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4th March

Deuteronomy 30-31; Psalm 63

Bible in a Year
6 minutes
In this article
4th March

Deuteronomy 30-31; Psalm 63

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. Not because of their might or righteousness, but because of his faithfulness and goodness. They were to be obedient if they wanted to experience his blessings.

And so Moses moved on to recap and restating the laws, starting with Israel’s worship. They were to avoid idolatry, dealing harshly with those who suggested otherwise. They were to continue in ritual purity, and in practices like the tithe. Justice was to be a key part of their worship. They were to look after the poor and to judge rightly.

This led us to the instructions guiding Israel's leaders; judges, priests, kings, and prophets. We looked at some of the criteria and guidelines for these leaders.

We then started the final section of Deuteronomy's laws, looking at its civil laws. We read through rules on the cities of refuge and laws concerning warfare. This was followed by a broad collection of different rules, from handling unsolved murders, rules to protect women, dealing with lost animals and disobedient sons, and more ending with ritual instructions for the tithe.

Then we moved in to the final section of Deuteronomy, Moses' final sermon to the people. Moses reminded the people that obedience leads to blessings but disobedience leads to curses. Blessings meant flourishing, but curses meant God making an example of them so that the other nations might learn from their mistakes.

Deuteronomy 30-31

After reading the curses in the previous chapter, it can be easy to feel down. Everything in the story so far points towards the Israelites being disobedient and having these curses applied to them.

It’s then at this point that Moses brings a spark of hope. If after all these curses, held captive in a foreign land, the Israelites recall to mind the things of God, he will restore them. If they return to him, obey all his commands, and love him with all their heart and with all their soul, God will come close to them again.

In that situation, God will gather them together, back in the land promised to them, and restore the blessings to them, making them prosperous and fruitful.

Notice the key part of what God says he will do. “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” Deuteronomy 30:6.

The goal has always been for a people with soft hearts, shaped by love, to live with God. The theme of Deuteronomy is that the people hear what God is saying so they can get it into their hearts, and love well. Love God and love others.

Moses then sums the choice before them; life or death. If they choose God and are obedient to him, they will have an abundant life. If they turn from God and disobey him, they will perish. He encourages them to choose life.

At this the book begins to wind down. Moses calls Joshua and sets him in charge of Israel in his place. Moses speaks over him the phrase that will follow him throughout the book of Joshua, "be strong and courageous". Moses writes down the whole law and gives it to the Levites, telling them to read it to the people every seven years to remind them about it.

God tells Moses to write a song that summarises this stuff so that the people can sing it to themselves and to their children as they enter the land promised to them (we remember lyrics to songs more than we do other things). Then God commissions Joshua, sealing what Moses had already charged him with. Moses finishes writing the whole book.

Traditionally, this book is believed to be the whole Torah, Genesis and Deuteronomy, with these last few chapters being added by someone else to finish the story. The book was then put by the ark of the covenant. Finally, Moses gets ready to sing his final song and give his final speech.

Psalm 63

This psalm is attributed to king David ‘when he was in the wilderness of Judah’. This could be when he was fleeing Saul (1 Samuel 21-23) or when he was fleeing his son Absalom (2 Samuel 15:13-30). It falls into the category of a trust psalm.

Psalm 63:1-2 - The psalmist thirsts for God

Psalm 63:3-4 - The psalmist praises God

Psalm 63:5-8 - The psalmist finds joy in God

Psalm 63:9-11 - The psalmist’s enemies will be defeated by God

The psalmist opens with a similar opening to Psalm 42. They use the Hebrew wordplay, where the Hebrew ‘nephesh’ can mean both soul and throat. Both thirst for God. They want more of him. Life without God leaves them dry and weary.

Because of this, the psalmist praises God. God is a loving and faithful God, and the psalmist will him as long as they live.

The psalmist also finds joy in God. God is more satisfying than the richest of food. The psalmist will meditate on God and sing of the joy they find in them. They cling to God because he is the one that sustains them.

We then get a little of the psalmist’s story. There are people who to see them dead. But the psalmist is confident that God will give them over to their wickedness.

This psalm could have been a lament psalm. The psalmist finds themself in a desert, tired and weary, chased by enemies that want them dead. But instead of lamenting, the psalmist only seeks to praise God and seek more of him.

This is why we need the range of the psalms. Some people will only let themselves think about good things, as though to acknowledge the bad dishonours God. Because these people don’t let themselves lament, they never get to work through their hurts.

Then there are others who only lament and focus on the bad. Sometimes you need to pick yourself up and, despite your struggle, praise God for his goodness. We need the full range of experiences and expressions to grow in our relationship with God and work through the difficulties of life.

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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