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26th February

Deuteronomy 13-14; Psalm 57

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
26th February

Deuteronomy 13-14; Psalm 57

Bible in a Year
6 minutes


So far in Deuteronomy, we’ve read through the beginning of Moses’ sermons to the new generation of Israelites. We noted how the perspective shifts, so now it seems like the narrator is looking back at this time in Israel’s history from their future and from the other side of the river.

We read as Moses recapped how the Israelites got here from Egypt, reminding the people where they've come from and what God has done.

He then moved on to his sermons, challenging the Israelites to avoid idolatry and to follow the Lord's command. He reminded the people that they are a chosen people, set apart and called to be loyal to him. They weren't to mix with the other nations, or take on their wicked practises.

Moses then warned them that when God does give them the land and his blessings, they did not earn them with their own might, or because they were righteous. Quite the opposite. They are a small nation who continuously rebelled against God. Instead, the blessing comes because of God's faithfulness.

His sermons ended with a call to obedience. He reminded them of when they were obedient, God blessed all that they did, but when they were disobedient, they were riddled with diseases and failed at all they did.

And so Moses moved on to recapping and restating the laws, starting with Israel’s worship. The Israelites were not to make images of anything that they then worship, nor were they to look at other spiritual beings and worship them. They are to worship him alone.

Deuteronomy 13-14

Continuing on with the topic of Israel’s worship, Moses looks at what should be done to someone who breaks the rules of worship he’s already laid out.

He gives three examples of people turning to other gods and persuading others to do the same. The first is someone claiming to be a prophet and with signs and wonders publicly persuading others to worship other gods.

The second is a close friend or family member privately persuading someone to worship other gods. And then the third is a whole city that has turned to other gods.

Moses encourages punishment for those at fault, ultimately involving their death. For each case, he gives a reason and together the reasons amount to; to remove evil from the community, to deter others from doing the same, and to protect the people's relationship with God.

As we’ve already discussed, sin is like a contamination, a disease that spreads and destroys. If any temptation to worship other gods is allowed, it will spread throughout the community and the nation. Unfortunately, we see this to be true as we read through Israel’s history.

Moses then gives a summary of some of the Holiness laws, primarily how to grieve and what to eat. You may wonder what this has to do with worship, but these are all things that affect the Israelite’s purity and how they may enter God’s presence.

Other cultures would cut themselves and shave their heads when family members died. The Israelites were not to do that. Why? It’s not exactly clear.

There’s some argument that other cultures did this to make offerings of hair and blood to the spirits of the departed to strengthen them in the afterlife.

Whatever the reason, the point is clear. There is some sort of cultural taboo connected with these things, and God wants them to avoid these things.

Back when we were reading through Leviticus, we looked at unclean animals. For whatever reason, the animals listed were considered unclean, and Israel were to keep themselves clean before God, so it was forbidden to eat these animals. Again we get that here.

We then get instructions on the tithe, but these instructions are quite unique compared to elsewhere. The Israelites are to gather one tenth of all their produce, gather it together, and have a feast together.

They weren’t offering it for the upkeep of the temple. They were using it to share a meal before God.

Then every third year, their tithe would be given to the poor and the Levite to make sure that everyone had enough.

Some have argued these new instructions were to be used together with previous instructions to produce 3 separate tithes that worked together.

The first tithe was to the Levites, one tenth for their upkeep (Numbers 18:21-26). Then after that tithe was a second tithe for the people to enjoy a feast in God’s presence. Then every three years the second tithe would be replaced with a third tithe for the poor.

Either way, the Israelites were to be a community that was generous and supported one another, whether they be working in the temple or poor and in need.

Psalm 57

This psalm is attributed to King David when he hid from Saul in a cave (1 Samuel 22:1-2). The psalm can be split into two, with the first psalm being a lament psalm including complaints, requests, and trust. The second half is more of a praise psalm, as though it was written after God had rescued the psalmist.

Psalm 57:1-5 - Lament

Psalm 57:6-11 - Praise

The psalmist first turns to God with a request that God be merciful to them. It is in Gd they take refuge until the storms pass because he is a God who gives them purpose.

The psalmist is confident that God will rescue them and put to shame their enemies. Why? Because he is a loving and faithful God.

And so the psalmist brings their complaint. They are surrounded by enemies. These enemies are like lions or fiery beasts.

Their teeth are like spears because their enemies want to consume them, and their tongues are like swords because they lie.

And then the psalmist concludes the first half of the psalm with the refrain, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!”

Then we get the second half of the psalm where the psalmist now seems to be talking in the past tense. Their enemies set their traps, and the psalmist was laid low, but their enemies fell into their own traps.

God has rescued them! This leads the psalmist to praise God for his goodness. Their heart has been strengthened and now they sing.

They will start the day with praise for God, almost awaking the dawn itself with their praise.

They will also praise God in public, letting other people know of all that God has done. Why? Because he is a loving and faithful God.

And so the psalmist ends the second half of the psalm with the same refrain, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!”.

In this one psalm we get to see both sides. The lament and coming to God with our problems, and the praise and celebration once God has rescued.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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