor forsake thee, Heb 13:5. Moses commends Joshua to them for a leader; one whose wisdom, and courage, and affection they had long known; one whom God had appointed to be their leader; and therefore would own and bless. Joshua is well pleased to be admonished by Moses to be strong and of good courage. Those shall speed well, who have God with them; therefore they ought to be of good courage. Through God let us do valiantly, for through him we shall do victoriously; if we resist the devil, he will flee from us.

Verses 9–13

Though we read the word in private, we must not think it needless to hear it read in public. This solemn reading of the law must be done in the year of release. The year of release was typical of gospel grace, which is called the acceptable year of the Lord; for our pardon and liberty by Christ, engage us to keep his commandments. It must be read to all Israel, men, women, children, and to the strangers. It is the will of God that all people should acquaint themselves with his word. It is a rule to all, therefore should be read to all. Whoever has read of the pains taken by many persons to get scraps of the Scriptures, when a whole copy could not be obtained, or safely possessed, will see how thankful we should be for the thousands of copies amongst us. They will also understand the very different situation in which the Israelites were placed for many ages. But the heart of man is so careless, that all will be found too little, to keep up a knowledge of the truths, precepts, and worship of God.

Verses 14–22

Moses and Joshua attended the Divine Majesty at the door of the tabernacle. Moses is told again that he must shortly die; even those who are most ready and willing to die, need to be often reminded of its coming. The Lord tells Moses, that, after his death, the covenant he had taken so much pains to make between Israel and their God, would certainly be broken. Israel would forsake Him; then God would forsake Israel. Justly does he cast those off who so unjustly cast him off. Moses is directed to deliver them a song, which should remain a standing testimony for God, as faithful to them in giving them warning, and against them, as persons false to themselves in not taking the warning. The word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of men’s hearts, and meets them by reproofs and correction. Ministers who preach the word, know not the imaginations of men; but God, whose word it is, knows perfectly.

Verses 23–30

The solemn delivery of the book of the law to the Levites, to be deposited in, or rather by the side, of the ark, is again related. The song which follows in the next chapter is delivered to Moses, and by him to the people. He wrote it first, as the Holy Spirit taught him; and then spake it in the hearing of all the people. Moses tells them plainly, I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves. Many a sad thought, no doubt, it occasioned to this good man; but his comfort was, that he had done his duty, and that God would be glorified in their dispersion, if not in their settlement, for the foundation of God stands sure.

Back to Top