Deuteronomy 4

1 Now, Israel, listen to the statutes and to the ordinances, which I teach you, to do them; that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, gives you. 2 You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 3 Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baal Peor; for all the men who followed Baal Peor, the LORD your God has destroyed them from amongst you. 4 But you who were faithful to the LORD your God are all alive today. 5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do so in the middle of the land where you go in to possess it. 6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who shall hear all these statutes, and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 For what great nation is there, that has a god so near to them, as the LORD our God is whenever we call on him? 8 What great nation is there, that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law, which I set before you today? 9 Only be careful, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes saw, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your children and your children’s children; 10 the day that you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, “Assemble the people to me, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.” 11 You came near and stood under the mountain. The mountain burnt with fire to the heart of the sky, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness. 12 The LORD spoke to you out of the middle of the fire: you heard the voice of words, but you saw no form; you only heard a voice. 13 He declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even the ten commandments. He wrote them on two stone tablets. 14 The LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances, that you might do them in the land where you go over to possess it. 15 Be very careful, for you saw no kind of form on the day that the LORD spoke to you in Horeb out of the middle of the fire, 16 lest you corrupt yourselves, and make yourself an engraved image in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth; 19 and lest you lift up your eyes to the sky, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, even all the army of the sky, you are drawn away and worship them, and serve them, which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole sky. 20 But the LORD has taken you, and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be to him a people of inheritance, as it is today. 21 Furthermore the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, and swore that I should not go over the Jordan, and that I should not go in to that good land, which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance; 22 but I must die in this land. I must not go over the Jordan; but you shall go over, and possess that good land. 23 Be careful, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make yourselves an engraved image in the form of anything which the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God. 25 When you shall father children, and children’s children, and you shall have been long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make an engraved image in the form of anything, and shall do that which is evil in the LORD your God’s sight, to provoke him to anger; 26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from off the land which you go over the Jordan to possess it. You will not prolong your days on it, but will utterly be destroyed. 27 The LORD will scatter you amongst the peoples, and you will be left few in number amongst the nations, where the LORD will lead you away. 28 There you shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29 But from there you shall seek the LORD your God, and you shall find him, when you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in oppression, and all these things have come on you, in the latter days you shall return to the LORD your God, and listen to his voice. 31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not fail you, neither destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which he swore to them. 32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and from the one end of the sky to the other, whether there has been anything as this great thing is, or has been heard like it? 33 Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the middle of the fire, as you have heard, and live? 34 Or has God tried to go and take a nation for himself from amongst another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 It was shown to you so that you might know that the LORD is God. There is no one else besides him. 36 Out of heaven he made you to hear his voice, that he might instruct you. On earth he made you to see his great fire; and you heard his words out of the middle of the fire. 37 Because he loved your fathers, therefore he chose their offspring after them, and brought you out with his presence, with his great power, out of Egypt; 38 to drive out nations from before you greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today. 39 Know therefore today, and take it to heart, that the LORD himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath. There is no one else. 40 You shall keep his statutes, and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD your God gives you, forever. 41 Then Moses set apart three cities beyond the Jordan towards the sunrise; 42 that the man slayer might flee there, who kills his neighbor unawares, and didn’t hate him in time past; and that fleeing to one of these cities he might live: 43 Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, for the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, for the Manassites. 44 This is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel. 45 These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which Moses spoke to the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt, 46 beyond the Jordan, in the valley over against Beth Peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel struck, when they came out of Egypt. 47 They took his land in possession, and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two kings of the Amorites, who were beyond the Jordan towards the sunrise; 48 from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the Arnon, even to Mount Sion (also called Hermon), 49 and all the Arabah beyond the Jordan eastward, even to the sea of the Arabah, under the slopes of Pisgah.

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

Verses 1–23

The power and love of God to Israel are here made the ground and reason of a number of cautions and serious warnings; and although there is much reference to their national covenant, yet all may be applied to those who live under the gospel. What are laws made for but to be observed and obeyed? Our obedience as individuals cannot merit salvation; but it is the only evidence that we are partakers of the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ, Considering how many temptations we are compassed with, and what corrupt desires we have in our bosoms, we have great need to keep our hearts with all diligence. Those cannot walk aright, who walk carelessly. Moses charges particularly to take heed of the sin of idolatry. He shows how weak the temptation would be to those who thought aright; for these pretended gods, the sun, moon, and stars, were only blessings which the Lord their God had imparted to all nations. It is absurd to worship them; shall we serve those that were made to serve us? Take heed lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God. We must take heed lest at any time we forget our religion. Care, caution, and watchfulness, are helps against a bad memory.

Verses 24–40

Moses urged the greatness, glory, and goodness of God. Did we consider what a God he is with whom we have to do, we should surely make conscience of our duty to him, and not dare to sin against him. Shall we forsake a merciful God, who will never forsake us, if we are faithful unto him? Whither can we go? Let us be held to our duty by the bonds of love, and prevailed with by the mercies of God to cleave to him. Moses urged God’s authority over them, and their obligations to him. In keeping God’s commandments they would act wisely for themselves. The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom. Those who enjoy the benefit of Divine light and laws, ought to support their character for wisdom and honour, that God may be glorified thereby. Those who call upon God, shall certainly find him within call, ready to give an answer of peace to every prayer of faith. All these statutes and judgments of the Divine law are just and righteous, above the statutes and judgments of any of the nations. What they saw at mount Sinai, gave an earnest of the day of judgment, in which the Lord Jesus shall be revealed in flaming fire. They must also remember what they heard at mount Sinai. God manifests himself in the works of the creation, without speech or language, yet their voice is heard, Ps 19:1, 3; but to Israel he made himself known by speech and language, condescending to their weakness. The rise of this nation was quite different from the origin of all other nations. See the reasons of free grace; we are not beloved for our own sakes, but for Christ’s sake. Moses urged the certain benefit and advantage of obedience. This argument he had begun with, ver. #(1), That ye may live, and go in and possess the land; and this he concludes with, ver. #(40), That it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee. He reminds them that their prosperity would depend upon their piety. Apostacy from God would undoubtedly be the ruin of their nation. He foresees their revolt from God to idols. Those, and those only, shall find God to their comfort, who seek him with all their heart. Afflictions engage and quicken us to seek God; and, by the grace of God working with them, many are thus brought back to their right mind. When these things are come upon thee, turn to the Lord thy God, for thou seest what comes of turning from him. Let all the arguments be laid together, and then say, if religion has not reason on its side. None cast off the government of their God, but those who first abandon the understanding of a man.

Verses 41–49

Here is the introduction to another discourse, or sermon, Moses preached to Israel, which we have in the following chapters. He sets the law before them, as the rule they were to work by, the way they were to walk in. He sets it before them, as the glass in which they were to see their natural face, that, looking into this perfect law of liberty, they might continue therein. These are the laws, given when Israel was newly come out of Egypt; and they were now repeated. Moses gave these laws in charge, while they encamped over against Beth-peor, an idol place of the Moabites. Their present triumphs were a powerful argument for obedience. And we should understand our own situation as sinners, and the nature of that gracious covenant to which we are invited. Therein greater things are shown to us than ever Israel saw from mount Sinai; greater mercies are given to us than they experienced in the wilderness, or in Canaan. One speaks to us, who is of infinitely greater dignity than Moses; who bare our sins upon the cross; and pleads with us by His dying love.

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